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Browsing Tag

Baltic

February update from frozen Finlandia

 

?  HOLA FROM FROZEN FINLAND  ?

I cant believe it’s already the end of February. Like whaat!!
It was just Christmas, those lovely lazy holidays, New Year with gorgeous fireworks and ”Champs”.
It was just January and Matka- Travel Fair with blogging and promo work, meeting the other newbies and now pretty much the last days of February.
Time really flies.. So I decided to update my life a bit before I have to go to work.
Especially on days like today, I wish I had one of those jobs I can do also remote, not needed to go out- since it is freezing cold there!! – 22 C this morning! Holy sheep! It is so damn cold!!
Am not a winter person at all.
Instead winter-winter I wish we had two autumns, snow only on Christmas / during the holiday- that would be perfect!
Even our dog, who absolutely loves snow and playing in that cold stuff (dogs like their owners  – really?) doesnt want to stay there, she goes to pee & runs back to the door like please let me in-now!
Well cant blame her!!

MY WASSUP UPDATE
As you may have noticed, I havent really been much here.
I have been working in different locations. It sucks, not that I have shifts to do, but it’s the job, you know.
I have to do those grocery shifts because those shifts pays my bills and I get to travel a bit too.
Those are the places where my mini-money comes from, not from this blog or any other social media stuff, which I would love to. So I hope that would change a bit someday.
Not that I would expect to have Uncle Scrooges millions & do the daily money swim.
My dream job would be something to do with travelling of course, socical media stuff too- but am open to everything. I know, I have a lot to do to get there and have many competitor..
But hopefully one day something like those’d be my real job.
Nora my fellow-blogger says ”if you can dream it, you can achieve it”! I Love that!
Even though my dreamjob isnt the most realistic now, im not letting it go! I just found it.
It took me so many years to realize what is ”my thing”, so am ready to work for my dream(s), ready to do ”what ever” to achieve my dream, to do what am passionate about.

I met Nora and other bloggers Marko, Heta, Heli & Anna-Maria at the Travel Fair, in Helsinki last month, they were there for the first time as blogger / press as well.
We all had busy schedules, spots to see and people to meet, so we didnt get to spend that much time together, but it was great to meet them and we also decided to have a class reunion next year 😉
That’s a promise to keep!

SWEET PROMISES
I decided not to make any New Year promises as mentioned on my previous post.
I decided not to, cos I finally realized it’s just waste of time and energy cos cant keep those.
It depends of course what kind of promises we are talking about, if it has something to do with losing weight.. well I suck! Im like Garfield, I love food! 🙂
Past years I have decided I start eating better & exercise more, starting on January of course, but next I notice oh shit, it’s Midsummer and I only have two or less months till our summer holiday. Panic!
I start running like crazy those stairs next to our house, pumping the iron, spending 30 minutes on crosstrainer each day and leaving all sh*it from my meals (low carb is my thing).

So I simply decided not to stress myself with these kinda stuff anymore, instead just eat better and move my as* more, sounds simple and doable, right?!
Well, am still pretty much in same shape than two months ago cos I already had two holidays.
Like I said am kinda like Garfield. I just love to taste ”every” food where ever I travel, those stuff are usually much better than in Finland & I dont want to low-carb every day on my holiday.. I mean look at this pizza!


But I do eat shitty-food home too sometimes cos work too, cant just blame holidays.
Before I heard people were blaming their bad shape and bad eating habits cos shitty work schedules, I thought that bullshit and people been just lazy etc.
But now that I have been doing these shifts I have noticed that’s true & you can put some blame to that.
I do pretty much from 14:15-21:15 shitfs, which means I only have two 12 minutes break (at some places 15 minutes), but it doesnt mean you can keep your 12-15 minutes.
Sometimes I just get to the restroom and the bell rings..
I managed to have only once full break there and it was only because it’s was super cold day.
At some places it takes even some minutes to get to your locker-room and then the fridge is in different place, so what do I do- bite a quick snack and drink a  lot of energy drinks to keep me going.
Not good.
But what is good though that I actually started to eat bit better and do squads, abs & inner tights after Spain, so am not that sucky person than last year (or past years) 😀 Been on low-carb last past week and it makes me feel good, have much more energy!
So maybe that no promises works.. 😉

