Amedeo Modigliani in Ateneum

The retrospective exhibition of Amedeo Modigliani is in the art museum of Ateneum, Helsinki this winter, 28.10.2016 – 5.2.2017.A must for all art lovers. The museum also has much more to offer, such as Kaarina Kaikkonen`s installation at the Ateneum Art Museum courtyard 5.2.2016 – 11.12.2016 !And the new display of the museum’s collection of Finnish classics is truly impressive.Go go go.

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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.

Little pieces of Åland

This summer our traditional ”Getting lost in Finland” road trip took us to the beautiful archipelago of Åland. It is a bit of an oddity, an autonomy between Finland and Sweden. It is a Finnish territory although swedish is the official language. Luckily visitors get along just fine in English as well.
Last time we visited these islands was 33 years ago! So it was about time to explore this place again.
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As the ferry from Turku to Mariehamn leaves early in the morning, we decided to spend the evening before in Turku and save a morning rush.
That was a smart move! Just another wednesday evening and so much going on. Within a few hundred meters along the Aura river bank there was a gathering of hundreds of motorbikers, an impromptu dance floor in the middle of the street with live music, mainly Tango that so many Finns love and practice, a very good rock band on board an old merchant ship and even live jazz music in a bar.
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An old cruiser Bore is nowadays serving as Hotel Borea. So we got into the marine atmosphere right on our first night.
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amalia_guesthouse
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limonade_factory
Amalia guest house in Lemland is a cosy place to stay. It has a small lemonade factory in the yard. Amalia Lemonades can be found all over Åland in cafes, restaurants and supermarkets. Rebecka Sjölund works in the Factory shop in the summer.
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St. Andrew’s church in Lumparland. First built in 1540, but the present building is from 1728.
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stallhagen_beer
The local beer brand, stallhagen beer, is sold and served all over the islands. We just had to pay a visit to the brewery and found out that the beer was indeed very good.
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The idyllic old boat houses in Käringsund, Eckerö we remembered from our previous visit. But the hunting and fishing museum close to the Eckerö guest harbor is relatively new. It gives the visitor a good idea of the often very tough conditions in which the island people made their living in the old days. The building itself has been designed in a most considerate way to suit the landscape.
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Christiansund guest house
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Friday evening in Eckerö. We could not find any open shops around. Driving back and forth in the country roads looking for something to eat we finally found a Thai take away restaurant. Their fresh made Spring rolls were huge and very tasty.
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The gigantic fortress of Bomarsund was built by the Russians in 1832. The battle with the British-French navy was short and destructive and very little of this huge construction is left to see now. Yet a new trek of about 4 km is taking the visitor around, and useful information boards complete what the eyes cannot see.
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Everywhere you go you will see the old wooden wind mills.
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We paid respect to the famous writer Anni Blomqvist. Her archipelago stories and her own tragic life has left a mark on so many people in Scandinavia.
bomans guesthouse
Mari Kokko-Tidenberg and Arto Tidenberg live in Helsinki, but every summer they run the charming Bomans guest house in Vårdö. We ended up staying two days in their friendly care. The place can host up to 70 people and besides breakfast they also serve dinners.
It is quite unusual for Finns to own property in Åland, so we were curious to know how Mari and Arto ended up in there. Mari told us that in 1984 her mother Sirkka-Liisa came to work in the Kastelholm castle, which back then served as a prison. She then met and married Magnus Boman and they lived together in his family’s dairy farm. In 2000 the farm was transformed into a guest house. When Sirkka-Liisa passed away in 2014 Mari got to be the co-owner of the place, taking care of the business with Magnus, who still lives permanently on the farm year around. Mari, however, after tourist season returns to her profession, working as a doctor in Helsinki.
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Short fishing trip with Magnus Boman was an extra treat to our stay in Bomans guest house.
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5 whitefish and 1 perch.
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getabergen_aland
Road trip means hours of sitting in a car. It is a welcome idea to take a few hours hike in the nature. One beautiful trek you find in Getabergen in the northern part of the main island. It offers great views and impressive rock formations. In there I spotted one of the rare orchids growing in Åland, the Orchis militaris.
marskogens_lamm
When it comes to coffee breaks, we always look for an interesting, rather off the main road places. Marskogens Lamm is a lamb farm. In their café they sell not only good coffee and the traditional pancake but also many other local delicacies like cheese and their own lamb meat products. Friendly Ann Sunberg serves home made buns and pastries and I just loved her table decorations with the wild flowers.
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I just had to stop and take this funny picture.
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Åland’s photography museum in Pålsböle is sure worth a visit. Olle Strömberg has collected thousands of cameras and other items that cover more or less the entire history of the technology of photography. Olle, originally from Sweden, fell in love with a local beauty in Åland. He moved to the islands and did a 40 year photographic career working as a commercial photographer and cooperated with almost all local museums as well. Now retired, he runs this amazing museum and its charming coffee shop with his wife.
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Simskäla is the very northern part of the island of Vårdö. Seals were once hunted for food. Nowadays some fishermen hunt them to avoid destruction of their nets.
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Kurt Eriksson was a seaman and globetrotter who traveled the world for many years. He had the will and skills of learning many languages of the places he visited.
Now retired, he is running his wood workshop and a summer café, Anna’s Shop, in his home village Grundsunda in Vårdö. He welcomes and entertains his visitors with endless stories in 6 different languages. And of course the very famous Åland pancake.
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Åland’s pancake.