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An unexpected happened. My trip to Iran, that I booked at the last minute, came out one of the best in the recent years. In this post, I will explain why.

I have several Iranian friends in Helsinki. One of them was visiting family and told I can stay at their place, another married a guy from Finland and they were making the wedding in Iranian style. Good enough reason to go? I booked a flight to Tehran.

In this photo story, you will get to know about some unexpected places, where Iranian hospitality can bring you…

… but we will also touch some of the touristic places in Tehran and Isfahan…

,… and will briefly go around bazaars.

Plus in the end, there would be few experiences/stores, that can help you getting around. Stay tuned.

There is one significant reason to visit Iran – Iranian people. I cannot thank them enough, they made my trip In Iran. Foreigners are rare, so Iranians have a sincere interest and are very welcoming. They want to share a part of their live with you.

First of all, I would like to thank this family for hosting me! They were an outstanding company, their help in getting around Iran was priceless!

I prefer my vacations to be spontaneous, I decide what to do on the same day. (I have enough planning at work in Finland and need rest away from people who can discuss their retirement at age of 25.)

In Iran, I happen to be surrounded by people, who each day, quite randomly decide where to go. Felt a lot like Home (St. Petersburg). I think, because of this, I stayed most of the time in Tehran, without going to smaller, probably more authenic cities.

Visiting Iran, what is it like?

When I told my friends I wanna to go to Iran – everyone had kinda mixed opinions. Those, who already been there told that they are envious, because Iran was one of the best places they’ve been to. At the same time, many in Europe hear only nasty things from the Middle East. They were seriously worried.

I felt a little nervous when I arrived, but it all dissipated as soon as I was in a company of Iranian people. It felt weird seeing all the contrast. There are all these displays of military around you and random cute things just right next to them…

Look at this lovely couple! We are actually at the museum of Islamic Revolution and Holy Defence…

…where missiles are shown.

There are tank-shaped benches…

…and cute classic food trucks.

Here is another one. There is this mural, overlooking the park…

…and inside the park, a guy with cats. I think you got the idea.

Iranian Hospitality, where can it bring you?

“Iranian hospitality can bring you to hospital”

Vahid (my Iranian friend in Helsinki)

It gets weird sometimes. People can endlessly argue about who’s paying the bill. I mean, everyone tries to pay, instead of splitting it.

At barber shop:
– How much do I owe you?
– Nothing
– Is it a joke?
– No
– Why?
– Because we love foreigners
– …Ok, …I can mention your barber shop in my blog

Barber shop in Isfahan, link

In Europe, it takes an effort to get to know people. In Iran, people want to get to know you. I think it is partly the famous Iranian hospitality, party curiosity. Foreigners are rare. Sitting together with friends (and friends’ friends) I just mentioned that I have no particular plan, and they were suggesting me good places to visit and offering their company.

If you visit Iran, I think, you can just find some lovely people, who you can trust and see where it brings you. Locals have their own favorite spots, often inaccessible without speaking Farsi. You can, of course, read a regular guide and visit the main sights, where you can get around with English, but I don’t think it is going to be as good.

Here are just some examples of the places, where Iranian hospitality can bring you.

Wedding

In the beginning, I made it to a friend’s wedding and I was the only person with a pro camera, so I became an official photographer. I don’t know how to photograph wedding love stories, but I do photograph parties. And that was a hell of a party.

I would say, it was the first wedding with no alcohol that I have seen. I don’t drink, so I was really happy to see people, who are able to have such a good time without drinking. The wedding jump-started everything, since that, Iran felt like home.

Lavasan

Lavasan is a town in Tehran province. There is an outstanding, fresh mountain air and we went there for a short bicycle ride with relatives of the bride.

Road to Lavasan

Iranian people are very easy to invite you home, they invited me, up in the mountains, for some meal in traditional style. They wrap the food in the bread and eat without forks. There I was bombarded with questions about life in Europe and Russia.

A cafeteria without a name

Here is an interesting one. This cafeteria has no board-sign at the entrance and there are no menus.

The owner has a shop on the first floor and keeps the cafeteria on the second one for friends to meet up. They told, that no menus make people talk to each other more. And the owner did come up to every table, receiving orders and doing a small (actually, not small) talk.

In the end, they asked me to tell what I think about the place in my native Russian language. They record every foreigner, who somehow ends up in their place.

Cafeterias in the mountains

I think mountains in Tehran is the best thing to do in the town. The hikes are not really challenging, there are a lot of shops, small restaurants and cafeterias on the way.

This gentleman even stopped playing, to ask where I am from

If you get tired, you can stop for fresh juice, tea or lunch. Everything tastes better outside.

But the magic happens when it gets dark. At night, all the restaurants are highlighted with different colors.

Looks inviting?

Unfortunately, it is hard to get around if you only speak English. Getting to the start of the hike was kinda tricky. There was a bad internet connection, so even the locals had to ask for direction. In the restaurants we visited, the menus were in Farsi.

Samanu

Several women are taking turns, cooking Samanu. It has to be cooked for at least 24 hours and you have to steer it all the time. Samanu is made out of wheat. The pot has wishes written onto it and according to tradition, you have to make a wish while you steer.

I haven’t seen anything like that before, I asked for permission and started taking pictures. They asked if I would like to steer and took photos as well because never saw a foreigner doing that.

The most unusual thing I have seen. I would like to thank Ahmad Ramezani for bringing me there. He is starting own torist company and can show more than just touristic sights. He is fluent in English and Chinese, you can reach him on his Instagram

6 places to visit in Tehran and Isfahan

During my trip, I made it to Tehran and Isfahan, touristic places were not my priority, but I didn’t want to leave them out completely. Here, I have selected 6 places, 3 from each city, which are easy to visit independently (as an English speaker).

Tehran

Overall, as a Russian with a limited knowledge of Iran, I can compare Tehran and Isfahan to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Like Moscow, Tehran brings together an enormous amount of people. There are many interesting personalities and lots of places. But the traffic is mad and it is hard to get around.

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Industar 50-2 is a tiny lens that renders beautiful vintage-looking colors. It is so small, that it can fit into any pocket. It even fits into my wallet! I believe it is a fantastic addition to any travel photographer’s kit. And, did I mention the price? It costs only 10-20 euros. Here is my Industar 50-2 review.

This post contains affiliate links in the very end.

A fellow artist liked the photos I made with Industar. She told that the colors get slightly muted, which makes them close to a painter pallette.

About the review

Many of my readers are here because of travel photography, so I decided to make some posts about photo gear. It is not a “classic” review about specs and sharpness (etc.). Professional reviewers have time, resources and the audience for that. Instead, I will share my thoughts about the gear and what it can add to your travel photography. All images in my review are retouched.

