“Christmas month”

Joulukuu. The Finnish word for December! Literally translated it would be “Christmas month”. Latest on December (usually in September) the windows, front yards and bushes start glittering of Christmas decoration lights. I do think (not everyone of course) that the majority of the Finns enjoy the Christmas time.

I hope everyone has an actual advent / Christmas / December calendar, with chocolate or anything else. From 1 till 24 December, I will write a series of posts related to Christmas to get everyone to the ultimate mood!

The mood-booster for 1 & 2 December – My Christmas month

I will tell how Christmas usually goes for me. Earlier I wrote about Santa Claus… And even got a respond from the official Santa Claus from Alaska (read here: Sinterklaas and Joulupukki (a.k.a Santa Claus) ). To respect both (the one living in Alaska and the one we have living at the North Pole) – I leave it here.

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The wait till the Christmas Eve usually goes pretty much the same,

Delicious Christmas treats

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Pre-Christmas parties

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Sometimes lucky enough, real Northern joys

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The famous sister and some lake skating…

And when the big day arrives, after days of sweating and arguing with family members due to the preparations and how everyone is stressed, busy and tired…

24 December starts by Morning Sauna. Followed by rice porridge, topped with cinnamon and one almond hidden in it – The lucky one who gets the almond from the porridge, get extra luck and success for the coming year. (It can also mean getting married for singles, boy child for one who doesn’t have kids, a must to give a speech right now or a chance to make a secret wish)

As soon as these are done, is time to put on the Christmas outfit and as soon as everyone is at the door screaming – My lovely sister usually yells all of us back to watch the 12 O’clock “Christmas Peace Declaration”.The declaration is given in Turku (The ex-capital city of Finland). The declaration is read from a vintage paper roll and the first declaration took place already in 1320. In the beginning, it was read only in Swedish but the turn was around 1710 to Finnish and since then it has been read in both official languages (Swedish/Finnish). The speech is in total only a few minutes and after that the national anthem is played. All in one the declaration takes less than 10, but yearly, over thousands of people are present in Turku to hear it.

Usually, around this time the family heads to the graveyard to remember those who already left, or sometimes if the visit has been the day before, our family is allowed to take a small break. The ‘official’ programme of Christmas starts after all of this. The most important, visiting the family and relatives means also food and having lunch/dinner very slowly going through the whole year and all the exciting events. If you get through this without less than 10 arguments, the Christmas Eve in considered successful!

-> Rest of the evening is the most fun, unwrapping the gift and eating! Playing board games, listening to music, real family time. On 24 December, there is some kind of magic in the air. Especially if it is white snow or even snowing!

Finnish Christmas by Buzzfeed:

22 Ways Finland Wins Christmas by Buzzfeed

 

 

 

 

And there we go again

Every time I get mad of not understanding what is happening around me, or someone makes a remark of the effort they are putting to speak English to me… I think of the same question: Why I find it annoying to speak about language matters?

I have put an effort on learning Dutch. I studied half a year in school and took private lessons, however, since I haven’t been learning for a while, my progress has been slower recently. My level in Dutch is high enough that I can’t fully block what is happening around me, but low enough to not to have courage to speak it too much.

No blame for the Dutch, they have treated me well by speaking English all the time and the times they forgot, it doesn’t really matter.  I guess in my home country, it is harder to get people to speak English anyway. Many countries still struggle with shyness of speaking other language, or the lack of learning other languages…

Should I speak English to be polite or Dutch for you to learn? Should she say to me if she wants me to speak English? Should I ask everyone in this table to speak English because she is here? Will I ever be fluent enough that they don’t switch to English? Will they ever know how this feels? Does it stay like that or do I feel 100% like home once?

Annoying to speak about language matters?

First of all. It is annoying because

  1. I still have not figured out, should they speak Dutch for me to learn or English to be polite
  2. It makes me miss my language and how free I feel while speaking it
  3. My English / Finnish vocabulary is not comparable

Besides these, it took a year to figure, but because

Other people have the power to decide for you whether you want to listen, comment, answer or pay attention… How many times have you heard, or said yourself?  “We spoke in English, because it was boring and nothing important to you”... See, there it is. A decision you made, or they made, for them or for you.

Just to clarify, I’m not complaining. More like thinking.

Our Budapest

We arrived to Budapest Airport with not much knowledge of Hungary nor Budapest. Four days later we are in love with the city and I personally wouldn’t mind moving there.

Let’s go through how our Budapest trip was.