DECISIONS
Let’s talk more about work. So I also decided that I would do anything to find that real-right job for me.
I do those grocery shifts, as mentioned, but I decided to hunt for my dreams, find and chase my dream job.
Or at least find a job I would enjoy to do, not just the one that pays my bills.
Those shifts now pays my bills etc. but I dont know how long I can keep doing those?!
Those shifts are so tiring, so when I get home im so exhausted so I wanna do nothing.
On morning am just too tired cos cant sleep well cos the huge amount of sugar and stress.
Anyway, I dont just blame those shitty shifts but you got the point.
If you havent done similar job, you dont know. So I stopped ”judging” people too.
And yes, am pleased to have these shifts, even though I dont enjoy doing those- which is funny cos people has told me that they like my smily, friendly attitude and professional skills with different customers.
Hmm.. maybe I should skip my writing dreams and focus more on acting?! Hahhaha 😉

Job hunting
I have been looking for jobs and found few interesting ones.
I have sent some applications already, just sketching one- to a company I would really like to work for.
Keep your thumbs up for me, por favor!
Note to those recruiters, if you got or get my application, you know am really interested since I dont just send applications to every possible places. At least not yet. So check me out first and others wish me luck!!

I already got some rejection emails back, which is not necessarily bad thing, cos now I can think what to do better and I like getting a reply, even though it’s no thanx.
Some has even explained which kind of they hired and other told me that they cant offer me a job because im overqualified. Ok. That made me thinking does it mean im too old?!
I mean am 37, so is that nice way to say we dont want a granny here?!
I dont think I look or even behave like a granny.. hmm..


PS Please, dont be offended with that granny comment!
PPS If you have a job for me or know who is looking for my kind of persons, lemme know!

Here is my business card which says:
– Over 15 years of customer service experience
– Over 7 years of administrative/executive assistant experience
– VIPA: Music & Media – entertainment business education (graduated 2011)
– Travel Business studies travel agent/ travel services management (graduated 2017,
am not really sure about the english title)

HOLIDAY UPDATE
Yes, I already had those two fat holidays which is pretty unusual!
We usually keep our winter holiday week on January-February and travel next time on Easter.
But this is surprised me, as did last year!
Right after New Year we made a short road trip to Riga,Latvia.
We dont usually get to do those so that was awesome!!
Jani mentioned he had one extra day off and asked if instead driving to Ainazi (to do lil shopping) we’d drive to Riga and stay two nights.
Well, he didnt even need to ask me, I always say yes to Riga -my Baltic love!!

First we were thinking to stay from Friday till Sunday but his boss prefered monday off so we switched the dates and also saved 100 euros! We did spend that 100e for a fancy – or so we thought- dinner.
That was probably one of the worse, but more about that and our road trip later.


From east to west..
After Riga we spent few weeks in Finland, working our butts off and then it was time for our next adventure- visit Spain.
This is something really unusual as well, since we have never been to any warm place on our winter holiday, never thought we would travel to Spain (or go to that west) or even go for a family vacation.
Jani’s parents have been to Spain several times and have also invited us there several times.
It has been bad timing.
They have been there on Nov/Dec and since we usually come home from our summer holiday on September that would have been way too soon / too early.
Dont wanna wait and work 8-9 months without any real holiday, you know.
And we also had made plans like last year we went to Serbia on our winter holiday.
This year they also rented a house there and asked us to go, after few if’s and but’s we bought the plane tickets and flew to Malaga with Janis son.

As you know my heart belongs pretty much to East-Europe & Balkan.
I was ready to travel back to Serbia or finally visit Belarus.. but to Spain we went and I decided to be open-minded and enjoy the time there, which I did.
Spain was beautiful, a new experience since never been there and Janis parents were perfect hosts! They drove us to many places, took us to eat and shopping etc.
Most of the prices were same than in Finland but no snow and ice was definitely a big plus!
Posts under the Andalusian sun are coming too.
Visited Mijas, Marbella, Istan, Gibraltar (just few to mention)!

