maanantai 17. kesäkuuta 2013


One day I will actually be in the U.S. for the infamous spring break and I am telling you; what happens in TJ stays in TJ! But until then, I can't really complain about my past spring breaks. This March/April I got to go home! Well, kind of. Home as in on the other side of the country of my UK home and home as in the beautiful Italian home of a certain beautiful Italian gentleman.

The trip did not start too well. After 3 of travelling which included the longest night bus ride in the history, freezing my ass off on the floor of the praying room for about 8 hours at the Beijing airport and a excruciating lack of sleep, I arrived in London. The streets smelled of dirt and the customer service was absolute horrific. I was home and could not have been happier! From London I caught the train all the way down South to Falmouth and there I stayed for the next two weeks.
Falmouth, as any English town, was small and yet so delightfully cute in all its britishness that the first morning I got up and went about the town I was smiling from ear to ear. I could actually understand what people were saying, I could have a nice cup of coffee for a few pounds, I could ask directions without a complete confusion on both sides of the conversation and I could go to the supermarket and buy everything I had missed for 7 months! So, as I could do all this, this is what I did for the next two weeks while my better half buried himself in books working on his essays in order to get them done in time.
Going about Falmouth and other parts of Cornwall made me realize how much I missed Aberdeen and the pace of life of a city, or at least a town. The most nerve racking part was meeting all the people in Falmouth I was supposed to meet, but somehow I managed to get along without too many awkward silences. I guess.

After the rather rainy (in my bliss I thought; this is England and I wouldn't have it any other way) two weeks in Falmouth it was time to pack our bags again and head to Milan. If I had been afraid of the people in Falmouth, you can not imagine the level of my anxiety when thinking who's going to pick us up at the airport in Italy.. Luckily the welcome was most wonderful and by that night I had forced a few words out of my mouth while listening to the traditional looking Italian family ramble around the dinner table. To them our dinners must seem like an episode of Walking Dead; silent eating with a few grunts if you're lucky.
In Italy we went about Milan quite a lot. I saw the iconic city centre as well as enough Prada and Gucci stores to last me a life time, the beautiful historic town of Bergamo with its narrow streets and tiny restaurants, lake Como which is the current home town of George Clooney (a fact that explains in itself that the place is stunning) and also Venice, the capital of romance in Europe. I enjoyed everyone sight and scenery but in the end it was all about the company. The weeks in Italy made me envy their natural and historical beauty though, we have trees in Finland. Great.

In addition to the handsome guy in all these pictures, I also saw Liucija! Awesome reunion time with clothes, coffee, pizza and way too much ice cream. I can't believe my luck for having such an amazing flatmate for next year, can already feeling the excitement creep in!

Unfortunately, for me and maybe some of you who are actually interested, all the pictures taken in Venice and other picture worthy places are on a different camera. On a camera that lies somewhere in the pile of stuff that decorates a certain bedroom in Italy. Ahem, I will get them in 4 weeks though. Maybe I will put some on later, for now the catch is very poor.

 Falmouth beach! So many doooooogs. I went to see them almost everyday. Yeah, I am that creepy. Don't even talk about puppies.
 Private tour guide, bam.
 The Duomo in Milan city centre.
 Bergamo from the top of the hill.
 I apologize for my ignorance but this is one of the many many gorgeous churches all around the country.
They sure love the man upstairs.

Wonder why I gained weight in Italy.. well this girl still managed to look  stunning even with the vast amount of ice cream we consumed!

So that's it! I made it. 7 days and all, now you are pretty much caught up with my spring happenings. Of course another nice event was my mum and sister visiting, but since I have not a single picture of that, the story will have to wait. You will hear it soon though, as well who the last four weeks of my time turn out to be.  Later lovers.

Love, Sonja

lauantai 15. kesäkuuta 2013

memoirs of a geisha pt 1

On the 28th of February came the day the whole nation of these tiny people had been waiting for their whole lives, the occasion that brought light to the immense darkness that was my life at the time. Elina came to visit!

