Friday, July 9, 2010

Lying Architecture

A while back I spotted a worrying trend of walls pretending to be windows, and even entire facades hidding behind almost convincing veils, which immitate the buildings they cover.

The building in the previous post 'Yes Shop', is another example of sorts, it doesn't look much like a castle beyond the facade. The same goes for the red, farm house-ish building.

Have a look...

I'm on to you...

Yes Shop

I went for a drive to revisit a shop I've gone to on every visit to Finland I can remember. I can only ever remember it as Keskinen, some call it Kyläkauppa. However on looking at their website I don't know exactly what it's called.

Here is their description-

Bros. Keskinen Ltd. / VillageShop

The wild Statue of Liberty of Finnish commerce – Brothers Keskinen Ltd., the biggest VillageShop in Finland, the Legend of the plains, the Pearl of Ostrobothnia, the miraculous Department Store in the backwoods - a beloved child has many names - rises at the gate of Southern Ostrobothnia, in the middle of nowhere. It is very difficult to describe this department store of the new generation with words; it must be experienced personally.

Welcome to Tuuri!

While a tad boastful, I think they are right, it must be experienced personally.

For me, it is a place of infinite 'why the hell not' fighting against mass crassness. While the internal look is simply that of any other mall/modern department store (with the exception of stuffed wild life perched on logs bolted to the stucture), the external aesthetic is part disneyland,and part 100 year old scandinavian village/farm. These two aesthetics don't have to compete, they are seperated by a large butter yellow concrete wall, spanning a third of the available parking area.

I think it's great. Ridiculous, maybe. Excessive, perhaps. Crass, questionable, illogical.., of course. But that shouldn't sugest that it's not wonderful.

Here are some pictures. Excuse the cars, people and other things blocking the veiw, I tried to avoid them but there was a fair going on nearby...

The Lucky Horseshoe monument, 3rd ugliest monument in the world as rated by Reuters. It has a wishing well located under the the arch of the horseshoe, possibly the reason why the horse shoe is upside down, so the luck falls into the well...

The entrance to the department store.

The castle.../supermarket (on the ground floor)/hotel(other floors). The ground floor also houses a cafeteria, fast food resturant, alcohol shop, hotel check in, gambling machines (legal age for which is 15), and a large foyer area decorated with buildings at 1/2 scale at above door height.

Imagine waking to the sight of a giant carpark from your hotel room... The supermarket would be handy though!

The splendor of the owner's palacial estate. There are seven fountains, seven unicorn statues, I also counted seven tables on the deck area and seven topiaries in identical planters. Coincidently the owner's lucky number is also said to be...

The fair, I think there was an age limit of 16. I did't want to go anyway.

As a related side note, this Saturday the shopping center grounds will hold the Miljoona Rock concert featuring Finland's own The Rasmus, and last years eurovision song contest winner, Alexander Rybak, among others... Where will I be this weekend you ask? Sitting outside, because it costs €50 to get in.



Leaving Piksämäki for Töysä I caught a train, trasfering in Jyväskylä before heading to Ähtäri where I would catch a cab to Töysä.

Ariving in Jyväskylä after a short 30-40 minutes travel time I heaved my 20+ kg suitcase down the three steps onto the platform, and took a look at the arivals/departures. Feeling a bit nervous about catching the right train I waited. About 10 minutes later, a train arrived at the platform I had just come from. I didn't think it was my connection because it was 10 minutes early, luckily however I checked the train number, which was the same as on my ticket. Lugging all my luggage back up three steep narrow steps (and catching my shin rather badly on one of them), I swore inwardly while looking for a seat.

You know you are heading for the country when you board a diesel train, and the continuous rail system dissapears, leaving you with the clickity click clickity click of segmented rail. However, after a very satisfactory rest accompanied by the never ending playlist of my Mp3 player I was in Ähtäri, a mere 10-15 minutes from Töysä.

