One client wanted to have a group of Finnish Santa Claus actors to spend a week in China, visiting restaurants and delivering food for their customers. This client had an advertising deal with Chinese company that is running fast food restaurants in China. The selection of the Finnish Santa Claus guys was done, and we were part of that group!
From left: Santa Claus, Santa Claus, Erlin Yang, Santa Claus, Santa Claus and Santa Claus!
We arrived to Shanghai Pudong airport, and after getting our bags claimed a quick change to the outfit was done in the local restroom... men were laughing, but that was of course the name of the game...
At the airport we had our first photo session in local KFC restaurant. Guess how easy it is to eat with the beard on?
Especially the boiled rice soup was creating some difficulties
Not even Santa Claus reindeer Petteri is as fast as this bullet-speed train from Shanghai to Beijing
Pendolino trains in Finland can reach max 220 km/h speed. Here in China max speed of the train was 348 km/h. These routes do of course have straight and new tracks.
In Beijing our team woke up early and had a Tai Chi rehearsal in local park.
Mama Santa was the fastest to learn the correct moves
Local newspapers were telling our story saying that the Finnish Santa Claus is very talented... yeah right!
Mama Santa in Xi'An
Next morning our team had a bicycle ride on the Xi'An old town wall.
We visited also one local video blogger company BiliBili
Another train ride to Wuhan town
Chengdu and smaller village Ya'an with the Panda Research center
One Panda in a tree and one just lying around
Santa Claus men and Mama Santa in Guangzhou
Guangzhou tower has nice sight-seeing round-trip up there
The Canton Tower, formally Guangzhou TV Astronomical and Sightseeing Tower is a 604 metres tall multi-purpose observation tower in the Haizhu
District of the city of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton).
The tower was topped out in 2009 and it became operational on 29 September 2010 for the 2010 Asian Games.
The tower briefly held the title of tallest tower in the world, replacing the CN Tower, before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree.
It was the tallest structure in China prior to the topping out of Shanghai Tower on 3 August 2013. It is now the second tallest tower and the fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the world.
Nice view from the tower!
Next day flight to Shanghai and free evening in the old town area. Raining...
Wild Wild Wold Disco song performed by San Laoren team
Ketunretket provides Sauna Experiences to our clients. Of course, sometimes we need some relaxation ourselves, so this weekend it came possible to participate in a Whisking International Conference in Kaunas, Vilnus..
This conference had participants from Baltics, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, USA and other EU countries.
Logo of the International Whisking Academy
Here is the Whisker Man, Mr. Rimas Kavaliauskas from Lithuania. But hey, he has not got whiskers?
Here is one example of the Right and the Only Way of Whisking - or is it?
Juha from Finland is getting what he wanted...
Sauna-Mama Arja from Finland is getting ready for the Sauna
Now this was the best part of the weekend: a real Lithuanian Pirtis (Sauna) by Liuda Medine and Arvydas Medinis in western part of Kaunas.
Owner of the Pirtis (Lithuanian Sauna Bath) mr. Arvydas Medinis with Arja and Mari from Finland
Arvydas has built this wonderful sauna himself. It includes a big stove and a relaxation room.
Liuda, Timo, Arvydas and Mari in the hot room with whisking twigs.
Arvydas had installed a pump bringing ice-cold water from the pond.
I'm not as good as you, I am as good as I am!
Liuda had placed dry herbs over a transparent cloth above the relaxation room.
Liuda collects and dries herbs for the relaxation tea
Next day we had a 100km drive to Rimas's own small sauna area near Vilnus, to receive whisking education. However, this education was expensive and gave nothing, to be honest.
Rimas Kavaliauskas has written a book of how to provide whisking on 10 different difficulty levels. This guy used to be a physics professor, now he is the sauna master!
An exciting day with a top-quality cardiologist can also be funny:
I had a client from Las Vegas for a short tour around Helsinki. He did not mention to me what he's doing for his profession but my friend Google knew him well...
We visited Sibelius monument and he wanted to take a video of me telling about Jean Sibelius, who he was and what he had done. As he was coming from a little bit warmer environment, we had a walk to the seashore and tried if the water is cold... and again taking a new video - yes, it is darn cold...
Dr. Sanjay Vohra was a good example of a Free Independent Traveller (FIT) and also in an enormously good fit... running up the stairs all the time, and also being able to take a 10 minute nap while guide speaks beside him in the car... I gave him a task to find out who Sibelius was, and what kind of music he had composed... let's hope he'll follow the task.
After visiting Rock Church he told me that he does not very often get amazed on architecture, but now this was really amazing.
In the shoreline of Hanko Peninsula is situated an old Swedish fortress. This site is kept in condition by the Finnish Lighthouse Society. The reconstruction projects in Gustavsvärn started 2005 and continues actively.