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We flew with Transavia  for 54 EUR per person / roundtrip

We stayed with
Friends Hostel & Apartments Budapest
Two people, friday to monday 93 EUR (about 23 EUR / a night)

+ Helpful and very friendly stuff
+ Private apartment, excellent location. On the other side of the road of the Terror House
+ Right next to the Street Cakes where to get traditional the “Chimney cake”, but filled either with ice cream, whipped cream or chocolate sauce or all of those, topped with Kitkat, bounty or whatever is on the counter. Definetely worth of a visit! Two friendly girls running the shop

We ate at

Bro’s Kitchen
First night, hungry and amused by the city, first restaurant where we saw Duck on the menu – that was it. A busy restaurant, good food and nice Hungarian wines. Chili sweet potato fries and blue cheese mayo for starter, and duck potato bed for the main. 3.5/5

Zing Burger
Everywhere you travel – remember to taste a burger in a local restaurant. Since I can’t get enough of blue cheese burgers, I tried Zing’s blue cheese burger. The best burger place is still in Prague and Zing will get 3/5.

Sao Food & Bar
We found our way to this restaurant by accident, but as the dishes came, both of us were surprised and overjoyed. Best Asian restaurant so far! 5/5

Budapest Market Hall
The Lángos at the market is a bit more expensive than in other shops, but to get the full market hall experience, we had to taste it! All in one, the whole market hall is great. 4/5

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Padthai wokbar
Sunday in Budapest did not close only most of the shops, but some of the restaurants as well. First we tried Ramenka, and then Sao – both closed. Padthai wokbar was the first wok place to come across so that was it then! At padthai wokbar you could create your own wok, choosing from many options! Wok was fresh, spicy and budget friendly, and the quality surprised us both!
Hummusbar
Breakfast at Hummusbar. A humus pita with veggies and an egg. Different, delicious and friendly staff. 4/5

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Gelarto Rosa
The most famous ice cream shop of Budapest – As an ice cream lover, I was amazed that with such a “small effort” you can do something so pretty and capturing. I have a ice cream cone tattooed on to my leg, but when I saw the masterpieces of Gelarto Rosa, I thought of taking another one. 5/5

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We had drinks and fun at

Christmas market

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Szimpla Kert

We visited these touristic attractions (and much more…)

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We used this much

The trip (traveling & hostel) = 54 + 46.5 = 100.5 EUR
Dinner for two = 20-25 EUR including 10% tip
Drinks for two (one round) = 5 EUR

Next time we want to do this

  • This time we missed the famous baths, so for the next trip baths will be number one
  • “Ramenka” – a ramen restaurant needs a try! Now when I think of the trip, I know we saw so much but there is still so much more. More restaurants to try, districts to discover, castles to visit, explore the nature, go on the Sziget Festival….

Tips

  • Cash is always good to have – In some of the restaurants you can only pay by cash, and most of the bars accepts only cash
  • Most of the shops are closed on Sundays or have reduced opening hours. Besides the shops, your favourite restaurant might be closed then as well. (That happened to us) Check the opening hours in advance!
  • Don’t forget to tip

3 x Things Dutch people do (and why I care)

This post is not to hurt anyone, and I hope the Dutch friends I have will not walk away after reading it. This list is made out of my own observations and conclusions, and I will free myself from any type of responsibility according to the text. Enjoy!

1 Like every language, also the Dutch have their own nice and original twists in it. In Dutch language, every word usually gets “je” after the actual word. I´m not quite sure is it to make everything cuter or? If someone has an answer for this do tell! Why do I care: Anyway, I cant help it, but every time I hear it, this happens in my mind. Things get smaller.

Have you ever heard a Dutch saying in English “Let’s go for a small beer/ Let’s do a small beer before” Yeaha, this explains it right?

 

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2 They do “Stilte Saunas” – “Always the fuzz about Sauna. “We happen to know best, yes. OK so Silent Sauna. Sauna here is considered as a treat, which doesn’t happen often. Well, to the wellness centers I have gone to Sauna, they have Saunas that are called Finnish Sauna. But 90% of them, are silent. 60% of them, you cant pour water to the fireplace.

Why do I care: This is why I trust no-one.

3 Dutch keep asking questions. I read it somewhere before, the Dutch dont much enjoy being at the center of attention. They prefer to ask questions. Thousands of questions. Not only from foreigners but from everyone. It goes really funny when two Dutch meet for the first time and they both are avoiding being in spotlight. It doesn’t affect me in negative way, but it is still overwhelming to keep up with all the “????”.

Why do I care: More than 10 strangers knows way more than the should about my, from simple queuing, supermarket, bus, train – conversation. Its not that I blame those who ask, maybe I shouldn’t feel too kind and answer.

BurgerBar @ Plein

Saturday and you only had two Food truck-festivals to choose from. Obviously you “can’t” find anything nice and then you get this great idea to go to Subway to get a nice sandwich. When you get to the spot where the Subway supposed to be, you notice na-aa, not today. The Subway is gone, and someone decided to open a BurgerBar here!