Why vintage lens?

Well, most of the people shoot with popular cameras and lenses, as a result, the images look similar. As soon as you use some sort of non-ordinary equipment – your photos stand out. The vintage lenses don’t have the same image quality as modern ones, they may have some optical imperfections and are optimized for the film. But the image you get has some interesting, different look.

Industar 50-2, the classic low-contrast look.

Industar 50-2 is probably the second popular Soviet lens, after Helios 44 series. The lens is low contrast, it has fluffy out-of-focus areas and large vignetting (on a full frame). It is also surprisingly sharp in the center (for its age/price/size).

Modern lenses benefit from advanced coating technologies. They bring improved colors, reduce flare and do other things. When you take an Industar lens – you don’t have all this. You use something simple and the result strongly remind film era.

NOTE: In USSR they have a bit misleading naming for lenses. For Industar 50-2 the focal length is indeed 50mm, but it is F3.5!

If this was shot on a modern lens – the well-lit bus would be strikingly blue. It would fall out the “palette”, where all of the colors are calm-greyish. Of course, it doesn’t take much effort to slightly desaturate blue in Lightroom, but with the classic lens, you have it straight away.

Industar 50-2 review for travel photography

As I always tell, that travel photography is a bit of everything. Street, landscape, portraits, documentary. Basically anything, that can bring an atmosphere or a remote location.
I personally like using Industar 50-2 for a few cases:

  • When I want to add an additional accent to the subject in the center
  • Shooting portraits, that include a bit of environment (at F3.5 and higher)
  • When I want my DSLR to be very small
  • Macro photography with macro rings
  • And obviously, when I want to give vintage look for pretty much anything. I like doing it for some old architecture, or portraits in some classic environment. (for low-light I prefer Helios 44-2 because it is faster

Here are some examples:

Vingetting – dark areas in the corners, it comes from the lens, but can also be added later in an editor. When Industar 50-2 is wide-open – it makes it big. And, in my opinion, Industar’s vignetting is a bit different from other lenses. It is strong at the left and right, but it is weaker on the top and bottom.

The light on this portrait is far from perfect. The left side is in the shadows, but low contrast makes the image still usable. Note that vinjetting puts an additional accent to the subject in the center.

The lens shows pretty good sharpness in the center and works surprisingly well in low light. This portrait was shot at ISO 5000 (Canon 6D)

I like shooting foggy cityscapes with Industar 50-2, low contrast adds up to the atmosphere. To avoid vignetting, you have to set the aperture to around f8-f11. This means there has to be a lot of light.

The lens makes quite ugly results when used against bright light.

I like using Industar 50-2 for macro photography with macro rings. Macro rings allow the lens focusing closer, but when they are on, you cannot focus on infinity.

If you are really into macro photography – get a proper macro lens. But if you are like me and shoot occasionally – macro rings is a good option. I bought mine for less than 10 Eur.

Vs Canon 50mm f1.8 STM

I would like to point out a couple of key differences with a modern lens. Let’s see a couple of side by side comparisons with a popular Canon 50mm 1.8 STM lens.

Here is an example, where I wouldn’t use Industar 50-2. There isn’t much difference between the images, but Canon 50mm 1.8 makes better colors, which is important for sunset. Canon also has less vignetting and, unlike Industar’s, it can be removed with one click in Lightroom (using lens profile).

Here is 100% crop. In the center, Industar 50-2 is surprisingly sharp. 

In this example, I have shot Canon 50mm f1.8 STM at f2 and Industar 50-2 at f3.5. At these apertures, there is almost similar vignetting. I think the image done with Industar looks a bit more inviting, even though ISO is higher.

Handling

You don’t want to carry extra weight when you travel and you cannot go any smaller than Industar 50-2. It weighs only 48 grams! If you are like me and carry a bunch of DSLR lenses, you wouldn’t feel any difference.

Anything can happen during a trip, I think your gear has to be ready for a sudden rain or be dust resistant (if you go to a beach for example). The lens has no electronics so not much can go wrong with rain. But the sand can be a bit dangerous, it can get into the focus mechanism.

Overall, the lens is very well built. I had no issues during 2 years and I have been carrying it in my bag without any protective case. I have dropped it a couple of times, but there is no visible damage or change in image quality.

Maintenance

If you deal with vintage lenses, at some point, you have to think about maintenance. Normally, you should go to a shop, that specializes in vintage cameras, but because Industar is so cheap – you may want to just buy a new one.

I nomrally don’t recommend it, but the construction of the lens is simple, so you may try repairing it yourself. If you got dust between the lens elements, than it is easy to disassemble, and if you want to oil it – you can do it without disassembling.

Adapting the lens

The lens can be adapted to almost any digital camera with the use of an adapter. It is important to understand, that it would produce different images on different sensor sizes.

Note that the lens is done in two modifications M42 and M39 mount. If you want to adapt it to a DSLR – you have to use M42. More information here.

On full-frame. Full-frame cameras would make the center of the image quite sharp. All examples in this post are done with a full-frame. It would also have heavy vignetting wide open.

On APS-C. On APS-C cameras the lens is softer in the center, and the vignetting is largely removed. It gets sharper when you use apertures f5.6-f11.

On micro 4/3. Almost similar results to APS-C, but a bit less sharpness and a bit less vignetting.

There are a lot of tests on the Internet for this lens on different cameras, but I think this one brings the best overview.

Weird lens reviews: Industar 50-2 50mm f/3.5 (APS-C and full-frame) - YouTube
Industar 50-2 Filter size

The filter size is unusually small, it is 33 mm. So, the selection of the filters is quite limited.

Affiliate links: lenses, adapters, accessories

If you liked the review and would like to purchase the lens, please consider using the link below. It doesn’t cost you extra but helps this blog to bring more and better content.
INDUSTAR 50-2 M42 ON EBAY (Except Nikon)

Industar 50-2 for CANON EF. There is no communication between the lens and the camera, so you can get the cheapest adapter. Mine costs 1 Eur.
M42 TO CANON EF ADAPTER ON EBAY

Industar 50-2 for NIKON F mount. By default, Industar 50-2 won’t focus on infinity on Nikon DSLRs. To make it work, the lens has to be modified. The modified copies can be found on eBay.
INDUSTAR 50-2 NIKON INFINITY FOUS ON EBAY
M42 TO NIKON F ADAPTER ON EBAY

Industar 50-2 for SONY E mount. Because of the short flange distance on mirrorless cameras – the adapter is slightly larger.
M42 TO SONY E MOUNT ADAPTER ON EBAY

Fuji X mount.
M42 TO FUJI X MOUNT ADAPTER ON EBAY

Micro 4/3 mount.
M42 TO MICRO 4/3 ADAPTER ON EBAY

Macro rings. Macro rings allow the lens focusing closer, but, when they are attached, you cannot focus on infinity.
CANON EF MACRO EXTENSION RINGS ON EBAY
NIKON F MACRO EXTENSION RINGS ON EBAY
SONY E MACRO EXTENSION RINGS ON EBAY
FUJI X MACRO EXTENSION RINGS ON EBAY
MICRO 4/3 MACRO EXTENSION RINGS ON EBAY

Industar 50-2, more sample images
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In my blog, I am collecting the best destinations in Europe. I would like to thank all of my new followers from overseas, who are now the majority. You help me keep this blog running.