This lighthouse is actually not original, only the top glass part is same that was used in the first lighthouse.
An old map shows how the fortress was looking out, before Russian army decided that they do not need it anymore and exploded everything August 27 year 1854. They needed 10 000 kilograms of black gunpowder.
King of Sweden had given his name and date of the visit year 1793 carved to the shoreline stones.
Great rap-music video of mr. Elastinen from Finland has been filmed at Gustavsvärn: https://youtu.be/e46J14Eivto
There is also an old army fortress Russarö nearby, having a lighthouse.
Let's be happy that this kind of equipment have not been used for a long time...
Gustavsvärn seen from the shoreline.
Peaceful moment in the old fortress site... what should I do?
OK OK, I know. Let's start benchmarking!
Ketunretket had a chance to wander around the old army fortress island of Isosaari. This is a place that has been used by both the Russian and Finnish army forces during decades of time.
Harbour of Isosaari fortress has a watching tower and place for the ferry.
Ms Isosaari sails from Helsinki to Vallisaari and Isosaari during the summer season.
In Isosaari there are many old cannon-sites to protect the traffic in Gulf of Finland.
Most of the buildings are in awful condition.
Biggest cannons required a concrete structure
Come on, we are ready...
A fox watching for the birds
During springtime this is a place for migrating birds to rest.
If you are lucky, you might see a white-tailed eagle gliding in the sky...
From the island of Kuivasaari in the neighbourhood were shot the salutation shots for independent, 100 years old state of Finland.
Ketunretket provided a biking in the National Park Nuuksio Tour to a group from Mexico City. Guido and Fernardo came to Helsinki with a cruiser ship and we met them in the harbour of Katajanokka. We had rented FatTire bikes from Haltia, so that was the starting point for our tour.
The terrain in Nuuksio varies a lot, part of the trip was on normal roads and part was on more rough terrain.
After riding the bikes in rainy weather we had a refreshing stop beside a small pond and grilled some sausages. Black coffee prepared on open fire was very good!
Arja had decorated the table with blueberry twigs
The day ended at Lake Kuusijärvi in Vantaa
Finnish tradition is to provide a visit to a smoke-sauna
Suomenlinna is an old army site in front of Helsinki coast. This site started to be built year 1748 by the Swedish-Finnish army, to stop the Russian enemy possibilities to attack Sweden's capital Stockholm.
Since that time the fortress has been owned by the Russian army during the Grand Duchy time and after that the army forces of independent Finland.
Old soldiers are having a parade during one beautiful day in Suomenlinna
Sailing ships glide in the mist
Riding police taking part in the parade
Soldier parade passing the bridge of Artillery Bay
Finnish Army Band
Suomenlinna is an enormously nice place to have your bachelor party
You might also meet personnel of the fortress, probably they have stayed here pretty long time, searching for the disappeared ship?
These soldiers had just got their daily portion of alcohol, measured with a name "Jumpru". As always, they were very keen to share it...
And again one peaceful day has been spent in Suomenlinna. Sun is shining and the yellow herb idänukonpalko (bunias orientalis) is coloring the scenery. Wooden bird is guarding the peace of the island.
Old Russian cannons are still here to remind us of the time when they were needed...
Even older cannons from the Swedish era have been placed here. This cannon is from the end of 1700 century.
So now it is the time to have something to drink and eat, and here in Suomenlinna you can enjoy many restaurants and cafe's.
Isosaari is an old abandoned army fortress on the coast of Helsinki. Nowadays this is a paradise for wild birds migrating to and from Finland. Photo: Jarmo Nieminen
Isosaari has been a Russian naval fortress early in the Grand Duchy of Finland during 1809-1917. After that time it was a site of Finnish army, until year 2014.
Now it is partly open for birdwatching.
Old sign banning the boat-owners to board, saying "Quarantine Island"
All around the island there are old cannon sites. They were used to close the Gulf of Finland, so enemies were not able to attack st. Petersburg (Leningrad on Soviet time)
Quillemot (cepphus grylle) is a common bird in Isosaari.
During one cold and windy day we had the opportunity to take part in one team, that was building safety covers above eider (somateria mollissima) nests. They are required, so the white-tailed Eagles (haliaeetus albicilla) cannot catch the eiders from the nests.
White-tailed Eagle gliding above Photo: Jarmo Nieminen
Ready-made protection cover above eider nest place.
On top of the old bunkers we were able to build protection lockers for the quillemots
Bicycles are a very nature-friendly way of having outdoor activity.
Ketunretket had an electric bicycle tour to Tahko Hill in Nilsiä, Finland.
With electric bicycles you can ride uphill so easily that you just can't believe it!
Here you can see how high we were!
Now who the heck is he?
