Gary Boldie, Auckland, New Zealand


Posted Nov 24, 2008, 7:06 pm
This is where it all begins. At least my new life on Earth. After all those years in outer space, space stations and shuttles - it really is great to breathe cool fresh air. But this amount of snow... I think I need a bit time to adjust to this  B)

I have travelling friends here. Other teddy called Alfie Langer from Australia and a fine young kangaroo gal from the UK. That's us trying "liukuri", a slider in the back yard.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:41 pm
Here I am, around 07 am in Helsinki, looking at the christmas lights. I was running around the city with my mentor in search of an open currency converting place. We didn't find any. Our buss to Sortavala (Russian Carelia) leaves at 08 am. I'm attending a 3-day trip with my mentor and "her" charity organization called Vaaka!

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:44 pm
Here we (me, Roo and Alfie Langer) are, having a stop-over in Lappeenranta. There was a shop that sold stuff made of wood! They were way cool! They did have smaller things too, like toys and jewellry - my mentor seemed to have a hard time not to buy anything...

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:47 pm
We made a final stop in Tohmajärvi which is next to the Russian border. We used the Värtsilä-Niirala crossing point which is said to be the third busiest crossing point to Russia in Finland.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:49 pm
We made it! This is us in Hotel Seurahuone is Sortavala. We're pretty tired from the busdrive so we'll go to bed andzzzzzzzzzz

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:51 pm
I slept very well thank you  B)

Now I'm having a nourishing breakfast before we start running around again  I'm having porridge, bread, egg and tea. This is really different to the food in space stations! In a good way!

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:54 pm
First we drove to the local orphanage for bigger children. We dropped off some stuff we had agreed to bring for the kids that are leaving the orphanage (to study). Things they will need when they get a place of their own. The kids have made some amazing handicrafts that are for sale. We got to see the products although the "shop" wasn't open. My mentor bought a wooden dolphin painting because she loves dolphins. She did see many many other things she would've wanted as well but they hadn't put a pricetag on them yet. Well, next time my mentor will be prepared...

The buildings in the photos are around the orphanage. In the second picture you can see the "lyseo" (college/highschool) which was designed by architect Ahrenberg in 1901. In the third pic is the town hall, designed by architect F.A. Sjöström in 1885.

The last picture is from the inside of the orphanage. They have this room with all these churchly images. I guess they'll prey in there, or just sit silently and think. This is a place to find serenity but as I'm not much into religion I didn't find it here.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:56 pm
This is the yard of a kindergarden where we dropped off some stuff too. It's very colorfull as you can see. The safety regulations might not be as strickt as they are in Finland but my mentor said she would love to see this much cheerfull colors in Finnish kindergarden too.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 4:59 pm
After dropping off things we had time to go shopping and sightseeing on our own! In the first picture is actually a sort of a "mall". In those buildings were several different shops - although entering a shop looked like you would be entering a home. My mentor likes bookstores and here they sell toys too so my host "got 2 flies with one hit"  ;) She has not yet found any books to buy though. But that's not a problem as she doesn't speak russian!  :p

In the second picutre is a bookstore across the street. We wanted to take a pic because the sign was also in Finnish! Well, this used to be Finland before 2nd World War. There are still many buildings that date back to the Finnish times of the town. Here you can read about the history of Sortavala.

In the last photo is the Nicholas Church which was designed by architect Nikolay Grebenka in 1873 from revenues of the Yeliseyevs brothers - merchants from Saint-Petersburg. We took a look inside the church too as we vere curious. It looked much smaller from the inside - and it was under maintenance too.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:01 pm
The shopping tour continues... In the first photo is part of the local buss station. On the other side was a market place (indoors and outdoors). The next to pics are taken on opposite directions and show more malls (this time they looked like it from the inside too).

The building with the huge painting on one side is an administrative-dwelling house which was built by architect Erkki Huttunen in the 1930s.

In the last photo you can see what my mentor bought with her roubles. As you can see, much of it is for her girls  ;)

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:03 pm
Here is the Hotel Seurahuone where we stayed. And it's surroundings. The street is the mainstreet of Sortavala, called Karjalankatu.

The bridge (220 m lenght, 11 m width) over Vakkolahti Bay was the longest bridge of Finland in its time. It was opened in 1932 on holidays when was celebrated three-hundredth anniversary of the town.

The taller building on the other side of the bridge is called The Popular School and it was build by Yrjö Vaskinen in 1929. Now why is it called popular, I don't know and neither does my mentor.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:06 pm
In the evening we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. As you can see we had soup, (cold) fries, meat and a sweet looking & tasting bun!  We also witnessed a local birthday celebration. They had hired this bunch of people in traditional dresses to sing & dance - and make the party group sing & dance too! It was loud and it was fun! Oh, and the wife (?) of the birthday hero did some belly dancing!    :stare:

We were so tired we could only watch some dubbed russian tv when we got back to the hotel - and fall asleep.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:08 pm
Wakey wakey rise & shine! Early in the morning we packed to head back home. These pics are also taken by the hotel but in a different light. Plus there's a photo of the monument of a folk-tale narrator Petri Shemeikka (1825 - 1915) which was set up in 1935 to commemorate a centenary of Kalevala first issue. The author is Alpo Sailo sculptor, the lay-out of public gardenis made by Uno Verner Ullberg. This monument is raised from Berg judge's bequeathed means and from the revenue of the Singing Festival in 1926.

And yep, that's our buss!

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:11 pm
My mentor took the first blurry photo in the bus when we drove to see if there was a church (there was a small argue whether the church already existed or was it still "under construction"). Crazy people turn the buss around and go check  :o Well, it wasn't that big a leap actually. But there it was, church called Herrankukkaro (a place where you're in clover). My mentor told me that 2 years ago when she was here the last time, they slept in the hotel that is in the first floor and then there was yet no church.

The second pictures show the local small shop that we visited on our way. It's a small shop full of basically everything. My mentor bought a few souvenirs - "to support the local business" she said  :rolleyes:

There was a christmas tree on the yard. I was told that russians don't celebrate christmas the way we do, to them New Year is the bigger celebration with gifts etc. Having seen the local birthday I bet their New Year is even more full of noise and fun!

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:14 pm
This was our last drop-off. A kindergarden in a small village near the border. The village is called Värtsilä. It was divided in two in the 2nd world war, half of the village is still Finland and this other half is in Russia. We had to wait a while so we had a chance to take some pics. It looks so peacefull and quiet, maybe because it was the russian Mother's Day. The first photo shows the kindergarden and everything else is around it. My mentor wanted to photograph the playground again because of the colors and statues.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:16 pm
Just a few minutes from the border we had a chance to do some last minute shopping. Although no-one has ever seen anyone cashing the stuff in the "tents". In that cottage is a huge variety of not-so-authentic music and dvd's. The security chief in me wanted to go and bust them - I had to tell myself I'm on vacationof sorts... Besides, I'm not familiar with all the laws on Earth... Outside the photo is also a restaurant and another shop with drinks and goodies. My mentor got only some snacks for the drive.

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:19 pm
We're back in Finland! Only about a 5 hour drive home... Feeling a bit exhausted... Might take a nap with friends to digest all that I've seen. Life on Earth turns out to be quite interesting and exciting...

Posted Dec 6, 2008, 5:26 pm
Finland turns 91 years today! Meaning it's the Independence Day here. Traditionally people burn white&blue (flag colours) candles but as my mentor doesn't have any she put a paper one on the window. Thius candle is made by her daughter.

Happy birthday Finland!

Posted Dec 7, 2008, 3:47 pm
What's all the fuss about top tens? Alfie and Roo are shushing to keep me quiet. They say my mentor will explode or something when she hears about this. Youngsters, they like to exaggerate...  :rolleyes:

Hey Delenna, come and take a look! You're in top10! yeah yeah, believe me! Most updates by user. Hey no need to scream that loud. Hey hey don't squeeze me that hard! I can't breathe! Thank you *cough cough*

Ok, now she's jumping up and down around the house singing - and smiling widely! I guess the youngsters knew what they were talking about...

What? A party? Way cool! I'm in!


Posted Dec 8, 2008, 5:07 pm
When I first heard we would go to an Elf Workshop I thought my mentor had gone crazy after hearing she's in the top10... I don't believe in Elves. Not in the santas-little-helpers kind anyway. We went to a place called "Art Factory" which to some  is a pile of red tiles and to some a cultural heritage worth saving. Not taking sides on this one. Now I got carried on sidetracks...

The Elf Workshop turned out to be a place for kids to do different sorts of xmas things (decorations, gifts, wrapping paper...) from recycled materials. Ecological crafts so to speak. This workshop is open on weekends before xmas, starting from the end of November (costs 4e/kid). And they do different things each day!

My mentor and her girls went there last year and it seems to become a tradition. No wonder as the kids love crafts almost as much as their mom!

This time they made the following: wrapping paper, rope, window decoration, rainstick and streamer.

Posted Dec 8, 2008, 5:38 pm
After the workshop we went to the other side of the building to take a look at the Christmas Market! They had all sorts of handicrafts for sale there. And a play for kids! It was called something like "Aunt Monica's Christmas Past". The kids got to do more crafts and write to Santa - and sang traditional christmas songs with the "aunt" and her friend Flora.

The "aunt" was a dude. I'm pretty sure of it.  ;)

The last two pohotos show the surroundings. My first photos in my new hometown!

Posted Dec 12, 2008, 6:56 pm
A former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was rewarded today with Nobel Peace Prize! The whole nation is proud of this achievement! My mentor ordered a First Day Cover after a long pause - and some mint Ahtisaari stamps. She says this is a day to remember  :)

Posted Dec 14, 2008, 5:07 pm
I met Santa Claus! And his wife  B)

I'm an old bear but I may still get excited over fictional characters  ;)

Posted Dec 17, 2008, 5:17 pm
Gingerbread cookies for xmas are a tradition in this country. Today we made some. First we chose the moulds; there were traditional figures (those that are red) and some Moomin but we decided to use only the special new ones. We used frog, hedgehog, unicorn, cat, puzzle piece, penguin, butterfly and falling star 

Then we took the dough out of the freezer and waited for it to melt. Then we started working! I rolled the dough with Alfie.  It's really hard to roll when the dough is still a bit frozen... But I'm strong! We made tens of cookies. Alfie got a bit "floury" so I dusted him with Roo.

Then we put them in the oven and waited. We didn't get to taste any ready ones as my mentor said we would decorate them tomorrow! Ha! Try and stop me!

Posted Dec 17, 2008, 5:23 pm
We drove to the city to attend a xmas party in a park! Crazy! They had a huge tent there just in case it would start raining! Crazy, I'm telling you! There were a lot of kids so some pics are blurry on purpose. The local Lucia maidens visited the park and sang like angels! We got to eat rice porridge an gingerbread cookies. The cookies weren't as good as the ones we made at home...  ;) How do i know that...  :p Ha! Don't tell my mentor  ;)

Posted Dec 17, 2008, 6:24 pm
On our way back home we stopped at this sightseeing tower. I got a good look at my new hometown Porvoo. The Porvoo River runs through the city into the Baltic Sea. The little red shore houses are the most wellknown tourist attraction of this town. The shore houses  got their present colour in the late 18th century. Red ochre paint was used to paint the shore houses in honour of King Gustav III's arrival from Sweden. All of the houses along his route were painted, in order to make them more beautiful. The red ochre also helped protect the logs from wind and sun damage. Exotic fruits, wines and spices were brought to Porvoo, and the shore houses also served as intermediate storehouses for coffee an tobacco. Today the shore houses are used as private living quarters and storage space.

In the distance you can see the church/cathedral, with it's new roof (it was totally burnt by arson 2 years ago). Porvoo Cathedral is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and it gained its present from at the end of the 15th century (excluding the roof aof course).

