Category Archives: travel

Why is it good to invest in quality – example with Finnair

Week 1, 2016
Joensuu, Finland

Often there is a tension between buying something cheap —   which often is low quality — versus by something with quality, which often is more expensive.  This post delivers an example that quality in a long run is cheaper.

I am a traveler addict. Thus, sometimes my love ones offer me presents to support me in my travels. An example, some years ago, my sister and brother in law gave me as a present a Samsonite suitcase. (THANK YOU!)

I am very pleased with Samsonite, in particular with my suitcase, because it been loyal to me. We have been together (my suitcase and I)  literally in 4 continents, and it has kept with me fully functional.

My loyal suitcase

My loyal suitcase

For this Christmas I flew from Joensuu to Munich, with Finnair, which is one of my favorite airlines. In this journey my lovely suitcase was damaged, and I reported the damage as soon as I saw the problem at the airport.  The personal at the airport was friendly and they indicated me what to do.  Within the instructions was to contact the company Dolfi. Perhaps because we were in Christmas holidays, but after being on the phone for 1hr and 30 min and not be able to talk with anyone I filled all the online form of their website and wait…. wait…. some days later I got an email that my stroller will be refund!… I kindly replied that I was reporting a damaged suitcase not a stroller, then it is when I discovered they were understaffed.

As my trip was reaching its end,  I decided to deal with this in Finland. I trust Finnair and I had the feeling that it should be ok. Then, I travel back to Joensuu with my loyal and wounded Samsung suitcase.

On Monday 2.1. at the evening, I landed in Joensuu and the first thing I did at the airport was to tell my story to the indicated person. Then I got the inciation to go to: “Nahkavalmiestemyynti

On Tuesday 3.1.  I went to Nahkavalmiestemyynti and they offered such a good service.  The personnel reviewed the suitcase and the documents. We saw how much could cost a new Samsonite, equivalent to mine in the store.  Then we followed the rules of the airline as depending of the age of the suitcase you get certain compensation.  My case was as follow: a brand new Samsonite as mine would cost 159€, but I was allow only to get 50% of it that is 79.50€.

My options, as far as I understood,  were:

  • Get the money
  • Buy something with the money given by Finnair
  • Buy something more expensive and complement the difference.

You will have to imagine which option I took, but now let me introduce you my new travel’s partner: Cavalet.

New travel partner

New travel partner

Thank you Finnair and Samsonite to support me on my journeys!  You have expanded the wonderful present of my sister and brother in law with your quality of service!

 

 

6 sightseeings in Koli

Week 31
Joensuu, Finland

At the moment I have one student visiting us from the Netherlands. Additionally, we have another student visiting the department from Korea. If one lives in Joensuu, I consider important to visit Koli at least once. Then, I propose to our guests to go to Koli last Saturday.

Our party was of five, each one from a different country (Netherlands, Korea, Iran, Finland and Mexico). We were 3 ladies, 2 gentlemen and one of us is visual impair. We had really a blast and we were blessed with the weather.  Here a glimpse of the places we visited:

1. First mandatory stop is Ukko-Koli

If one drives directly from Joensuu to Koli to stop firstly here at Ukko-koli has different advantages:

  • The view there is outstanding and one can start to get familiar with the scenary
  • One finds the a Koli Nature Centre Ukko
  • One can get into the Sokos hotel.

So if someone has the need to eat,  buy a souvenir or go to the restroom all it is possible to do it here, before continue the adventure 🙂

View from Ukko-Koli

View from Ukko-Koli

2. Hiking downhil towards Saama harbor

Next we hiked downhill until reach Saama harbor. During our hike it rained but only a little bit, it did not affect us. After a nice walk, we reached Saama harbor, where we ate salad and meat soup. As always when one eats in the country side, the meals are just tasty.

Saama, place where we ate

Saama harbor, place where we ate

The nice landscape helped us also to recharge.