Tampere town is located some 176 km to the north from Helsinki. Town itself lies between two lakes, and one of them is lake Näsijärvi. Near the northern harbour Mustalahti (Black Bay) is shallow water area, on top of which has been built a small lighthouse called Siilinkari, Hedgehog Reef.
In the photo can also be seen a sightseeing tower Näsinneula, 168 meters high.
Ketunretket had an icy cold trek over the ice to the Hedgehog Reef, because we are collecting visits to lighthouses!
Near this lighthouse happened on 7th of September 1929 the worst inland water accident in Finland of steamship "Kuru", and 138 lives were lost.
Steamship KURU after the accident, renovated and again on duty october 1929.
Mother of Ketunretket calls you to join us into a snowy hike in Vihti.
The coldness had disappeared just a couple days before, and the snow had got wet. After that it got frozen again, so we did not need to have snowshoes all the time. The thick snow was hard enough to let us walk easily.
At small pond of Kämmenlampi is situated an open cabin, that can be used for sleeping and making food.
Mr. Fox grilled some sausages on top of the fire...
February is a wonderful time of the year: There's a lot of snow in the forest, so what could be better than just pick up your snowshoes, some warm clothing and head up to Hyvinkä's Usmi wilderness area.
Ketunretket decided to search for a new route to Black Stone area, which has been used for manufacturing gravestones.
Trees have snow on the branches, and the snow thickness can be more than half a meter. You really need to use snowshoes!
To make a fire outdoors, you will of course need some firewood. Hyvinkää town has taken care of that, so there was plenty of dry but big chunks of firewood available. But why didn't I take my axe with me?
After a while we had a small flame, so the coffee could be prepared. There's just nothing as good as coffee than the one that has been prepared in the snowy winter wonderland!
If it happens so that one of the hiking team gets tired, you just need to place some kind of a lure...
Sipoonkorpi (the wilderness forest of Sipoo) is located just in suitable distance from the main office of Ketunretket. January weather was not too cold and bright sunlight was visible, at least a couple of hours of the day. So we decided to grab our skipoles and snowshoes and pay a visit to the National Park of Sipoonkorpi. There we could have some grilled sausages and black coffee beside the fire. This kind of winter activities are offered to all of our customers during the winter time.
Arja and the icy organs of Sipoonkorpi
The ridge was rather steep, but we shall not give up!
In the upper part of the ridge the sun came visible
Timo on top of the snowy ridge
Wouldn't you like this too?
Near Ängesböle has been built fire making sites by the Forest Government (Metsähallitus) and they are also bringing firewood there. When we came here, there was already a readymade fire, so it was easy and convenient to start grilling the sausages and making coffee.
Even the smallest animals, like this forest mouse Apodemus Flavicollis, needs to have food
Nice freezing weather and thick layer of snow - of those ingredients you can build a great outdoor event here in Finland. That is why we at Ketunretket decided to collect our snowshoes and sauna things and pay a visit to Helsinki Latu community's hut beside pond of Vaakkoi in Vihti, only one hour of drive from Helsinki!
Woderful small hut located beside a small pond Vaakkoi, in the Northern side of Nuuksio wilderness area. The owner of the hut and sauna is Helsingin Latu, an outdoor sports and recreation time promoting community, that has more than 7.600 members. This hut has an interesting history, being place for forest works for the unemployed men. These working men had a warm hut to stay overnight and in the other part of the hut there was a lady taking care of the meals for the men. Motorized saw was seldom seen during those times, so it was 2 men required to cut a big tree down. Hard work!
There is of course a sauna at this nice pond shoreline. This sauna has during winter time no kind of heating, and everything starts in cutting the firewood and getting water from the well. This sauna bath has a fire stove to heat the water and the Löyly room, and you need to do everything yourself - this is an experience even to a comfort-seeking Finn. You start with making firewood in dark wood-shed, making an open icy pit into the pond ice, carrying water inside the washroom stove... During winter it takes more time to heat this sauna, but that is really worth of it!
If you wonder where the water comes to the sauna, here is the answer: first you need to make an open icy pit in the pond ice and then carry the icy water in with buckets!
There were other members of Helsingin Latu bathing in the sauna, and we had some extra time to experience the snowy winter wonderland. We could meet here also my wilderness-guide friend Ella testing her snowshoes.
This is the way a fox moves in the forest
Later in the evening, when other sauna visitors had left, we got the sauna to our personal use. There had grown a new layer of ice in the icy pit, so we had to open it again with the tool available. Arja wanted to go skinny-dipping in the icy pit three times, because then your internal brown fat cells are activated and they will enhance your health and blood pressure gets lower.
AAAARGHH... take the photo fast, the eggs of these tubducks a freezing...
