A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about air travel

Santa Clause, who?

Why the good man actually comes from Turkey.

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

Today I went to Seurasaari, the open air museum of Helsinki. When you walk the island you get an impression how Finland looked when it was still built in wood.
It was a nice walk through the pine forest with a few very beautiful buildings.
Helsinki_089.jpg
After this I went on a ferry trip to the Helsinki zoo, which is on an island in front of the city. I’m sorry to say, it’s not worth the money. The island is too small for all the animals being held here which results in too tiny habitats for the animals and therefore you see, especially with the big cats, boredom behavior. This shows itself in endless walking up and down, on a small space, and rubbing their head against the walls.
But on the topic, why doesn’t Santa originally come from Lapland or the North Pole.
Well Santa Clause originates much, much more southern, namely Turkey. What? Yes I kid you not, he was the bishop of Mira in Turkey and he helped the poor with food and gifts. This originated in the Dutch custom of welcoming Sint Nicolaas (in English Saint Nicolas, yep you get it; Saint Nick) every year on the 5 of December in the Netherlands. When the Dutch set out to go and colonize North America starting by finding New Amsterdam (these days called New York) they brought their custom with them and when the English saw this they started to do the same. But since they had trouble with the name Sint Nicolaas, they named him Saint Nicolas, which in time became Santa Clause. And with the English old Saint Nick started to get around and well ended up in Lapland or if you like on the North Pole.
Well now you know it all, so don’t let me ever catch you on saying that you don’t know where Santa Clause comes from.

Posted by erodrigo 19:29 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Don't built forts

Why it's useless and absorb all off your nations cash

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

Yesterday I did eat Bambi, or to be more precise carpaccio of his big brother Reindeer Rudolph. Well the meat was red, so I presumed his nose was too.
It wasn’t all that different from normal carpaccio but it was nice. As it is asparagus season here too I made that my main course.
Going to diner in Helsinki is a bit expensive, but it helps if you have bought the Helsinki card. You get discounts in restaurants and all of the interesting sites and museums together with the public transport are free.
This is good, because I have to say Helsinki is expensive. Even the tiniest museum with almost nothing to see will charge you 4 euros to get in. So if you visit get that card and save tons of money.
Well on the topic, why it’s useless to build forts, especially if you’re the king of Sweden. Today I visited Suomenlinna, Sveaborg as it was it’s original name when the Swedes where still ruler of Finland.
Sweden had a long history of war with Russia in the 17th and 18th century. As things started to go wrong for the Swedes in the late 18th century they decided to built a sea fortress in the harbor of Helsinki.
Helsinki_023.jpg
Just before 1800 they more or less finished it, with a lot of help of the French, who donated most of the cash. The commander of the fortress also built a fleet (a good investment, in contrast to the fort, as history showed). The Russians then sent a fleet of ships to attack Sweden and the fort, but lost a massive sea battle and quickly signed a peace treaty. But a few years later, the eighteen hundreds had just started; they thought it a good idea again and attacked the fort in mid winter. The sea was frozen and they had the more modern weapons and after a very short siege the Swedish garrison commander gave up the fort, in 1809, and the whole of Finland became a sovereign province of Russia.
So after pumping in several years income of the whole of Sweden it only remained in their hands for a decade.
But we must thank them because it’s a beautiful island and worth a visit.
After I returned I just walked around the centre and looked at the Uspensky cathedral and the cathedral on the Senates square. I didn’t go in. I’m just not that much of a religious buff.
I think tonight I’m gonna have some more of Bambi’s big brother Rudolph, but this time I’m going to try the steak, see who that falls.
Well that’s all for today. Probably more tomorrow.

Posted by erodrigo 18:15 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Katu, what?

My first Finnish word

sunny 18 °C
View Finland May 2007 on erodrigo's travel map.

I arrived in Helsinki this afternoon and allready figured out my first Finnish word. Katu. It must mean street because every damn path here is called somethingkatu. I walked around for a few hours and visited a church. But no not just any church. The Fins have strange ways of building them. Well at least this one. They have blown a big hole in the rocks, covered it with a dome and ready. Well it saves on bricks offcourse.
Helsinki_012.jpg
Well I'm off for my first real Finnish meal, I wonder what to expect. Bambi?
More tomorrow.

Posted by erodrigo 19:25 Archived in Finland Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

The Oman Dive Centre

Oman under water

sunny 39 °C
View Oman September 2006 on erodrigo's travel map.

For loads more information about Oman (in Dutch and English) visit http://oman.startpagina.nl/

The last week I’ve been at the Oman Dive centre and I loved every minute of it. Well off course I have to say I’m only a starting PADI Open Water diver but hay you’ve got to start somewhere.
Today was extra special because I did two adventure dives, one was the deep dive and I went down to 30.7 meters (as an Open Water Diver you’re only allowed to go down to 18 meters). The second was the wreck dive apart from the dept another thing I saw at 30 meters made it extra special, I saw a sea snake. What’s so special about that? Well this specie had enough poison to kill 10 people with one bite. He needs a big mouth for that off course but still. The other thing which made this day extra special was that I had my first encounter with sharks under water in real life; we saw 4 Black Tip Reef sharks. The strange thing about it is that I didn’t feel scared at all, which I always thought I’d be if I would see one under water, but instead I chased it because I was fascinated. Well there’s no way to chase a shark, because they are unbelievably quick and you’re just a slug compared to their speed.
The only thing I can say after these last 3 week in Oman is, start learning how to dive and come to Oman, you’ll love it.
Signing off from Muscat Oman, you’re guide for the last three weeks.
Thank you all for reading my blog.

Posted by erodrigo 08:37 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Rub-Al Khali (The Empty Quarter)

Not so empty

sunny 41 °C
View Oman September 2006 on erodrigo's travel map.

My last tour in Salalah took me to the Empty Quarter, which wasn’t as empty as the name indicates. There where a lot of Alfalfa farms around and the crops grew very well, off course a lot of intensive irrigation is used to grow the Alfalfa. The thing that struck me most about is that when you looked at the ground you couldn’t believe anything would grow on this bare rocky sand like ground, but it does.
On our drive to the Empty Quarter the temperature rose from a agreeable 27 degrees Celsius to a scorching 41 one in just a few kilometers. You start out at sea level in Salalah and drive up the mountain range in the north, trough the green and when you reach about 900 meters above sea level you go trough some valleys where you see the green slopes gradually change to bare slopes with absolutely nothing growing on them.
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In the Empty Quarter we first brought a visit to Ubar, the lost city. This city was discovered on a satellite photo and subsequently dug up from the sands. It’s believed to be the lost Bedouin city which played a large part in the frankincense trade, as it was the last, or first depending on the direction your going off course, oasis in a other wise bare desert. It is now on the UNESCO world heritage list but there is not much to see; only a few pair of rocks piled on top of each other indicates what might have been some houses or other buildings in the past.
We ended the tour with some dune driving and then it was time to go back to Salalah, my driver took a turn off the main road and we descended from the mountain range on a secondary road, I thought I ended up in France or the Black Forest, it was so incredibly green and luscious you wouldn’t have believed to be in the Middle East.

Posted by erodrigo 06:09 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (2)

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