Category Archives: traveling

Active family holiday in Eilat

November is not the greatest month to be in Finland. So Eilat seemed like a welcome change and a perfect place for a family holiday. About 30°C temperature and 10-15 apertures more light (in photography terminology) makes a big difference.
Eilat is known as the destination for beach-life lovers and divers, but my latest working trips showed me how much more the city and the surrounding region can offer to the visitor. So I thought that it could suit us all, as our group consisted of twelve people – ages 1-60…
Direct winter flights from Helsinki to Eilat take less than 5 hours and are very affordable!Eilat The underwater observatory marine park in Eilat is a great place for kids and adults alike. You get an idea how it looks down there under the waves, even if you never put a diving mask on your face. The underwater wonderland with all its creatures and corals will mesmerize you.
A 20€ ticket will give you access to all parts of the observatory, including the multi media cinema.
It is located a few kilometers south to the city and you can easily reach it by taxi from the northern beach hotel area for about 10€.Family trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat IsraelA jeep safari is a fantastic experience for all who can stand some dust, bumps and at times some scary hill slopes. The truth is, that some of the asphalt roads in the mountains are very beautiful too in terms of the landscapes they cross, yet I think that with a jeep you can get into the guts of it all.
Prices 160-180€/4 hours per jeep.
Family trip to Eilat IsraelFamily trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat IsraelThe “Red Canyon” is an easy and beautiful trek that suits families. Our youngest hikers were ages 8, 5 and 2.5 and they enjoyed the place as if they were in an amusement park. The easy path takes 1.5-2 hours to walk. Early afternoon is preferable time for this family outdoor activity. Drinking water, hats and maybe some energy snacks are recommended.
You should follow the coloured signs back to the starting point or you will find yourself on a much longer trek. This time of the year it gets dark already at five o’clock in the afternoon, and you wouldn’t like to wander in the desert after sunset.
Family trip to Eilat Israel The restaurants around the hotel areas are mainly Mediterranean and Asian style. I especially like the “Fish Market” for their atmosphere and fresh fish. (10-15 min. drive by taxi south of the city center) The Giraffe Restaurant on the beach promenade was great too. You will find it when you walk east along the northern shore boulevard. Barbeach on the southern beach, near the diving and surfing center.
Eilat Typical Israeli breakfast served in Barbeach.Eilat Local drinks. Goldstar beer and Limonana, a sweetened refreshment made with fresh lemon and sweet mint crushed with ice.
Family trip to Eilat IsraelEilat Bird-Watching Park is located just north to the hotel area. About 40 min walk or a short taxi drive. The place is open 24/7 and free. Yet it is strongly recommended to take a guide so you get a better idea what the place is about, how they operate and some facts about bird migration habits. Finns are known for their sympathy for these little creatures and annually many birdwatchers come to participate voluntarily in the park’s activities.
EilatHai Bar wildlife reserve is located near Kibbutz Yotvata about 35 km north of Eilat. Some of the animals that once roamed free in this region can be seen there. It is like a mini safari and sure worth a visit once you are in Eilat.
EilatThe “Top 94” action park in Eilat offers many activities. The carting part is managed by Timo Hirvi, originally from Finland
EilatWatching the sea and the surfers from the many beach restaurants and bars is a nice “after action” time. The water pipe is optional…

EilatAnd if you are absolutely in need for some off road bicycling, you will find many marked trails around the city.
Family trip to Eilat Israel2 weeks before our arrival Eilat was flooded. The whole annual amount of rain, just over 30mm, fell in 3 hours.Family trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat Israel There is no holiday for me without some off road moments.
Mount Shlomo is located just west to the city. You will see the sunset just behind it every evening. The trek to the summit and down takes about 4 hours and is not too hard. Yet, if you have the fear of heights you might find it challenging at places.
A taxi will take you from the hotel area to the starting point at Har Yehoram on road 12 for about 13€. First follow the Black/White marks and just before the summit the Blue/White marks.
The way down (tread carefully, it is very steep) will take you to the finishing point at Shlomo valley on road 12. There you can call a taxi to take you back to the hotel.
You can also do this trek starting and finishing in the same place (road 12 and Shlomo valley crossing) see the map below. But this way you will climb the whole way and will miss the most beautiful views that you could see when starting from Har Yehoram.
Remember: Hats, long sleeve shirts, sun protection, good hiking boots and a lot of water! Gloves protect hands from the rough stones and walking sticks can help your balance.
Family trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat Israel Family trip to Eilat Israel har-shlomo-trek Family trip to Eilat IsraelMy good old Keens have seen a lot of off road terrain.