Posted Dec 17, 2008, 6:27 pm
When we got back home we started decorating the delicious gingerbread cookies. I started with the falling star with Alfie. See how good looking we made them!

Posted Dec 22, 2008, 8:32 pm
I love my mentor dearly but she's not that good in the kitchen... This, my dear gazers is a lighthouse. See, there's even the light on top! There's also a pier and a boat (no, it's not a snail). My mentor makes a gingerbread building every year and every year it's a different building. I... well...

I believe we all will appreciate it when we get to eat it.


Posted Dec 22, 2008, 8:36 pm
Hooray! We got to decorate the xmas tree! I put all sorts of decorations on it with Alfie and Roo. Storebought, made by the kids... Glittery and non glittery... It was fun, we got to climb on the tree too  :D It was good excercise.

Posted Dec 22, 2008, 8:38 pm
We also decorated the rest of the house. The kids had made these window decorations. The red gnomes are older and my mnetor didn't remember were they old enough to be made by her or younger to be made by the kids. I can feel the xmas spirit...

Posted Dec 25, 2008, 3:29 pm
It's Christmas! Merry Xmas! Iloista joulua!

It's the last day of the xmas calendar too and me, Alfie and Roo decided to suprise our host/mentor by hopping in the pouches in the morning  :p She has felted the tree herself! The pouches were a bit too small for us - and I fell all the time  :thinking:

When my mentor had "opened" her calendar (the kids had taken their stuff already) we went to cook christmas porridge! It's rice porridge but if you do it the traditional way you put an almond in it - the one who finds it while eating gets to make a wish! We didn't have any almonds. We didn't have cinnamon either, which is the other traditional part in serving christmas porridge. Luckily we did have sugar and milk at least  :p It did taste very delicious!

Posted Dec 25, 2008, 3:37 pm
After the porridge we sat and listened to Mamba, a finnish band, and their xmas album. My mentor had just bought it as they didn't have any Finnish xmas songs on cd before. Just one "Ally McBeal" xmas album...

Posted Dec 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
Later we baked some Xmas Pastries with plum filling! After that it was good to sit down and watch tv (Shrek the halls). Then we went outdoors for some fresh air and see the whiteness of the xmas. When we got back in we got the traditional xmas lunch--- wait a minute! Burritos? This can't be right... Oh, it's my mentor's and her family's new tradition... ok. For dessert we had sweets and pastries. Then it was time for sauna and --- Santa had visited us  ;) He had brought me a gift too  :D A photo frame with a pic of me and my first tv pals Alfie & Roo.


Posted Dec 31, 2008, 6:31 pm
It's New Years Eve! We did a traditional New Years magical trick: melted tin and tossed it into water - and read our future  :D Mine looked like a boat! Does this mean I get one? or a cruise? Or a vacation by the sea--- wait! I live by the sea... Maybe it's the cruise...

Posted Dec 31, 2008, 6:32 pm
Happy New Year!
Onnellista uutta vuotta!
Gott Nytt År!

Posted Jan 5, 2009, 5:42 pm
It is freezing cold here! I thought the winters were supposed to be lame nowadays! We don't have much snow now but the temperature... brrrr... Here we are walking on the Baltic Sea! Some crazy people were even driving on it! Finns...  :rolleyes:

Posted Jan 9, 2009, 8:18 am
This little creature thought he could scare me as he's a ghost, ha! I pretended I got the creeps just to humor him  ;)

Later we made a snowman with crazy, spooked hair. Oh yeah, the new "scary" guy is called Etwas.

Posted Jan 17, 2009, 5:25 pm
Today we celebrated two birthdays at once. My mentor's daughters turned years. These are the cakes we made for them! The "playing blocks" are for the younger and the crown is for the elder. The "snake" is made of leftovers of the crown  :p And the marzipan figures are made by my mentor's sister who obviously is quite talented!

Yummy! Fun! Gotta go to bed ZZZZzzzzz

Posted Jan 22, 2009, 3:24 pm
Well well... Last time I visited the capitol of Finland I didn't get to do much sightseeing. So here I am again, with the most wellknown sights. At first, you can see the Presidential Palace on the right and the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral further away.

Then there are the ferries that run between Stockholm (Sweden) and Helsinki & Tallinn (Estonia) and Helsinki on daily basis  ---- wait! these are not sights! But they're big! At least to me... No laughing there!

Then there's the Cathedral and in the last pic there's the Parliament and a statue of Mannerheim.

Posted Jan 22, 2009, 4:05 pm
Okey dokey, so this is a postcrossing meetup... Bunch of 'crossers chatting, writing cards and taking photos. My mentor called this meeting "Post-xmas-party-meetup" as they had a "Pre-xmas-party-meetup" last year. The coffee was good too!  :D

Posted Feb 14, 2009, 8:35 pm
Sweet Valentine's Day!

In Finland it's called Ystävänpäivä which means Friend's Day. So here you send  a card or give chocolate or a cute fluffy thing to your friends. Some couples remember each other too. Some people think it's just bah commercial humbug brought from the States.

Posted Mar 14, 2009, 3:39 pm
Hi ya folks! No autographs today please  B) 'Cos you see, I'm a nominee for Most Promising Newcomer in the Golden Bear Awards - the Oscars of toyvoyager community. I look pretty handsome don't I! Who could resist voting me? It'll be exciting to see who wins! Also Alfie has been nominated for Best Action shot. And our little Vladimir is in one of the Best Ensemble Cast photos. There was also my mentor's Repa Räpylä nominated in several categories. I wish good luck to everyone who has been notinated in any other gategory than mine  B)

I'll put the champagne on ice!

Posted Mar 18, 2009, 4:26 pm
Today was Alfie Langer's 2nd birthday/Anniversary of Arrival. He didn't know we were throwing him a party as this is not the exact date ;) I didn't know I would be so stuffed I couldn't move my "behind" when everyone started a boardgame - I told them I'll be the judge... Judge didn't have to move... Alfie was very happy and pleased for everything, which is cool. He got a card but he gets to go shopping later, shopping for his own b-day pressie. Way cooler!

Posted Mar 21, 2009, 2:19 pm
Life's all party nowadays...  B)

Roo turned 5 years today - and next week she has 1year anniversary like Alfie. They both came here a year ago. Well, Roo had cake with marzipan decoration and yummy chocolate cookies. Then we played Princess Memory/Pairs. I was Prince Charming of course  ;)

There we pose: me, Ewan E. Ewok, Alfie Langer, Roo and Vladimir.

Posted Mar 21, 2009, 4:35 pm
My mentor attended a yawning seminar in Vantaa, in a building called Flamingo. The Flamingo was a spa but there was also all sorts of stores and cafe's and restaurants and a movie theatre... We posed with some movie ads but what really got me jumping was the spaceman! I colleague! Wohoo! Although he was very silent - maybe he didn't hear me behind the glass... And my mentor got excited in the toilet... Yep, she's nuts. The toilets had posters of famous men (I guess they had all the groovy chick pics in the male toilets). My mentor chose Viggo Mortensen for some mysterious reason.

Oh well, the seminar was *yawn* but the chairs were comfy! My mentor was really interested in the seminar and the talk but I missed most of it... zzz....

Posted Mar 21, 2009, 4:41 pm
I woke up when the seminar was over and we headed for somewhat more interesting places. We went to check out the Rock Park at Heureka which is a Finnish Science Center. We saw Banded iron ore, quartzite, gold ore... and so on and so on! In the summer there's also all sorts of plants next to it. It would be cool to see the place from the inside too, they have all sorts of interactive exhibitions there.

Posted Mar 21, 2009, 4:49 pm
After learning about different Finnish rocks we did something more "casual": visited IKEA. The huge store with all sorts of fun stuff for home. It's a Swedish brand but known in many parts of the world. It's famous for huge variety, cheap prizes and not always good quality... I'm not that much into shopping so I didn't pay much attention on what she got. My mentor I mean. She is into shopping so heaven knows...

Posted Mar 21, 2009, 5:46 pm
When we got back home it was late but we still had so much energy (probably due to the sleep during the seminar) we decided to play soccer with Alfie's brand new football (his birthday present). I wanted to be the goalkeeper and the others (Alfie, Roo, Ewan and Vladimir) played more or less together. It was fun! 

Posted Apr 4, 2009, 6:19 pm
They've announced the Winners of the Golden Bears 2009! And I'm not in it!  Darn...

Congratulations to the winners (in last pic)!

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:12 am
I'm going on a cruise to Sweden! We took the buss to Helsinki and there it waited - Silja Serenade of Silja Line - our ship! We went straight to the upper deck to see the views, which were amazing from so high up  :stare: We waited for the ship to depart so that we could see the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress and the Baltic Sea  :D

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:16 am
This is our cabin on the 10th floor/deck. There's 2 beds (of which the other can be drawn down from the wall/push back) and a toilet + shower. It's called Promenade as you can see the promenade from the cabin window. I checked the safety regulations on the wall so that I'd know where to go in case of emergency. So this is our headquarters on this trip  B)

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:21 am
We spent the evening at Silja Land which is a place for kids (and toyvoyagers) to play. There was a ball pit and a pirate ship and games and videos - we didn't get bored. I did think I was too old for games but apparently the fresh sea air gets into my veins...  ;)

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:25 am
We were too excited to sleep - we woke up around 05am Finnish time (04am Swedish time). We went on the deck to watch the sunrise - it was totally worth waking up already! The promenade was empty and we could look at the huge map in peace. The map shows our route and the lights show where we are at each moment. We went back to our cabin to count our money and plan our day with the Stockholm map. At 07 Swedish time we finally got some breakfast at the Buffet. There were all sorts of food - we couldn't take a pic of them all, nor could we eat everything (there was so much of everything!)   :cyclops:

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:28 am
After the breakfast we noticed the sun had risen and we were getting really close to Stockholm. We ran - or rolled as we were so full - on the deck to see the views. There were lots of small islands before we saw the harbour. I'm feeling the itch on my paws already - soon we'll go on shore!

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:32 am
Here we are! In the capitol of Sweden, Stockholm! First we went to see the Royal Palace and its surroundings. It was huge! The first building on this site was a fortress with a core tower built in the 13th century by Birger Jarl to defend Lake Mälaren. The fortress grew to a palace, named Tre Kronor ("Three Crowns") after the core towers' spire. Nowadays it's the official residence of the Swedish monarch (their private quarters are elsewhere though). It neighbours the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament, which can be seen in pics 2 and 5. The crown princess Victoria will get married next year. She had to ask permission of his father and then the government to get married  :o That's the law for the royals in Sweden.

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:36 am
Next we went to Junibacken which is a house full of fairytales! There are houses and forest that look exactly like in certain children's books by swedish authors like Astrid Lindgren - whose statue is on the yard. In the house there was for example a Moomin house and the house of Pippi Longstocking. And a forest from Elsa Beskow's books. It's made so well that even a old bear like me enjoyed it  ;)

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:41 am
Next to Junibacken were Vasa Museum and Swedish Museum of Natural History. We didn't go  to either one unfortunately. I would've liked to see the huge warship Vasa from 1600.

We walked back to the city center and saw a lot of statues on the way. The building with a lot of gold is the Royal Dramatic Theatre. This was a long day with long walks, I'm sure we all will sleep well tonight...

On the ship we bought some candy from Tax Free and played a while in Silja Land. Then we went on deck to see the Baltic Sea again. Soon we were back in bed and all snoring... 