To make your trip to Europe easier, I have invited a guest blogger from New Zealand – Cloe Matheson. She will give you some tips for finding cheap flights to Europe. The tips also would be useful for flights outside Europe. From now on, Cloe:

Simple and Easy Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Europe

Europe never seems to lose its appeal to visitors, and even if you’re as far away from this spectacular continent as you possibly can be, it’s still possible to find relatively cheap flights if you know what you’re looking for.

The internet has made it easier than ever to find incredible deals on everything travel-related: cheap flights, hotels, and tours can all be booked with ease.  Try the following easy tips to bag your next cheap flight and get ready to explore Europe:

1. Be prepared to compromise

Perhaps you want to go to Paris, but the only reasonably-priced flights to Europe from your area land in London. Plenty of European cities like these two are cheaply connected by budget airlines, and if you’re willing to take a bus or a train between destinations, your options are even better than if you’re only open to flying.

For example, a plane from Athens to Rome can be as low as 30 Eur. Even if you were to land in Athens, you’d easily be able to make it to your final destination without the huge extra expense.

Athens, Greece 2. Use flight aggregators – wisely

Skyscanner and other flight aggregators are useful tools to have access to when you’re planning a trip, but they’re not always 100% accurate. Often, users find the price of their dreams, but when they go to the airline’s website, the cost of their flight has mysteriously risen. Use aggregators to search, but check on individual airlines’ websites, too – sometimes they offer deals or discount codes that aren’t easily noticed when searching flights in bulk.

Some users also report increases in price when searching for the same flights more than once – so it may be wise to browse in incognito mode when you’re browsing and booking.

3. Set up airfare alerts

Many airlines and phone apps offer the option of setting up alerts, so when flights to your destination are in your price range, you’re immediately notified. This can be a passive way of keeping yourself informed on flight prices, and the concept works well as long as you’re not in any rush to book. Try several different airlines and apps so you can be sure you’re not missing anything.

4. Visit during the off-season

Travel-related costs are almost always cheaper outside the major tourist seasons (generally the summer months in most of Europe, or winter for ski areas). If you’re willing and able to commit to dates when others will likely be studying or working, you’ll often find much more affordable flights.

Famous Troll’s Tongue in Norway during off-season. Cheaper and less people.

Depending on your main reasons for travelling to Europe, visiting during the off-season can even be more pleasant: while you might not be able to swim as often, you’ll also be able to avoid jostling hordes of other tourists on those sticky 35°C days.

5. Sign up for a credit card with a rewards programme

This one should be undertaken with caution – if you’re not great with money, don’t sign up for a credit card without serious consideration. However, if you’re good at managing your finances, signing up for a credit card with travel miles can be a great way to earn flights that are cheap or even free.

 Use the card solely to pay for things you would buy anyway, such as groceries, and pay it off in full each month. You may be surprised at how quickly the miles add up!

Europe’s not as far away as it might feel, no matter where you are in the world. Being flexible will help to get you to the continent of fine wine and iconic ancient landmarks without the expense. Bon voyage!

Author’s bio

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from beautiful New Zealand. When she’s not writing articles for various blogs, sites and local business; she’s most likely in a cafe enjoying a cup of coffee with a slice of chocolate goodness. Read more about Cloe’s adventures in her blog.

Examples of Cloe’s work:
How to Enjoy Food When You Travel Without Feeling Guilty
How to Pack for the Perfect Deia Holiday

The post 5 Simple Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Europe appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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Garzeweiler mine has been in the center of dramatic events in the recent years. There, you can see the ongoing struggle for cleaner energy and it shows it better than any museum or book. In Garzweiler mine, the old, monster-size mining machines are literally surrounded by more elegant, modern wind turbines. The environment activists are trying to terminate the coal production.

I wanted to call this post “Almost a visit to Mars, part 2”, following my post about copper production in Russia. The Gazweiler mine looks completely out of this world and brings associations with the Red Planet.

In this post, you will see all the enormous proportions of the Garzweiler open mine and get to know how activists are trying to stop it. You will see the villages, that are about to be erased, giving the place to the mine and the ones that are built as a replacement. And you will see the famous Bagger 288.

Garzweiler mine

In 2007, around 46.2% of German electricity was out of coal production and the figure had been dropping down to 39.6% in 2017 (both, hard and soft brown coal). At the same time, the amount of renewable energy grew from 13.8% to 38.5%. source

A piece of extracted coal at one of a few areas for visitors

There are only a few open mines remaining in Germany and Garzweiler mine is the largest. Renewable energy is becoming cheaper, which puts a lot of pressure on the coal industry. Although the company has a license to run the Garzweiler mine until 2045, it may shut down earlier, because producing energy from coal would not be cost effective.

Bagger 288!

Bagger 288 is famous and I thought I would recognize it when I see. But, although it is the largest machine in the Garzweiler mine, others look just slightly smaller. I only realized that I saw Bagger 288, when I got home.

Bagger 288 weights 13.5 thousand tons and can process 240 thousand tons of coal a day. It was produced in 1978 and had been the largest land vehicle until 1995 when it gave the first place to 14.2 thousand tons NASA’s transporter.

How does it work?

The company has the right to work out the territory of 114 square kilometers, but the actual area constantly changes.

The mine is constantly “moving”. On the left, you can see the sand in all different colors, which is “leftovers”, They are put down to the same level as before. The part to the right is escalated, and you can see black coal on three different levels, including the floor.

 

The conveyor transports the coal to the power plants

Power plans can be seen far on the horizon

The green boxes are water pumps. They take groundwater and can be seen all around the area.

Dramatic events around Garzweiler mine

The mine has the potential to expand to a much larger territory. This puts pressure on the nearby villages, who would need to resettle. Environmental activists are trying to prevent mine from expansion.

Old villages

Gazweller is the name of the village, that used to be at the place where mine is. As mine “moves”, local villages, that are on the way of the mine are resettled. They are given compensation for their houses and they cannot refuse to relocate.

