Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Itinera mutantur – aut ab Vulcano aut ab aliis

Let me try and revive this itinera blog, at least for a while, as there are some big ones coming shortly. I actually wanted to post this a bit earlier, but have got plenty of pretexts (such as ‘work’) not to have been able to compose an entry. This sudden, divine blogging inspiration was given by Vulcanus or Hephaestus or, if you prefer, Eyjafjalla.

These musings are, of course, a bit past the momentum. How many of you still remember that volcano that erupted in Iceland and stalled air traffic in Europe for several days? I allow myself this delay; after all, the biggest impact of the event might have been a realisation how fast paced our modern life is, and that it is possible to survive at a bit slower speed – at least for a few days. And, in fact, the beauty under glacier is still spewing ashes to the atmosphere and the Irish and Scottish airspaces have been closed for some hours yesterday and today.

Several days without air transportation options caused not only annoyance and changed plans but also a wealth of cute stories about politicians and other big shots driving in minibuses through Europe, businessmen taking a taxi from Düsseldorf to Stockholm (about 1400 km), booze cruise ships between Finland and Sweden filling up with men in suits carrying their laptop bags, and many other similar tales. Most striking perhaps was to see how widely this affected us all, personally.

I was supposed to fly for a weekend to Copenhagen, to spend some time with my wife who was there for professional reasons. Obviously, I could not go. And my better half was supposed to fly back on Monday, but the ash clouds continued to cover the skies … actually, not really cover; people outside Europe were inquiring about the scene, and the only things I could report were a bright blue sky and a beautiful sunshine. Nevertheless, we had to organise my wife back home by train to Stockholm and with a ferry to Helsinki – a journey that took pretty much exactly 24 hours.

In addition, I counted at least eight people among my Facebook friends who reported that they were stuck somewhere or prevented from travelling according to their original plans. That means about one out of 25 was directly affected, let alone all those who were waiting for somebody, or anxious about friends or family members. The tone in the status messages varied, but the implications were quite similar to everyone. Here are some picks that I am blatantly quoting without telling the sources (well, they are all people from my Facebook friend list)… some are slightly edited for anonymity, or translated into English from other languages.

‘I always knew that one day I'd be trapped in Chisenau by a giant cloud of Icelandic volcano dust.’

‘Happy that I booked my train tickets on time… might be a bit crowded tomorrow’

‘My flight to Dublin is cancelled… The nature is trying to teach me planning is no use?’

‘Flight cancelled, stuck in Atlanta. Trying to get re-routed through DC or NY but still waiting a looooooonggggg time to speak to airline agent…’

‘Now it looks like I might be back to Finland for Wednesday night’

’By flying I’d be there already’ [this is twisted from a Finnair marketing slogan]. Journey from Inari to Helsinki [about 1200 km] took 31 hours.’

‘The water is wide, I cannot get o'er, and neither have I wings to fly...’

Aut ab aliis?

There are other things than volcanoes that may affect travel plans of big groups of people – such as … other big groups of people. We like to visit Greece regularly (and bring suitcases full of aubergines and olive oil with us…). At this time, we hadn’t got any upcoming trips there planned, which might be good as the people there are storming the streets and there have been even violent confrontations. Instead, we should have Bangkok in the itinerary soon. Or more precisely, I should go there for a conference which now may or may not take place either in Bangkok or somewhere else… who knows. Cannot do much but wait and see.


Friday, April 25, 2008


Aha, apparently it is now possible to integrate blogger blog through a facebook Blog It application. Perhaps this will increase my update frequencey a bit. Still have to figure how exactly this works...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

End of civilisation as we know it?

I can hear Sir Humphrey’s words echoing in my ears: did yesterday mark the end of civilisation as we know it? Not only did the Italians do it again but also the present Finnish ADHD Government has come up with yet another splendid idea. This time, the Ministry of Education is preparing a programme that would cut the number of university students in Arts and Humanities by half in just five years.

