After a quick jump to Budapest, where I stayed with my friend Marci and had a blast in his studio, I flew to Stockholm for work. The bad idea was to fly to Helsinki on Sunday evening only to fly out again to Sweden on the morning after; it would have made much more sense to fly directly to Stockholm and sleep a bit longer than 3 hours. Still learning.
After two days of work with a new RELEX customer, my colleague Pessi and I were exhausted, but we had a bit of free time before the flight back, and I had never seen Stockholm… so we left the office and had a one-hour walk in the city. It had snowed since the morning, and my excitement had grown consequently: you know, I love the white stuff 😉
This autumn had been hard. The year before, it had snowed a lot in Helsinki in November, but none of this this year: rain was all we got, and not a small measure of it. Particularly irritating were the sunny days during the week, when all weekends were cloudy and rainy. That allowed me to edit a lot of pictures, but the spirits were definitely not high in this period. Viaporin kekri was an interesting event, but it was as gloomy as the whole period. The festival’s motto, “end of light, beginning of darkness”, seemed particularly accurate.
But then, a few weeks later, surprisingly, the weather forecast promised “some light” during daytime, on a weekend. I readied my gear and set sail to Suomenlinna (my favourite place in Helsinki).
With so much snow falling down, I was afraid we couldn’t reach Båtsfjord the day after, for this little town sits in a remote bay, north of the Varanger peninsula. Our host for the night was not very reassuring either, when she said the road went up in the mountains and therefore was not very well cleaned…
As we drove along the fjords, all fears disappeared: the road was perfectly maintained. Sure, we were driving on ice, but that’s what studded tyres are made for.
After the storm, I woke up at 4 to see the sun rise. I emerged from the house in 50 cm of fresh snow: Sunday morning, a private yard, of course noone had cleaned the way up there. So I made my own trace in the pristine duvet, and roamed the streets of Bjørnevatn, which serenity was only troubled by the din of loaders moving the snow off the road.
This article is a collection of pictures from the last snowy days before the “heat wave”… since then, it’s rained a lot, but the memory of this lovely time is still alive and well.
My commute between home and the office goes through Keskuspuisto, the central park of Helsinki, and often in those days I did it walking, enjoying the scenery. That was a powerful relaxing tool, especially after a tense day at work.
One day I got lost, but ssshhh, don’t tell my colleagues… Continue reading
The only memory I kept from my first November in Finland, two years ago, was one of a grey sky, all day, all week. In fact, it was the gloomiest November in years, with only a few hours of sunshine… and whenever you ask a Finn which month is the worst, they reply “November”: it’s getting dark, it’s getting cold, but there isn’t snow yet, nor has the Christmas spirit kicked off. Therefore, I dreaded these first weeks in Finland. It felt like arriving in the middle of October was the worst possible option.
Oh how wrong I was!
On Saturday, I went to Skåne, the southernmost part of Sweden. This was a bus tour organized by DOF, and aimed at birds of prey. Most of them come from the north during winter, but do not cross the Øresund Strait to Denmark.
From the first minutes there, the numbers of White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Common buzzard (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus) and Red kite (Milvus milvus) were impressive: wherever you watched, there was a raptor either circling in the sky or roosting in a tree. This tour also brought me the first Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) of the year, and a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) as a late highlight. Unfortunately, the day was rainy (and cold, but that was expected), and picture opportunities were basically non-existent.
Snow starting to fall as we were driving around Malmö, and it had become a true snowstorm when we arrived in Sjælor Station, in the south of Copenhagen. I had to ride home on my bike, but the snow did not stick to the ground yet, so the only real trouble was the snow hitting my face: it hurts more than rain! As the night went on, the city turned completely white, allowing me to take a few shots from the inside of my dormitory.