Friday, August 24, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
"Unfortunately the in-flight entertainment system is not available in economy class on your flight AY081 Helsinki - Singapore Changi 21.08.2012 due to technical reasons. We are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you. Kind regards, Finnair Customer Service"
Monday, August 20, 2012
I have a bout of the squirts so have been confined to bed all day. I'm staying hydrated with plenty of energy drinks and trying my best not to shit myself. Other than that, I just have to let it run its course. I suspect it was the salmon salad I had in Lund before I left. Food poisoning is a real pain in the butt (literally...it is seriously hurting down there from the coarse toilet paper). I think I'll be ok though (so don't worry mum). It seems that it wasn't only me that had a shit day. My travelling buddy went out in the afternoon and was pick-pocketted.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
The conference ended today so my Finnish friend and I caught the train to Copenhagen. The trains connecting Sweden and Denmark are very confusing...there are special carriages for people who don't want to talk, people who have prams, people on bikes, those with luggages, and those who are disabled. Do the wrong thing in the wrong carriage attracts wrath from the otherwise peaceful Scandinavian commuters (i made that mistake on my first train rip when I was chatting to an American in the no speaking carriage). We are staying in a hotel close to Chinatown that has no front desk. The way it works is that you get a text on the day you are due to arrive and are provided with a code that opens the front and room door. It's very impersonal but efficient. Not surprisingly, I was told it is a Finnish hotel chain (Finns seem to go out of their way to interact with people). Still no sign of Princess Mary but I did see some Arne Jacobsen swan chairs. Swoon. Oh, and apparently it is Copenhagen pride this week. What a coincidence.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Had a half day off yesterday so I took the train with some friends/colleagues across to Copenhagen for the afternoon. One of the friends suggested we avoid the touristy part of town and to go, instead, to the 'meat village.' It turned out to be a mistake. The meat village was not as hip as it sounded. Within 5 minutes of walking through a courtyard, we witnessed a woman having a heroin overdose so we promptly left and went to a nearby cafe for ice cream instead. Other than the cafe where we were having our ice cream, this district of Copenhagen seemed a bit seedy. Every second shop was a tattoo parlour with people who look like skinheads standing outside. We decided to go to the touristy end of town after that.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I caught up for dinner with my former boss from the US and a few other American's last night at the home of a dutch girl who now works in Lund. We had a Swedish-Italian-American feast. Starters were very Swedish – lots of fish (smoked, pickled, more of that pink stuff in a tube) – along with some ham and salami that my boss had brought over from Italy. His wife cooked a beautiful risotto with chanterelle mushrooms for mains which was a perfect accompaniment for grilled ribs and pork chops. Both my former boss and wife are jewish but obviously they don't keep kosher. We ate dinner at the back of the dutch girl's house, which overlooks a brook (teeming with iridescent blue damselflies) and a paddock with two horses running around....beautiful (it felt a bit like a photo shoot for some epicure/travel magazine). I met their two young daughters for the first time. They speak perfect English, Italian, French and Spanish but the oldest is only 5! When it got dark, shooting stars were streaming across the sky. What a wonderful evening.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I headed down for brekky this morning at the hotel cafe. It was deserted. It seems everyone else must be sleeping in so I help myself to the food. They had reconstituted scrambled 'egg' on the menu. I didn't know it was reconstituted. It tasted like egg but had a nasty texture (don't think I'll be going for that again). There was also pickled herring at the buffet. I developed a liking for it on my last visit to Sweden but it is definitely an acquired taste and it took me several attempts before I finally decided I can stomach it. In addition to the pickled fish, I also tried some of the pink fish egg that comes in a toothpaste-like tube. Salty.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Flew from Helsinki to Copenhagen this morning and caught the train to Lund in Sweden where I will be based for the next few days. Lund is a beautiful city – probably the most beautiful city I have seen so far in Sweden. My colleague and I bought some nice bread, salad and smoked salmon and had a nice picnic lunch in the botanic gardens. We are now sitting in a nice cafe somewhere enjoying the sunshine and practising our conference presentations. I'm really looking forward to exploring the city over the next few days (in between breaks at the conference of course).
The second day of my trip in Finland was a mix of work and play. I caught up with one of my colleagues for lunch and then spent a couple of hours working on a scientific manuscript in a cafe. As a reward, we went shopping afterwards. There was the obligatory stop over at Marimekko as well as a visit to H&M (Nathan had a wish list of clothes he wanted me to get for him). In the evening, I caught up with some other friends at a restaurant that was simply called "China". Evidently it was the "first chinese restaurant in Helsinki since 1973". Not sure exactly what that means but it was packed with chinese people. In fact, I haven't seen so many Asians in the once place since leaving the airport. The food was passable. Then it was off to a bar for post dinner drinks. We each ordered a 'mocktail.' I know it sounds lame but one of us was pregnant (not me) and one of us doesn't drink. Plus, we had to get up early the next day for our flight to Copenhagen.
Friday, August 10, 2012
I am in Finland (again). This time, I'm in transit (sort of). I head off to Copenhagen tomorrow and then catching the train to Sweden for a conference. I'll be returning to Copenhagen for a couple of days after that. I'm looking forward to it, having never been to Denmark before. I wonder if I'll see Princess Mary? Anyhoo...back to Finland. I got in bright and early yesterday morning (i.e. 6.30am but the sun was already high in the sky). I've brought a cold with me. Managed not to get sick the entire winter until just a few days ago after catching up with a friend in the city ("I'm not contagious," she said. Yeah right). One of the first things I do in Helsinki is go to the supermarket and purchase a bottle of unsweetened lingonberry juice (well, I accidentally bought unsweetened cranberry juice but that's what happens when you can't read Finnish and have to rely on the picture on the label). I guzzled half of it in one go. It was mouth-numbingly sour but I'm thinking (in hope) that the hit of vitamin c and powerful anti-oxidants will do me some good. I then spent the afternoon fishing in Helsinki harbour on a tinny. It was my friend's idea. He said I needed to stay awake, get some sun and try to overcome the jet lag. We caught 16 pike perch, took three home (on the bus), and ate them for dinner. I was asleep by 10pm. Perfect.