The reasoning is all too familiar: job market requirements. Finnish people are proud of PISA studies results, top-rankings in global competitiveness surveys, innovation industries… to the extent that it sometimes makes me blush. Yet, these same people fail to give any credit to the existing education system in achieving all the glory. It should not even require an advanced university degree to be able to see a link between free thinking and creativity or innovativeness. That is what academic pursuit should be for, ultimately. University is an institution where able individuals learn to think out of box and expand their world view.

It is very considerate of the Ministry of Education to be concerned about the job market opportunities of future students. However, my anecdotic experience is that few students of humanities choose their field of study for the excellent labour market prospects it offers. On the contrary, they are fully aware about the insecurity associated with the choice. And yet, most find a job, eventually. Whilst there are certainly professions that require very specialised skills and knowledge, a fair share of jobs today call for ability to think, adapt and apply existing knowledge to new, sometimes surprising context. Humanities should be at least as good a ground for this as any other academic field (Sir Humphrey studied Classics in Oxford).

A deep-seated idea among the policymakers nowadays seems to be that the business life would be the most competent quarter to ask for the future needs of education. Whilst this kind of thinking may have some credit in terms of vocational labour, it is naïve and extremely short-sighted at best if applied to academic field. Why would the industry have the best idea about what kind of skills and knowledge is required in, say, 20 years from now? Nobody knows that with any significant level of certainty. However, we can be quite sure that ability to think and a comprehensive all-round education will always help to cope with whatever challenges tomorrow will present.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm engaged!

Right... a spontaneous but not unconsidered engagement. Yesterday, we were having a nice lunch in centre of Delft town and discussing various life-related things more like 'hypothetically' (though now that I think about it... were there subtle hints? ... ). Anyway, it was just bound to happen sooner or later, as it was perfectly clear we'll stay the rest of our lives together, married or not, so I thought, why not ask right now.

Then we ordered some champagne, and after finishing it, went wandering about town aimlessly for about half an hour and noted that we should buy rings ... We got to a jewellery shop, which then turned out to be closing in 15 minutes, but they were very kind to even make them fitting and engrave them immediately.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

New Job

I started a new job today, at the Government Institute for Economic Research (Valtion taloudellinen tutkimuskeskus). This is a three-year project on Nordic energy markets. Despite the disturbing fact that I now have to get up early on mornings to make it at the office by 9 o’clock, I’m still quite happy with the situation. The project seems interesting, and I’ve agreed an arrangement to have some time off for continuing my PhD studies.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Family Art

Yesterday, we had a dose of family culture. My father has a little exhibition of his wood sculptures at Haukkavuori Look-out Tower Café Saga, in Kotka, and while visiting my parents, we also went to see the sculptures and other exhibitions in the Tower. And the view from the top, too. The exhibition is still there, open until the end of the month (Tuesday to Sunday 11:00–18:00, Mondays closed.).

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Otium

Summer has gone in a blissful otium.

Soon after my last post, I went to London for a week. This was the trip I was originally supposed to meet Karen first time – but that meeting got advanced by nearly four months, luckily… Anyway, we decided to stick to the London trip after all. We had plenty of nice time. The latter part of the trip was spent mostly reading – or almost exclusively, to be honest – as we got Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows at the midnight release. The ending of the book series was even better than I had expected. The important parts were very much as I had expected, though the frequency of killings first seemed surprisingly high.

We then came together to Finland and have enjoyed sunny Helsinki and occasional visits elsewhere, like my parents’ summer cottage at Ängvik island (in Pyhtää). Here’s a picture of me and Karen (or almost) over there:

Now it’s our last week together, and I’ve already started some work with several PhD courses, trying to write my research paper, and on top of that studying some Latin… And there’ll be wven more to do for the coming weeks.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Seneca matkustelusta

Jokin aika sitten käänsin latinan kurssia varten Senecan kirjettä 28, joka käsittelee matkustelun hyödyttömyyttä hoitona sielua vaivaavaan tyytymättömyyteen. Ensin säikähdin, että pitääkö minut nyt lopettaa matkustelu, mutta pidemmälle lukiessani havaitsin, että Seneca on, taas kerran, täsmälleen samaa mieltä kanssani. Kyllähän matkustelukin sopii, kunhan mieli on kunnossa.