Saama's view

Saama harbor’s view

3. Koli Village.

After recharged ourselves at the Saama harbor, we went to the Koli village. Often one drives through the village to reach Ukko-koli, but now we purposely stopped and walked through it. Unfortunately, we were late to visit the local museum, but we were able to ask in the tourist information about places to visit in the region. We were told of two new locations I wasn’t aware previously: Pirunkirkko and Rasävaara.

Sculputure in the entrance of one building in Koli Village

Sculputure in the entrance of one building in Koli Village

 

4. Pirunkirkko

We drove to Pirunkirkko. It took us a little bit of time to find it, as we were not 100% sure were it was, but we found the place relatively soon. Once we were in the parking area, everything was well signed. It is a nice walk.

Walking towards the cave, Pirunkirkko

Walking towards the cave, Pirunkirkko

Walking towards the cave, Pirunkirkko

Walking towards the cave, Pirunkirkko

The cave is not long and it has a dead end. It is an interesting cave to explore. Personally, I found it so authentic. We really have  A LOT of fun on this spot.  Some people of our group even found a “rabbit hole” where they tried to escape 🙂

Getting inside the cave

Getting inside the cave

In the cave

Inside the cave

We were really having a lot of fun.

5. Hattusaari

The next stop, based on an advice of Erkki – leader of the EdTech Research group – we went to Hattusaari. We actually aimed to drive to the end of the island, but it is a long one so we stop to enjoy the view at the bridge.

View at Hattusaari

View at Hattusaari

6. Rasävaara

The following stop was Rasävaara, time to go up to the new tower. The view is again magnificent, and now one can see also Ukko-koli from here. It is worth the hike to see the landscape!!!!

Rasävaara's tower

Rasävaara’s tower

Views from the top of the tower:

The lake

The lake

Ukko-Koli

Ukko-Koli

Before heading back to Joensuu, we stopped to meet the construction of the future cottage of Prof. Erkki Sutinen, which will be also the future writing-research retreat of EdTech.

Glimpse of future research retreat spot

Glimpse of future research retreat spot

After this stop, we drove back to Joensuu.

It was a full intensive day at Koli! and I must admit, we had  A LOT OF FUN!!!!!  Thank you to all the participants! 🙂

Below the location of the areas that we visited. The screenshots are taken from http://issuu.com/koli.fi/docs/retkeily_ja_palvelukartta

Location of the visited spots (1/2)

Location of the visited spots (1/2) – Screenshot from issuu.com

 

Location of the visited spots (2/2)

Location of the visited spots (2/2)  – screenshot from issuu.com

Paternoster

Week 3
Praha, Czech Republic

What is a Paternoster lift? Do you know it?
On my behalf, I had not clue about a paternoster lift even though we had bee playing the Pater Noster game.

During my 1.5 day visit to Prague I visited the Fakulta elektrotechnická. There, I discovered a Paternoster lift.

Some people did not wanted to use it, as they were concern with security. On my behalf, I thought it was so exciting. It was as having rollercoster in your own school!. So, as you can imagine, we should try it and we did. Being honest, I try it myself more than once! : )

In this first video, you will see the Paternoster lift.

In this second video I record our journey, inside the paternoster, towards the third floor. I turn the camera a bit later, as I needed to learn how to jump in, and later how to jump out. 🙂 Our conversation is in Spanish, wondering about this machine! 🙂

I really enjoy discovering our world!

Korea adventure – day # 27-28 – Temple stay (part 1)

Written on Week 33 (2013)
Published months later
Joensuu, Finland

From one of my students I heard that one could stay overnight on one of the Buddhist temples. Honestly, the comment raise my attention and I decide I want to try it. The search on the internet started and I found this temple stay website. Due to the time, location and cost I select this temple: Geumsunsa

My adventure in the temple stayed started at the moment I wanted to reach the temple. It can be challenging, particularly if one has not knowledge of korean language, so despite the website has good explanation to transmit a message might be challenging. First, I got down in the wrong side of the subway Kyungbokgung (???) station. However, I am thankful for that mistake as I saw that this particular station is VERY interesting.