We visited one of such abandoned villages. Windows and doors are closed up and there is no one around. Almost no one, we actually saw a group of people exploring the area and someone, who looked like security.

New villages

The new villages look very well built, but it doesn’t hold the authenticity of the old villages.

Another thing I was told – there is a social pressure to get larger apartments. If you live in the same house your grandparents lived – no one would tell you it is small. But for the new ones, people tend to add a credit to the money they received as compensation and buy something larger. But bigger house and loan don’t necessarily make them happier.

Old and new tombstones

Many new houses have solar panels

Protests

The coal industry is under constant pressure by environmental activists. There have been cases, when they got to the mine territory, trying to damage the machines and in this way stop the production. The machines have to run 24/7 and any problem in the production chain can make serious damage. I was told that this is the reason for security in the area.

At the moment I am writing this post, the mine is planning to expand onto the territory of one nearby forest. The protesters stay there 24/7. They build houses on the trees and getting ready to do what they can to stop the expansion.

The future

In Germany, prices for energy constantly change during a day. Coal industry gets more profit when there is no sun and no wind. I didn’t do any sort of research but randomly asked the people about what they think. Some told, that the coal mine acts as a buffer when there is not enough energy coming from renewable sources. Some tell that coal mine is not anymore needed and renewable sources cover the needs.

But despite different opinions, most people agree, that the mine would be closed in the next few years. It has to run 24/7, which makes it much less flexible than renewable energy. Environmental and ethical issues related to relocation add up to the situation.

When mine is closed, the company has to put all the excavated earth back to the same level and instead of extracted coal volume – there would be a lake. We live in the time when we can witness these last, state-of-art machines at work. They are about to give their place to the new ones. I just hope that similarly to Industrial Heritage sites in Ruhr, they will leave the Bagger 288 as a monument to the passing era.

The post Garzweiler surface mine, why is it better than a technical museum? appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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Engineer on tour by Alexander Popkov - 2M ago

New outstanding people in Finland, wild parties in St. Petersburg, touristic and completely off-beaten corners of Europe. 2018 has been a very big year for myself and for my blog. Here, I will share some of accomplishments, fails, and plans for the future.

Please, I would really like to encourage you leaving a comment. Let me know what you would like to see in 2019!

Highlights of 2018

I would say, 2018 was the year when I started taking my blog serious

I would like to thank all of my followers. I have received a positive feedback and I feel very confident with my blogging style now. In 2019, I can engage more interesting people for an interview, create more and better content.

Fails of 2018

Not everything has been so smooth though! There are a few things, I could have done better.

Finnish Language

It is my worst nightmare! The Finnish language is harder than getting Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was thinking to make a few posts for those, who learn the Finnish language, but I failed to do so. I would be happy if I manage to make the language certificate during winter 2019.

Why is it so hard? First of all, it has nothing in common with most of the languages. You can understand normal daily communication only after months of learning (in the best case). Another reason is personal – it is hard to find something in Finnish that really interests me. I would watch my favorite movies – but they are not dubbed. And lastly, Finnish people speak English as soon as they identify you as a foreigner. There is no real incentive to learn it since you can get by with English.

Deleting travel images

I have accidentally removed 60 Gb of personal travel images. My friend told:
“It is only you Alex, with whom I can recover deleted images on Saturday night, instead of a party”
I removed them 5 minutes before I went to a bar with a friend. So instead of a bar – to 24 hours computer service.

I ended up recovering only 25%, but that was better than nothing. Here are the story and instruction on how to recover deleted photos.

Instagram

My photography has definitely improved, but I tend to create the images, that look awesome on a full-screen. Not on a small mobile screen in an Instagram feed. I did well on 500px, where full screen, hi-res images are well accepted, but I didn’t pay enough attention to my Instagrams. They stayed at around the same place that before.

2018 in pictures

Here are some of my favorite images taken during 2018. Some resulted in in posts, but some didn’t make it to my blog (yet).

New Year in St. Peterburg

I met the New Year in St. Petersburg Russia, surrounded by friends. I believe, St. Petersburg is one of the best places in Europe to have it. It is the main celebration of the year in Russia and it big! After a new year, Russia has long holidays, so at the celebration, everyone is very happy.

Couchsurfing St. Petersburg, New Year party

Couchsurfing St. Petersburg, New Year party
St. Petersburg, day after new year

Winter holidays

I like making a long holiday that takes in New year, and Christmases in both countries (25 February – Finland, 7 Jan – Russia). I have spent winter holidays in St. Petersburg, made it to Prague and Dresden. I really loved both of the cities, Prague has a lovely party atmosphere and Dresden probably has the best Christmas market.

Charles bridge, Prague
  • Trains deliver beer! Bar in Prague.
Dresden

They didn’t make it to any post though. In Prague, I was just enjoying my time, so was Dresden. The information and photos I gathered wouldn’t make a meaningful post, and I don’t do generic X things to do things. I hosted a guest post about Prague though and plan to go there again in summer 2019.

St. Petersburg: parties and Couchsurfing

I have outsourced all the fun to St. Petersburg. I go there every month and party like it is the last day on the Earth. There are few clubs, working until 8 AM, and one that works until 10 AM.

Golitzin Loft, 5 in the morning
There are bright nights in summer, it is 12 AM
There is even Ryan Gosling

Couchsurfing is huge in St. Petersburg, there are fun-loving people, ready to party all night long.

Friends from the Middle East

In 2017 I made 3 posts about asylum seekers in Finland. I was thinking to continue in 2018, but they stopped regular gatherings. I still keep in touch with many of them and visit some of their parties, but I couldn’t gather any material for a post in 2018. Most probably I won’t continue the asylum seekers series.

Rome

This year, for the first time, I stepped into the city of Rome.

It has a fantastic spirit and I would love to go there again! During a week I went to the main tourist sights and to some living, graffiti covered districts. I think Rome is very different from its postcard pictures, which I have tried to show in my post – Non-postcard Rome.

Trastevere was my favorite district
Street art

With each month, I started noticing more and more street art in Helsinki.

To my luck, I got introduced to Roosa, she is a street artist, and she also takes a managing role in street art festivals. Roosa gave my blog an interview, which tells everything you need to know about street art in Helsinki.

Ruhr area in Germany

I am a Mechanical Engineer and in 2018, I started visiting Ruhr in Germany quite regularly for work. This area is known for its industrial Heritage, but there are also a lot of cute white houses. I tried to capture the essence in the post about Ruhr, Germany.