Traditional coffee shop in the village of Stroumpi

Working on the story for Kodin Kuvalehti magazine at Tarja’s and Andros’s house was fun. As we reached the coffee time after the big late lunch, Andros suggested that we`ll go to visit his home village up the mountain about half an hour drive from Pafos, where a traditional coffee shop still exists. As we had less than two hours of day light left, Andro stepped hard on his 4×4 vehicle and we reached Stroumpi’s coffee shop on time. A true old school place with a great gallery of faces and stories. And yes, they still do the coffee in the very traditional Cypriot way. I always wonder about the owners’ interest in running such places these days. As you can witness in the images and the video, there are hardly any orders on the tables. It is more of a meeting place for men than a profitable business venture. They are most probably worth it. stroumpi cyprus people stroumpi cyprus old man coffee shop 1   greek coffee

The bush doctor from Arsos

On the evening of our 3rd day in Cyprus we reached the village of Arsos. The ancient village is built on a round shoulder of a hill about 30-40 km away from Pafos. On that late evening dinner we learned from our hostess that her neighbor, a young man who recently moved to the village, will be happy to guide us on the next days to explore the village and the area .

Christos Kayias proved to be a great nature guide who keeps the traditional village knowledge as far as herbs and other medicinal plants are concerned.
He was born in Pafos but spent his summer holidays in the village of Arsos with his grandfather. Recently, as economical crisis and unemployment hit the island, he decided to move to the mountains and live on his grandfather’s land. He runs a small Tea Shop where, except tea and beer, you can get the dried weeds and herbs that he collects from the nature around. He is very much concerned about the small community and volunteers to help and promote the village. I noticed his great affection and human approach towards an old disabled neighbor.
Later that night I thought that the future of Arsos is secure as long as people like Christos are around.

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Splashing in a spa by a 7 year old

When I am traveling, my 7 year old daughter Dania follows travel pictures in our blog. I got this What’s app-message while in Cyprus.
Dania: Mom, really cool pics. Who can write in your blog?
I: I can.
Dania: Only you in the whole world?
I: Uzi too.
Dania: So only you and Uzi? Why can’t I write in your blog?
I: Well, you can. Just think of a good idea.And her idea came from our next short weekend trip to this beautiful Aulanko area. A wonderful place especially in a good weather although there is always the spa if it rains.Dania wrote her text in Finnish which I translated trying to be loyal to the origin :)We celebrate today and tomorrow May day here in Finland… have a nice holiday!
Balcony view from our hotel room.
To the spa!
we went to walk on the beach and got to walk our friends’ dog and we went to visit in an old castle.
A lake view
Eden found a good nest in Aurelia’s lap.
The old spa building. 

 

A beautiful hill view. Even the kids were overwhelmed by this. 
The 33 meter high tower on the hill.
A bear statue.
An afternoon coffee in Cafe Laurell in the center of Hämeenlinna. 
Hard to decide… 
More info:
about the area:
www.aulanko.fi
spa hotel:
http://www.rantasipi.fi/hotellit/aulanko/fi_FI/kylpyla/
Cafe Laurell:
www.laurell.fi

Travel diary

Long work days, being nauseous, changes in time table, misunderstandings, dead car batteries, being sick…
And on the other hand: meeting with wonderful people, beautiful landscapes, hiking, sighseeing, great food and lots of experiences. And usually I remember only the positive things when I later recall my travels. This is what our stories are made of. Take a look at our typical work day!
The day starts with an early breakfast in Alexander the Great hotel in Pafos.
A bit early for a winery visit… 
This is Finnish Merja and her husband Andreas in front of their winery.
Ulla, our multitasking guide driving and talking. And I.. feeling not so well on the serpentine roads. 
A meeting with the Finnish monk Father Vasilios in Kykkos monastery in Troodos mountains. 
Father Vasilios alias Ville Matias Haukia came to the monastery a decade ago straight from the high school. You can read about him and his way of celebrating Easter  this coming Sat in Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish sorry!). 

 

In Vasa village we found one of the best restaurants! Adriane is both the name of the restaurant and the lovely owner and cook. Simple, fresh, home made food. Delicious!

 

Had so much fun with Tarja and Kirsi, the Finnish representatives of Pafos, making a food article with them. This night we attended a meeting with a Finnish group in which these ladies told about their Cypriot life.

 

A dinner with Nicos in Pelican restaurant in the harbor. Please note that the pelicans are real! They walk in the promenade, swim in the sea and sleep in the backyard of the restaurant.

 

Poor Uzi. His every night duty… back up of the pictures. 

Good night!

Have a happy Easter!