Secondly, I wrote the name of the temple in latin characters and I though to get a taxi once I emerged from the subway station. Surprisingly, my English message did not say anything to the taxi drivers. Then I went to ask help to dunkin-donuts personnel, which were very kind to help me. They wrote the name of the temple in Korean but still the taxi drivers say no. The temple did not show up in the GPS, it seems. So again with the dunkin donuts personnel, we wrote the whole address and indications, in Korean, and one employee helped me to talk with a taxi driver. Finally I was on my way. When I was reaching my destination the streets were getting narrower, to the level that a car had difficulties to go through…. then we reach the limit and I needed to walk.

This temple is in Seoul, and without a question, simultaneously is not in Seoul. Check the path from the following photos.

 

Where the bus might drop you

Where the bus might drop you

Going up

Going up

Going up

Going up

Going up

Going up

If you want to go up, you need to walk

If you want to continue up, you need to walk

Going up

Going up

Getting to the Temple

Getting to the Temple

Finally, I reached the temple, but to my adventures previously described, I arrived 30min little late, shame on me.

This is the main door the temple.

 

First door

First door

Once in the temple, we receive clothes and the program of activities is explained. At this moment we were mixed koreans and foreigners. Afterwards, we were only together for the meals.

The next photo is our schedule, which was in our room’s wall during my temple stay.

kr_post15A_00_50

The first activity is the tour around the temple. Now that I am writing my memoirs, I see I missed important shots, but hopefully this set of photos offer an insight of the temple.

For me was interesting to hear the explanation of the doors. Big temples have three doors, which means the paths towards Nirvana. In these temple we had two, the main door to the temple (showed in an earlier photo) and the second door (shown below) the entrance towards the stairs that take us to the main temple.

The second door is on the right side, in the "middle" of the photo.

The second door is on the right side, in the “middle” of the photo. I am taking the photo from another angle.

My impression, for a very short exposure to Buddhism, is that as other religions has several symbols. To me was interesting to learn some of their symbols, making me aware of my own ones as catholic. For example the stairs towards the main temple has a meaning.

In reference to the constructions the buildings are colorful and inviting. It called my attention that the ceiling of this building is actually a garden of the main temple:

One buidling

One buidling

The celing of the previous building and garden of the following temple

The celing of the previous building and garden of the following temple

Temple

Temple

 

There are also offers for Buda, and for the dead. As I said, in our believes we use several symbols, which in my personal experience are very important. One day I will talk about this.

In this case food is an offer as well as the lamps, which in my personal opinion I think are beautiful.

The position in which Buddha has his hands have also meanings. (Here link1,  link2 and link3 with information)

Here some photos showing the temple(s) and surroundings:

Offerings

Offerings

Lamps

Lamps

View

Detail of the construction with the nature surrounding us

View

Ceiling of one building and the roof is the garden of the main temple.

Other temple

Pick to the view of another temple

One side of the temple, preparing the lamps for the decease.

One side of a temple (downstairs, after the 1st door but before the 2nd door). The hanging lamps are the preparation lamps to a celebration for the decease.

Buda inside the temple

View of the temple downstairs

Lamps in the ceiling

Lamps in the ceiling

Another temple

Main temple is above this construction. The garden is the ceiling of this building.

Landscape

Landscape

View from the main temple

Outdoors view from the main temple

Detail inside the main templ e

Detail inside the temple.

Doors closed

Doors closed

Buda

Buda

Here we making a line to get our dinner. We are in purple uniforms while the monks are in gray. Yes, we ate sitting on the floor and the food was vegetarian and very good.