I must admit, Akita in the middle of the winter is not the ultimate holiday resort so the fact that Elina was willing to use her good, hard earned money to come and see me in this winter not-so-wonder land caught me by an emotional storm of gratitude, appreciated and believing in a higher power of a sort. So cheers to El Torka!

Even with the little to show, I wanted Elina to see the best parts of life in Akita. Since a week earlier it had been my 22nd birthday, we decided to go out to an Izakaya and celebrate me and Michael growing older with pretty much everyone who was around for the winter semester. All in all, very impressive grade of drunkenness was achieved and having a beer with my fellow Finnish lassie took my straight back to the nights in Oulu in the best possible way.

In other adventures was a trip to the Japanese spa, a nice conveyer belt sushi experience, gorgeous purikura pics, a tour in Akita City and a rather unpleasent experience of going to the cinema hungover to watch the film "Flight". If you have seen the film, you understand why it is not the best choice for two people extremely hungover and both facing a 12 hour flight in a matter of days..

 Look who it is! Oulunsalo, biatch!
Heading out with these two pimps. Yeap.
 Even the coldest Nordic hearts melt for a teddy bear.
 The birthday boy! And the girl behind the camera.
 Party times. Izakaya night is obviously nearing it's end by the looks on our faces.
 El Torka paying her respects to the local Gods at the shrine close to AIU.
And again at Akita City. Can't fight the spirits I guess!

I can not tell you how amazing it felt to see that familiar face at the Akita train station. My two completely different world colliding but all for the best. Finally I can sleep at nights again now knowing that there is at least one person back home who hasn't forgotten about me! Not saying that the others have, and even if they had, I am going to remind them of my existence real soon! Can't wait for September (love changing the the minds of pretenders) and the good times with Elina and all the others. Hmph I reckon sometimes home does really call me.

Okay, so this was one of may favourite happening of this spring! Next up is another favourite; the trip back to European continent - England & Italy edition.

Love, Sonja

torstai 13. kesäkuuta 2013

i love the view from up here

So, we went travelling for three weeks during Christmas and New Years. Here's the story of that!


First stop was in Kyoto. It took us 22 hours to get there on a ferry. Cheap and comfortable. If you don't count the continuous desire to puke.. We were there bright and early in the morning and found our utterly lovely hostel easily. After dropping off our stuff, the first sight on the list was the famous golden pavilion. For me it has always been THE thing to see in Japan so it was really incredible to visit the site and the see the iconic temple. Since the weather was beautiful, we decided to take a little walk and find the castle of Kyoto as well. Kyoto is one the oldest cities in Japan and thus holds some amazing historic places and buildings.
After doing all this very predictable stuff it was time to get pretty and go out. It was Christmas Eve after all!

The 3 days we spent in Kyoto we're beautiful in every way possible: city-wise, weather-wise, food-wise and spending a Christmas in Japan-wise. Christmas is not quite the extravaganza that we're used to back in the West but rather a holiday for couples to spend eating cake and cuddling. Works fine for me! The utterly romantic Christmas Eve was a nice change from what I am used to; first of all to be part of a couple (who saw that coming) and a quiet night with a beautiful dinner and gifts, while still kind of missing the peeps back home. Ah, like Virgin Mary herself, I treasured up all these things and pondered them in my heart!

 Packed and ready. Can't even recall which night bus this was but let me tell you, there was plenty.

The Golden Pavilion. A golden house! Cool. 

The Gardens of the golden house, still pretty cool

 The Christmas market in Kyoto. The only similarity to Christmas tradition found in Europe!

A guardian of the house at the old geisha district. Somehow mesmerizing haha.