Kirjeessä on Senecan tyylille ominaisesti – ehkäpä tavallistakin enemmän – viljalti sananlaskun tai lentävän lauseen omaisia elämänohjeita. Alkuperäinen latinankielinen teksti on kokonaisuudessaan Classics Libraryssa (sivua pitää selata alas XXVIII:aan asti). Tässä joitakin otteita suomennettuina

Hoc tibi soli putas accidisse et admiraris quasi rem novam quod peregrinatione tam longa et tot locorum varietatibus non discussisti tristitiam gravitatemque mentis? Animum debes mutare, non caelum.

Arveletko näin sattuneen yksin sinulle ja ihmetteletkö ikään kuin uutena asiana sitä, ettet niin pitkän matkustelun ja niin suuren paikkojen monenkirjavuuden jälkeenkään ole hälventänyt mielesi murhetta ja raskautta? Sielu sinun täytyy vaihtaa eikä ilmastoa.

Magis quis veneris quam quo interest, et ideo nulli loco addicere debemus animum. Cum hac persuasione vivendum est: ‘non sum uni angulo natus, patria mea totus hic mundus est’.

Enemmän on väliä sillä kenenä menet kuin minne menet, ja siksipä meidän ei pidä jättää mieltämme minkään paikan valtaan. On elettävä tämän vakaumuksen kanssa: »En ole syntynyt yhtä maankolkkaa varten, isänmaani on koko maailma.»

Nunc non peregrinaris sed erras et ageris ac locum ex loco mutas, cum illud quod quaeris, bene vivere, omni loco positum sit.

Nyt et matkustele, vaan harhailet ja liikuskelet sekä vaihdat paikasta paikkaan, kun taas tuo mitä kaipaat - hyvin eläminen - on mahdollista jokaisessa paikassa

Dissentio ab his qui in fluctus medios eunt et tumultuosam probantes vitam cotidie cum difficultatibus rerum magno animo conluctantur. Sapiens feret ista, non eliget, et malet in pace esse quam in pugna.

Olen eri mieltä niiden kanssa, jotka menevät aaltojen keskelle ja pitäen arvossa myrskyisää elämää joka päivä suurella uhmalla painiskelevat olojen vaikeuksien kanssa. Viisas sietää tuon, muttei valitse sitä ja on mieluummin rauhassa kuin riidassa.

Quid interest quot domini sint? servitus una est

Mitä väliä on herrain määrällä? Orjuus on yksi ja sama.


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Mundo menteve?

I was recently studying and translating a letter by Seneca (Epistulae Morales 28) as required for a course, and it evokes some thoughts about this blog… I’ll post some pieces of my Finnish translation separately, but here are some general comments in English. The complete original Latin text is available at the Classics Library (you have to scroll down a bit until XXVIII) and an English (old-fashioned) translation by Richard M. Gummere in the The letter begins:

Hoc tibi soli putas accidisse et admiraris quasi rem novam quod peregrinatione tam longa et tot locorum varietatibus non discussisti tristitiam gravitatemque mentis? Animum debes mutare, non caelum.

Do you suppose that this has happened to you alone, and are you surprised, as if it were a novelty, that after such long travel and so many changes of scene you have not been able to shake off the gloom and heaviness of your mind? Your must change your soul, not the climate.

At first, I was afraid the letter contained criticism to me, but reading further just confirmed that Seneca is channelling my own thoughts, a feeling not unusual to me when reading his works:

Magis quis veneris quam quo interest, et ideo nulli loco addicere debemus animum. Cum hac persuasione vivendum est: ‘non sum uni angulo natus, patria mea totus hic mundus est’.

More important is as who than where you go; for that reason we should not make the mind a bondsman to any one place. One has to live in this belief: ‘I am not born for any one corner; my fatherland is this whole world.’


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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Timor -Leste Counting Votes

I only wrote the elections commentary in Finnish, as I believe information in English is widely available elsewhere. Once again, the most up-to-date information seem to be available at (in Portuguese mainly). The official National Electoral Commission page also provides some information, but in less stylised formad.

