Sunday, 30 August 2020

A weekend in Trier

It's the end of August and the evenings are getting darker. The summery  heatwave is gone and finally we have some cooler days and nights. Actually we had quite a strong summer storm last week. Some winds blowing about 100km/hour were measured near the dutch coastline. Two days in a row my son came home soaking wet after school. He doesn't want to wear rain clothes when cycling(a typical teenager).

It has been a different year so far, but many nice memories were also  made in these insecure times.

We were mostly at home, but I'm glad we could make a few small trips. Like in many European countries the corona virus cases are increasing also in the Netherlands after the summer holidays. We just try to follow all the rules and stay healthy. It is important that the kids could go back to school and have some social contacts and normal lessons there. At the schools of my kids they only use masks if the teacher wants, at some other schools it is obligated to use a mask at least in crowded hallways. The schools can make their own decisions on some issues, but for example the ventilation should be checked and updated to modern regulations. It is a problem in some older buildings. You can't keep the doors and windows open during the colder months.

As a family we just follow our weekly plans and avoid big crowds of people. We keep it simple at home and try to enjoy the beauty of our daily routines. We are not stopping living and planning, now it's time to dream and  find some new ideas for the future. The virus is among us and we can't just totally stop the spreading of it. There has to be a some sort of balance between keeping the life going on and controlling the corona spread. I don't think the total isolation and spreading the fear is a good thing. I am not anymore following the news about this issue on daily basis. The way media is talking about this is just taking my energy down. The news and the journalism are important, but our time is overwhelming with all the details, scenarios and speculations. I'm just focusing on our well being as a family right now.

Augusta Treverorum 

Two weeks ago we drove to Germany for a weekend with my husband. We visited a very old, actually the oldest German town Trier. We drove nonstop from Amsterdam via Maastricht and Belgium to Trier. It takes about 4 hours and driving through the first flat dutch scenery followed by the beautiful, hilly views of Ardennen (Belgium)...there is so much great nature to see. It's not possible to stop in Belgium at the moment because of the corona rules. 

Trier is an old Roman town. Surprisingly it existed already before the Rome in Italy. There are very many interesting ruins and museums to visit and to learn about the Roman culture. Trier is easy to discover by foot. Just perfect size for a quiet weekend trip. It is also a student town and there is an international vibe when walking on the streets. 

We found many nice terraces and restaurants to visit. You have to wear a mask when entering to restaurant, but the mask can be taken off after you are seated on a table. Also at the Hotel everything was organized well. People are wearing masks in the public areas of the hotel and the breakfast buffet was clever with individually served small portions (breads, fruits, yoghurts, cheese and meats, veggies already set on small individual boards of bowls- ready to take to table).

Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra is the north gate of the town and it used to be a part of the old, more than 6km long city wall around Trier(build around 160-200 after Christ). It was made from a white sandstone which got black over the time, because of the small micro-organisms on the stone. Since the Middle ages it's known as a black gate (Porta Nigra). At one point the whole gate was a part of a new building, a church. The roman gate was hidden and also protected behind these new construction for centuries. During the French rule (1794-1814) Napoleon arranged for the excavation of the ancient building. The extensive conservation work took place between 1969-1973. As a visitor you can go and climb to all 3 floors of the gate, learn about the history and admire the panoramic views.


The weather was great the whole weekend and we decided to stay more outdoors. One afternoon we walked to the ruins of roman amphitheatre nearby our hotel. The roman arena was build around 160-200 after Christ. It is estimated there was about 20 000 seats for the audience to watch the animal fights, gladiator shows, religious gatherings and musical happenings in Roman times. Now you can hardly see any seats. The curves of the arena are covered with grass and earth. You can see better the old stone structures under the arena and around it. It is an interesting place to visit and surrounded with nice views.

In the last morning we walked to a hill nearby our hotel and admired the views above the vineyards and over the Mosel valley. It was a beautiful morning and worth to walk there. A last look over the green hills and some fresh air before it got hot in the sun. 

