Tag Archives: Helsinki

More Funny Signs in New York

These are from my neighborhood, I’m ashamed to admit. If I’m going to make fun of Reykjavik, Helsinki and even the East Village, I guess I ought to throw my neighborhood, the Upper West Side, into the mix.

This sign, which hangs from the Lincoln Center, bugs me. I’m bothered by the event at the bottom, “Lincoln Center Out of Doors”. “Out of Doors”? Why not just say “Outdoors” like a normal person? Instead, they have to dress it up a bit, just to ensure the proletarians know they don’t belong.

Don’t worry, Lincoln Center, we’ve picked up your message. Unless we have loads of cash and crave linguistic differentiation, we should just keep walking. It’s not a problem. Really. Thanks for telling us you don’t want us.


This sign is for an ice cream shop in my neighborhood. But, it looks like it belongs in some other country, like Finland or South Korea. It’s a flashy, goofy sign, in which something inanimate is supposed to be a character of some kind. But, the character seems moronic.

I was surprised to see this in New York. It’s not the sort of sign that would resonate with New Yorkers. But, it is near Lincoln Center, so I guess it could appeal to those idiotic tourists who think they are coming to a different country when the cross the East River from JFK.

Anyway, I think this sign is stupid and just wanted to let you know.

Looking for Dunkins?

Just who the hell is looking for a Dunkin Donuts in Helsinki? Seriously! That is one of the search engine expressions used to find the Migrant Blogger today. And, I thought only America runs on Dunkins.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of Dunkins, as is my buddy Cyan from Zivity (I always love giving a bit of a shout-out to Zivity). They make the best coffee and doughnuts out there, though there are levels of quality across Dunkins stores. The product gets closer based on your proximity to Randolph, MA, where the company is headquartered.

I guess it did make sense for that wanderer to come here. I have some key stats about Dunkin Donuts in my life:

  • I have been to two Dunkins in Korea (Seoul/Itaewon and Uijongbu)
  • I grew up in a shithole town in Massachusetts that has more Dunkins per capita than any other city in the world (at one point 13 for 50,000 people)
  • I was one of the few people who like the “dark roast” blend, which they eventually discontinued
  • Before my first bike race, I had a black coffee and croissant at a Massachusetts Dunkins; I placed first in my age group
  • I once pissed in a sink in a Dunkins (sorry, it’s true

Does anyone else have a cool Dunkin Donuts story? To kick off the discussion, I leave you with my favorite, from No Shadow Kick. They are from the town where I, unfortunately, had to grow up, so they offer some great perspective.

This doesn’t happen often in my neighborhood

The Upper West Side is a pretty quiet place. I was waiting for my friend to arrive, just standing on the corner of W 70th St and Columbus Ave with my wife. Then, I heard the noise … it kept getting louder. There was a guy walking down the street with a radio on his shoulder, partying like it was 1989.

The picture is fuzzy because I only had my blackberry available, adn he was moving at a good clip. Hey, the music made him move. I get it. My second attempt at a shot, with my blackberry again, was even less successful. The first time, he was walking; I was not. The second time, we were both in motion, and I was following him.

The best part of this whole experience is that they guy was playing music appropriate to his style of expression. It was old school breakdancing music. I half-expected him to throw down some cardboard and bust out some moves. Hell, I felt the urge to do so myself. But, I had neither cardboard nor moves to bust out. So, I stuck to my usual gig, walking around the neighborhood.

This was a nice treat from the norm in my part of the city. That’s why I love sitting here. Hang out on the stoop long enough, and you’ll see one of everything … and everyone.

This is like Manhattan’s version of my favorite street entertainer in Helsinki.

Deprived of my aisle seat

Airlines can’t even be nice without screwing up. My wife prefers window seats; I like the aisle. So, if we decide to sit next to each other, one of us suffers—which is the only way to describe a middle seat on an international flight. Generally, we try to sit in the same row, with my wife at the window, me at the aisle and possibly a stranger between us.

