It is a gloomy morning outside my windows. The clouds are thick letting only a dim light filter through the moody early hours of the day. Looking at pictures from last week in Stockholm, I am reminded of Spring’s arrival. The warm sunshine left my cheeks sunkissed after a full day of wandering Swedish streets. Although my time there was too short to bare, it was just enough to taste a different world and leave the everyday scene.
My husband talks about how each city has its own smell. An individual fragrance to each part of the world. It is a sense I have tried to refine in recent years while traveling. Opening up to experience the world around me and be a witness with more than my eyes. My natural instinct is to listen to the sound of a city. The new noises and notes played by the people and nature combined. Stockholm sounds like cobblestone roads combined with the sing-song language that is the rhythm of the Swedish tongue.
Another conversation I have when traveling is whether or not I feel “abroad”. As an immigrant for nearly three years, I suppose I live in a constant state of abroad. So when traveling around Europe the sensation of distant lands versus comfortable places varies on a scale. Stockholm falling somewhere on the scale of a large overwhelming populous to settling in a comfortable neighborhood corner.
A bucket list item was scratched off this week when I visited the city of Stockholm Sweden. On an overnight cruise, kindly gifted from my mother in law, I embarked on a very Finnish experience locals call “the booze cruise”. While my journey did not include as much booze as some of the other free-spirited teens, it did include breathtaking views of the sea.
While spring air temperatures are still frigid, it does leave a glacial surface to the ocean water. A sight only appreciated for the chilly context in an image. While others enjoy taking a polar plunge between sauna sessions, my comfort zone will be at a distance only using my camera zoom to get in on the freezing action.
From the inside of the ship, you can see small islands passing and the setting sunlight. On occasion, another ship will pass in the distance only to make for some sense of depth on an otherwise isolated journey across the Baltic Sea. Traveling has its perks, no matter what shape it comes in, and I do appreciate the views of being out on the ocean with only the wind and water to keep you on course.
Another birthday abroad, this year in the Eternal City. It is difficult to settle on a thought that summarizes the trip. I had never been to Italy before, and after the weekend, I feel as though I would not need to go anywhere else. The beauty is in the details in Italy.
There was a moment while wandering a small street in Trastevere I passed a table of 8 or so friends enjoying a Sunday lunch. The bottles were empty, the table stained with red wine, and the plates clean using scarpetta. Everyone was talking at once, and each person conducting the conversation in their own way. Although I do not speak Italian, I imagine their conversations had something to do with food, art, politics, or local gossip. It does not matter honestly, because the aura of their group was stunningly bright and left me mesmerized as they ordered a final course, tiramisu, for just a select few and some to share.
Another detail I enjoy abroad are the sunsets. Scandinavia does not see consistent sunsets, it just is not part of the culture here. It is a daily ritual that goes missing in my current routine. So every time I travel south, it is always an emotional time of day to witness such glory. It adds to the romance that is daily life in Rome. The image above may be one of my favorites from the weekend. A cozy walking street at dusk in an Italian January.
Most of all I have to take the time to thank my husband for being the best this past weekend, and every weekend. I am grateful each and every morning to wake up and live the adventure with my best friend. The support, generosity, and humor you share make my days better. Thank you for a wonderful birthday, Kulta!
This week is the first trip of 2018 and I wanted to share my travel tips and tricks. There are a few rules I live by when it comes to globe-trotting.
The first being carry-on! I use a 20-liter backpack, and it is perfect. Although it is not the most stylish accessory, it is reliable. No matter if you are traveling for a weekend, or a couple weeks, odds are you can manage with a carry-on. The key is organization!
Which leads me to my next tip, pack similar clothing colors. Plan and organize your outfits in advance. It makes life much easier when you want to wake up in your destination. Without a second thought, you can put a sensible ensemble together, and focus your energy on more important things like sightseeing, food, and entertainment.
My third tip and maybe an odd one is to plan your showers. If you know your hygiene routine and if you can foresee the next 48-72 hours easily. Then it is easier to know what toiletries to bring and exactly how much of each. Sometimes, it might even be worth it to go to your favorite soap stores, I like Lush or Aveda and pick up some samples.