Thank you for the wonderful trip my partner. It was so relaxed and interesting. Autumn can come now. I have some new plans for me for the next half a hear. I will tell about them in my next post and update the info about my healthy lifestyle changes as well. 

...Best September wishes...

We definitely have to go back to Trier. We did not have time to see all the nice places. Maybe next year!

Nice restaurants:

A great place to sit along the Mosel river in a garden like terrace. You can also eat inside during the colder months. We only had drinks, but the food looked delicious. 

More Traditional and elegant place with super good food and attentive service. Modern and fine tuned portions. Fine dining in relaxed athmospere. 

Great, modern, fresh vegetarian dishes. Young&urban style with ecological ideas. Funky interior.

For a late night or a afternoon drinks:

A sandy beach on a rooftop of a shopping centre with a bar. Nice place to chill and enjoy the sky and the silhouette of Trier.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Blue Kainuu and wonders of Helsinki - Home is there and here

I had my doubts about this summer holiday. I did not feel safe, I felt traveling might be too risky and I would not enjoy the journey as much as I normally do. At the same time I started to feel more confident about the necessity to see my family and put my feet on the familiar ground. The last spring time was so intense and surreal, I started to loose my good spirits and fade under the waves of corona-news and the more isolated way of daily life took my energy. 

I had to feel free again and have some space around me. I had to listen to the silence of pine forests and be touched by the wind by the Kainuu lakes. I also needed to walk the streets of Helsinki and see the new developments there. Smell the sea at the coastline of my youthful dreams from the past. 

The covid-19 situation in the Netherlands and in the Finland is peaceful at the moment. There are very few cases coming daily and the health care is in a better position with so much less patients in the hospitals. We must not totally forget the pressure and the worry from the last months, because the virus is still so strong in many places. We must continue to be careful and be aware of the hygiene and keep the distance when it's possible and needed.


We flied to Helsinki and drove to Kainuu area by car. It takes about 7 hours to drive there taking two small coffee breaks. Flights went well wearing the masks and it was very quiet at the both airports: in Helsinki-Vantaa and in Amsterdam. In a plane you are really close to other people and it was a quiet journey to the destination. During our trip Finland was opening the borders to many Schengen countries in Europe and business traveling was possible even to more far away destinations. But mostly we saw Finns traveling in Finland outside of Helsinki.

Asian influenced interior of our rental house in Sotkamo.

It is always a pleasure to see how the landscape is changing on our way to more northern parts of Finland. What I really like about Kainuu area is the more hilly landscape and big views, lakes and endless looking forests and some swamps with white hairy flowers (tupasvilla).

I always sleep as a child having so much fresh air in my home country. Unexplainable peace lands in my mind and in my body. All the restless thoughts are gone, I guess I am more sure who I am on these trips to Finland. It is a pleasure to use my language and find the same products from the shop like in the old days.

We had a very pleasant stay in Sotkamo in a modern house near near the village. It was not really a summer cottage, it was more like a home with all the equipment needed. It was a good choice for this summer, because we had a little bit rainy weather with sparkles of sunny days. We could comfortably read some books inside the house if it was not possible to be outside. 

We continued our walks in Finland. Every evening we had a nice, long walk before warming up the Sauna. We are dreaming of having our own summer, winter, all seasons place in Kainuu one day. Before that we visit different locations and learn what we want from our place.

Our children were chilling the most of the time. Many of our favorite activities, like downhill carting, were closed this summer. Luckily there was x-box in the house, wifi, plenty of games, the lake and innovative parents and grandparents entertaining the teens department. We also went to a basketball field every day and did some bowling too. We were all totally relaxing without any bigger plans, but enjoying the change of place.

After Kainuu we drove back to south via Jyväskylä and stayed one night there. Unfortunately I took only few pics with my telephone there and they were not so great. The town is quite interesting and has a beautiful harbor area near the lake. It was a very nice visit and worth to see. 