Retrospectively, it seems IcelandAir does not approve of this arrangement. When we tried to choose our seats in advance, the airline’s website automatically “upgraded” my aisle seat to a middle seat next to Laura. IcelandAir supports the preservation of the family and does not want to split couples. But, if we reserved seats in separate rows, the computer got the hint. So, one of us was to sit in row 18, the other in 19.

When we checked in at the IcelandAir desk in Helsinki, my wife and I confirmed our seats, telling the clerk that we were quite happy with what we had. I looked forward to a four-hour flight from Helsinki to Reykjavik with room for my legs. Of course, airlines are a cure for happiness, and my luck took a southward turn.

At the gate, the clerk printed slips of paper for my wife and me when scanning our boarding passes. Having noticed that we weren’t sitting together, the computer reshuffled the plane. My wife and I were moved to row 7, much further forward than rows 18 and 19. But, I knew immediately what this meant. I was relegated to a middle seat. I would lose my legroom.

The fucking Nordic oaf sitting in front of me felt the urge to recline, despite sitting in an exit row and having plenty of space in front of him. I responded by driving my knee into his back and shifting it frequently, causing him to look over his shoulder often … though failing to change his behavior. Meanwhile, the arrangement worked out for my wife. Laura still had a window, and there was no seat in front of her; she could stretch out her legs.

Of the many ways an airline could screw up, this is by far the most creative.

Klaus K Review Available on TripAdvisor

Finally, my review of the Klaus K hotel is available on TripAdvisor.com. Again, I absolutely loved that hotel. The rooms were quite comfortable, and the design was unbeatable. Also, I completely dug the lawn chairs out front where I could write and smoke in piece. One night, I was treated to a small fight between two drunken Finns!

Read the review on TripAdvisor.com >>

Helsinki: The Roads Are Paved with Good Intentions

Helsinki is a progressive city. Much about it transportation does impress me. I have seen few SUVs. Cable cars run through the city, and they seem to be environmentally friendly (at least to the extent possible. Nearly every city has a bike lane. But, whoever planned this combination stopped just short of, well, planning. Good intentions did not translate to effective design.

I am a cyclist … at least I was before some asshole stole my beloved Trek 1000 in mid-town. I hope he crashes and winds up in the hospital (I can’t wish actual death, or even severe injury on anyone, unfortunately). So, I was jazzed to hear thta Helsinki is bike-friendly. I ave never been to a city that is. The problem, though, is that the bike paths overlap with the sidewalks, and neither is clearly defined. I almost got clipped by a rider my first day here. Also, unless you ride a mountain bike or hybrid, the bike paths are about as bad as the cobblestone streets.

Trolleys are cool, right? Well, when they travel the roads– the same roads as the cars– it can be interesting. It is possible to see a trolley, bus and car jammed in traffic, while a pedestrian alks straight into a guy on a purple woman’s bike wearing headphones (literally just rode by me).

Yes, it’s the thought that counts. But, where was the thought in this case?

Scavenger Hunt Update

When I left New York, I told my colleagues that I wanted to see a Scandinavian midget. While I have seen several short people (though not many), none actually qualifies as a midget.

Aside from the midget search, the ferry ride to Tallinn is nothing short of dull. The boat is moving along, but I can feel the motion. On six hours of sleep and not enough coffee, it’s not pleasant. But, I’m willing to pay the price to catch a glimpse of something new.

Do you have your papers?

A small misadventure on the way to Estonia …

I did not realize that I’d need my passport to cross into Tallinn. Since I didn’t need it to get from Iceland to Finland– or France to Italy a while back– it was an easy oversight. Well, it won’t be my last flawed assumption, I’m sure.

Much to my chagrin, I had to run back to the hotel to pick up my “papers”. It seems that I could be stopped when I arrive in country (or coming back to Finland). I hope I get stopped [written while on the ferry] and asked my wife to take a picture if it happens.

This is my first trip toa former Soviet republic, and I’m psyched. I can finally get a first-hand look at the world behind the now nonexistent Iron Curtain.

Oh, I made it back to the ferry in time, with my papers. I actually ran part of the way, and it didn’t feel all bad. Nobody checked my passport.