Beautiful & interesting places


Amazing sunsets

And those famous monkeys..

All the roads lead to Rome..
Last but not least.. let’s get really wild now! Si, im going to Rome soon!
This is going to be different vacation, Jani cant go cos his work, but im going there with my mom (Musti) and my godchild Veera. We are going to see Minttu (my other godchild).
I havent been on any vacation with Musti since I was 16 I think, there is no drama, just life and different schedules.
Beside we both have dogs, so when they travel we take care of their crazy dog and vise versa.
This trip has some shadows though. She had a tumour and it was operated last October.
She said if everything goes well, she wants to go to Italy & ”made me promise we gonna go” if..
Thank goosh, everything went great ? She is doing good, is back to work etc.
And so we are soon on our way to Italy!
This is going to be my second family trip- surprise, surprise!! First time in Italy as well!
Veera (travel business student), Minttu’s lil sister is going with us.
She has never been on a plane, so she is super excited and bit nervous too!

So that’s my 2 months update!
Keep your thumbs up it wont snow in Rome anymore.
They had quite a chaos there few days ago since snow and -9 degrees.
Minttu had two extra days cos everything was closed: stations, airports, traffic all down.

Any last minute tips?!

Enjoy your weekend ?

 

Road that stole my heart

VIA BALTICA ROAD TRIPPING + STUFF LIKE THAT

IMG_8266

Via Baltica and going to Baltics..
Almost everyone has an opinion about the road&these countries.
Opinions vary widely from love it to boring/interesting/dangerous to wanna go again & never again, at least not by a car.

I tried to count how many times I´ve been there & there are numerous times and from Tallinn to Riga there are many more, dozens of.. Cant say for sure.

Yes, am a road trip fan, Baltic & Balkan fan!
Latvia, especially the capital city, Riga is great and I call it my home-away from home Baltic and Serbia, esp. Beograd is my home-away from home Balkan..
You can just take a wild guess what might be my fave places to visit, along with Hungary!

Our first Via Baltica road trip was 2011, just 6 years ago (it feels more though).
Had a plan to visit Lake Garda and Hamburg.
Then came the Ehec-epidemic, people got sick and also died..
They didnt know yet what was causing all those and they told not to travel there (the cause was foreign cucumbers and sprouts probably watered by contaminated water).
So we didn´t go there.
We didn’t visit Italy either since we were thinking is it really worth to go there for a day or two & with mini budget. Just started working less than a month before.
Got a job from the Booking Agency I did my internship for school, so didnt have much money & had only two weeks off.
Still remember the night in Krakow when we decided to change our plans, sitting outside our hotel watching beautiful sunset, with cold beer.
Decided to stay few more days there, visit Oświęcimim (better know as Auschwitz) and drive back.

Of course felt little upset but afterwards this Tallinn-Jurmala-Kauna-Krakow was just perfect for first time. Visited also Vilnius but we had our hotel outside Old Town so didnt really walk there but visited Gediminas and KGB-museum. And then it was just raining so went to do some shopping and were just laying lazy at the hotel. Wasnt bad at all!

IMG_8271

Dont remember where this road trip idea came from.
Am glad we both are similar- ready to go almost when & where ever.

When people heard about our plans, they werent too excited.
Thought us crazy & that we were kidding 😀
They were warning about how dangerous it is there, we will get robbed, militias will take our money, roads are awful, car get stolen etc.
They were like go to Spain or some place normal.
What´s funniest that people who had never been there said these, they are usually the worse also. Just saying 😉
Jani´s parents were horrified by our plans but they said some nice things about Jurmala.
First we didnt think to visit there at all, thought it´s going to be place for oldies but it turned out to be great place to visit.
Amazing beach with white, soft sand as far as the eye can see. The sun’s shining & the sea is sparkling.