Posted Apr 18, 2009, 11:44 am
We're back home! This was an exiting trip that made me feel ten years younger  :D I'll definitely tell my grandchildren about it  B)

Posted May 1, 2009, 10:30 am
This is vappu. Also known as May 1st, Labour Day, May Day... My mentor had bought us traditional Finnish vappu-delicaties: simaa (mead), munkkeja (doughnuts) and tippaleipä (funnel cake). We also got balloons  :D

It's a tradition to dress up in disguise for vappu, so we did so too: I was a princess like Alfie, Roo was a prince and Vladimir was Triton (the king of the sea) - all royals! Vladimir was so amusing with his trident - he used it as a fork! We all laughed at each other's dresses  :D

It was a fun day!

Posted May 1, 2009, 10:36 am
My mentor takes part in the "Giant May Release" by setting free three toyvoyagers. Here we oldies meet the newbies: (from left to right) Roo, Vladimir, me, Ewan, Alfie - Cordelia Cow, Jou Lu and Dr. Ykskorva. My mentor is going to release Dr. Ykskorva with a helium balloon! She's crazy! A doctor with a princess balloon!  :o And Dr. Ykskorva is really looking forward to it!  :o Crazy centipede... Well, I hope him all the best - and that he'll get far  :) The other two my  mentor will release in more earthly fassion  ;)

Posted May 1, 2009, 10:41 am
Yesterday's party was also a goodbye party for Roo and Ewan. E. Ewok. They'll be going to Germany! Vladimir took the goodbye a bit hard as he had grown to love travelling in Roo's "tummy pocket". I wish Roo and Ewan all the best & hope they'll have fun in Germany  :D

Posted May 4, 2009, 5:10 pm
Voyagers keep disappearing here! Well ok, not disappearing actually but leaving. Vladimir will go to Germany too. Now it's just me and Alfie. At least for a while. My mentor said there is a few guys heading our way but she couldn't tell when exactly. Oh well, I'm sure Alfie & I will enjoy this quieter time too.

Posted May 8, 2009, 6:58 pm
Here I am again. In Helsinki. And attending a postcrossing meeting. Again. I love my mentor dearly but seriously... she really needs to see the world more. Ok, she was in Stockholm recently...

Anyway, we did have fun as usual  :p
My mentor had missed the Pink Ribbon Meeting so she was (and made us do it too) pink today. It's not easy to get her dressed in pink so that ribbon and hair thing was quite a lot. Oh, and she did have pink socks although she denies it strongly  ;)

We send a few pink cards but what made me choke was that card with the rat/mouse. It says "I don't usually send postcards but you make an exception"  :thinking:  :stare:  :thinking:  :rolleyes:
Hello? Postcrossing meeting...

There was also some of the new Moomin cards with matching stamps (issued yesterday, the yellow ones).

At some point me and Alfie had had too much ofthat Wayne's coffee and started a duel of sorts - a friendly one of course! The meeting ducks were our horses and the tiny duck was our sender. We had pens as spears - as pen is mightier than a sword  ;)

Somehow Alfie won.  :stare:

Posted May 10, 2009, 12:09 pm
As it's the second Sunday in May it's also the Mothers' Day here. The sun was shining so we went for a walk. It's a flagging day so we saw many Finnish flags flapping in the wind. We also picked some wood anemones for the mother of the house - that's a tradition.

We also walked to the beach to see the unfrozen Baltic Sea. That's the same spot where we walked on in January! I climbed on the life-buoy to check if it was ok after the winter. Maybe my new profession could be lifesaving...  :thinking:

Posted May 15, 2009, 6:00 pm
This's my mentor's favourite view on the city - perhaps because she got engaged on the side of this hill  ;) This place is called Castle Hill and there used to be a castle hundreds of years ago. You can only see the castle moats anymore. This's where the settlement started in this area. This's really cool place to think of Robin Hood etc.

Posted May 15, 2009, 8:59 pm
In the evening we had a small "party" as it's now officially Alfie's 2nd birthday. The real party was held way beforehand like the Anniversary of his arrival. Tonight we had Nacho Cheese Balls and watched Kung Fu Panda! It was also a good way to get to know our new visitors TobiHH (the seal) and Leonard (the bird). Savannah (the leopard), my mentor's new tv, was there too of course. We did have fun  B)

Posted May 21, 2009, 3:11 pm
We had a birthday party - again! This time it was one of the kids in the house  ;) We had a cool "snowball"-cake (ice cream) with awesome marzipan decor by my mentor's sister - again!  :D There was also a pulljata - a pinjata that you pull open instead of hitting it. And balloons - again  ;) I helped fill those by the way - again  ;)

Posted May 24, 2009, 3:39 pm
Today we got to experience the World Village Festival which is held annually in Helsinki! This year, which is the 10th time this festival is held,  it starts from the Railway Square and continues as usual to a park further away (Kaisaniemi Park). There was many performers (music, dance, art etc) from Finland and abroad, food from Africa and Asia etc, charity/volunteer work organizations, craftsmen selling their stuff, UN, Greenpeace, politics, world books, animal protection organizations... etc etc! The main theme of the year was the climate.

We took pics when we first arrived, before there was public - as you can see the pics that were taken after the public arrived it's very crowded. The weather was horrible! It rained so much we had a pond on our feet  most of the time (the roof didn't hold). I helped my host at "her stand" (a small organization that does charity for children). I sold some lottery tickets with TobiHH, Alfie and Leonard. My host had made some of the prizes! Everyone won something  :D

We were there the whole day. Fortunately we didn't have to stand at one place the whole time, The stand was in one huge tent called the "market of possibilities tent" and there were exhibitors from child sponsorship, volunteer work, development cooperation plus a "general section". We also saw Signmark perform! He's a deaf (yes deaf!) rapper! He raps with a few other guys who do the same rap in Finnish and/or English and then there's the dj. Signmark himself raps in Finnish sign language. It was cool! They had so much fun on stage!

When we left we saw the same car inside a wall as when we came. Only this time it was painted along with the walls.  :stare:

Posted May 25, 2009, 12:56 pm
We went to the Art Factory again, only this time to check out Old Mobiles exhibition (Wanhat Mobiilit in Finnish). They arranged it for charity cause - not for saving old cards but giving money to children's sports and anti-drug work etc. The building was probably full of the vehicles but we didn't have enough cash to go in so we just looked at the oldies on the yard. We even went inside an old buss (the blue one seen in the 3rd photo)! It's called "Siipi-Wiima" and this one is  from 1960. Then there were two old firedepartment's mobiles; Willys and Bedford! There were newer cars too - like that police car  B)

Posted May 26, 2009, 11:54 am
In the hot weather we walked down to the beach to get even hotter: by barbequeing! That's us: me, Alfie, TobiHH and Leonard. It was fun and delicious but way too hot for bbq!

Posted May 28, 2009, 9:59 am
My mentor is famous!

Ok, I "might" be exaggerating it a bit... One of the pics she took with Roo is published in a Chinese magazine - among with lots of others in a story about ToyVoyagers  B) Alfie is there too in one of the photos!

I just might have to ask my mentor's autograph  :p

Link to the story on this site:

Posted Jun 16, 2009, 3:41 pm
My mentor graduated! Again! Now she's also a Practical Nurse. That's her school where they had the graduation. My mentor and her class sang. It was ok, I'd love to put it on YouTube  :cyclops: She also got some flowers and gifts although she didn't invite many people to celebrate in her home.

Posted Jun 19, 2009, 10:54 am
Yo! Here I am, at the Old Town of Porvoo again. This time we were here because my mentor attended a Postcrossing meetup. She was so excited to have on in her hometown  :p

Naturally we went poscard shopping first. That's nothing new, I do that with my mentor all the time.  :rolleyes:

There were those figures where humans stick their heads into. They were everywhere and various kinds. They're made by a local art school for kids& teens and they're there beacuse of the 200 Anniversary of Porvoo Diet.

I decided to concentrate on the details this time, hence the bikes and stuff  :D The two last photos are taken in the famous Brunberg shop. Brunberg is a local chocolate (and other sweets) factory. They're delicious! Notice the sign on the wall? "No Kisses allowed in the cabin of an airplane"  :stare: I was like "Wha--- Huh?". The Kisses they mean are one of Brunberg's delicaties: soft foamy filling with a thin chocolate cover. Very yummy! The clerk explained that the national Ministery of Aviation considers the filling to be liquid. Ok...  :o

Posted Jun 19, 2009, 11:04 am
Next we went to the river shore, between the red shore houses. That street sign (Elvis Presley Boulevard!) was on a house next to the one where a local rock legend lives.

When we had had enough of the sights we wanted something to eat. The place we went was Bar & Café Porvoo Coffee Roastery. It's located in an old brick magazine on the riverbank, right next to the main bridge.  We ate indoors (with the the solid brick walls, logs, and candles - and warmth!) but went to the  terrace and the barge afterwards to see the view.

Next we sent the tens of postcards we had written  :D

Posted Jun 19, 2009, 11:10 am
Last but not least we walked to the Small Chocolate Factory by the church. It was so tiny we couldn't take any pics indoors  :stare: We found that little toy doggie sitting there all alone. We had a talk with him and realised he had been sitting there for quite a long time. My mentor felt sorry for him and decided to rescue him. Her eyes hinted me that the doggie would probably end up a tv  B)

Notice the cool car? We did too and couldn't resist taking a pic.

That bench was further away but the text written on it pleased me somehow  ;)

Posted Jun 28, 2009, 6:37 am
We celebrated Midsummer at my mentor's parents. This year we got lucky weatherwise! It was cloudy but warm and it didn't rain  B)

We barbequed some sausages, had some veggies - and cake for dessert! As you can see, we (me, Alfie, Leonard and TobiHH) were quite full when we were done  ;)

Later we played some petanque. Leonard and TobiHH both won once. But it was a tight game, we had to measure the distances several times!

Hauskaa juhannusta!
Happy Midsummer!

Posted Jun 28, 2009, 6:46 am
WOW! Or actually VOTW as Alfie Langer is the Voyager of the Week :o  :D Congratulations little fella'! We decided it's a good cause for celebrating and went to restaurant Rosso. The hero of the week took Reindeer Pasta and the rest of us (me, Leonard and TobiHH) shared a huge (from the tv point of view) Pizza Al Capone - although Alfie called it Alfie Capone  ;) No matter what the name was, it was delicious and filling - we were so full that couldn't eat dessert...


Posted Jul 4, 2009, 8:44 pm
Today we went to Helsinki (once more) to attend a Postcrossing Meetup (once more). These posters were on display next to the café where we were heading to. The posters are made by a group of 6 graphic designers. They call themselves 6G. The group was started 10 years ago to promote the Finnish poster art and the level graphic design. They have made posters about Finland 90 years, protecting the Baltic Sea, doping, millenium, global warming, protecting animals etc. This year their topic was the Power of Money. These posters are of all of the topics. Once more I'm amazed how my mentor finds topics for photosesssions by accident  :stare: Lucky bastard.

Posted Jul 4, 2009, 8:51 pm
This is the Once More Meetup which my mentor called The Aussie Meetup. Don't take me wrong, I do love attending these! I had a blast chatting with old and new friends, eating, drinking and writing "some" postcards... That fella hanging on me is one of the souvenirs my mentor got. The little koala was so scared of all the big people and noises, I guess I looked secure enough  ;) My mentor also got an Echidna as a souvenir (she named her Ellie) - or as a gift to ease the pain of Alfie leaving. Hey, it was about time the guy gets to go back home! He's been stuck with my (dear) mentor for over a year. I'm just saying I would miss my mentor if I had to be away from her that long (don't tell her!). 

Posted Jul 12, 2009, 12:30 pm
Okey dokey, I went with my mentor (and Leonard) to a local Moomin exhibition. The local art school kids had studied the works of Tove Jansson closely and made their own Moomin art. There was also photos of Tove and the Klovharu island, taken by her brother. And original doodlings by Tove! Well yes, they were printed into posters but they were the originals anyway. You can even see the very first Moomin like character she drew... Did you know she doodled on the walls of the outhouse on the island...? That's why the exhibition was named "Tove, outhouse and the sea"  :thinking:

From the shoe onwards are the art of the kids, quite talented cubs some of them, dontcha think?