In any case, a very interesting result... Does not require lot of fortune telling skills to predict that the negociations on composition of a new government cabinet is not going to be easy.

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Itä-Timorissa lasketaan ääniä

Aika mielenkiintoiselta näyttää. Parlamenttivaalithan olivat lauantaina, ja äänistä on nyt laskettu suurin osa. Jossakin määrin virallinen väliaikatieto lienee kansallisen vaalikomission sivulla, mutta sitä on hieman vaikea lukea. Timor Online - blogissa on havainnollisia kuvia, kuten tämä (Lähde: Timor Online - Em directo de Timor-Leste: Resultados Nacionais Parciais (406.480 votos apurados)):

Itä-Timorissa on siis vaalien jälkeen yhden selkeän valtapuolueen (vallankumousrintama FRETILIN) kaksi kookkaahkoa ja kaksi keskisuurta puoluetta tai vaaliliittoa. FRETILIN:in haastaja on virkansa hiljattain jättäneen ensimmäisen presidentin ja vallankumoussankarin Xanana Gusmãon elvyttämä akronymi CNRT, joka tässä tarkoittaa "Congresso Nacional da Reconstrução Timorense", eli suunnilleen "Kansallinen Timorin jälleenrakennuskongressi". Tämä vaikuttaa pieneltä nostalgisoivalta mediatempulta, sillä kaikki timorilaiset varmasti muistavat itsenäisyystaistelun aikaisen CNRT:n, jossa "R" oli lyhenne sanasta Resistencia, eli siis vastarinta.

FRETILININ ylivoiman kutistuminen ensimmäisen parlamentin 63 prosentista 31 prosenttiin oli sinänsä odotettua ja demokratian kannalta ehkä toivottavaakin, mutta epäselväksi jää, millaisia konkreettisia muutoksia CNRT ja muut puolueet sitten aikovat toteuttaa. Tulivatko äänet vain karismaattisen johtajahamon ja anti-FRETILIN-retoriikan myötä? On kyllä huomattava että myös perinteisten sosiaalidemokraattisen puolueiden ASDT:N ja PSD:n koalitio yli tuplasi ääniosuutensa 8:sta 17:ään prosenttiin. Toivotaan parasta, mutta hallitusneuovotteluista tuskin tulee helpot.
Vanhan parlamentin kokoonpano.

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Monday, May 28, 2007


It has been quite some time since the last update - I guess that's what happens when one starts to date... which has been going on now for two months... very nice.

However, I have now made some backdated entries to fill in the gap.

I also upgraded for new Blogger Labels, but as you can see, haven't managed to remove the old tags yet. If somebody knows how to do that easily, without need to edit each post separately, please tell me.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Italy 18-24 May 2007

Here are some pictures from our Italy trip.



A cool archaeological site, an Etruscan city in Marzabotto near Bologna.



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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Wappu

This is not to wish you happy Vappu, or 1st of May, since it wouldn't be timely, as the post is backdated. The title rather implies that this was very happy time indeed, as Karen (my wonderful girlfriend) was here for over a week around that time.

Here's a photo from Havis Amanda getting the Cap on 30th of April.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Home via Holland

From Japan, I flew first to Holland to see my girlfriend for a weekend, and then took a complicated route back to Helsinki, because I had originally booked the Tokyo flights cheaply from Tallin, and hence had multiple stops on my way. Here's a photo from Raekoja Plats during my stopover.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Onsen, Sento - Bath in Ikaho

Last couple of days I spent taking on average four baths a day in Ikaho, a small Onsen resort two hours from Tokyo. The town is on slope, and the main street on stairs.

On the top of the stairs, there's a little Shinto shrine, and lots of prayers.

Whilst the ryokan I was staying in had excellent out door hot pools (rotenburo), I decided to try the Sento, Japanese public bath. Only this time, it was rather private, since there were no other bathers at the time, so I took the opportunity to get some photographs inside.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Phone Power in Japan

As you can see from the previous post, I did manage to get my phone battery charged. If you want to use your phone in Japan, don'tleave your charger home! And get a traveller one that works with different currents. For in Japan, they have their totally own system for mobile phones, and not compatible with anything else in the world, so you cannot by normal chargers, at least not for Nokia phones.