Helena Ruuska: Devils and Angels (pirut ja enkelit) in the art of Hugo Simberg
Pääsin kuuntelemaan Helena Ruuskan pitämän taide-esitelmän taidekoti Kirpilässä Helsingissä. Helena kertoi kirjoittamansa kirjan kertovan taiteilija Hugo Simbergistä, joka on tehnyt mm. kaikkien tunteman Haavoittuneen Enkelin, joista toinen on Ateneumissa ja toinen Tampereella tuomiokirkossa. Simbergin hahmo selveni huomattavasti kun luki tämän kirjan, voin suositella sitä kaikille symbolismin taidesuunnasta kiinnostuneelle. Tuomiokirkon maalauksien tutkiminen Waltteri Torikan konsertin aikana aiheutti hieman niskanikamien kiertymistä, mutta oli sen arvoista.
The most southern part of Porkkala is called Pampskatan and it is accessable also during winter. What a great site to visit, to listen to the wind and make some black coffee.
Juhani Repo, Eero Ojama and Timo Repo sitting beside the fire in Porkkalanniemi
Eero taking photos just before it gets dark
Just now is the best time of the year to visit Suomenlinna fortress with the guides of Ketunretket. Here we can enjoy wonderful lilac trees with different colours (Syringa vulgaris trees) spreading their odor everywhere! Did you know, that at least part of the lilac trees are from France, probably from Versailles, because some soldiers from Swedish Army were serving in the Swedish King's regiment serving there? These soldiers were sent to serve in Sveaborg, and they brought a lot of new ways of gardening with them to the northern areas.
Please join us on our guided tours to Helsinki and Suomenlinnas!
There were 20 brave tourists leaving from Melontakeskus against Rajasaari, Kesäranta, Villa Toivola, Mäntyniemi and Tamminiemi waters. The Ruler of the Good Weather had sent us a nice sunny time, so we could enjoy a guided tour paddling with a big Dragon boat, looking at Helsinki from an other direction than normally - from the sea! We had also the opportunity to listen to our guide Timo telling stories of the people been living here and the history of the area. Thanks to everyone, it was great to have you with us!
Tahko hill has a wonderful snowy scenery...
Our team is just getting up to the top of Tahko Hill.
Ketunretket's guide Timo with his client. The snow thickness was nearly one meter, and with snowshoes we could move around easily.
Snow freezes around the trees. Arja and Timo hiding behind a "tykky" tree.
There's just nothing better than springtime and the sun!
After having a nice tour-skating event members of Ketunretket had 11.2.2018 a tour to Strömfors Iron Mill sauna at Ruotsinpyhtää. Strömfors Iron Mill is more than 300 years, and is one of the best remaining independent iron mill communities.
The area of Ruukki is wonderful also during winter, with the beautiful red buildings.
Baron (Vapaaherra) Johan Creutz established here one of the Finlands first iron mills here at river Kymijoki western peninsula area at year 1698. Year 1790 got young baron's widow Virginia af Forselles the iron mill to her. She was leading this factory irony hands nearly 60 years. During the time of "Her Mercy" here were built most of the buildings that are still in use, such as red-coloured "Armonlinna" (the Castle of Her Mercy) and so called hose barn beside the river (in the picture below).
In the hammer huts you can still find the old time feeling of the iron mill. On the western coast of the rapids there was built year 1871 an iron blacksmithy with large hammer and ratchets. In the nail smithy ("yläpaja") up the stream the iron rods were hammered and cut to smaller pieces and smaller tools were produced. Ruukki Manor is situated in the center of the village.
Even today the handicraft professionals are giving their image to the old iron mill area. During summer time several small shops open their doors, and the small church with the altar painting, from year 1898 made by painter Helene Schjerfbeck can be visited. That is actually the only altar painting that Helene has ever done!
Strömfors iron mill (the Ruukki) has a sauna house just beside so called "bridge of Love", near old barn building. Sauna has been in common use, and it has internal look just like it would be from the year 1950. This sauna has not been renovated too much, so you can feel the old times here. Sauna can be rented from Jari Jokinen, and you can also have massage services from Hieronta- ja hyvinvointikeskus Sofia, owned by Pia Mustonen.
We had the opportunity to try the jacuzzi of the sauna, and of course, the icy pit in the river: Our bath-ducks were able to swim in the jacuzzi there too!! You should never forget to take the ducks with you in the bath-tub!! It was easy to get to the icy pit in the river from the sauna, because Jari had installed a heated path there. However, the water was a little bit too cold for me, so I preferred to stay in the warm jacuzzi...
Arja said that after third time in the icy pit the feeling is heavenly energic and good feeling spreads everywhere in your body and soul! Mental note to myself: remember to do it more often!
Going to the Strömfors Sauna along the Lover's Bridge...
Cold? In your dreams, man....
Strömfors ironmill has a relaxing sauna and jacuzzi in the sauna yard.
How to make Fox Soup with Ducks added?...