We happened to have great weather, even though it was just the beginning of June.
It was raining in Vilnius but other than that it was just perfect!
The rain didnt bother that much there, since we were bit tired of all the driving, excitement & new things plus there´s Akropolis, huge mall or shopping hell- depends on whom you talk to 😀

Via Baltica´s reputation really isnt the best. Some call it dangerous road.
Well, driving style is different than in Finland. It could be pretty wild!!
I have seen many close call situations and numerous vehicles in ditches.
Especially in Poland you can see also numerous crosses, flowers, figures of saints, statues and chapels on the sides of the roads: to commemorate a site where a person died.

Some say these roadside memorials are there to bring a good fortune and prevent accidents.
As mentioned the driving-style is different but in Poland it felt just little more crazy since some of them seems to have a thing what comes to overtaking.
They just need to pass your vehicle.
And they are pretty calm, there´s been many situations with approaching traffic that you notice there´s no room, even though you are on your lane but there´s two more cars coming side by side.. It´s been usually us to pull aside first..

They´ve made some parts of the road wider, so you can give some room easier but it´s still not really helping with 4 cars approaching you.. I saw an article that narrower streets would be actually safer cos wider lanes only encourage people to drive faster.
I dont think this person has driven on Via Baltica 😉
Jani is my trusted driver, very focused on the road, as you should there!
But still extra heart beats are something you get there every once in a while.
I dont have the license (yet!) but I dont think I ever want to drive there. Or could.
Jani wouldnt want that unless he has an alcohol level of 5 promille or above.
Half kidding!

Anyway, roads are better, of course there are still holes, pumps etc but there are a lot more those ”money was given by EU – signs” and comparing to 2011 some of the roads are like heaven on earth to drive (except the traffic). Just waiting when they will fix our roads in Finland!
Just 2015 we passed Estonian- Latvian border and it was awful!
We had our old car and that was really something! When we came back home, they had repaired it! Yippee!!
It feels like every other vehicle is a lorry so no wonder the tracks are like that!

Our old car had only 8cm ride height but we managed to pass those tracks, cobblestone streets and even the Tatra´s.. So if you wonder can your car make it there, just take a look at ours 😉
I think you´ll be just fine.

Even though there´s been huge improvement, you still got to stay focused!
Talking about those close call situations, saw a German camper got a hit by the truck.
They only lost their mirror and got some paint damage.
But I still remember the driver´s face, he was horrified.
There was one car in front of us & we had a safe distance, luckily!
I just saw some black pieces flying & then Jani hit the brake.
Nothing like that ever happened to us (knock, knock).

Of course a car low like that gets more damages than ”normal” ones, so after every trip we needed to fix/change some things.
Fuses got blown at Tatra´s when we drove away from the gypsy camp (one of my worst memories), got some speeding tickets and have got extra heart beats but other than those- we have been lucky!
Got some close call´s as well, on our way to Bratislava we had 130km/h, almost no traffic & suddenly the car in front of us did the panic brake because he almost passed his intersection.
Jani was able to switch the lane, if not we would have hit the other car bad cos there were no room&time to break..

Not only there´re crazy people, there might be some animals on the road or next to.
Not on highway though but am talking about those smaller villages.
There´s usually 30-50 km limit & there´s a reason for that; esp. in Poland you can find cows & chickens wandering around..

Latvia quickly became one of our favorite destinations. Only country we got speeding tickets & other fines (still knocking).
There´s been very nice cops so far- one came to shake Jani´s hand and was sorry about the fine and wishing great holiday despite that.
Visited Riga, the capital city first time on winter 2011, went to see hockey (KHL) and been back several times for mini/ long stay/ Easter break/ surprise-birthday holiday!
Went there for Easter also this year. Just thinking back how just a week ago was wandering there..
Oh am missing back!

Not only roads but countries has changed too!
There werent too many tourist back then, this Easter the city was packed, everywhere we went you heard finnish & saw other tourists as well.
But I think biggest change has been the currency. Most of them didnt want to let go of their Lats.
Latvia is still cheap for us to shop, eat, drink etc. but prices are rising, already did and they rise much faster than wages. I am little afraid what will the future be there.