However, if you did bring your phone, but not the charger, or the charger you brought doesn't work, there might be one rescue: At least if you have a Nokia phone, go to any SoftBank outlet. They don't sell you a charger, even though they've got some Nokia phones in they selection, but they are happy to charge it for you while you go for a lunch for example.

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Monday, April 09, 2007


The last two days, I've been stationed in Osaka. Apart from enjoying the famous Kansai food, I have visited a couple of Samurai Era castles. Osaka catle is of course a fake, reconstructed after being destructed a couple of times, so I only had a look from outside yesterday. Even if not genuine, it is still a truly imposing sight. Let alone the cheryy blossoming around it.

Today, I made a day trip to Himeji, where lies the biggest and best maintained remaining original castle of feudal Japan. The sight is breathtaking, and there were even more cherry trees...

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Shinto wedding

Congratulations to Maiko and Adam
And lot of happines to your marriage!

No pictures, as I was afraid, but perhaps I'll be able to send some a bit later. Funnily, last time I visited Nara, I was among the tourists that were taking pictures of the wedding couple and guests from a distance at the shrine... now I was there at the site myself, but didn't have a functional photo equipment.

The shinto wedding ceremony was something I'll probably never forget - and that's not because of the legs that were rather hurting afterwards...

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Nara, Japan

Been a while since I updated the blog... well now there's a reason, since I'm currently in Japan. Tomorrow I'm going to attend Maiko's and Adam's wedding. Unfortunately, my phone battery died and I dont seem to find a way to recharge it, so I may not be able to take pictures (but I'm sure there are other people who will). Here are some I managed top take today.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

The Finnish Society of Economic Research Annual Symposium

This year the annual event, organised by the Finnish Society of Economic Research (Taloustieteellinen Seura) took place in Lappeenranta.

When coming back, the train was 20 minutes late. This is a photo from snow-covered Lappeenranta Railway Station.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


This is my complete 5-week itinerary (without transfer airports)

From: Great Circle Mapper

HELAIPHelsinki [Vantaa], FI
WAScityWashington [Metro Area], DC, US
SAPDAFIFLa Mesa (San Pedro Sula) [Ramón Villeda Morales Intl], HN
UIIunreliableUtila Island, HN
LCEDAFIFLa Ceiba [Golosón Intl], HN
TGUDAFIFTegucigalpa [Toncontín Intl], HN
SNAFAASanta Ana [John Wayne-Orange County Airport], CA, US
LAXFAALos Angeles [Intl], CA, US
SFOFAASan Francisco [Intl], CA, US
DPSDAFIFDenpasar [Ngurah Rai - Bali Intl], Bali, ID
DILAIPDili [Presidente Nicolau Lobato Intl (Komoro Intl)], TP
SINDAFIFSingapore [Changi Intl], SG
CMBDAFIFColombo [Bandaranaike Intl], LK

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Home, cold home

So, the journey finally came to its end (accompagnied with yet another set of lost luggage...) It was sunny in Helsinki, but the temperature was freezing. Here's a picture taken when I came out of the airport bus, at Hakaniemi square next to my home.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Blinking Buddhas

Ok this post is backdated as it took some time for me to get organised...

So, this is a short vide of the blinking Budhha reliefs at the front of the bus (or maybe they are Hindu gods, I'm not sure). You should also hear the sound of the 'entertainment system' that was on. As the coach was moving, the picture is not quite stable...

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Sri Lanka

The trip is almost over. In about an hour, I am to start the homeward journey from Colombo, where I'm right now waiting at the airport.

I spent the weekend in Unawatuna in southern Sri Lanka with a few friends. The place is not very far from Colombo, but the ride took about four hours in a bus fully packed with passengers who were 'entertained' with high-desibelic local music. I got a short video recording of the music and blinking Buddha-figures that were probably meant to give protection to the bus. Protection may indeed be a good idea provided the driving habits and the facts that the Tamil fighters sometimes set bombs t0 these vehicles (though much less so in the souther part of the country). There was also a guy selling protective amulets prior to the departure.