Burgers, why not. So I enter, and what do I see?! The most awesome decoration and biiig burgers. It might have something to do, that the subway that used to be there was quite ugly but yeah, BurgerBar is decorated to every single detail.

BurgerBar gives everyone the opportunity of building their own burger. From a long list, anyone can become a burger king and choose what is today’s mood! We started with the basic beef, from Ireland. Then some blue cheese, fried onions and finish it with fries and truffle mayonnaise. Two burgers, friends and the mayonnaise were approx 20€. 

The customer service was on point, and besides that we got to see the burger preparing progress live from weighting the beef to putting it between the buns. BTW, I never had such crispy fries before!!

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Day in Utrecht

I could blame myself for being lazy after I realised that I did not visit Utrecht yet. That happens when you are living in a city that has everything, believe me! The Hague has not betrayed me still.

Since Utrecht is just 40 minutes away, we decided last Saturday to head there and see why everyone is talking how nice the city is.

The speciality of Utrecht is the canal that goes through the centre, and from the photos below you can see how it is in two levels. I could describe it that on the upper level people are in rush, walking fast and on the lower level the world stops and everyone just enjoys the moment. Very magical atmosphere!

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We came across a market in front of Central Station, so it took a while to start looking for a lunch place. At this point we were so hungry, that we took the first place that had space next to the water and was somewhat affordable. Tapaskelder had different tapas-plates from different price categories, and even though we took the cheapest, as you can see, it was a lot! Food was very tasteful and nice. I could recommend this place!

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A wine lover always finds her way to the good wine places. By accident we found Wijncafé Lefebvre which seems to be the Wine-bar of the year as well! The system was nice, from the menu you could see the price category and then more information about the wine and where it comes from. We almost decided to take “bad wine” – wine that wasn’t our taste, but luckily you can taste everything before you make your final decision.

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The Dutch Summer (to be continued)

O key, I am horrible. I haven’t even thought the whole blog in months.

The leaves should be falling now but this Dutch Summer has gone over the limits. September and sun keeps till shining to us, its about 25 degrees outside and I haven’t started to use coat yet. A week ago I started my internship and my colleague mentioned that I should write something about my first summer here.

But because it is still going on, let’s take a look to the Finnish one.

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Our one month holiday was very busy, full of attractions and loads of good weather. Next writing will be about the summer in NL, no matter if its still going or not!

Ijshockey in The Netherlands

About the Dutch hockey

The Netherlands is member of The Ice Hockey Federation since 20.1.1935. In total, Dutch are 2,888 registered players. Out of those; 1,465 are men, 1,194 juniors and 229 women. Referees they have in total 57, indoor rings 26 and outdoor rings 2. Men’s World Ranking is 25th and women’s 17.

The population of The Netherlands 16,998,165.

For comparison, the statistics of Finland

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Source: International Ice Hockey Federation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘BeNeliga’. Founded 2015, 16 teams from The Netherlands and Belgium, divided into two groups. BeNe-league has quite some players from outside of Belgium and the Netherlands, but still the majority are Dutch and Belgians.

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Fins mentioned twice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under you can see in this order; tallest-, shortest-, heaviest-, lightest-, oldest- and youngest players.

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Source for Dutch statistics

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As supposed to support the local, the best and the only option was to go with HYS The Hague. The team has played good this season and now they are fighting in the play offs. For suprise, Dutch people can be quite supportive when it comes to ice hockey, even though they are known for Football.

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Carnaval Roosendaal

CARNIVAL IN THE NETHERLANDS!

After some months even the coolest exchange student life will change a bit, slowly into so called normal life. The first months are basically sightseeing, then you kind of forget how it felt to see everything for the first time and usually around this time you start looking for interesting events etc. to remind yourself that it really doesnt have to be only routines.

We wanted to experience our first Carnaval in the Netherlands and because we were really late and didnt know where would be the best party, we just decided to try Roosendaal and lucky enough, we ran into a full carnival. People in Roosendaal really knew how to make best out of the Carnival parade and I’m pretty sure that every single habitant of the city was out during this day.

// Karnivaalia karnivaalin perään. Roosendaalissa oli meno kohillaan.

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8 x Praha

1. Landscapes

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2. Czech hockey and beer

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3. Sint-Vituskathedraal – just because it’s stunning and the name means something funny in Finnish haha

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4. Still the best burgers I’ve ever had – Cafe Palanda

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5. The cars – I will research why Prague had almost better cars than Munich

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6. Street art and underground bars

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7. Coolest trams I have seen so far

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8. Traditional sweet with chocolate

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Obviously the best thing though was the company..

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