Driving across Poland 2011 Jani said that he wont go back, ever. Period.
2012 we did just Latvia-Lithuania tour but 2013 we drove across Poland again & also 2015, 2016 as well & visited some new cities.
And now we have visited more Polish cities than cities in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia or other countries we´ve been to, how funny is that 😀
So Poland isnt that bad after all! But there are dozens of road projects. I once started to calculate those, got way over twenty and then I couldnt anymore.. It´s just from one road work to another..

Of course you should reduce your speed so it takes more time.
For example Google Map tells it takes 5 hours from Suwalki to Lublin, but you should add 1-2 hrs more.
And good luck if you´re going to Warzaw. Once visited the centrum and it took 4 hrs to get out of there.
Dont know what was going on but the traffic was awful.
There´s ”new” road & you can avoid this centrum, as we do now.

Via Baltica, been there & done that several times, so I know what am talking about 😉

Via Baltica goes from Tallinn to Warzaw (not ending to Lithuanian border) and road E -67 actually continues all the way to Prague, Czech Rep.
That´s the part we´ve not driven yet.
Navigator is great there!
First time we had avoid road tolls cos thought those expensive, difficult and what ever.
Which amuses me now but I had old Nokia-phone + bad internet so didnt really want to use that..
Having iPhone makes everything so much easier!

What comes to those road tolls, they are not that bad!
Later we tried Katowice-Cracow road and it was less than few euros. Woow, what a smooth road!!
There are different charging – and collecting methods.
In my experience vehicles are charged per total distance driven in a defined area.
Tolls are usually collected at toll booths/gates after the journey, but you have to stop at one before you hit that smooth road, so dont worry, you shouldnt get there by accident.
And to make it a bit confusing, there are also vignettes in some countries and some countries use a combination.. But let´s get there later.

Few words about speed limits. There are cops running radars, a lot. But people warn about those usually. You cant do it in Finland (what a boring country) but if you see elsewhere somebody flashing their flights, you know there´s something going on. And it´s usually a radar.
Thanks to these people (esp. truck drivers) we have avoided some tickets..
Spasibo! Merci! Danke!

There are also radar speed signs, warning about the automat-control.
But the best has been other roadtrippers.
Am sure there´re ppl thinking ”that´s why there´re limits that you follow them” oh well good luck!
The traffic is really something else than for example in Finland.
And am not talking about those small roads.

I love those highways in Slovakia & also south Poland, where the roads are great and limits are 130-140 km and traffic is smooth. Some go there over 160 so that´s lil scary sometimes..
But also some funniest memories comes from there, if you happen to pass a local (esp. in Poland) they just need to overtake you once more, even though they´re driving an old, run-down car they just cant give up & when you let them pass – they have the best Gold medal face on 😀
This has happened cople of times- you just have to laugh at them but also give
a little respect 😉
But as I´ve mentioned you got to stay focused, keep calm & remember safe distance.

Couple more things: you dont have to pay road tolls if your vehicle is under 3500 kg and there are no vignettes on Via Baltica.
In Poland there are some road toll-roads, you can pay in zlotys, euros, pounds, dollars & some places accept also credit cards. My advice is to have small euro coins with you.
These roads in Poland are not the main roads. If you stay on Baltica you dont need to mind those.
If you continue from Warsaw to Slovakia like we did, you still avoid them.
You dont end up to those toll- roads by accident but if you somehow do, you´ll notice that since all those starts and end up from the booth.
So keep your eyes open, read the signs & keep some money with you 😉
(I couldnt find my zlotys so I have here a pic of Latvian lats)

I found this very useful list of paid roads in Poland.
I suggest you to double check the prices but at least you get a hunch how much are they.
These prices goes from few euros to almost twenty, it depends what´s the distance.
If you go by a motorcyckle (or bike as I prefer to say), the price is usually half except A1 and A2 Swiecko-Konin.