The last few sunny days we spent in a hotel in Helsinki. I love the closeness of the Sea in my old hometown. Again we chose to be close to the water and had some beautiful walks in Kaivopuisto and near Töölönlahti. I took a couple of pictures when the kids went sup-boarding with my husband on our last day. I met my friend and my sister. It was good to catch up and just meet face to face. 

I really like the architecture in Helsinki. It is a combination of old pastel colored Jugend houses, some ugly cool :) boxes from the later decades and the newest modern lines of elegant design. Finally I saw the new library and the living room of people : Oodi, central library of Helsinki, designed by ALA Architects.

The whole area near the Central railway station is totally transformed during the latest years to a beautiful outdoor exhibition of new architecture. So much space for walks, having a coffee, skating, playing basketball and just watching the life. This was one of the highlights for me to see this building and visiting it inside. 

Home again

Now it's easier to be back home and I see our life with a more relaxed way and with some new inspiration. The life will not be the same for a long time this year I think, but I feel more ready to settle down and take it as it comes. I really hope the situation will get better everywhere and we can just continue our lives in a better way and with better understanding from now on.

Our new kitchen island near the window. Love my view!

 Some restaurant tips from Finland

Sotkamo Local, seasonal products and bed&breakfast. own beer brand! Really nice atmosphere and food.

Helsinki Only 2 minutes trip by boat to a little Island near Kaivopuisto. Great, thin "pizza's"(liuskat) and fresh salads. Also great mood and sea views for drinks! Afterwards good to walk on the rocks or swim at the nearby beach. Our first restaurant experience in Helsinki this time. We were happy! Sustainable ideology and fresh seasonal products in a cosy, modern environment. Very nice service. I have to come here every time. I came to this cafe often when I lived in Helsinki and had walks around Töölönlahti. Such a view over the water and beautiful old villas in the neighbor. Whispers of old times and very tasty cinnamon rolls.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

30 000 Healthy Steps

We are having a first rainy day after a long period of warmth and sun in Amsterdam. It is time to look back to last weeks and what happened to me personally. I have seen so much beauty during this challenging spring time and something has changed inside me. Even the most negative news, the shaken world situation or personal difficulties are not taking me down. All I see and feel is the wind of change that has helped me to realize that only I am responsible of my own growth as a person. I have to take the decisions that are good for me and it is my responsibility to draw my borders and decide how I react on challenging situations. That is all I can do. 

This simple clarity gave me the strength to do some personal changes. One of them is this idea of walking every day minimal 10 000 steps. I have downloaded an app on my phone to follow up my walking habits. Normally I cycle a lot for practical reasons, but by walking I have found the most inspiring corners of Amsterdam. Most of the times I do these walks with my husband and this is helping us to deal our difficulties as a couple. Talking is easier outside and we can listen each other better in other environment than home.

I share you some impressions from two different walks this week. During these walks we achieved about 30 000 steps in 2 days. I have missed the nature and green views more and more this year. We can't find the same peace and quiet rhythm here as we do every summer in Finland, but even near Amsterdam there are some nice areas where you can enjoy your time outside surrounded by the water views and green silhouettes. 

On monday we walked along the water from the canals of South Amsterdam and along the lake(het Nieuwe meer)towards to Amsterdamse Bos. The walk lasted almost 4 hours with a little snack break. We found an excellent boat connection to the other side of the Nieuwe meer and could spontaneously walk via "the woods of Amsterdam" back home. The boat trip was 1 Euro per person and you can take the bike on board. All the walks we have made are also nice to do by bike and for us it felt like being abroad in this Corona time. I find it very  interesting to explore our home town in this way. 

de Nieuwe Meer: you can see the boat route (Helena) as a white line crossing the water.