Gouda

Gouda, with its canals and tall houses, was super pretty and I am glad to have a friend living there. Oscar, who I had for an interview, about RVing in Europe has settled in Gouda. I found, that I cannot create a post about Gouda, without repeating other bloggers, so I included its shots in my pictures of Rotterdam, Gouda, Dordrecht.

What I loved the most are the old steamships. And people live on these ships. I very much hope that I can make an interview with them and publish it in 2019.

Tallinn

I have no excuse for not including Tallinn to my blog.

I live not far away and it is an awesome city. I have visited it several times, but I mostly go to old town with friends. I did have a good time but didn’t gather enough information to publish something original. I hope I can make it in 2019.

I would love to do a post about a house, full of creepy, life-like dolls. Multinational artists and Linghui Zhang

Linghui organizes events in Helsinki, there are many artists, most of the Asian origin. I think the most interesting event was the Chinese New Year at Helsinki Casino.

One of performers at Chinese New Year, about a half of performers were Finnish Exotic food in Helsinki

Restaurant day. It is celebrated 4 times a year. At this day,..

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I have just come through hell when I had to recover deleted photos.

In this post, I would like to share how I lost the photos, what should you do if your files are removed and how to recover deleted photos. If you are not interested in pre-story – scroll down to recovery software section. But, the story may help you to avoid deleting data in the first place…

The problem with photos caused significant delays for my blog posts. The posts that I have planned for December will go live in January – February. I apologise for that.

How do I backup

I take photo backup seriously. I keep photos on a remote drive and I back it up to another. When I go traveling – I store images at my laptop and backup them to a remote drive. I always have two copies.

My main camera is Canon 6D, but If I shoot an event (or something important that I cannot reshoot) – I rent a friend’s 5D Mari III. Dual card slots allow making an instant backup, which saves your photos in case of a card failure. On a computer, I make two copies and only then clear the cards. I have never had any technical failures with cards or disks (but it doesn’t mean it would never happen).

All my files are stored in RAW and I routinely delete many extracted JPGs during a day. Well, this time I have done something very wrong.

How I deleted my photos

I was on a trip and was about to copy my photos from laptop to a remote drive. In a meanwhile, I realized that my laptop disk is almost full, which slows down my work, so I wanted to remove some JPGs. After deletion, I proceeded with some other operations on my drive.

The image files, that I wanted to backup were synchronized with Lightroom. I decided to check there, what are the folders that I need to back up. In Lightroom, I saw the message “The folder could not be found”. I realized, that together with JPGs I have removed around 60 Gb or RAW files and they are not in Recycle Bin, because I have used Shift+Del.

Don’t repeat my mistakes!

1. Don’t delete any files, before back up, even if you remove things unrelated to backup.
2. Don’t be lazy to remove twice (deletion and cleaning from Recycle Bin), don’t use Shift+Del
3. Don’t miss an opportunity to
backup, do it as soon as you possibly can.

I am always over cautious with backups of client photos, but I guess, I felt a little careless about personal vacation photos. The result was frustrating…

What to do if you have deleted your photos?

Photos or any other files are not deleted from your drive completely. The space of the disk is “marked” as free, but the information stays there. It only gets removed when overwritten.

I knew that, I stopped all the copy operations and turned off the laptop. I was insanely nervous, the operations I have done after deletion could have potentially remove the files.

The right way to recover files from a system disk, is to take the disk out and use another computer for recovery. As soon as you realized that files are removed – you should turn the computer off. The operating system may write temporary files to the disk, even if you don’t do any copy/paste.

We went to 24 hours computer service immediately, but after running the scan, they told that files are not found. Upon my return home, I tried bringing the disk to a specialized data recovery company, but after a week, they gave the same answer.

How to recover deleted photos: recovery software

Recovering photos from SD cards was the only option left. They only had 20% of the lost photos, but that was better than nothing. So let’s find out how to recover deleted photos.

I have used two different pieces of software, both have shown almost similar results:

Recuva

It is easy to use, guided recovery software. It makes the list of files, that were removed, and then you can choose which ones you want to recover.

List of files to recover

Overall, it performed well, but strangely, it recovered around 1000 files, out of which only 532 were working in a free version. I have downloaded the Pro version, which claims to have a better recovery, but the result was the same.
I have asked from the support if there is a chance to make the RAW files work, and got this answer:

I decided to try another software instead of re-formatting

Use this link to Download Recuva.

Photorec

I wasn’t sure if Recuva recovered everything, so decided to try something else.
Photorec has a command line interface, but you don’t use recovery software for the interface, right? It is free to use and similarly to Recuva, it has recovered 532+1 shots. Yes, it recovered one more shot (which is not a big deal). It didn’t extract any extra RAW files.

Setting up Photorec

Photorec is part of Tesdisk software. Use this link to download Photorec.

Which one should you use?

This is not a deep analisys, just small things based on my experience.

What are FAT32 and NTFS? If it doesn’t ring the bell – use Recuva. If you want to select only few files from the list – Recuva is easier. But otherwise, I liked Photorec more.
I think, if you are not sure if you recovered all files – you can run recovery with both and see which gives the best results.

Few points about Lightroom

When you go to computer service to recover deleted photos – they ask you for the filenames. You don’t normally remember all the names of the images, but if you have synchronized them with Lightroom – it stores all the filenames and locations.

If you have edited your photos in Lightroom – there is a chance that it stores a preview image. Those will not be in high-resolution, but the ones I took were good enough for web use or viewing on mobiles. Not for full-screen though. I have just done a screenshot to take them out. Here is an example:

I wish I had it in full resolution… Conclusion

Overall, I have lost completely around 75% of the images but got back the important ones
1. Some of the JPGs I had were uploaded to the cloud and sent to a friend, and since it was the selection of the best images – they were the ones I got back!
2. I have done editing for a series of images in Lightroom and took the previews out, that was enough to make a post, that was 1200 pixels wide.
3. I have recovered the last images I took from SD cards

There is so much talk in the photography world about dual card slots on cameras. The Internet hates new Canon and Nikon mirrorless cameras because they don’t have them. But, what has a better chance of failure? SD card or human?

I have a friend, who has lost an SD card with images and I have recently removed photos by accident. Dual card slots and data recovery are important, but I think, even more, important is to be disciplined and avoid human mistakes.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had your photos removed? Drop a comment!

The post How to recover deleted photos? Personal experience appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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In Athens, Anafiotika district and its authentic streets became the most memorable experience for me. As a street photography enthusiast, I really enjoyed wandering around there. At Anafiotika’s narrow streets you would find old, unusual architecture, colorful doors and window frames …and lots of cats.