Line for lunch

Line for dinner

As with Catholics, Buddhists can also make money donation to for the construction of their temples, in this case their names are written on the tiles being used in the construction, as in this case:

Name of donators

Name of donators

Construction

Construction

View of the temple towards busy Seoul:

View of Seoul

View of Seoul

Another activity was the bell ringing. We all tried. Of course the best sound emerge when the Monk hit the bell. In here I got an adventure, because I was on the other side touching the bell to sense how long the cling last and suddenly a new hit. Oh man! That was loud.

Me posing after hitting the bell

Me posing after hitting the bell (me as always melting therefore ALWAYS with a bottle of water in my pocket!)

Hitting the bell

Hitting the bell

To finalize the day we had the 108 prostrations, from which we were practicing how one should make them.

While practicing, I confess that to me made no so much sense, but I was doing it as respect to the temple. They were accepting me as a visitor despite being from another religion and the less I can do is to do it properly.

The monk who was with the foreigners realized we were tense, so we did some yoga before the prostrations, which with the environment suits quite well. How much I remember my friend Anika, she would have LOVE IT!

However, at the moment to make the 108 prostrations, we have a CD in English and then it make so much sense. A lot of the things Catholics pray for are also expressed in Buddhism, give thanks for what we have, value, ask for guidance, etc. To me the understanding of each prostration transform the sense of it.

The temple where the foreigners were located was BEUTIFULLY illuminated with the lamps. It really offer a special atmosphere with the doors open, contact with nature, the light of the lamps, from several offers, and the prostrations connecting a physical activity with an inner conversation, call it spiritual if you wish.

Photos of the Temple at night:

 

Practicing prostration

Practicing prostration

Indoor's illumination

Indoors illumination

inside the temple where we did the prostrations

inside the temple where we did the prostrations

After the prostrations, we were ready to sleep. We slept on the floor. As people knows me, when I did the  judo and sometimes my back requests hard-surfaces to sleep on, so to sleep on the floor is not a problem for me. I slept well. The best of this night was that we could listen the river while falling to sleep. This was a LUXURY!

To finalize this post some photos of my walk at night through the temple, before falling to sleep.

View of Seoul at night

View of Seoul at night

The light of our room

The light of our room

Our room

Our room

The next day, in the part 2 of this post. 🙂

Korea adventure – day #13: Getting lost in Seoul

Week 28
Suwon, Korea

Reporting this almost 1 week late. Time passes by very quickly!

On Sunday 14.7. was my first day in Seoul. My goal was to discover the city, at least part o if. For this visit I did not have a tight schedule or fix list of museums to visit. I mainly wanted to walk in the city, as long as I feel safe.

The way from Suwon, where the campus is located, to Seoul is fairly easy. One takes a bus, which drops you at one subway station. Once in a subway one can reach almost everywhere. I will write a post only about the subway later.

I emerged from the subway at the city hall station to visit the Deoksugung Palace.  The palace is located on a street which, according to the subway map, has several subways intersections. So I though the street might be interesting.

My intention was to reach the palace for the change of guard. I was a bit earlier, but I needed to eat, re-charge my batteries and locate myself. Most of the information is in Korean, so I need some time to locate myself.  The schedule of the  change of guard “ceremony” is three times a day. The ceremonial event is interesting, as you see in the following photos.

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

 

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

Ceremony at the palace

But at some point, the ceremony pauses, i.e. everybody freezes,  then the public is invited to take photos with the ceremony participants. This was strange for me, but well, move and take some close up photos.

We are allow to take photos with them.

We are allow to take photos with them.

The next photo is resuming the ceremony.

I got interested on this instrument.

I got interested on this instrument.

The whole ceremony is free of charge. 🙂

Next, I decided to go into the palace. As you can imagine, I pay attention to the mobile or digital tours available, which actually were scared. I mainly saw the following advertisement but my korean is inexistent.

Publicity fo the available app as audio guide

Publicity fo the available app as audio guide

Once crossing the main door, one is in a garden which contains several constructions. It seems interesting and I got a booklet to read in detail more about it. I confess I really miss a mobile guide / game in here.  I insist good future for ubium.