From Kyoto we took the very first night bus (first of the many to come) of the trip to Hiroshima. At first the modern, completely rebuilt since the atomic bomb in 1940's city felt a bit cold and foreign, especially after the atmospheric, narrow old streets of Kyoto. After exploring more Hiroshima truly does grow on you. The city represents a very unique community feeling of being revived from the horrid tragedy, people seem to appreciate the dynamism of the city and overall, at least to my experience, the pulse of Hiroshima is very different from other big cities in Japan.
As any proper tourist, we toured the Hiroshima peace park to learn more about the atomic bomb dropped in the city centre and on the jollier side of the town we had some nice drinks, good food and even managed to check out the new Bond flick (what a disappointment btw!).

 The nicer side of Hiroshima.
And how it came to be.


Japanese people, at least in the North, tend to describe the residents of Osaka as of something a bit quirky and nontraditional. Personally the welcome we had in Osaka was the best out of the whole trip. People did not stare at my blonde hair like it was something out of a fairy tale but rather complete strangers went out of their way trying to help us find our place for the night while babbling on about the sights in Osaka with an impeccable English. What a lovely change I thought!
Unfortunately we had mere two days to spend in Osaka and at this point we're a bit tired to follow complicated timetables, that I apparently tend to create to other's dismay. Control freak, me? Oh no, age is catching up with me. Anyways, these two days in Osaka were devoted to chilling. So we went to check out the aquarium (it had a whale shark!) and saw the city skyline from a massive  ferris wheel! Altogether had a very relaxing two days, only to mount another night bus once more.

The city from the ferris wheel! Whoop!


I don't even know why I highlighted the name of this place, or why I am bothered to tell you about it. This was a city we were stuck for a day. The original plan was to go there and catch a bus to hiking route near by the coastline but due to the holidays we were unable to follow through with this plan.
So there we were. In the ghost town of Japan apparently. Not kidding, there was nobody around. The city quickly turned into a creepy maze of suspicious streets, old rusty looking shops and weird introverted old people mumbling in the dark corners of the alleys. This sounds so surreal, but it is true. We checked out the park, took a nap in the sun (sleeping outside in January, what!) and then returned to the train station to satisfy my craving for a sub and to ensure our departure as soon as possible. Even now the city gives me the creeps! Hrrr.

The only friendly face in the whole place.

Mount Fuji

From the lowest of the low to the highest of the high! New Years rapidly approaching, on the the Eve of this event we took yet another night bus to Tokyo, picked up a car and drove to the magnificent Mount Fuji, the pride of Japan. This is definitely the most memorable way to celebrate the new year for me so far. On the eve we had an amazing dinner at the only organic restaurant I have so far been able to find in Japan (the food and the place was incredibly nice) and afterwards headed to the biggest shrine in the area for the traditional celebrations. The event gathered hundreds of Japanese people, and us: the wonky foreigners, to pray for good luck for the oncoming year and to celebrate it's arrival. A magical night all in all.
After this beautiful experience however, it was go time! The next morning saw the start of our hike up the legendary mountain. The gods of weather were in our favour and even though during winter times one is only allowed to hike up to the 5th viewing point, the hike was something I would have liked to miss while in Japan. Slippery slopes but gorgeous sights!

 Derp dinner time.
 HC party mode for New Years at the shrine at 00.01am.
The view of Fuji on our drive back.


The final stop of our travels, and for my misfortune the final stop of Andrea's travels in Japan altogether, was the capital city. We had both been to Tokyo before but still felt there was much more to explore in this gigantic city. We saw many of the famous sights, most notably we caught the speech of the Emperor who is only speaking to the public twice a year, and enjoyed them as well but to me the most enjoyable part of our time in Tokyo was meeting up with some friends from Akita and chilling just the two of us.
As Andrea was not the only one leaving after the fall semester, we were also not the only people from AIU in Tokyo at the time. We managed to find Alazne and Naz by accident the very first morning at McDonald's (in a city of some 14 million people we run into them, yeah that's likely) and later on got together with the "Dream Team" as they guys preferred to call themselves and Tara and her sister from Australia. Some serious good times.

 City lights at Shibuya with the world's busiest crossroads.
 Da boss!
 All the fun we had is reflected on Naz's face.
 Out and about in Roppongi.
Won't you look at these two cuties!