I have heard that these are the most Instagramable streets of Greece

Many bloggers consider Anafiotika one of the top attractions in Athens. They call it “a hidden village under Acropolis” or “an island in the heart of the Athens”, which, I guess, made it not anymore hidden and not anymore an island.

A resident told me that in summer, there are crowds of tourists walking around. But, nevertheless, the streets are super cute and during the off-season in November Anafiotika is quite calm, which preserves its atmosphere of the past.

Anafiotika, a brief history

History of Anafitika starts in the 1800s, at the time of King Otto, the first modern king of Greece. He invited some workers from an Anafi island (located in the Aegean Sea, north of Crete) to do renovations in the palace. They were given the land, on outskirts of Athens, which had the population of several thousand people at that time.

On the land given, Anafiots constructed houses in their traditional style. 45 of the original houses survived up to these days.

Streets of Anafiotika

I was exploring Anafiotika with my friend Anna. As soon as we entered Anafiotika, a cat started running to us. Looks like there weren’t enough tourists and it was missing human attention. When the cat had enough attention from Anna, she went to me, and then back. I think it could have lasted forever.

Beautiful island-style architecture

I think many have seen the postcards of Santorini. Anafiotika has almost similar, Geekish island-style architecture. Houses and streets are painted white, with colorful doors and window frames. Acropolis is right above you.

In November, there weren’t many tourists passing by, so you can easily set up the photo. And the tourists we saw, were really polite and patient, waiting until we finish the shot.

Yes, the cat is still following us

This lovely lady by accident got into the frame

Cats

Cats in Greece are lovely. In Anafiotika they look healthy, probably because residents and locals love them and often bring them food. Some of them, I would say, are a bit fat and enjoying themselves.

Grandpa lets his cat in

These ones are playful

This one is curious

This one is lost in thought. The shot is made with a vintage lens: Industar 50mm f3.5 (review is coming soon)

View from the top

The highest point of Anafiotika brings you a great view of Athens. Both times when we were there we saw some street musicians. It is an enjoyable place to stay for a while, looking onto the busy city and listening to music.

Musicians in Athens - YouTube

These are musicians from Turkey, if you liked them, please show them some support on Facebook

Anafiotika, when it gets dark

We met the sunset on the top of Anafiotika and went on exploring the streets when it is dark. Keeping it calm so we wouldn’t disturb the locals, we found the whole new atmosphere.

I took my  most beautiful “failed” shot

Same place with new colors

Hoomans, let me in, it’s dark”

Suddenly there is another cat in the trees

Some cute doors are highlighted

How to get to Anafiotika?

Anafiotika is located in Plaka district – the historical center of Athens. You can drop by on the way to Acropolis. And you will pass the Plaka stairs – the stairs full of cafeterias.

From nearest metro stations:
Attached are the maps to Anafiotika from Monastiraki and from Akropoli (click to preview)

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I would like to thank Anna for showing me around Athens. For stories from Greece, Finland and sometimes beyond, you can follow Anna on Instagram 

I am trying my best to bring you the original content and high-quality travel images. Please consider sharing or following. Links for following are in the top menu and for sharing below the post.

The post Anafiotika – the most scenic streets of Athens in pictures appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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Ok, here is something, that no regular tour guide would tell you. Seasonal depression in late autumn and in wintertime seem to play a significant role in the life of the Nordics. This post would give you the insights in an unusual for this topic photostory format.

A freezingly cold morning in Hyvinkää (Southern Finland). People, all wrapped in cloth, try to get to their destination as fast as they can. You hardly see any faces.

Who is this post for?

If you are going to see Northern Lights and do tourist activities in Lapland – follow these links. You will have an awesome time there.

But, if you are a traveler, who likes to engage with locals, or if you are “to-be-an-expat” in Finland or in other Nordic countries – this post could be useful for you.

I am by no means a specialist in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I found, that this is the topic, openly discussed in Nordics by everyone. You seriously cannot bypass. I think if you visit the North, it is important to know what to expect, so these things won’t take you by surprise. Here, I tried to capture my observations and “seasonal depression atmosphere” in photos.

Everything here is primarily based on Finland, but neighboring Norway and Sweden tell similar stories. Besides the Nordics, I include some shots from the northern, European part of Russia, which has a lot of similarities.

That’s rather a typical view in St. Petersburg in winter. There are more people and less privacy.

Seasonal depression, briefly

In December and early January, Helsinki (where I live) has 6-8 hours of daylight. St. Petersburg (where I am from) is the same. At the same months, inside the Arctic Circle, you experience polar nights. Such large northern cities as Tromso in Norway or Murmansk in Russia have zero amount of daylight. While it is perfect for seeing the Northern Lights, there are other consequences.

This graph shows the sun graph for Murmansk. Pay attention to the beginning and end of the year. Link: sun graphs for cities.

Seasonal depression most commonly occurs in winter, when the lack of sunlight breaks your body rhythms.  In the Nordics, such thing as SAD light therapy is not unknown. Special lamps compensate the “lost” sunlight and normalize the body’s internal clock.

About Finland

“This summer was so cold, that my winter depression started before it was over”

I am not surprised to hear such things anymore. At first, I was shocked by the number of people, who talk openly about depression. I asked one Finn:
– Why it comes up so often?
– Because it is an important topic, people who are depressed feel easier when they can talk openly about it

I think it makes sense. Many Finns also tell that they are entirely different (happier) in summer.

Lapland has fewer hours of daylight, but I think it looks …brighter. Snow is there all the time and melts only in the middle of spring.

The weather on the south of Finland changes all the time. In winter, it goes from snow to cold rain and back. Cities look grey and kinda grim.

When you are outside, you usually think only how to get into the comfort of your home. At that time, I find it quite hard to make people go out. Many restaurants are half-empty.

About Russia

I think, things related to seasonal depression, are not openly discussed in Russia unless it is something very serious. But, life is still quite tough at wintertime. There is a lot of people and many look tired.

Central St. Petersburg, Vostaniya Square

I’ve been doing some street photography in Murmansk. I was passing this woman by and asked her for direction, but right before, I took this photo. She was happily smiling when I talked to her and I was surprised that right before she looked different.

In wintertime, there are just too many people, who look like they are lost in thought. It adds up do already dark atmosphere. But the people are really lovely when you talk to them. The photo was taken in central St. Petersburg.

About expats

My personal statistics: every second expat names winter to be the worst thing in the Nordics. “I cannot stand the darkness and cold” – they say. Especially the ones coming from the warm South.

In winter, I find it important to visit all the expat gatherings and to keep close to friends. I think it is the time when people should support each other. I know that many sit at home and are lazy to go outside (I am too sometimes), but if so – invite someone to visit you.