Inside the Palace

Inside the Palace

What I could grasp from the surface is that some of the buildings have western influence. For example in the building below there is some kind of Russian influence/collaboration.  One has to understand more Korean history to get most out of this location.

Western influence

Western influence

The construction below was beautiful, and I like how the doors or windows “open”. Specially for this hot /  humid weather, I can understand was more a need than a luxury.

Palace

Palace

At the back of the garden there are some western style constructions, and one of them is the national museum of art. As you can imagine, I got in.

Museo of Art

Museo of Art

Ah! but before get in, one’s umbrella should be left in the umbrella’s locker seen below.

At the entrance of the museum

At the entrance of the museum

In here it rains constantly, so an umbrella is an indispensable technology to carry.

The exposition was about a Japanese artist:

Exposition of Yanagi Muneyoshi  from 25.5. - 21-7.

Exposition of Yanagi Muneyoshi from 25.5. – 21-7.

Before continue my expedition of this day, I want to share a brief video I took with the aim to share that this peaceful and beautiful location is in the heart of Seoul. At the time I filmed it, apparently it was a political event outside, thus one could listen the noises of the event beyond the garden walls. We are at the heart of  Seoul!

After visiting the palace, I start walking on Eulji-ro street. I kind of walk 5 subway stations.  The next set of photos offer an impression of the metropolis, modern, old, commercial, traffic, …

Crossing the street, from the palace to walk in Seoul

Crossing the street, from the palace to walk in Seoul

Some trafic

Some trafic

Tall and modern buildings

Tall and modern buildings

See that tower, that will be my next target I start to think….

street view

street view

After the tall buildings, the street transforms into a commercial street of  bathroom equipment.  Those stores later transform into shops for lamps, later a market shows up until I got tired and decided to take the metro again….

small shops

small shops

More traffic, walking the same street.

more traffic

more traffic

shops

shops

Looking behind, see AL THAT I have been walking. I started behind those tall buildings.

streets

streets

The market I mentioned earlier, which was closing when I reached it.

market

market

Once in a subway again, I decided to go to the N-tower.  I got down to the University station, and wait for a bus. In my way back, I took another route to try the cable cars.

Next photo waiting for the bus in a nice surrounding, and the tower behind the landscape.

start the "trip" towards the tower

start the “trip” towards the tower

It is getting closer

It is getting closer

The bus let you in a specific place and then one must walk up. Next photo is a view of Seou in one of the designated areas to look the landscape.

Unfortunately, the day I was there was cloudy. However, it is hard to get no-cloudy days. At least since I have been here, almost all days had rain and unquestionably the high humidity is a CONSTANT.

that is the view of the city while getting up

that is the view of the city while getting up

Reaching the tower 🙂

closer

closer

The next photo is once I am at the top of the tower. My camera die, so the photos are taking with my tablet.

more view from Seoul

more view from Seoul

I detect an audio guide system and OF COURSE I try it.

audio guide

audio guide

It was an audio guide, that is it. Perhaps my experience would have been more enjoyable if the weather conditions were favourable and one could actually see all what they explain in the guide. Things to think about these type of guides, the weather is NOT always perfect.

From the content of the guide, I confess some of the information was very interesting involving the history of Seoul.

audio guide part 2

audio guide part 2

As I live in Brussels, at the instrument museum, the audio guide detects clearly when I am steeping in the specific circle, or being close to it and then the guide starts playing the corresponding audio. Thus, I do not have to push any button. This functionality is actually nice.

inside the tower

inside the tower

One thing I have notice in Korea, business is everywhere. One can find stores EVERYWHERE and inside the tower is not not an exception.

Next photo is a night view of Seoul. I am sure with a good camera and proper weather conditions the view could be beautiful.

Seoul at night

Seoul at night

Getting down from the tower and heading back. I confess by now, my feet demand a rest.

Good night tower

Good night tower

Bye, bye tower, until the next time.  Afterwards, I went to my bed for a very good night sleep! 🙂