Posted Jul 12, 2009, 12:36 pm
After the Moomin exhibition we were starving! We went to have lunch on a ship! The ship is called Glückauf. The ship is a two masted steam/sail ship built in 1898 in Germany. It has been changed and renamed several times along the years. It got it's original name back in 1984. In 1987 it was changed into a restaurant and in 1996 restored the stern to its original form & shape.

So now it's a restaurant for 50 people and the original engine room is the kitchen. The engine is preserved and still in working order!

Alfie was visiting us so we had to toast on that  :D
I ordered some Baltic Herring, it took quite long for the food to arrive, I wonder if they went fishing for the herrings first... But when it arrived it was worth the wait  ;)

Posted Jul 20, 2009, 3:58 pm
Tonight my mentor carried through one of her crazy plans. She had made a flag and drove to the airport to wave it. She wanted to have proper goodbyes, she said. I'm glad the place was nearly empty and only people who saw us were the friends of my mentors. It was late and I was getting tires & cranky but then I got some hot chocolate! I felt better and signed some postcards.

After the friends had left I took a look at the artwork - that wooden thing and the butterflies. Then we took the shuttle bus to our parking lot. Before heading home we checked out the old  planes on the yard of the aviation museum. I'd love to go there properly...

Posted Jul 21, 2009, 4:43 pm
Here I am, in Tampere, the 3rd biggest city in Finland by population - which is about 210 000. Tampere is about 2h drive away from Porvoo, which is not much - but hey, I didn't drive so don't take my word for it  ;)

This is how it looks like at the buss station. And by the harbour nearby. There's a market place and many people who sell Black Sausage  :p

Posted Jul 21, 2009, 4:52 pm
Finally we arrived at the Moominvalley museum! This museum is in the same building as the main library of Tampere. There are original works of Tove Jansson, the creator of Moomin. There are also several 3D tableaux made by Tuulikki Pietilä, the love of Tove's life. There's also a Moominhouse made by the two women plus Pentti Eistola.

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the museum so we had to settle with a few pics at the entrance and in the back room where that game was. There is that Moomin sculpture at the front door, it was vandalized a year ago and they had to make a new one, which took some time. There's a Moomin shop next door too. My mentor spent quite a few euros in there  :rolleyes:

In the last picture you can see the museum/library from the outside.

Posted Jul 21, 2009, 5:05 pm
After the Moomins we walked back the main street. Starting with the Alexander church next to the main library. There were many sculptures on out way. And look at the heat! It was noon and +30C! No wonder I was sweating in my woollen jacket!

We walked by the buss station, over the bridge -looking at some of the industrial buildings on both sides.

Later we saw the orthodox church and its surroundings.

I was ready for bed after all that walking...

Posted Jul 21, 2009, 5:08 pm
Time to go home! On our way we stopped to get some gasoline. There were these golden lions next  door!

Posted Jul 21, 2009, 5:16 pm
We got some new blood yesterday and today! Banyo arrived yesterday and Penny today. Banyo is Alfie's "mate" (as the aussies call friends) so he was very interested in hearing about his visit here.

Posted Aug 2, 2009, 7:00 pm
This is my birthday picture  B) I turn 53 years today! I don't feel old though  ;) I'm holding my birthday present: a dvd called "Once Upon a Time Was the Space". It's called Il était une fois... l'Espace in the original version in French. The series was created by Albert Barillé. It'll be interesting to see if I remember things the same way they're done in this cartoon  :D

Posted Aug 9, 2009, 6:25 pm
A friendly Toyvoyagers Freak made some socks to the kids in the family. She wanted to use her "leftover" yarn to something cute. My mentor's kids love these socks!  :D We wanted to show everyone how nice they are and that they fit perfectly  B)

Posted Aug 24, 2009, 1:17 pm
Neither me or my mentor have been here before so it was about time! This is the Pyynikki sightseeing tower. It's built upon the world's largest ice aged ridge. The current tower is built 1929 to celebrate the 150 year old Tampere city. The first tower in this spot was constructed 1888 but it suffered damages during the battles of 1918.

The tower itself is 26 meters tall but altogether with the ridge rises up to 178 meters offering a view over the lakes and the city. The tower also has a popular cafeteria, famous from its doughnuts. Those doughnuts we got to taste after climbing up and enjoying the views. The doughnuts were warm and soft and very tasty!

My mentor signed the guestbook on our behalf too B)

Posted Aug 24, 2009, 1:22 pm
What else did I see during my visit? I've been here before so I'll show you the new places. The Cathedral is one of them, it was designed by Lars Sonck and built between 1902 and 1907. The cathedral is famous for its frescoes, painted by renowned symbolist Hugo Simberg between 1905 and 1906. The paintings aroused considerable critique in their time[1], featuring versions of Simberg's The Wounded Angel and The Garden of Death. Of particular controversy was Simberg's painting of a winged serpent on a red background in the highest point of the ceiling, which his contemporaries interpreted as a symbol of sin and corruption.

I also took a picture of myself with the bronze Moomin in front of the Moominvalley Museum.

The lake I'm walking by is the Pyhäjärvi lake.

Posted Aug 24, 2009, 1:26 pm
Early Sunday morning we drove to Sastamala, formerly known as Vammala, to attend the confirmation of my mentor's goddaughter. The town is small but the municipality consists of 7 formerly independent municipalities and the population is 24 600. We were at the Tyrvää church which is 150 years old - can you believe it  :stare:

Posted Aug 24, 2009, 2:14 pm
In today's mail was a fluffy parcel. My mentor was a bit puzzled because she didn't expect any toyvoyagers. We opened the envelope carefully... A very familiar face peaked out - half of us yelled "Alfie?!?". But nope, it wasn't Alfie Langer but his brother Zac!  :o  There was a letter from Alfie saying that he enjoyed his stay and that his brother Zac would love to come and live with us  :stare: My  mentor was almost in tears! Of happines, I may add. It was a great b'day present for my mentor! Zac brought us gifts too  ;) I got to add the Ipswich pin to my jacket  B)

Posted Aug 31, 2009, 2:13 pm
Postcrossing International Meetup in Helsinki! I was there!

More text might be added later when I calm down a bit! Too excited now!

Posted Sep 16, 2009, 10:47 am
This is me in Hämeenlinna! A city 1h15min drive north from Porvoo. I went to a postcard event called Korttien tarinat ("the stories of cards") with my mentor and some fellow toyvoyagers. We had an international Postcrossing Meetup there too!

The place where the event was held is called Verkatehdas. It's an old factory that now is used as congress center, place for seminars and events. The place was full of postcards! People selling postcards, artists signing their postcards, postcards on exhibition, new postcards, old postcards...  :o  The grey haired lady signing postcards is Inge Löök, the artist who draws the "old granies". My mentor bought a few of her cards with her signature.

I met other postcrossers - and Snoopy! He was kindly giving away his own cards. The other postcrossers I met were the ones signed up for the Meetup but also postcrossers who were selling postcards and postcrossers who were visiting the event but had no idea we had a meetup. The event organizers had put a table for us - not telling us about it  :o They were "hoping that one of us would sit there and tell people about Postcrossing"  :o Well, we didn't as we had no material or laptop with us - and no-one had told us they "were hoping" it. My mentor wrote a note saying "we're buying postcards, please visit for further information on Postcrossing". They did interview one of our Meetup people for the radio!  :D

Can you guess how many cards we signed on our "coffe break"? 409!

Posted Sep 16, 2009, 10:51 am
After the meeting we drove to the center of the 370 years old  Hämeenlinna. I saw the beautiful Hämeenlinna Church on the end of the market square. The church's architectural example was the Roman temple of Pantheon. The church was completed in 1798. The architect was Louis Jean Deprez, court painter to King Gustav III. The altar painting depicts the Saviour's appearance to Mary Magdalene.

Do you know what that yellow wooden house is, in the middle of the modern buildings, next to a mall (!!!) ? It's the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius! He's Finland's best known composer  and born in Hämeenlinna on 8 December 1865. His childhood home has been converted to a miniature museum. The Empire style building with its period furnishings and artefacts affords the visitor a glimpse of the composer's childhood and youth. The lounge is a perfect place to rest for a while and listen to the music of Jean Sibelius. We didn't have time to rest! We headed towards a mailbox and a castle!

Posted Sep 16, 2009, 10:57 am
We mailed the 409 cards we had signed at the postcard event and Postcrossing Meetup. It took us a while... Then we got arrested for mailing too many cards!  :o

Ok, just kidding. We went to the Prison Museum that was next to the mailbox (we mailed them from that location because of the special Prison Museum cancellation).

This is what they write about the Museum:
Prison Museum

The prison museum introduces to the visitors the history of correctional treatment in Finland and  the prison life in the past and these days. The most valuable item is the museum building itself with its authentic premises that have been maintained in their original condition since the time when the building still functioned as a prison. The building and the exhibition consist of three floors.

The prison museum functions in the former premises of the provincial prison of Häme. When the building was finished in 1871, it was the first prison in Finland with cells, and it was used until the 1993. The museum was opened to the public in June, 1997. The building was designed by the architect L. I. Lindqvist. The museum features a permanent exhibition and changing exhibitions. For more details, take a look at the museum's calendar of events. Special exhibition: elementary studies in prison. In this exhibition, you can find answers to questions about how and why reading, writing and basic mathematics were taught in prisons. Paid guided tours available only if booked in advance.

It was quite an experience. We saw ancient methods of Crime Scene Investigation (ancient compared to CSI on tv!), crafts the inmates had done, letters from inmates, photos, clothes of guards etc. There was also a spot for the modern version of police work.

Posted Sep 16, 2009, 11:00 am
After we were reliesed from the Prison we looked around and smelled the fresh air  B) The Prison Museum is situated in Häme Castle, so we walked around to have a look on this famous sight.

Häme Castle is one of Finland’s medieval royal castles. It is believed to have been built at the end of the 13th century, following the crusade by Swedish Earl Birger to Häme region. During the Middle Ages the original fortified camp was built into a residential castle for its commandant. In the 18th century a third storey was built and curtain wall buildings partly replaced the original outer walls. The castle and its surroundings were in prison use from 1837 to 1972. The main castle is now presented as a historical monument. The Häme Castle and its redbrick barracks are on the shore of Lake Vanajavesi. The promontary has been a meeting place for centuries, and the walls almost echo the voices from the Middle Ages.

It was smaller than we had thought and walking around it didn't take long. We did enjoy the sight of both the castle and the lake. But finally the sun r´started to set and we had to head back home.

Posted Oct 8, 2009, 10:46 am
My mentor is crazy. I know I have said this before but - really. She is c-r-a-z-y. Did you know what we did today? On this "fine" Sunday - when it rained like we had been swimming vertically and the wind almost blew me to Italy! "Normal" people would've stayed indoors, had a cup of hot chocolate and watch dvd's. Can you guess what we did?

We went to the zoo.

We drove to the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki, barely seeing in front of us. At the zoo we managed to be indoors during the heaviest rain, seeing dwarf mongoose being fed, and other small animals like frogs, snakes, lizards, birds, sloth, monkeys...

There was a sightseeing tower and we had a look - but it was hard to enjoy it due to the rain and wind.

I was most interested in my fellow bears this time too (I've been to this zoo before - when the weather was better...). The lions had cubs which was adorable - just that some stupid people were annoying the male and even poking their finger inside the fence  :o My host may be crazy but at least she's not stupid.

Ok, I admit, it was an adventure!