Lastly, my personal indulgence is travel entertainment. In an effort to keep things lightweight, I will opt for a journal, an agenda, and Bluetooth headphones. In my journal, I have dedicated a page to my favorite Italian phrases and words that may come in handy during our trip. Thus I am prepared to use the local language, and feel a little more confident playing my donna all’estero role.
Until next week,
No that is not some crazy edit, that is the Helsinki Cathedral on Wednesday night. It was the LUX Light Event earlier this week. An amazing spectacle where artists use light as their medium and the canvas is city buildings. Scattered throughout the streets, spectators can wander the long nights and check out what has become of their city in the darkness. This week was the 10th annual production of this event.
The Design Museum was the beginning of the tour, and my favorite show to witness. A sound and light production captivated audiences whilst gazing at the side of this building. It is one of a kind entertainment, and definitely a wild concept. Other artists contribute with mural pieces or more literal installations. Like this Love piece, it was accompanied by about five other black light pieces.
This event is one of the great things about the Finnish mentality. Even though the nights are cold, long, and currently their darkest, it is simply inspiration for the community. I appreciate this kind of work and attitude. As the Christmas lights will soon be all gone, and the winter lingers on, light is cherished.
As well as giving me a reason to go out once more and practice night photography. I am starting to get comfortable in low ISO situations. Like this photo above which demanded I stand one foot on the side of a brick of a building, the other on a handrail, all while my husbands shoved my center of gravity towards the wall, just to prop my camera on top of a metal awning. Creativity and winter demands push inspiration to the limit. a challenging combination which adds up to glowing memory.
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. In honor of that fact, I ventured out into the darkness and made some images amongst the glowing lights of the city. To do this, a new tripod purchase was necessary. No matter how cold the temperatures may feel, you are not “freezing” enough to stand perfectly still and capture a clear image at a low ISO (I tried to deny this reality for months).
Shooting in low ISO is new to me, but I had such a great time capturing the whirling lights of the trams and vehicles. The city was still surprisingly busy, being the last couple days before Christmas. Traffic was significant, by Finland standards. More fun than capturing the images was finding new angles to shoot from. With my new Gorillapod, I can capture images from perspectives which were not achievable before now. Plus there is the added bonus of cracking vlog jokes with my husband and doing my best Casey Neistat impersonation. Where is my Boosted Board?
As my muse, the holiday lights keep the city bright. Although I have not technically seen the sun this week, and have not felt the warmth of its rays in months, twinkling lights keep spirits bright. This is one thing Helsinki does beautifully! With the downtown area in nearly uniform white lights, the streets feel all the more magical during this special time of year.
This season marks my third holiday in a row here in Helsinki. To be honest, I did not know if I would stay here this long. To be even more honest, I do not know if I will endure this third winter. It is true Finns have an incredible sense of survival, even against all odds. Yet, I am not a native, and my discipline has been challenged this year. Since moving, I have found gratitude to be a critical lifeline.
Counting blessings and maintaining personal practices and hobbies are crucial. Thus, I am beyond grateful for these images. My new tripod allows me to continue to feel the joy of creating content even when conditions are not ideal. So unless the temperatures turn too cold to keep my camera on, I will continue to capture the night.
xx – nasty trash
December 6th, 2017 was the 100th anniversary of Finlands Independence. While I have been living here, this has been a huge celebration all year long. For those of you who may not know, here is my rendition of the celebration.
Finns have a different mood towards December 6th, compared to other Independence Day traditions around the world. It is a solemn holiday here when citizens take time to remember those who lost their lives. Similar to Veterans Day in my home country.
Fortunately, the centennial celebration brought a new mood. Blue and white themed the streets, shop windows, and light displays. Hundreds of thousands of people were out enjoying the day. As my third time in Finland for this holiday, it was a rather shocking detail. In years past people tend to keep to themselves. Stores close and the community stays rather quiet. I am hopeful that those traditions are in the past, and now the people have taken a new attitude to their achievement.
Although hard times were faced so many years ago, I feel a positive celebration is what sustains progress. In my experience, celebrations bring communities together, verses mournings that tend to separate individuals. Among the fireworks, festive lights, and a whole year of pride leading up to this moment, Finland has a lot to be thankful for! As for me, I am thankful to be witness to something so special.
xx – nasty trash