Most of the expats I know make a break and travel to the south during winter. This isn’t the high season except for Christmas. With low prices, there is no excuse for staying home, this break can make a huge difference.

And eventually, in the North, things are not that bad! Right in the middle of the “dark period” you have Christmas and New Year. The cities put lights on the main streets and most of the houses do some Christmas decorations.

And, I am one of the few people, who actually like winter. I want to end the post with an “around-Christmas” image. This is Aleksanteringkatu, probably the most decorated street in Helsinki.

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The post Seasonal depression pictured, no light at the north appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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Let’s explore the Canals of Venice! My visit to Venice was short and the most memorable just thing was sitting next to the Grand Canal and watching all the life on the water. We were happy to find a spot where we were alone, away from the touristy overcrowded streets.

I think, the Canals of Venice is one of the best things to do in Europe and I am very happy that it made it to my blog. This is the guest post by James from Travel Collecting. He will tell you everything you need to know about exploring the canals.

From now on, James:

7 Ways To Experience The Canals Of Venice

The moment I took a waterbus from the airport, across the lagoon and pulled up to the island, I fell in love with Venice. It is beautiful – around every corner, there is yet another breathtaking view. The crisscrossing labyrinth of narrow waterways dominates the city and make it truly unique. Here are seven ways to fully enjoy the canals of Venice.

1. Take a gondola

Gondolas are everywhere in Venice. They no longer serve as taxis from Point A to Point B (vaporetti serve that purpose – see below). Instead, they exist for tourists, and generally do a 40-minute circuit around some of the narrow canals, into the Grand Canal and go back to the starting point.

What is a gondola?

A gondola is a flat-bottomed wooden boat with curved ends. Many are ornately decorated and have plush cushions, so they are very comfortable. A gondolier (the ‘driver’) stands at the back and rows with one long paddle.

What can you expect on a gondola ride?

Most gondoliers speak at least a little English and the one we had was very chatty and pleasant. They typically do NOT sing (for that, go to Las Vegas). They do wear black pants, a striped shirt, and have a straw hat (though not all wear the hat).

We wanted to only take the narrow canals and not go into the Grand Canal. Our gondolier told us that this required going a different route which would take an hour. I’m not sure if this was true or not, but we were happy to spend an hour cruising around small canals, under bridges, past plazas, and beautiful houses. It is a magical experience.

Although evening trips are a little more expensive, there is nothing more romantic than cruising along canals of Venice in a gondola at sunset!

Where can you can take a gondola?

There are several places along the Grand Canal and near St Mark’s Square. Less populated areas away from these main tourist spots (often better if you want to skip the Grand Canal) include the Campo San Barnaba, San Polo and the Jewish Ghetto areas.

How much does a gondola ride cost?

There are fixed prices. 8:00am-7:00pm they cost 80 euros for 40 minutes and 40 euros for each additional 20 minutes. Between 7:00 pm and 8:00 am, they cost 100 euros for 40 minutes and 50 euros for each additional 20 minutes. Obviously, this is not cheap, but there is no place like Venice and no other place you can experience this, so it, in my opinion, totally worth it.

Can I take a cheaper gondola ride?

Yes, there are a couple of ways to do this. If the price is an issue, you can go with a bigger group of people. The price is the same for up to six people, so sharing the cost will bring the per-person price down.

It is also possible to take a traghetto across the Grand Canal. At eight spots along the Grand Canal, a simple traghetto gondola is used to ferry passengers back and forth across the canal. The two-minute ride is not nearly as romantic as a regular gondola, but at 2 euros a ride is a way to experience a gondola ride much cheaper. Any street called “Calle del Traghetto” will take you to a crossing.

2. Learn to row a gondola

Being a passenger is one thing, but being a gondolier is another. It is possible to learn how to row a gondola. T  The experience starts at the marina, the boat harbor for small boats. After heading out of the sheltered harbor into the narrow canals, you quickly learn how to row standing up.  It is much harder than it looks!

We spent some time rowing in the Cannaregio Sestiere part of Venice, which is away from the main touristy area.  This area is a little shabby around the edges, but this is where Venetians still live and it is nice to see that Venice is not completely just for tourists.  Pass beautiful churches, cruise under bridges and see people shopping at tiny local stores.

We then went out into the lagoon, where we were in no danger of banging into anything – or anyone – but it was less sheltered and much choppier. Giving lessons to tourists is helping keep the boating tradition alive, so trying your hand at being a gondolier for a day has many benefits.

3. Stay in a hotel or apartment on a canal

There are many apartments available for rent in Venice, and many hotels to choose from.  Book a room on the canal side of the hotel or building.  Our room faced directly on to a narrow canal, with an incredible view of the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo opposite.

Sitting and looking out the window at the water taxis, gondolas, delivery boats, garbage barges, etc. gives you a real sense of the rhythm of Venetian life and how the canals are an intrinsic part of life.

4. Dine beside a canal

There are many piazzas and campos (town squares) in Venice, and several of them are adjacent to a canal. Having a plate of freshly made pasta and a glass of wine for dinner, or a gelato or coffee during the day next to a canal is incredibly romantic – or just a great way to relax and watch the world go by. Admire the water taxi speedboats, share in other tourists’ pleasure as the float by in gondolas and bask in the incredible beauty that is Venice.

Two places I love are Osteria da Nico on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo and Baci & Pasta on Campo Santa Marina, but there are many more to choose from.

5. Wander the streets beside the canals

Venice is a city to walk in – there are no cars. You will get hopelessly lost, and that is OK. Give up on a set route and aimlessly wander along the canals, crossing small bridges frequently. Around every corner is yet another breathtaking view. You will need an extra-large memory card for your camera in Venice, especially when the sun shines, glistening off the canals.

Eventually, you will encounter a heavier stream of tourists going between St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, or see small signs up high on some buildings giving directions to a major location, or just stop in at a shop or restaurant and ask your way.

Rialto Bridge

6. Cross the bridges that span the canals of Venice

There are more than 400 bridges in Venice. The two most famous are the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge. The Bridge of Sighs, a beautiful white limestone enclosed bridge connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the Doge’s Palace’s interrogation rooms. The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view that prisoners saw before their imprisonment, hence its name. Despite its heavy history, it is incredibly beautiful, and an obligatory photo stop.