I cannot upload the video right now, so have to wait for later. I also haven't got any other photos, because the phone went out of battery and I didn't have the charger with me. So, you have to take my word that the place is truly pleasant and beautiful. It was somewhat hard to believe this is the are that was worst hit by the Tsunami in Sri Lanka. To get an idea, you can have a look at the Sri Lanka Travel Guide photos.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dili for a change

At the same time, Dili is the same and different compared to nine months ago. On the surface many things look like nothing had happened, but the IDP (internally displaced people) camps quickly make it clear that there is a difference. On the way from the airport on Friday, I was 'greeted' at Comoro bridge by a gang fight that was being handled with tear-gas by the international police forces.

On the other hand, lunch and swim at the beach side made me feel as if I never had left.

I had really great three days meeting many old friends and I realise I had missed this country despite all the work-related stress that I used to complain about.

Just before leaving today, I had a luch at my usual table 9 at Hotel Timor and again, it felt like I didn't ever really leave...

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

San Francisco Mandatory Sites

After the breakfast, I visited some of the mandatory sites in the city. After a cable car ride to Fisherman's Wharf I could see the Alcatraz prison and the famous Sea Lions at Pier 39. As you can see, the weather is really sunny (though still cool).

A view from Chirardelli Square, a short walk from the Fisherman's Wharf.

Of course, any San Francisco touristic itinerary should include the Golden Gate. I walked a little bit on the bridge, but didn't cross it to the other side.

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San Francisco Breakfast

It's a bit chilly here, but the Sun is shining.

And, they have proper cafés here that serve proper Italian coffee in proper cups!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Los Angeles

Two days is not much to see a big city like LA. On Wednesday, the weather was still warm, so I was walking around Downtown areas.

Yesterday was a bit chilly already. I went to see Old Pasadena and had lunch there. Not really anything spectacular, but it was interesting to note that almost nobody was using a fast and clean public transportation - and LA county alone is supposed to have 8 million inhabitants.

Then my intention was to visit some museums, but when I got out from the metro station, I realised it was clearly not the right one. I then just hopped into the next train and continued all the way to the Universal City.

Today the temperature has gone further down, so I chose some indoors activity instead and took a tour in the Walt Disney Concert hall. This is a view from the roof garden.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Orange County

Yesterday, I arrived in Orange County to spend a couple of days with my Uncle Ilkka and his wife Pirjo. Some pictures from today:

Mission San Juan Capistrano:

Pier at San Clmente:

View from New Port shopping centre:

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Return to USA

Yesterday, I was mostly familiarising mysef with different types of lines and waiting. First line was at Tegucigalpa airport; Everyone seemed to have chosen this day to return from holidays. It took about one hour to reach the American Airlines check-in counter. Then, a much shorter line to pay the airport tax.

The flight to Miami was delayed almost by an hour, so we had to wait in the terminal that didn't feature enough seats for all passangers.

At arrival, surprisingly, there wasn't any line to passport control. This was, however, compensated by another hour's wait at the luggage belt (as 'customs clarance at final destination airport' is an unknown concept in the US).

Then, when we were supposed to board our flight to DC, they announce that they are still looking for some crew members... Good things for the rest of the trip:
  1. They finally managed to find some flight attendants for our flight, which ended up only about half an hour late.
  2. 50% of the luggage did actually arrive with us - it is of course understandable that the Miami airport could not make the transfer, since there were only four hours between the flights. So for the final touch, some standing in the line to claim missing luggage.
  3. There were taxis at the airport so we didn't have to walk in rainy DC.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Valle de Angeles

Half an hour drive from Tegucigalpa lays Valle de Angeles, a small village full of artisan shops. Though a bit touristic, the village is very pittoresque and offers great vatiety of good buys. I would have bought a richly decorated chest if only it hadn't been so difficult to carry...

On the way back, we stopped at another little village, Santa Lucia, which offered a stricking night view to illuminated Tegucigalpa, which reminded me of Rome viewed from the hills after dinner time.

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