Breaking some habits

I have changed my eating and drinking patterns this spring. I never felt that alcohol is a big problem for me, but lately I just felt my system, my body doesn't want it any more. When I was younger I was going out almost every week with my friends and drinking alcohol was always part of it. We were dancing and drinking until late at night. During the last years we were more or less just having a glass of wine or maximum two with my husband. Otherwise we just had some drinks with our friends during the visits or parties. 

One year ago I started to feel that I actually hate alcohol and how it makes me feel. It used to give me more energy and good spirits when enjoyed with a good company, but lately I just started to feel tired and it seemed to be just an old habit to relax with a glass of wine. But even a small amount of it destroyed my sleep and I got slow and my body seemed to be fighting against the chemical attack.

One day I felt I don't want to drink anymore regularly. I just did not miss it anymore. It did not help me to communicate better, it did not help me to find more joy in my life. I wanted to feel sharp and face every day the way it comes. Still I would drink a wine or a cocktail at the party or when we were invited for a dinner. But otherwise I would give my body and mind a rest, letting go of the almost daily habit of wine and leave it to some social situations if I felt like it. The whole process that I am going through is to listen to what I feel and what my body needs. The change was very easy. I do not have any need to buy some wine or beer for normal days and my body says "thank you". During the last two months I only had some wine with the dinner when we went to visit our friends. I can enjoy it when it's just every now and once a month.

Cauliflower  beef going to oven with some spicy olive oil, chili and herb based mixture (25min, 180 celsius.)

Eating more vegetables.
I had a health check by the doctor about a month ago. I had felt tiredness for a longer time and woke up often during the night. It turned out that I have a lack of vitamin D and that my total cholesterol level is much higher than recommend. The high cholesterol runs in my family and I have to be careful with it. I have a normal weight, I do sports, I do not smoke, my blood pressure is normal and we cook quite healthy food. Still I have a high cholesterol. I will come back to this issue some other time, but I just want to remind it is important to do regular health checks after you turn 40. I would like to avoid the medication and make more healthy choices and avoid the stress.

I will attack to this problem by eating less animal fat and go and test my results again after the summer. I have cooked quite a long time low carb style. This diet includes a lot of vegetables, but also a lot of hard animal fat. I did no feel totally comfortable with it. I have started to follow more like a mediterranean style food philosophy: olive oil, peanuts, much vegetables,fruit and berries, sometimes fish and almost no meat. I left all the fetty creams, cappuccinos, butter and extra sugars etc. I feel better. The more colorful plate of food, the more happy I am. You have to be careful with all the trendy diets there are. Like me having a genetically high cholesterol, I really have to avoid hard fat, but still know that some plant based oils and margarines are not always good as well. Instead of butter I use olive oil. It is better really to learn to listen to your body and how it reacts to different foods. So I take the best parts of different ideas that are suitable for me. Everyone is different. 

Getting to know new places in Amsterdam. 
Because we had more time to be outside lately, we wanted to make our horizons wider in our home town. This week we had our second walk around the Sloterplas. This lake in "nieuw West"(new west)is a beautiful spot for a longer walk (6km) or just having a picnic on many grass fields around the water in Sloterpark. A very peaceful route around the lake with nice views. You can cycle here easily from the centre or take a tram number 1 or 17 to direction "osdorp". It is worth to explore the city further than just staying in the centre. It gives the feeling of freedom to have more space and see people enjoying their time in these green living rooms of Amsterdam. This park is one of the biggest in Amsterdam and gives a real picture of the many faces of the City. At the moment this is my favorite route.

Many personal changes and dreams are in my mind right now. One of them is that I hope we are able to go to Finland this summer. Hopefully our flights will not be cancelled. I want to see my parents and my sister and enjoy the peace at the summer cottage by the lake. We will be quite isolated there and we will be careful. 

I am thankful that I have got rid of the unnecessary feeling of shame. I do not find it so difficult anymore to talk about my weaknesses or about my history or what I really want. I am getting closer to the courage and the honesty and trust more to this moment and the future. I have surprised myself that I can so easily let go some patterns and do some changes I want. 

Happy weekend!