Ähtäri Train Station


Fazer is Finland's most reconisable chocolate company. The brand was started in 1891 in Helsinki by Karl Fazer, since then is has expanded internationally and is recognized under 13 different brands. As well as making chocolate, Fazer also produces bread and pastries. The kind that one might try at the market place in Helsinki, or while visiting Soumenlinna...

Fazer has a 33 euro-cent range that includes the following,

Geisha original. Milk chocolate with a soft hazelnut filling.
Verdict: Delicious, but nothing amazing, reminds me of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher.

Geisha Dreamy Caramel. Milk chocolate with truffle crisp filling.
Verdict: Good, but uninspired rehash of the caramel chocolate combo.

Fazerina original. Milk chocolate with orange flavoured truffel.
Verdict: Orange and chocolate is a, some-times food.

Fazerina Caramel. Milk chocolate with truffel filling.
Verdict: same as Geisha Caramel.

JIM. Milk chocolate with fruit foam filling.
Verdict: If at first you don't agree, try, try again. Peculiar and addictive.

Da-Capo. Dark chocolate with dark chocolate truffel filling.
Verdict: Super rich, make sure you have a glass of milk on hand to tackle this diminutive beast.

Susu. Milk chocolate with rice crisps and caramel.
Verdict: Possibly the best of the three caramel and chocolate excursions on the list.

Pätkis. Mint truffel covered with milk chocolate.
Verdict: This is and always has been my favourite, so I am a little biased.., I bought 6 times as many of them in the same transaction. The soft mint truffel is almost refreshing until you get to the last bite, then you need more.

Reminders of NZ found in Supermarket

As there are so many supermarkets around, and I am so constantly hungry for strange icecreams (and everything else), I have been wandering around them with exponential frequency. On my wanderings I have discovered a few products that would be very at home in my home land New Zealand.

For the paltry sum of...

Which equates to NZ$12.3567 per 400g
or NZ$30.8890 per Kg

I also found these. I don't know how well they would survive such a long journey...

Priced at...
Or NZ$2.6705 per 430g
NZ$6.2196 per Kg

One might think that it would be better to have a little less choice with things like these. Grow your own sheep Finland, and New Zealand, how about expanding your exports outside of agriculture...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Culture Centres, Pieksämäki

Kulttuuripappila Sylvi is, as I understand, housed in the former rectory of the local church. It serves as a rehersal space for local theater productions, informal museum, cafe, and art exhibition space. When I visited there was a show by Finnish painter, Marianna Uutinen, born locally and now living and working in the capital.

I hope she won't mind me posting a few photos of her work.

Award winning Finnish nature Photographer Antti Leinonen also had an exhibit. I hope he doesn't mind me posting photos either...

On the same day I also visited Poleeni, The Pieksämäki Cultural Centre.

Designed by Kristian Gullichsen in the 1980s, the more modern culture centre houses a library, theatre, cafe, and exhibition spaces. The current exhibition, with works by three artists; Seppo Kalliokoski, Matti Kurkela, and Kari Kärkkäinen, had a wood working theme.

Matti Kurkela

Kari Kärkkäinen

Seppo Kalliokoski

Many of the works had the names of the artists carved into them, which I found questionable and distracting... However, that's just my opinion


Finally leaving Helsinki behind (for now), I made for the town of Pieksämäki.

Pieksämäki is about three and a half hours, by train, from Helsinki, and is within the boundaries of the electrictrified rail network, so you can count on a smooth trip, and a resturant carriage.

Arriving almost exactly on time (11:42, one minute late), I began my tour of the town (after first being cooked lunch by a friend (bacon and eggs on piirakka (a rice or mashed potato filled savoury pastry (YUM!)))).

Like most towns/cities that I have visited in Finland, Pieksämäki has all the usual attributes; a Marimekko store, at least 3 small supermarkets, a market square, a Hess Burger, a pizza place (RECOMENDED!), and of course, lakes and trees aplenty.

Aside from the usual Pieksämäki boasts the privalige of the Moilas baked goods factory. On the day I visited it was 26 degrees celcius, oi.

Here are a collection of their various treats...

My constant companion these last few weeks, the sun.

A veiw from the overpass, above the railway lines.