Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sweden: Lighting bonfires on Walpurgis Night

We celebrated Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish) tonight in Malmö's largest park, Pildammsparken. The event started at 2130.

We expected to see a big but ordinary bonfire; instead we watched an enormous dancing bonfire - like a bonfire display which is even better. It was really nice. Lighting bonfires on April 30 is a traditional custom that started in the 18th century to ward off evil spirits. Nowadays, this day marks the celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring - although this year spring or even summer started earlier. A choir sang before the bonfire display which is part of the tradition. Coincidentally, today also marks the birthday of the Swedish King, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Watch the video below to see more... It's amazing!!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Sweden: Swedish massage...

Swedish massage is supposed to be popular around the world. I've seen it offered in spas in some countries I've travelled to. However in Sweden people generally don't know what "Swedish" massage is. I found that really odd.

It's only recently when I went to Destress that I heard the term "Swedish" massage being used. Finally! I learned that the name was coined because a certain Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish man, developed it.

I like going to Sensa Spa; they specialise in aromatherapy. They have different scents that smell heavenly! They use Decleor products which use natural ingredients -aromatic plants producing essential oils.

Thai massage is also very good... And Sabai Tai is the least expensive out of all the above. It costs around 400 SEK (around €40) for one and a half hours while the others cost around 600 SEK for half an hour. (around €55).

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sweden: Nature trip in the countryside... Arild

Arild is a lovely fishing village in Sweden where you can take long walks and enjoy nature. People come here for weddings, meetings, honeymooon, and other special events. I also learned that you can do all sorts of activities here such as cave hiking, Krapperups castle tour, speedboat/seal safari and rapelling.

What I like here so far: birds chirping, beautiful houses, great view...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Finland: Museum in Lappeenranta

We went to a museum in Lappeenranta. It’s called Wolkoffin Museo ja Kauppa. It seems like a famous place- as even Fins who live in the area go there for a tour. It’s supposed to be popular because a very wealthy Russian family used to live there; and they eventually donated it to the government so that it can be converted into a museum. I don’t really know what’s special about it. It’s not that big. The stuff they have is nothing spectacular. On top of that, the tour guide talked really fast – in Finnish which I didn’t understand – and didn’t allow her audience to ask questions till the end of the tour. She was also very grumpy. Grrrrrrr!!! Well…at least we were allowed to take photos.

Study room

Dining room


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Finland: My fave coffee shop ...Majurska Kahvila Cafe

Dubbed as a "romantic old-fashioned cafe" in the historical Fortress of Lappenranta, Majurska Kahvila Cafe offers homemade cakes, coffee, brewed tea, wine and other beverages. I keep on going back for their yummy hot chocolate and cheese cake. The cafe has an interesting decoration of handicrafts, paintings and old-fashioned furniture.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Finland: Fishing in Lappeenranta...

After a day in Helsinki, we went to a place called Lappeenranta. It's one of the closest cities to St. Petersburg, Russia so it's common to see Russian faces in this place.

On our way from Helsinki to Lappeenranta, I saw some people walking on a frozen lake. I was intrigued. "What are they doing there?", I asked my husband. He said they were fishing and I immediately asked him if we could go fishing as well. After all I've never fished my whole life. On top of that, I've never fished on a frozen lake!!! It's exciting!!!

So we went fishing. And we were able to catch fish! I was able to catch two in half an hour. Although our goal was to catch fish, when I saw the fish on top of the ice, I felt sorry for them. I didn't even have the heart to take their photo. I asked my husband and his parents if we are going to eat them. And they said no. So I told my husband, "can we put the fish back in the water (lake)?" We did. I don't think I'd want to eat fish anymore. Ever.

Drilling a hole on the frozen lake...

We fished through holes in the cover ice of the frozen lake. This is where we put our fishing/ice rod...

Fishing... we had to squat for almost an hour... It was worth it. I liked the experience so much, thanks to my husband and my parents-in-law.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Finland: One night in Helsinki...

We stayed at the Kämp Hotel for one day/night and strolled around Helsinki. The hotel had a Day spa where they had all sorts of treatments- from facial to massages. I had a facial (called instant glow). It was relaxing.

We moved to another room - as the toilet in the first room was not clean! Yuck! And this is supposed to be a five star hotel. But the good thing is that the receptionist was quick to give us another room after we informed her about the situation.

We ate at Fazer (one of our fave chocolate brands) restaurant. They had an Easter decoration and what I thought was a Halloween symbol (the witch) is an Easter symbol in Finland.

Easter Eggs at Fazer...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sweden: Palm Sunday

Christian churches are celebrating Palm Sunday today. My husband and I heard a Catholic mass this morning and as palms are not available here in Sweden, the church had baskets of leaves that people took as they entered. (see photo)

In the Philippines, palm branches (palaspas) are sold outside Catholic churches and priests bless them at the beginning of the ceremony while people hold them up (waving) to re-enact the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. They are even brought home after mass and displayed above doorways or windows - to bless their homes. People from all walks of life- from the finest houses to the humblest shanties- display their palm branches for a year.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Sweden: Sightseeing in Helsingborg

We went to Helsingborg this afternoon - for sightseeing. We've been to this city in the past but we've only done some shopping and dining.

What's good to see in Helsingborg? We were in Rådhuset (City Hall) dating back to 1897. It also houses the tourist information office.

We also went to Kärnan, the symbol of the city, with spiral staircase leading up to the top, where we got a view of the city and even Denmark.

I've read that there are more than 500 shops and 160 restaurants and cafes in the streets of Helsingborg. The main shopping street runs south from Kullagatan which happens to be Scandinavia's first pedestrian street.

We had lunch at Haket, a kebab and pizza restaurant. We've been there before when they had a nice small restaurant. Now they've expanded it and made it even more attractive. We like the food too and this is why we keep on going back.

We also went to one of Scandinavia's biggest shopping centre, Väla, located just outside Helsingborg.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Sweden: Started biking again...

We started biking last Sunday. It's been less cold (even warm the other day) lately. Spring has arrived... or maybe for a while. Weather in Sweden can be unpredictable.

We biked again this evening when we went to Hemmakväll (literal translation: home tonight) where we usually buy DVDs. It's really nice to bike especially when it's downhill (I'm so lazy!).