Posted Oct 9, 2009, 9:59 am
Well, well, well... Look who's on Top10 in "Most Photos on a Travelog"! Number 5 to be exact  B) And I have been a "stay-at-home" bear all this time  :o My mentor really takes quite a lot of photos - and she hasn't even posted all photos of me!

Posted Oct 25, 2009, 6:10 pm
Today I spent in Fairs with my mentor. We started with Stamp Fair, which was small - but then again stamps aren't that big  :p There were lots and lots of stamps from different countries on display and for sale. My mentor spent most of the time digging a huge box full of stamps - you could buy as many as you could fit in a small envelope for just one euro. Those Disney stamps were also for sale but we didn't buy any. One could've found (more) treasures if had more time...

Posted Oct 25, 2009, 6:17 pm
After the Stamps Fair we moved to the bigger part of the building (Messukeskus which means Fair Center) to see the Book Fair. I have never ever seen so many books in one place  :stare: We also saw the interview of Mauri Kunnas, a famous Finnish autor. He writes & illustrates mostly children's books, but those are loved by adults too. His works have been translated into several languages.

Later we saw the Moomins! And last but not least a musical show with Pekka Töpöhäntä (a cat without tail) and hios friends. Both Moomins and Pekka Töpöhäntä (or Pella Svanslös in original language Swedish) are loved children's books in Finland.

And that sleepwalking goat is Herra  Hakkarainen (Mr. Clutterbuck), a character from in Mauri Kunnas' books  ;)

Although there were millions of books we didn't buy too many. Just a few children's books and some comics. I bet we walked quite a few kilometers during the day - but it was worth it  B)

Posted Nov 5, 2009, 10:21 am
BOO!  :cyclops:

My host had agreed to be one of the "Fear Factor" organizers in th elocal school Halloween disco. She was responsible for scary music (wolves howling, Dracula and Aliens soundtracks) and "poison spider box" and "teeth&bones" box. The kids were supposed to put their hands in them if they dare. Might be scary if one doesn't know they were just yarn and pasta  ;)

She didn't take any of us with her. She didn't know we planned to eat her candies while she was gone...  :p

Posted Nov 9, 2009, 10:01 am
Today my mentor attended the Red Nose Day Meetup she "organized" (she just asked in the Postcrossing Forum who all would want to join) in the good old Wayne's Coffee cafe in Helsinki Main Post Office. Red Nose Day is a charity event to raise money for people in the 3rd world. The postcrossers didn't raise money (tsk tsk) but they did use charity postcards as much as possible. My mentor sent for example Fair Mail cards. And most of them had red noses too :D I did meet a lot of other toyvoyagers there too as one of the attendees is a host as well - thanks  to my mentor  ;)

This was also the day the issued the new xmas stamps so we got to see special cancellation - they did it by hand! There was also free admission to the Postmuseum so I checked it out. They had a lot of stamps and postcards on display - as well as delivery trucks and stuff from past to present.

Posted Nov 21, 2009, 4:33 pm
My mentor seems to be getting back in her old habit... cruising! She got a cheap ticked to a cruise to Stockholm - again. So we went - again.  :rolleyes:

This time we sailed on M/S Mariella, a Viking Line ship. We had a small cabin where we ate snacks and planned for the day in Sweden - which was the easy part as nothing would be open on Monday from now on  :rolleyes: That will mean walking around and maybe some shopping.

On the boat we had a cool & juicy welcome drink with a cool glowing ring, walked on deck (and found a dog toilet, sandbox for dogs!  :cyclops: ), went tax free shopping (candy)... We had a delicious vegetarian burger for dinner, and ice cream for dessert. Hey! Where's my head in that burger photo?!?  :stare:

Posted Nov 21, 2009, 4:37 pm
Early Monday morning we headed for buffet breakfast and then on deck to see the surroundings as we approached Stockholm. Although this ship is smaller and less eventfull than the Silja Line boats, at least this one docks closer to the city center  B)

Posted Nov 21, 2009, 4:49 pm
Here I am - again  ;)
Last time I was here the weather was better and --- well, that was about it. We walked as much both times, although a little bit different roads. We walked by the old Town (Gamla Stan) but didn't go closer unfortunately, maybe next time. We took a look at the King Gustav III statue which pointed to the Royal Palacce (which I saw last time).

We meant to show the statue with 4 lions to the newbies but they had made an ice rink around it  :stare: As it had started to rain more heavily we decided we could as well go shopping. We did, and found a lego Santa. I could see in my mentor's eyes that she would love to make one too...

After hours of walking we finally had lunch - in a McDonald's  :rolleyes: My mentor tried to explain that she just wanted to be sure the kids ate what she paid for. Sure...

My mentor had also tried to get stamps for her postcards but couldn't find any - untill she got to a Pressbyrån next to the McD. I thought she had learnt by now that that is about the only place in Stockholm you get stamps. Very much unlike Finland. I'm glad she noticed the mailboxes next to the place too - otherwise we would probably still be mailbox hunting...

Ok, I'm sure she has learnt her lessons by nowB)

Posted Nov 21, 2009, 4:54 pm
I'm back! Back in Helsinki after a nice cruise  B) The Baltic Sea was calm both ways, luckily. Not that my stomach would be upset... We'll see when my host gets a new inspiration for cruising  B)

Posted Dec 3, 2009, 7:18 pm
Well, well... My mentor remembered one of the two Christmas Openings this year...  :rolleyes: We began with Santa Claus' arrival with "Lättähattu" ("Flat Hat"). It's a Dm7 type "train car" which were built in the 60's mainly. No wait, first we took a look around the old trainstation area. They still have some old trains there - rusting outdoors. There's a sort of a shop where they sell nostalgic vintage stuff - and newer handicrafts. We followed their small model train while waiting for Santa's arrival. It was ok, but nothing compared to the huge model world we saw in Ilola!

Finally Santa arrived and was very --- um, like Santa. Some of us were so excited they squeezed me a bit too hard when taking photos... You wouldn't allways believe my mentor is grown-up  :rolleyes:

After all the fuss with/about Santa we walked to the Old Town of Porvoo to see the opening. I think they called it "Grand", heaven knows why. Some people gave speechees, then Santa sang with us and finally Santa gave kids candy in that big "teepee". There was also a torch parade but the people holding he torches were kids and thus hard to see behind all the mass of people. Oh, they did have including Tsar Alexander I (!!!) there too - and he spoke russian too  :o

After we got enough of the Opening we went for some window shopping. They have this competition (every year) of who has the best window - people can vote and there are prizes to both winners and voters. That little Moomin House in one window is allways there - they just redecorate it to every season. Obviously they were celebrating Christmas too   ;)

Last but not least: a bad photo of the beautifull light with the shore houses  B) And me.  ;)

Posted Dec 3, 2009, 7:26 pm
My mentor l-o-v-e-s crafts. She has this huge amount of supplies all over the house. Today we helped her make cards for lonely seniors. A "craft-supply-shop" (Tiimari) gathers christmas cards and Helsinki Missio (an organization that helps people in need) deals them out to lonely older citizens. My mentor likes to make people happy and she loves carfts so this was perfect for her. First she told us how to make a snow lantern card. The card was so thick we had some minor issues with the "lace" cutter... We added some snowflakes and yellow glitter and there it was! We also made cards with hearts, old christmas stamps, christmas trees... etc. It was really fun! We tried to be carefull with the glitter but I think everyone sparkled afterwards  :D We made 13 cards. It's awesome to think that 13 old people will get a card from us and hopefully be happy, maybe our card is the only one they get.

Posted Dec 6, 2009, 3:40 pm
Happy 92nd Independence Day Finland!

Posted Dec 14, 2009, 11:37 am
My mentor decided we should check out other xmas events too. therefore we drove to another tiny town (population 7400) east from Porvoo. This town is Loviisa and it took us only 30min to get there. The town was founded as a frontier and fortress town in 1745 on land beloning to the Degerby Manor and was originally called Degerby. King Adolf Fredrik of Sweden visited Loviisa in 1752 and decided to rename the town after his wife, Queen Lovisa Ulrika.

This is the very center of Loviisa; the church and the market place, surrounded with tourist info, police station, gym... They had a really cool looking police station! Not that we needed to go inside... Just look at their lamp! It suited the stone building splendidly  :D

The church is called "the church in the middle of the road" as it stands in the crossroads of two main streets of Loviisa. It was finished in 1865.

The last photos show the bastions (or actually one of 2) that were built to protect the big road. Nowadays there are only ruins left and the area is used as the set of various plays in the summer.

Posted Dec 14, 2009, 7:09 pm
After climbing up and down the bastion we walked thru the old town towards the Laivasilta area. They had an xmas market there with lots of special handicrafts for sale. I mean, look for example at the animals made of spruce!

We did our best not to buy anything and left to look for Santa. Again we walked thru the older town. Some of the Traditional Christmas Homes were open for public but we didn't get to go in any of them. They're called TCH although they're regular homes decorated in different xmas styles (more old than new) and they serve coffee and bakings.

We did find Santa! He had left the reindeers home to rest for the big night(s) and took only a pony with him. We got to go on a ride with the pony carriage!

Finally we stopped to eat.

Lastly we tried to find the orthodox church but found only the bells... We took a look at the Bonga Castle thru the starting blizzard (ok, I'm exaggerating a bit... it just started snowing) - it's the atelier-museum of the artists Riitta Nelimarkka and Jaakko Seeck and located in the town centre, next to the church. Over 200 works by Nelimarkka are on display, covering a period of about 20 years (ranging from colourful textiles to oil paintings and drawings). The building itself is over 100 years old.

On elast look to the center, sitting on an anchor... And heading home!

Posted Dec 20, 2009, 7:39 am
Well, well... It's that time of the year again: Lucia and park christmas :) Porridge, gingerbread cookies, Lucia singing, dance around the tree... It was freezing cold so no wonder the porridge cooled really fast  :stare:

Posted Dec 22, 2009, 7:43 am
This year my mentor decided to make a gingerbread carousel  B) I helped her (along with Hueso, Banyo and Leonard) bake and decorate it. Hmmm... why doesn't she have any teddy bear cutters... I have to talk to her about that.

Posted Dec 22, 2009, 7:59 am
When the gingerbread carousel was finished we decorated the tree. Or actually the kids did and we superwised  ;) It turned out nice! At first my mentor had problems with sawing it and then she noticed it didn't fit the pedestal... That's why it stands in a bucket  :D

Posted Dec 23, 2009, 11:25 am
Snow is here! And we got plenty of it  :D Finally  :rolleyes:

Posted Dec 30, 2009, 10:39 am
Xmas is here - again. We ate porridge for breakfast - again. Then we made plum pastries - again. For lunch/dinner we had ham & casseroles - ag---- wait a minute! This wasn't traditional to my mentor (the burritos are our tradition). We spent the evening at grandma's and they had the traditional dishes. Anyway. We had a gingerbread carousel for dessert (and lots of candy) - this one had snowmen on it. Later we got some presents (I'll stop with the "again" nonsense now) - magnets!

We spent the xmas with Foster Care Home voyagers Alfonz and FoxForce as no-one should be alone during these holidays.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hauskaa joulua!

Posted Dec 31, 2009, 6:51 pm
Happy New Year to hosts, mentors, toyvoyagers, foster toys - everyone! May the new year 2010 bring you all sorts of fluffy & cute things  :D

Posted Jan 7, 2010, 2:20 pm
This's cool! I mean literally, it's -15 degrees Celsius. It's not bad actually as it's not windy at all, that would make it "cooler". Anyway, I just wanted to show you what it looks like here after about 3 weeks of snowing  ;)

Posted Jan 18, 2010, 8:53 am
It's been a party weekend  B) My mentor's daughters had birthdays. We made cakes: Hello Kitty, rainbow and number 8.

Outside my mentor had made ice balloons; filled latex balloons with water and put outside to freeze. The looked so cool and festive that half of them were stolen  :mad: My host caught the boys who had did it and told tehir parents - the kids filled new balloons and apologized. So it ended well for us  :)

Indoors we also had a disco  :D I'm way too old for such things but... the girls had fun  ;)

PS: we have a new guest, her name is Meleca and she has red hair like my mentor!

Posted Jan 22, 2010, 10:17 am
I'm waaalking on the Sea/ I'm waaaaalking on the Seeaaa/ what a freeezing  cold day we're haaaaaviiiinng...


Posted Jan 26, 2010, 9:44 am
My mentor attended yet another Postcrossing meetup in Helsinki. She said it's her last in a longer while because she has to cut expenses... But that's what she said on the meetup before this one  :rolleyes:

This was probably the most awesome meetup for me! The Post had issued stamps if old Finnish rock (& pop)stars and most of them were there to give autographs  :D My mentor is too young to be a fan but she got some autographs for me  :cyclops:

There were lead singers from Popeda, and Mamba! Plus one woman: Maarit.

In the group photo  (taken by Huppu68 as my mentor missed that) are also the designers of the new stamps: Minni Havas, Klaus Welp and Inge Löök (also famous for her granny postcards). Klaus Welp is the one who designed the rock stamps.
Group photo from left to right: Mamba-singer (Tero Vaara), Minni Havas, Yö-singer (Olli Lindholm), Klaus Welp, Maarit, Popeda-singer (Pate Mustajärvi, he was really nice to my mentor) and Inge Löök.

In the first photo are me and Tero Vaara (Mamba) and Olli Lindholm (Yö). They were talking like they were really upset so my mentor didn't dare interrupt them again to get better photos...

Posted Mar 6, 2010, 12:28 pm
The winter continues here :) We had 2 days with + temperature and made a snowslide and this snow Totoro with the kids - cool huh! The hole in his stomach is for a candle :)

Posted Mar 31, 2010, 8:39 am
My mentor claims to have imagination. How do you explain the fact that we're on a cruise (again) to Stockholm, Swden (again)?

At least this time we took the subway and went straight to the old town. We hadn't been there for the last times we visited Stockholm. Well, the Royal Palace area is in there too but we had missed most of the Old Town. The old town is the original Stockholm. The town was built during the 13th century but most buildings are from 17th and 18th century. There are about 3000 people living in the old city today. We left 2 more as we released 2 wild Toy Voyagers there  ;)

There are lots of souvenirs with crown princess Victoria & Daniel on them and they've even made special \"dalahästar\" (Dala Horse). They're usually red (although on the link you can see more variety) but now there are special white, pink and light blue ones too - with a different decoration. This is to honor the royal wedding that will take place in June! That would be interesting to see, I wouldn't even nag to my mentor about going to Stockholm again  ;)

Posted Apr 2, 2010, 9:02 am
Happy Easter!
Iloista pääsiäistä!

Posted Apr 29, 2010, 8:24 pm
My mentor had got a free ticket to the Child Fair which included also Pet Expo and Model Expo. Therefore we went there  :D
We just wandered around watching until my mentor found a place that gave away Moomin postcards for free! She did buy some stuff too, for her daughter's birthday. At the Pet Expo we just admired the cute pets and at the Model Expo we... well, there were the Star Wars people! And a grandma doing yarn the old way :)

Posted Apr 29, 2010, 8:28 pm
After the "triple Fair" we went to see a Moomin exhibition "The Great Adventure" at Päivälehti Museum. It was smaller than my mentor had expected but nice anyway - and she got more free Moomin postcards!

Posted Apr 29, 2010, 8:33 pm
The third stop on our day in the capitol was the Recycling Factory event. It was awesome! I saw tons of fun & cool & amazing stuff people had made of--- well, crap  :cyclops: Even candy wrapping can be turned into small pouches!

There was also a section where people could bring their stuff (basically anything) for other people to take it. My mentor brought a few things but didn't take anything. No, wait! She took some fabric, saying that she could try make me a summer outfit!  :stare: She and the sewing machine, not a great combination...

Anyway, she said next year she'll be here with a backbag of stuff - and a bigger budget  :D

There was also a table about Bookcrossing and my mentor took two books (one in English & one in Finnish) - and registered into in the evening. It was only fair as one of the bookcrossers got really inspired about us toyvoyagers!  :cyclops:

Posted Apr 30, 2010, 6:33 pm
Today we threw a Suprise Belated Birthday Party for Leonard, our australian "exchange student" :) Belated because my dear mentor forgot the real date  :rolleyes: Leonard has been with us for a year now and it's also time for him to fly back home. We gave him some gifts so that he wouldn't forget us  :D

Posted May 13, 2010, 6:12 pm
Today we (me, Banyo, Synapse and Poppy McVee) wish a happy Mother's Day to all mothers in the world!

These are the flowers kid usually pick for their moms on Mother's Day :)

Posted May 15, 2010, 5:47 pm
It was ridiculously hot for a spring day, +22'C so we decided to go for a bicycle trip  B) On our way we stopped to watch firemen practising. When we finally arrived at our destination we had Carelian pastries and juice. There was a bird watching tower so we climbed on top of it to see millions of swans! My mentor said she hadn't seen so many in one place before, only a few couples. Now there were 40+ couples! :stare:

Posted Jun 3, 2010, 7:18 pm
Yep, someone's turning years... It ain't me although I did have my share of the ladybug cupcales, cake and fun  B)

Posted Jun 11, 2010, 9:44 pm
It was a lovely day and we had a field trip planned  B) We visited a Domestic Animal Farm called Fallkulla in Helsinki.

Their website gives the following information
At Fallkulla you can get a taste of rural life in the middle of the city. You can see traditional farm animals: sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, hens, ducks, rabbits, cats and horses and help take care of them. Fallkulla Domestic Animal Farm is the only municipally owned youth centre in Finland where young people can take part in practical work with livestock.

Fallkulla is a popular destination for excursions. In addition to families, groups from day care centres, schools and homes for the elderly are among the many people who visit the farm each day. Sundays are reserved for families to see the animals. All in all, Fallkulla attracts over 40,000 visitors each year.

We did see many Finnish domestic animals, had a picnic and saw a "maitolaituri" (the last 3 photos). That's translated as "milk platforms". My mentor explained to the others that in the old days (1920- 1970) milk was left in big metallic "bottles" on a "maitolaituri" and dairy farms picked them up from there. The places were also popular places for youth to get together. Also mailboxes were ofteen situated on the side of the platform. There's even a museum for the milk platforms, Velaatta in Tampere!

PS. those are not real storks on the roof!

Posted Jun 27, 2010, 7:06 pm
We went to the city to play in a park that is bigger than the ones near home. The park personnel had organized a small festival. We got to put flowers on a "pole" (this has something to do with the swedish speaking Finns, they call it a "maypole"). There were different games to play. Fire trucks came and an ambulance and we got to see inside them (so there was no fire or other emergency).  Then there was a chance to barbecue and all sorts of food! It was fun  :)

The visiting voyagers kept asking me what Midsummer was really all about and I had to check Wikipedia:
Before 1316, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after the Finnish god Ukko. In Karelian  tradition, many bonfires were burned side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko"). After the celebrations were Christianized, the holiday is known as juhannus  after John the Baptist (Finnish: Johannes Kastaja).

Since 1955, the holiday is always on a Saturday (between June 20 and June 26). Earlier it was always on June 24. A lot of the celebration of midsummer takes place on midsummer eve, when many workplaces are closed and shops have to close their doors at noon.

In the Finnish midsummer celebration, bonfires (Finnish kokko) are very common and are burnt at lakesides and by the sea. Often two young birch trees (koivu) are placed on either side of the front door to welcome visitors. Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a midsummer or maypole (Swedish midsommarstång, majstång).

In folk magic, midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Will o wisps were believed to be seen at midsummer night, particularly to finders of the mythical "fern in bloom" and possessors of the "fern seed", marking a treasure. An important feature of the midsummer in Finland is the white night and the midnight sun. Because of Finland's location spanning around the Arctic Circle the nights near the midsummer day are short or non-existent. This gives a great contrast to the darkness of the winter time.

Many Finns leave the cities for Midsummer and spend their holiday in the countryside. Rituals include bonfires, sauna and spending time together. Heavy drinking is also associated with the Finnish midsummer.

Many music festivals of all sizes are organized on the Midsummer weekend. It's also common to start summer holidays on Midsummer day. For many families the Midsummer is the time when they move to the countryside to their summer cottage by the lake. Midsummerday is also the Day of the Finnish Flag. The flag is hoisted at 6 pm on Midsummer eve and flown all night till 9 pm the following evening.

Posted Jul 20, 2010, 11:45 pm
It's been real hot! See, more than +32C in the shadow! And allmost +30C indoors as this house has absolutely no air condition  :stare:

When it finally started to rain (for about 15 min) it dropped about 5 degrees for a while. The raindrops were huge! The kids ran outside with their clothes on and started dancing in the rain  :D Like that didn't get them soaking wet they filled buckets with water and threw at each other  :p

Posted Jul 20, 2010, 11:48 pm
My mentor took me with her to the annual visit to Tampere, a city about 2h drive north/nothwest from Porvoo. First we attended a Postcrossing meetup in the city center. It was a mini meetup as there were only my mentor, her daughter and one other postcrosser... hey! Wait a minute! What about all us toyvoyagers and the Moomin characters of the other 'crosser?!? It was no mini meetup but a mega meetup!  B)

After the meetup we went for a refreshing swim in one of the lakes  :)

Posted Jul 21, 2010, 12:23 am
One of the real reasons we came to  Tampere was Ankkaralli, a duck rally  :cyclops:  It's part of the urban city festival called Tammerfest.

4000 numbered rubber ducks were dropped in the lake and 60 fastest swimmers got prizes. People were able to "buy" certain ducks for 5 euros each. Our number didn't win anything but the money went to a good cause: the internationalization of students at Proakatemia.

If you have Flash Player 8 and JavaScript, then you should be able to watch this video of the event  ;)

Posted Jul 23, 2010, 10:03 pm
Today would be Albert Edelfelt's (1854-1905) birthday. He's a famous artist who was born in Porvoo. He painted  over 220 paintings here. Today we visited his summer studio museum. They had organized an event for kids to celebrate AE's birthday. A character called Aunt Monika came to guide kids thru the scenery and paint with them. We checked out the atelier from the inside as well.

Posted Sep 18, 2010, 7:04 am
Finally my mentor takes me somewhere! Although it was the postcard event I attended last year as well... This time was different as the postcrossers had a stand there too! They were telling people about the hobby and showing some of their received cards.

We wandered around checking out the displays (we found one with Porvoo train station! That's old!) and cards for sale. As usual there was a man taking photos that were made into postcards - and many postcrossers were in 2 cards! Not my mentor though and that disappointed her a bit  :rolleyes:

While the postcrossers sat down to sign XXX amount of cards I took a tour with my mentor's daughter (who got bored after the XX amount of cards), hence the photos of me with coffee mugs and such B) She took more photos but I'm not as clear in the rest  ;)

After the signing operation and watching cancellation we walked to a restaurant for late lunch. It was a nice restaurant called Popino which is famous for its huge pizzas. Of course my mentor had to take pasta instead  :rolleyes: We had to wait for our food for quite a while but it was worth it. We tasted a bit of everything and got so full we could only glance at the dessert...

It was a fun trip! Just like last time  :D

Posted Oct 30, 2010, 9:15 am
In Lahti, around the world famous three Ski-jumps on the Salpausselkä Ridges. Here they hold basically all ski-jumping contests in Finland.

The history can also be found in the second link (with photos!):
In 1923 the first Ski Games of Lahti were hosted and have taken place every year from then on, with some exceptions. The first WSC at Salpaussalkä ski stadium was held in 1926 on at that time a K40 ski jump. This one was situated on the opposite site of today’s spectator stand. For the next World Championships in 1938 the ski jumping hill and stands were enlarged and 100,000 spectators watched Norway’s Asbjörn Ruud winning.

The next conversion took place in 1957 and one year later 67,000 spectators were victims of Finland’s Juhani Kärkinen becoming new world champion with a hill record of 74 meters. A new spectator record of 114,082 visitors was registered during Ski Games of 1964 wand two years later the very first team competition was held at Lahti with the GDR winning. In 1970’s the construction of a completely new ski jumping hill at today’s place started and in 1977 it was inaugurated. One year later Lahti was again hosting the WSC and East-German Matthias Buse won the normal hill, on the large hill Finland’s Taipo Räisänen gathered a surprise-victory.

With the introduction of Ski Jumping World Cup in 1979/80 Lahti has been part of the circus of world’s best jumpers from the beginning on. For the World Championships 1989 on the hill K114 and K90 on ten days 450,000 spectators came to Lahti. Then in 2001 the Nordic Ski WSC took place for a sixth time at Lahti on Salpaussalkä ski jumps K116 and K90 and in 2005 the 80th Lahti Ski Games were celebrated.

There were many statues and such to honor the famous athletes and war heroes. The skier statue presents Siiri Rantanen (born 1924), a former cross-country skier from Finland who competed during the 1950s and early 1960s. She won three medals in the Winter Olympics with a gold (1956: 3 x 5 km) and two bronzes (1952: 10 km, 1960: 3 x 5 km).
Rantanen also won five medals at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships with three silvers (1954: 10 km, 3 x 5 km; 1958: 3 x 5 km) and two bronzes (1958: 10 km, 1962: 3 x 5 km).

Posted Oct 30, 2010, 9:24 am
While walking towards the Lahti center we saw quite a few statues! I lost track counting them  :thinking: But here's Lahti in other numbers:

number of inhabitants: 198,434
inhabitants / km2: 39
number of households: 94,491
number of businesses: 9,739
area: 6,258 km2
area of water: 1,125 km2
number of lakes and ponds approx. 1,000
coastline approx. 5,500 km

We drove about an hour here so it's not that far really.

We walked to the Ristinkirkko - The Church of the Cross (1978) . It's designed by Alvar Aalto. We didn't get to see the inside, but you can find some photos of it in here. In the church park there is a sculpture called “Spirit of Freedom” by Wäinö Aaltonen. There are many memorial graves of the war heroes around it.

From the church we walked down to the market place. What caught my eye was the building that looked like a castle (only without towers)! We have no idea what it used to be but now there's at least a restaurant on the ground floor.

At last we arrived at the Sinuhe Cafe! There we met some postcrossers, wrote postcards, ate, drank and had a few laughs  :D

Posted Oct 30, 2010, 9:29 am
Still in Lahti, now at the Ski Museum! After the cafe we walked back to the ski-jumpinh gills as there was the ski museum.

The following we got from here:
Ski exhibitions have been arranged in Lahti since 1926. In 1959 the Veteran Section of Lahti Ski Club proposed to the board of directors of the club that a Ski Museum be established and started collecting exhibits.

During the 70's the City of Lahti looked favourably on the project and the Ski Museum was founded in Lahti 1974. The present museum building, standing in the middle of the sport centrer, was opened on the 1st November in 1989.

In the Ski Museum you can have fun with Wintersports. You can Jump from the biggest Ski-jump in Lahti, You can ski on a plastic Track, You can train Biathlon and do Downhill skiing. You can also have your own ski-jump competition.

And that's exactly what we did (after taking a look at the way old skis, old ski-jumping and skiing outfits and medals and stamps and postcards and stuff)! Have our own ski-jumping competition. Although we're not sure which one of us won, it was quite hard to measure. The postcrossers had such competition too - and my mentor won! She got a set of winter sport stamps as her prize  :D

Posted Oct 30, 2010, 9:34 am
Happily horrible Halloween!

Posted Nov 4, 2010, 12:21 pm
We visited the annual BookFair again. The Moomins are celebrating their 65th anniversary but my mentor didn't find any good Moomin offers. She did find several Disney books though, the special kind she collects. I saw a few celebrities too! Well, celebrities in the scale of Finland B) And some very cool manga drawings!

Posted Nov 4, 2010, 12:25 pm
Now this is one weird Postcrossing meetup... They called it MiniManorMeetup  :stare: The Manor is not mini though.

First my mentor tried desperately to get photos of us outdoors but it was way too dark for her camera - she promised to try again later, on daylight (as we don't live far away). The postcrosser we met (that's the mini in the meetup: there were only two postcrossres) got us cheesecake and hot chocolate (we were quite wet from the dark rain) - and then she made us work! We organized some files and stuff.

But it was quite fun  :D

Posted Nov 7, 2010, 11:53 am
Here is Haikko Manor during daylight! So this is what it looks like...

Their website says this about the history:
The history dates back to 1362 when a Dominican monastery owned the site. Several members of the Russian Imperial family have visited Haikko Manor since one of the previous owners General Etter was a close friend to Czar Nicholas II. During the revolution in 1917 Grand Duke Kiril´s eldest son Wladimir was born and christened at Haikko. He was the nearest aspirant to the imperial crown of Russia and he became later the head of the Romanov family. The Vuoristo family purchased the manor in 1965.

Those iron cows are made by Miina Äkkijyrkkä. The yellow is called Sweet Yellow Melon. There was a debate why a luxury Manor would want cows made of "trash" on its yard. Many people thought it was a refreshing thing to do. Although many newlyweds who were taking their wedding photos in Haikkoo didn't like it - who wants cows on their weddingphotos. They just moved the cows a bit  on the side, where they now are.

Posted Nov 7, 2010, 12:04 pm
There was a stamp fair held in Helsinki, near the place we were last weekend. My mentor collects Finnish stamps and xmas stamps from all over the world and therefore we went to the fair. Plus there we could get a special cancellation to our cards - and have a postcrossing meetup :D

The place wasn't big but then again neither are stamps.We admired and bought stamps & postcards, won a First day Cover in wheeel of fortune, found an old postcard of my mentor's mom's childhood village (and none of Porvoo).

Before the fair we searched&found a geocache which had a ticket to the HiFi Fair my mentor's husband was attending!

Posted Nov 30, 2010, 10:18 am
See how freezing cold it is outdoors? Guess did we saty indoors in the warm? Nope. My mentor had received her hand gps (she got it from the finnish version of Ebay) and she insisted on going geocaching! She had to drag me and Banyo with her  :thinking: You wouldn't believe how hard it can be to find a cache even with a gps - especially when the trees and the "bridge" is disturbing the connection... But my mentor was so happy I couldn't really start complaining  :p

The last photo is  taken in the later evening, just to show you the clear winter sky  B)

Posted Dec 6, 2010, 5:43 pm
This on the other side of the River Porvoo, next to the new bridge. The local artists' association and the local schools had a project called "say it with flowers". These paintings are it, they block the view to an ugly construction site  B)

Porvoo Art Association organized jointly with the artists, students and schoolchildren a "Say it with flowers" event where the Porvoo Art Factory's fence is decorated with paintings.

Painting Event is to give first taste of the positive creative spirit in the art factory on the future. The event is supported with materials of the building company Hartela, K-Rauta Porvoo and Rautakesko.

Children, teenagers and adults all take part in the event. Porvoo Art Association, Artists' Society in Porvoo, Porvoo Art School, Inveon school, Haaga Helia and primary schools.

On the fence is a reserved space for all people of Porvoo, who are welcome to paint their own flower greetings.

Posted Dec 6, 2010, 5:44 pm
Happy Birthday independent Suomi!

Posted Dec 26, 2010, 7:45 am
Iloista joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Merry Christmas! Nollaig chridheil huibh! God jul! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noel! Q Ná merye i turuhalmeri! QISmaS DatIvjaj 'ej DIS chu' DatIvjaj!

Posted Jan 2, 2011, 6:50 pm
We made a fieldtrip to a Science Center in Vantaa. My mentor had got free tickets from a friend to the whole family! The Science Center Heureka is a very cool place to learn about the environment, science, physical phenomena and stuff. You are allowed to try everything yourself, no need to keep the kids away, yelling ”Don't touch it, just watch”. As they say on their website: ”Heureka's exhibitions are interactive. The main exhibition has over 200 exhibits from many fields of science as well as a number of activity points. In addition to the main exhibition Heureka houses two temporary exhibitions.” I could lift a car with my bare hands! And fly on a carpet! And make a movie! Classics! But to me the best part was the galaxies... I could for example measure the distances between galaxies  and so on - that's where I'm good at! Including the Murder Mystery there was to solve in the other room  ;) My mentor skipped it because of the kids but I went and solved the whole thing. Piece of cake  :rolleyes:

There's also a planetarium where we watched a show about the birth of the universe! I learned that we all have 1 teaspoonfull of stardust in us, the same stuff that made the stars in the very beginning of everything  B) Oh the memories...

Oh, and we saw rats playing basketball too!  :D

Posted Feb 1, 2011, 11:53 am
Tallinn! First time for me and first time for my mentor  B)

On the ferry we planned our route - we were going to do lots of geocaching  :D Most of the caches were in the Old Town of Tallinn. It was really beautiful and medieval! Many restaurants had a person outside, dressed in medieval clothes, to attract people (and maybe get a few customers). The one we photographed was really eager to do his job (in a good way) and explained in a big voice to a tourist how he'd get "value for his money".

But now I'm way ahead in the story!
The first cache we loooked for and found was in the harbour - with a nice view to the old town. And swans! Lots and lots of swans. I didn't know their wings made a noise that resembled train  :o

The next cache was near the Estonia monument. MS Estonia, previously MS Viking Sally (1980–1990), MS Silja Star (–1991), and MS Wasa King (–1993), was a cruiseferry built in 1980 at the German shipyard Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The ship's sinking in the Baltic Sea on September 28, 1994, claimed 852 lives and was one of the deadliest maritime disasters of the late 20th century
The Estonia disaster occurred on September 28, 1994, between about 00:55 to 01:50 as the ship was crossing the Baltic Sea, en route from Tallinn, Estonia, to Stockholm, Sweden. The Estonia was on a scheduled crossing with departure at 19:00 in the evening on September 27. She had been expected in Stockholm the next morning at about 09:30. She was carrying 989 passengers and crew. Most of the passengers were Scandinavian while most of the crew members were Estonian. (, info on the cache description)

Next we walked by the city walls before entering the Old Town (after another cache). The church tower we kept seeing is St. Olav's church. Wikipedia says this about the church: is believed to have been built in the 12th century and to have been the centre for old Tallinn's Scandinavian community prior to the conquest of Tallinn by Denmark in 1219. Its dedication relates to King Olaf II of Norway (a.k.a. Saint Olaf, 995-1030). The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267, and it was extensively rebuilt during the 14th century.

A legend tells that the builder of the church, named Olaf, upon its completion, fell to his death from atop the tower. It is said that when his body hit the ground, a snake and a toad crawled out of his mouth. There is a wall-carving depicting this event in the adjoining Chapel of Our Lady.

Around 1500, the building reached a height of 159 meters. The motivation for building such an immensely tall steeple must have been to use it as a maritime signpost, which made the trading city of Tallinn visible from far out at sea. Between 1549 and 1625, when the spire burnt down after a lightning strike, it was the tallest building in the world. The steeple of St. Olav has been hit by lightning at least eight times, and the whole church has burned down three times throughout its known existence. Following several rebuildings, its overall height is now 123.7 meters.

From 1944 until 1991, the Soviet KGB used Oleviste's spire as a radio tower and surveillance point. It currently continues as an active Baptist church.

We walked to the Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats). Picturesque Town Hall Square has been the undisputed hub of Old Town for the last eight centuries. Surrounded by elaborate merchant houses and, in summer, packed with café tables, it's a natural magnet for tourists. Historically it served as a market and meeting place, and was the site of at least one execution (resulting from a dispute over a bad omelette). (

Next we walked to the Niguliste museum (formerly a church). This marvellous 15th century church is a popular concert hall due to the reputation of the acoustics and organ performances are held here every Saturday and Sunday at 16:00. Niguliste also serves as a museum of fascinating medieval religious art, including a wall-sized fragment of Bernt Notke's unsettling 15th century masterpiece, 'Danse Macabre,' one of the most famous art pieces in Estonia. Destroyed during the Second World War, Niguliste was rebuilt during Soviet times and is worth popping in for a perusal. (

After finding the cache we looked for a danish knight  ;)
On the slopes of Toompea hill between the city wall and Lower Town is an open, garden-like area that happens to be the legendary birthplace of the Danish flag.

This relaxing spot is called the Danish King's Garden because it was supposedly here that King Valdemar II of Denmark and his troops camped before conquering Toompea in 1219. 

More importantly, a well-known legend both in Estonia and Denmark holds that the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, originated right here. According to the story, Valdemar's forces were losing their battle with the Estonians when suddenly the skies opened and a red flag with a white cross floated down from the heavens. Taking this as a holy sign, the Danes were spurred on to victory.

Today the garden remains a place where locals honour the role Denmark played in Estonia's history. Halfway down the steps towards Rüütli street you can see an iron sword and shield with a Danish cross, and each summer, Danneborg Day is celebrated here. (

On our way back down we saw this amazing orthodox cathedral, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral:  This striking orthodox landmark was built in a typically flamboyant Russian style at the very end of the 19th century and stands atop Toompea Hill. For many years, the locals in Tallinn wanted the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral to be demolished, since it served as a continual reminder of Estonia's Russian occupation. Fortunately this beautiful building still remains standing and since the country regained its independence in 1991, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral has been completed restored and gained a place in the heart of the city's residents at last. (

Finally we looked for a cafe and sat down to eat & write some postcards. Then we found out our feet were exhausted! We walked back to the ferry just on time and headed back home. Thank you Tallinn!

Posted Feb 2, 2011, 2:54 pm
My mentor found another geocache nearby and there were two TravelBugs - a scubadiver (Fridolin the diver) and a duck (Little Duck Just4U). They look like toyvoyagers! They were the first ones my mentor had found and she was pretty thrilled  :D

Posted Feb 9, 2011, 12:04 pm
My mentor ran some errands in Helsinki and I tagged along. She did some geocaching too and one was hidden nearby this monument. My mentor has never been to this Sibelius Monument before - so geocaching is educational as well!

Wikipedia reveals this about the monument:
The Sibelius Monument (Finnish: Sibelius-monumentti) is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957). The monument is located at the Sibelius Park (Finnish: Sibeliuspuisto) in the district of Töölö in Helsinki, the capital city of Finland.

The monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and unveiled on September 7, 1967. Originally it sparked a lively debate about the merits and flaws of abstract art, for which reason an effigy of Sibelius was included in the work. It consists of series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern. The purpose of the artist was to capture the essence of the music of Sibelius. The monument weighs 24 tonnes (24 LT; 26 ST) and measures 8.5 × 10.5 × 6.5 metres.

A smaller version of the monument is located at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. A work with a similar concept, also designed by Hiltunen, is located at the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Posted Feb 21, 2011, 3:59 pm
Today we went to see the Disney On Ice -show in Hartwall Areena, Helsinki. The show was called  Disneyland Adventure and it included about all Disney characters. It was a suprisingly small ice they used! We didn't get good photos because my mentor thought cameras were prohibited and she only had her cell phone "camera" to use. But I was there!  B)

Posted Apr 20, 2011, 8:19 pm
Iloista pääsiäistä!

Happy easter!

Posted Jul 1, 2011, 7:01 am
Finally my mentor updates!  :stare:

My mentor and a friend of hers drove to Kotka to geocache. I got to tag a long as well as Gwen Jolie and Banyo. We arrived around noon in the city of Kotka (kotka is Finnish for eagle).

What you see in the photos are the Church of Kotka, Haukivuori lookout tower, Herb Garden, seashore of Kotka, Maretarium form the outside, Maritime centre Vellamo from the outside, city center and Langinkoski rapids. Then it got too "dark" for proper photos. as it was midsummer the sun didn't really set but it wasn't light enough for photos.

In basically every spot was a geocache to be found  B)

As you could see, we did eat and write some cards too! And then we continued...

Posted Jul 1, 2011, 7:05 am
After geocaching all night we arrived in Pyhtää (around 04 am)  to find a geocache near this medieval church (built in 1460). Then we drove to Loviisa to find a geocache near this lookout tower...

So no-one slept the whole night. The last cache was found 05:45 am near Porvoo.

Did I mention my host is crazy?  :rolleyes:

Posted Jul 3, 2011, 8:39 pm
My mentor is really getting into this domestic travelling...

We arrived in Jyväskylä last night and today we're fresh & ready to go touring! Jyväskylä is a city about 250km and 3h drive north from Porvoo.

The City of Jyväskylä:

    the seventh largest city in Finland with 130 000 residents
    surface area 1171 km2
    water surface area 295 km2
    number of jobs 60 000
    households 70 000
    number summer cottages 4 000
    city of 47 000 students
    48 comprehensive schools, 8 high schools and 15 libraries
    the biggiest employer in the area totalling of 7 000 employees
    3 000 foreign residents from 100 different countries


At first we drove to the local candy factory outlet Panda to get some sweets :)

Then we drove to the city center to meet some postcrossers/geocachers! We walked around with the geocachers of the group and found some caches - and saw the sights. It was really hot so we couldn't do it too long. Luckily it was soon lunchtime!

After the lunch we headed to the harbour for a lake cruise... We took a 3h cruise on the Lake Päijänne on s/s Suomi with "everybody"  B) As everybody was a postcrosser it was logical that they wrote & signed some (200)  cards before enjoying the views. It was really hot so the little breeze was more than welcome. We saw some quite awesome summerhouses/saunas on the shore - or maybe we thought they were awesome because the owners could take a swim anytime on this hot weather...  ;)

When we got back my mentor looked for one more cache before we headed back home.

Posted Jul 15, 2011, 8:46 am
Once again in Tallinn, Estonia! This time we were here to see the Medieval Days  B) They sold all sorts of "medieval" items at the market place and everyone was dressed in a medieval way. There was music/dance  performances too! The Tallinn old town is a perfect spot for such a festival.

Posted Jul 31, 2011, 7:33 pm
Lohja is a small town about 1/2h drive west from Helsinki. It has 39 000 inhabitants and is wellknown for apples. So I guess it's "The Small Apple"  :D

We drove there to meed postcrossers and to look for some geocaches. I'm sure the Church of St. Lawrence isn't the only sight allthough we photographed it the most. We just didn't see much else while staring at either postcards or gps-device...  :rolleyes:

Posted Jul 31, 2011, 7:40 pm
The places we visit are getting smaller and smaller! And I've been here before! This is the town of Vammala, now part of municipality called Sastamala. First we visited Mr Clutterbuck's House - in Finnish he's Herra Hakkarainen. Mr Clutterbuck is one of the famous characters in Mauri Kunnas' books. He's quite popular and very well known in Finland. My mentor says he rocks more than the Moomins  :stare:
The house was quite small but had fantastic displays and interactive plays (for example: you could dress up as Robin Hood or maiden in the castle room). And what was fantastic was the space room  B) Ah, the good old days on the rim...

When we were finished we drove around for geocaches (starting to see a pattern here...?) and saw a few churches while at it. The medieval one is Church of St. Olaf.

It's a rural area but thus lovely to drive in  B)

Posted Aug 15, 2011, 12:28 pm
Mega Finland 2011 -geocaching event! Caches! Competitions! Friends! New pals! Old pals! Shopping! Sights! Shopping! Searching! Finding! Flashmob!

All sorts of cool stuff!


Posted Dec 29, 2011, 1:48 pm
My mentor was invited to a postcrosser-geocacher wedding and she took me with her  B) The wedding took place in Tampere, a city I feel I know well by now. The wedding ceremony took place in the old church of Aitolahti. The party was held in a manor. The theme color was red, which pleased my mentor especially :D There was food, drinks, quiz, postcard writing, singing, cake... The big box at the gift table was assembled by my mentor and many postcrossers donated money for it - there was stuff for both home and geocaching.

Posted Dec 29, 2011, 2:00 pm
Iloista joulua! Merry xmas! God jul! Buorrit juovllat! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! And so on!

Posted Feb 19, 2012, 12:44 pm
I'm in Rome! My mentor took me & Banyo with her on her honeymoon-10-years-late  B) We all expected plus degrees, sun and stuff. But... It snowed! It hadn't snowed in Rome for 27 years! It was really exceptional  :D I don't think many people can say they've seen snowmen in Rome. Or romans play snowfight! OR romans drive cearefully!  B)

Most of the sights were closed due to snow but we did see them from the outside. Here's a few.

Posted Feb 19, 2012, 12:47 pm
And as in Rome, we had to take a look at the Vatican City as well. This is pretty much all we saw. It too was closed due to snow - and the lines were (still) too long  :o

Posted Jun 18, 2012, 6:13 pm
Another Toyvoyagers Freak was here! RikeH from Germany! She had time to meet us for a short while in Porvoo before she and her hubby had to leave the country. My mentor showed her all the best photoshoot spots in town  B)

Afterwards we took a family photo too.

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:18 pm
Ni hao!

Hello! I am in Hong Kong! It is really hot, humid and noisy here. But also very beautiful.

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:20 pm

I spent the weekend here. Today I saw a temple and a very beautiful garden. I think I have found serenity!

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:24 pm
Syyyyddddnneeeeeeyyyyyyyy!  B)

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:27 pm
After last night's kangaroo & crocodile pizzas I was totally ready for new adventures! The boatride to Manly was one... It was REALLY rough  :cyclops:

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:30 pm
Coffs Harbour with  "the most grotesque sight in Australia" (the actually had a vote on this!): the Big Banana! Plus real, wild kangaroos! And lovely beaches!

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:33 pm
On the way to Brisbane we stopped briefly in Surfers Paradise. It was an amazing beach but I've seen surfers enjoying themselves elsewhere too  ;)

Posted Sep 9, 2012, 7:36 pm

With koalas!

Posted Sep 12, 2012, 6:33 pm
My host has a town! Her real name is Kati and here I am, in Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand! It was her dream destination, I just hang around and listened to her "squeee" and "wow" and other such noises...

The town is tiny but very well known for its many murals. There's also a Haiku pathway, Bird Walk and other points of interest. The views were nice too as it's between Kaimai Ranges and the Pacific Ocean!

Posted Sep 12, 2012, 6:36 pm
Here I am in Matamata, formerly known for its racehorses and horse races - now known for the Hobbiton. Guess where my host went without me...

Posted Sep 12, 2012, 6:38 pm
Tokoroa, the Timber Town of NZ.

Posted Sep 12, 2012, 6:40 pm
We drove to Rotorua to see kiwi birds (sanctuary), get the maori experience and see some thermal activity. Boy it stank... The thermal mud pools I mean.

Posted Sep 12, 2012, 6:43 pm
Last day in NZ started with a drive to Auckland and One Tree Hill. Although it should be called One Treeles Hill or Once Tree Hill. The views were great though! Did you know that all those bumps on the ground are volcanic!?!