A1 Rusocin (Gdańsk) – Nowa Wieś (Toruń) 29,90 PLN
A2 Świecko (DE/PL) – Konin 75,00 PLN
A2 Konin – Stryków (Łódź) 9,90 PLN
A4 Bielany Wrocławskie (Wrocław) – Sośnica (Gliwice) 16,20 PLN
A4 Katowice – Kraków 20,00 PLN

Neighbouring countries, except Germany has vignettes.
I will make a new post about those.

Must have:
– First aid kit
– Fire extinguisher (not in Poland)
– reflective safety vests
– reflectorised triangle

Other things to check and good to have greencard, car insurance + insurance for yourself.
In some countries there´s double or even triple deductible in case of damage or theft.
If you dont own your car (family car, owned by financing company etc.) you also need some kinda export licence.

In Finland, Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania you can use both studded and non-studded tyres.
Winter tires are not required by law but it is highly recommended to use winter tires in Poland.
The studded tires are strictly forbidden.
It´s recommended to carry snow chains when driving in Poland in winter condition, especially in mountainous areas.
Remember, however, that the use of snow chains is restricted only to roads with snow and/or ice cover.
If you are going to travel there during the winter double check the rules & periods.

Few other things
– bigger gas-stations have free wifi
– toilets can be found as well, but they are not always free- there´s someone to collect the money or it´s automatic. Again have small coins with you (fee could be anything from 0,10€ to 1€).
– 112 works everywhere in the Eu.
– If you are on a motorway there are roadside phones + emergency exits with usually the roadside markers to tell you in which directions is the nearest one.

I use my mobile´s internet on the road if there´s no wifi available. Usullay my phobe bill has been quite reasonable.
Past years it was more expensive in Poland and once Jani ended up having 50-60€ extra billing cos got email, a newsletter (from record company who didnt choose them then :D) and we thought it might be hotel that we tried to find but it wasnt -luckily he has employer-paid phone (thanx for being so fair Jartsa!).
After that happened I started to shut down all the needles apps, now I only have Chrome, Bank, Maps, Booking.com and Facebook (and now Instagram). That´s all u need hahahhaha

There are quite many gas-stations & other resting place on a roadside, sometimes it feels there are just one after another and then none.
We have had few so called ”close call situations” with gas, taking small(er) roads and noticing the low fuel level warning light is on & noticing there´s nothing but field both sides, no houses, no gas station sign on navigator, getting darken & realizing you forgot to fill up the auxiliary fuel tank.. That was somewhere in the middle of Lithuania (and we didnt learn the first time..)
If you´re just taking VB- then you´ll be fine.

Gas stations near border are more expensive for sure but gas is still cheaper than in Finland, last time it was just about 1€.
You can find there many Neste/Hesbruger combos, and yes, even though Hesburger is Finnish, we´ve eaten Hese-food, cos they´ve better burgers, but also size and price is better 😉

Hope this wasnt too long (am working on it) and can give some help if you are planning a driving vacation through Baltic.
Dont be too scared to go. Just stay focused, keep calm, dont rush, sleep well.
After all road trips are the best, you get to see so much more, places you wouldnt get to visit otherwise.

And you have total freedom to choose where to go & when.
Plus you can buy as much as you want to – no need to weight your luggage the night before in panic!!

It feels like you would never get bored of this road, no matter how many times you go!
Just seeing those familiar places makes me smile!
I love going back to places where I have spent a lot of time in the past.
And I always find something new from each places.
Been to many cities and I have to make own posts about those- cos this one is super long already!!

PS
We´re planning to visit Lake Balaton this summer, we have already booked a place to stay for one week & those other 2 weeks- who knows!
Havent made any plans yet & that´s the best way to travel.
Last year we ended up to Maribor, Slovenia and that was amazing!
So I hope after September I get to tell you how are the roads & traffic there now, has there been many changes in one year?!

PPS
I will look for better traffic pics, these looks kinda lame 😀

PPS
Just a quick note:
I just want to make sure, we go there safely, we go along the traffic, sometimes might do little speeding but nothing much/bad, we might have helped some ppl as well but not those who go over speeding and can cause problems.
If you havent been there, keep your opinions till you´ve been where we´ve been 😉