After all this travelling and incredible experiences, it was time to get back though. Back to different continents. I may guess that the reason for the lack of update from here might have something to do with the blues that followed the separation. But let's not dwell in this fleeting misery of mine, since spring break came and went and soon (if it only was even sooner) I'll be heading back to Europe again.

So this is what happened in December and January. Haha. 4 more days to catch you guys up all the way to June! Next chapter: El Torka de Magnifico arrives in the land of the rising sun. Til then!

Love, Sonja

maanantai 10. kesäkuuta 2013

here we go again

Helloo good people! 
I must apologize for being a bit MIA recently. For the last 5 months, ehem.. 
Well, better late than never! This is a just a quick hello to let everyone know that in the next 7 days I will update you on the events of this beautiful spring of ours. So, get ready for some good old story time! Can't guarantee the quality, but I will, this time, guarantee the existence of the stories!

Now, it is +30°C and it is time for me to take a walk in the sun to the mall to buy some sale priced, delicious cherries, birthday gifts for the lucky ones this week and ingredients to make some tasty nordic food for the event of the weekend. But not to worry, you will here from me soon!

This is pretty much what I've been upto lately.. let's go to the beach -each!

Love, Sonja

maanantai 7. tammikuuta 2013

polar express

Snowy hello! This happened over a month ago but; we went to Hokkaido! We, meaning me, Andrea, Alazne, Naz, Yasser, Loan, Maxwell, Trygve, Mallory and Will, packed our warmest clothes with us and off we went.
Hokkaido is the northern island of Japan and proved itself to be super beautiful and definately worth seeing! Sure, it took a 12 hour ferry ride there with Loan passing out in the play corner set up for the kids but the magnificent thing of a boat also had a cinema and an onsen. So it was all very jolly travelling. (I also took the ferry for 22 hours on the christmas holidays and must say that this time the only thing having a jolly time was the food in my stomach insisting to come out the less natural way of going up..)

In Hokkaido we made our way to the capital city of Hokkaido, Sapporo. After spending over month or so in Akita without a break or a half, Sapporo was such a nice change. The city was big and busy, the kind of place where you can sense people get off their arses and do things for their own pleasure instead of only for work. Basically a place where people live. As expected we saw the main sights, went to the famous Sapporo brewery to have a drink and had an altogether splendid time together.
After spending a few nights in Sapporo it was time to get on the road again. Renting a minivan and driving to a hot spring village of Noboribetsu through a national park was incredibly nice even with the lethally slippery mountain roads. It was the first time for me to see proper snow in Japan and all I can say is thay I loved it! Spending the past three winter away, I had forgotten how snow for the perisuomalainen in me is like sun to my southern friends. It felt like fluffy balls of energy coming down from the skies. And what better way to enjoy the christmassy weather than sit in a hot spring outside with the girls. Noboribetsu and it's surrounding nature, including the Hell Valley 10 minutes walk from our inn, was breath taking.
All in all, until recently I considered Hokkaido definately as my favorite place in Japan (opinion that changed after our travels during the holidays). Who knows, maybe I'll see it again on a later date, I know there remains lot to be seen in the North. It is funny how I always thought myself as someone who's escaping the north with it's depressing atmosphere but so it seems that wherever I go, the north always hits closest to home with me.

Now to my, and hopefully yours as well since my writing leaves room for improvement, favourite part. Pics!

 The night before we left I got to celebrate my first ever thanksgiving! Guys cooking pasta for some 30 people having dinner together. Special thanks to Niki for putting it all together! Loved it.
 On the train to Sapporo. Loan had returned to life as well! The time for miracles is not over.
 Finally theeere.
 I was not the only one enjoying the snow.
 The asian twins/lovers having a good time at the all you can drink on the first night.
 A drink at the Sapporo brewery. Attractive people, I know.
 The old city hall of Sapporo in a spooky night light! Much less cooler in the inside I might add.
 The winter illumation festival.
 Once again we put the dad behind the wheel.
 A lake with a mountain in the middle of it! THE EXCITEMENT!
 Naz could feel it as well!
 The view on the national park. Made me believe we were in Russia!
 The gang minus two posing. Aww.
 Hell valley with it's natural hot springs.
 Anarchy in the UK, I came way too close to burning my face off.
I heard this is where the Peverell brothers met Death himself.