The Rialto Bridge is one of four that span the Grand Canal. Starting at the north-west end of the Grand Canal and going along, the four bridges crossing the Grand Canal are:

a. Ponte della Costituzione (more commonly called Ponte di Calatrava) after the architect who built it. It opened in 2008 and its modern glass construction has received some criticism. It connects Piazzale Roma (the main bus station and parking garages) with the train station.

b. Ponte degli Scalzi (‘The Bridge of the Barefoot’), dating from 1934, connects the train station area with the Santa Croce neighborhood.

c. Ponte di Rialto. This is the oldest bridge on the Grand Canal. It is about half-way along the canal and is covered, lined with shops and crowded with tourists. The view of the bridge from a vaporetto, taxi or gondola is iconic.

d. Ponte dell’Accademia. This wooden bridge is named after the nearby Accademia galleries. It connects the San Marco neighborhood to Dorsoduro. The current version was built in 1985, replacing an identical 1933 bridge, which in turn replaced an 1854 steel bridge. This is my favorite of the four because the views from the bridge down the end of the Grand Canal are breathtaking.

Walking across any of the other four hundred bridges is also a wonderful experience. Seeing the boats passing below gives another perspective to the canals.

7. Take a vaporetti or water taxi on the Grand Canal

Venice has a great system of waterbuses called vaporetto (plural: vaporetti). They don’t go into the smaller canals, but there are many routes, including the Grand Canal, and to the outer islands.

They are often crowded, but are a cheap way to travel along the entire length of the Grand Canal, which is a must-do experience in Venice.

Tickets for vaporetto

There are several different options. You can buy tickets for each trip on the boat. However, if you are planning to take the boat multiple times, it can be cheaper to buy a tourist travel card (at any vaporetto ticket office or online through Veniezia Unica). One-, two-, three-, and seven-day passes are available. Other options include a three-day youth card (ages 14 to 29); a Venice city pass, which includes free and reduced admissions and transportation; and a beach ticket for a round trip from Venice to Lido.

There are many routes between Venice and other islands, including the airport.

Vaporetto Routes along the Grand Canal

Route No. 1: Runs along the Grand Canal in both directions, stopping in each of the six sestiere, or neighborhoods. Highly recommended.

Route No. 2: Also runs along the Grand Canal. Connects the Tronchetto with the train station, Piazzale Roma, Lido and Guidecca.

Route N: Night bus; follows the No. 2 route but skips the Giardini stop.

Water Taxis

Another option is a water taxi. Cruise around Venice like George and Amal Clooney! http://www.venicewatertaxi.it/en/index.html

It has 30 speedboats, each of which can carry up to 10 people and luggage. There are two types of water taxis:

  • Standard boats are white fiberglass. They have sofas and mahogany finish.
  • Luxury boats have wooden decks and are the classic Venetian taxi. Live your “Dolce Vita” fantasy!

So there you have it! The canals of Venice will keep you entranced for days.

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James from Travel Collecting has spent the past thirty years collecting travel experiences from around the world. He has been to nearly 80 countries and now helps people have awesome travel experiences through his blog. He gives inspiration and practical tips on how to turn that inspiration into reality.

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Street art in Helsinki, let’s find out what is it like. In this post, I interview Ruusa (Rosa Hultman), who plays a big role in developing the street art culture. You will get to know what is its current state and where should you go, if you want to see street art as a tourist. All is accompanied by hi-res images.

I think the murals in Finland fit really organically into the streets. On this mural, there is a girl, that actually lives in this house. Artist: Guido van Helten (Australia), UPEA16-festival, Address: Hämeentie 78

I have always thought that Finland is too conservative for street art. But in recent years, I started noticing new beautiful murals, many tunnels and electricity boxes are now colored. According to Ruusa, street art in Helsinki is at its start, but developing rapidly, the rest of Finland follows up.

Ruusa Art, Interview

In the street art world of Finland you do many things, what are they exactly?

Besides being a street artist, I am the founder of Mimmit female street culture association. I am one of the producers of UPEA, it is an annual street art Festival, which takes place in several cities in Finland. And, I also make Street art tours in Helsinki and do street art workshops.

How did you decide to become a street artist?

By education, I am a graphic designer. I got into graffiti culture about 10 years ago, because, my ex-boyfriend was a graffiti writer. While we were hanging out in public graffiti wall in Kalasatama I gave it a try. That is when I first time tried how the spray paint works, and I have been doing it since.

What do you usually incorporate into your street art?

It depends on the place quite a lot. Sometimes, I just write my name. But mostly, I take something from the place, some associations that come to my mind. In Stockholm, I added some pictures of their currency – Krona. When I was in Vaasa, I added the ferry that goes to Umeå. In Norway, Vikings came to my mind.

Ruusa shows her graffiti made in Oslo

Next, can show a wall in Vantaa, I used to pass it by every day when I was 5-11 years old. This is me on the in a pink jacket. The jacket has a story. I liked it very much, but the kids were always reading and shouting my name. I told my mother that I cannot wear it because of this. She removed the letters, but the stitches were still visible. So I never wore it, but when I got to this place – I knew what I am going to paint.

There was a white wall in at Inarinkuja street, and it was always bombed*. The owners asked us if we can paint something nice on it, which we did together with Redy, an artist from HK. There are a school and a kindergarten nearby. We wanted to paint something to the whole community especially the kids.

* bombed – illegal graffiti was painted

I have always thought that Finland is too conservative for something like street art. Is it changing?

I would say, street art in Finland takes its first baby steps. Before 2008, we had a “zero tolerance” policy. When the ban was lifted, it started to grow, so is the street art culture.

People are more open-minded to all graffiti and street art culture. In recent years, we got many legal graffiti walls and (in the past few years,) there have been more and more commission works and murals around Finland. Some people tell that it is a boom.

Let’s clarify, what are the legal walls?

Open walls, legal walls, legal graffiti walls, all means the same. These are the walls, that anyone can paint on (it is illegal to paint on construction walls without permission). When you are finished, you take a photo, and someone else can paint on top. This kind of art doesn’t last.

There is a big area in Suvilahti, where temporary construction walls are also legal walls. Around the city, many temporary construction walls have more and more commision works.

Artist: Salla Ikonen (Finland) Address: Hämeentie 33, Helsinki

What about the larger murals, how do they come to life?

Murals are quite different in nature. We have to ask permission from the city and the city architects want a sketch. They try to see how murals fit into the area. Colors, for example, have to correspond with the nearby buildings.

Ruusa shows a sketch of the mural. It is made on a long wall and shows Myllypuro neighborhood History, East Helsinki, Tuulimyllyntie 7

After seeing the murals, people often ask if their walls can be painted. We sometimes receive orders from people, whose walls were bombed. Then, we discuss with the owners, if they would like to have a nice art instead. If there is something beautiful painted on the wall – it normally does not get bombed so easily.

Sometimes it goes another way around, if a street artist sees a good wall, they start a conversation with the owners. Overall, each case is individual.

Together with assistant Samuli Turunen, