Posts Tagged ‘Helsinki’

POTD: Valentine’s Day 2014

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It’s Valentine’s Day today. This year, it coincides with Chap Goh Meh – the fifteenth and final day of the Chinese New Year – which many consider the Chinese Valentine’s Day. Here’s wishing all lovers a most romantic day/night!

Lots of lovey-dovey couples here, in the form of hugging salt and pepper bottles. I took this photo at the Hakaniemi Market Hall in Helsinki, Finland in summer. There were plenty of such charming craft stores for tourists and local Finns. Taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Lots of lovey-dovey couples here, in the form of hugging salt and pepper bottles. I took this photo at the Hakaniemi Market Hall in Helsinki, Finland in summer. There were plenty of such charming craft stores for tourists and local Finns alike. Taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

In many places in the world that celebrate Valentine’s Day, boys buy flowers, chocolates and gifts for their girlfriends, wives, mistresses or lovers.

Sometimes the girl reciprocates.

In Japan, it is the girl who buys for the guys.

I know – because I received plenty on Valentine’s Day when I was in Japan.

The tradition in Japan is for girls to buy white chocolates (called giri-chocos – 義理チョコ) and give them to the guys.

This does not happen just between couples that are in a relationship.

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POTD: Suomenlinna Church off the coast of Helsinki, Finland

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The Suomenlinna Church was first built in 1854 as a Greek Orthodox garrison church for the Russian troops stationed in the Suomenlinna sea fortress, and originally had five onion domes.

The simple chandelier hangs directly below the dome of Suomenlinna Church. Both photos taken handheld with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

The simple chandelier hangs directly below the dome of Suomenlinna Church. Both photos taken handheld with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

During the 1920s, the Suomenlinna Church was converted into an Evangelical Lutheran church.

Its central dome serves as a lighthouse, which sends out blinking Morse code signals for the letter “H” in Helsinki.

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POTD: An imposing Irish Wolfhound on the streets of Helsinki

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

My family and I were walking back to our hotel in Helsinki when we spotted this Irish Wolfhound across the road.

Gigantic Irish Wolfhound along the streets of Helsinki. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Gigantic Irish Wolfhound along the streets of Helsinki. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Its owner was taking it for an evening walk and both of them were waiting at the traffic light to cross the road.

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POTD: Colourful flowers at Hakaniemi farmers’ market

Friday, August 16th, 2013

The stalls at Hakaniemi farmers’ market are set up every morning for the locals to buy groceries and fresh flowers, amongst other things.

Two types of fresh flowers vying for space and attention at the Hakaniemi farmers’ market. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Two types of fresh flowers vying for space and attention at the Hakaniemi farmers’ market. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

By afternoon, however, all that’s left of the market is a large empty plaza, as stall holders tear down their stalls and call it a day.

POTD: An old couple cycling down the path on a Summer day

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

We’d just gotten off the ferry from Helsinki to the off-shore sea fortress of Suomenlinna. While the excited tourists and local families with children hustled and bustled around the pier, I spied this old couple quietly cycling away from the hullabaloo into the tranquility of the island’s interior.

An old couple cycles slowly down a gravel path on a hot summer’s day on the fortress island of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland. Taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

An old couple cycles slowly down a gravel path on a hot summer’s day on the fortress island of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland. Both photos taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Suomenlinna actually comprises eight islands, five of which are connected by bridges and sandbars. There are about 850 inhabitants on the island, while 400-500 people work there.

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POTD: Fresh flowers at Hakaniemi farmers’ market in Helsinki

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Hakaniemi is a part of Helsinki city centre traditionally associated with the working class and workers’ associations.

Fresh flowers being sold at the Hakaniemi farmers’ market. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Fresh flowers being sold at the Hakaniemi farmers’ market. Photo taken with a Nikon D600 with AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens. Photo credit: John Tan.

Every morning farmers set up stalls at the farmers’ market selling groceries and flowers to the locals.

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Travel: Helsinki – Capital of Nordic Finland

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

An island fortress, a rock church, and plenty of fun for the kids, Helsinki is a suitable family destination with long daylight hours in the summer.

Located in the central Senate Square, the Lutheran Cathedral was completed in 1852 and is a symbol of Helsinki.

Located in the central Senate Square, the Lutheran Cathedral was completed in 1852 and is a symbol of Helsinki. Taken with a Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

Our first glimpse of Helsinki was gloomy and grim.

It was raining and we’d arrived at the central railway station, an imposing mostly brown building clad in granite, dragging our luggage.

The Uspenski Cathedral is a classical onion-domed Russian church that sits majestically on a hill overlooking the Market Square by the harbour.

The Uspenski Cathedral is a classical onion-domed Russian church that sits majestically on a hill overlooking the Market Square by the harbour. Taken with a Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

Our mood improved as the weather cleared up.

Sunshine really makes a difference, although it was to rain intermittently over the next few days.

Hitting the sights

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Travel: Northern Europe Summer – Finland, Russia and Estonia

Monday, July 1st, 2013

White nights, midnight sun and paying a social visit to Santa Claus at his hometown at the Arctic Circle.

Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki. The clear blue skies was a relief from the haze back in South East Asia. Taken with Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki. The clear blue skies was a relief from the haze back in South East Asia. Taken with Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

It all started back in 1991 with the liberation of the Baltic States from the Soviet Union which was subsequently followed by the collapse and breakup of the Soviet bloc.

The old town square in Tallinn teems with tourists and artisans celebrating the city's history and traditional crafts. Photo taken with Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

The old town square in Tallinn teems with tourists and artisans celebrating the city’s history and traditional crafts. Photo taken with Nikon D600 with 24-120mm lens.

Since then, my wife and I have always wondered about what these three brave Baltic States were like – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

As students then, we’d heard so little about these three newly-minted (then) countries.

So it was that – two decades after those tumultuous times – we decided to visit Estonia’s capital Tallinn during the children’s school holidays this year.

The easiest approach was via Helsinki.

We flew direct to the capital of Finland via Finnair and then made a day trip via a 2-hour ferry across the Gulf of Finland.

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