Amazing trip it was! As I mentioned, we went on another one recently. Stories told and pictures shown as soon as I get hold of them! Now, back to knitting, drinking tea and solving mysteries with Miss Marple. Yes, I am turning 68 this upcoming February.

With my utmost love, Sonja

torstai 29. marraskuuta 2012

go go juice

Moikkaa! Lot's has happened lately, so let's get down to business. Things done within the last month or so, excluding the most mundane tasks of studying etc and last weekend, which deserves its own post altogether.

This is really late, I know, but we went to Sendai! Sendai is the capital of the Tohoku region and a city about the size of Helsinki. It was so nice to actually see people running about for a change. Akita is nice and all, but even the city is awfully remote and quiet, especially for Japan. I thought I'd basically be running out of fresh air here with all the 127 million others, but Akita is the perfect spot for a claustrophobic. No complaints though, 365 days in a place like Tokyo and some sort of city version of cabin fever is guaranteed I am afraid.

Sendai's city life was a nice change but personally I enjoyed the school's trip to place called Oyasukyo Gorge even further. On our way there we made a stop at the Akita prefecture amusement park to enjoy all the local fun we can have here in Akita. To be honest, the park was quite silly but definately worth seeing while being slightly hungovered and dead tired made it funny on a whole another level.
Getting to the final destination, Oyasukyo Gorge was breath taking. It's a spot for natural hot springs and even with the distinctive smell of sulfer it would be impossible not to enjoy the view and the atmosphere there. Scroll down to the pics to see what I mean.

In addition to these beautiful trips we've made here, there's also been some partying going on. Halloween came and went with three separate parties, naturally with three opportunities to dress up! FINALLY, we had a proper night out in the city with my home girl Ayami. We hit the club in Akita and enjoyed the Halloween party to the fullest with some real nice people and good drinks. Since uni students never miss out a chance to party, of course this magnificent day was celebrated throuhgout the campus on several occasions as well. Pics are a bit creepy because my outfit, but we definately had some awesome times. Ah, what's wrong with Finland with not celebrating Halloween? Dressing up and free candy (I also took part in the activity of trick or treating for the first time ever as well while doing some voluntary work with local elementary students), what's not to like?

Another nice opportunity to party came with a "Hungry in Akita" event, which was basically student from the campus taking action to ensure an easy way to get to the city and back at reasonable hours (this is usually a struggle when going out with really poor bus services). Eventhough the partying was rather nonexistant we ended up having some good dinner and getting fairly drunk in an all-you-can-drink with whats-his-face ;)

All in all, Japan continues to treat me like a royalty. I will soon post about last weeks and especially the past four days which have been amazing! Travelling to the north island of Hokkaido was an adventure I am going to share with you lovely folks as soon as I get the pics on my laptop.  For now, hope you enjoy my and other people's faces in these ones here!

Sendai city.
Traditional Sendai delicacy; beef tongue.
Our religious leader Loan Loverboy.

From hangry to happy.
Scenery just outside Sendai is supposed to be one the finest in Japan.
Daredevil say whaat.

Pretty yey!
Omnoms at the most magical conveyer belt sushi ever!
Hot springs! Smells bad, looks nice.
Now we're only missing the bathing monkeys.
Teeny tiny waterfalls that made me want to stay there forever.

Partay time! Halloween number uno.

Why so serious? Me and Ayami, second party edition.
Yaasaa-san! Hazy days at the park with the guys.
From hazy days to dizzy evenings. Izakaya for two got us well there.

Love, Sonja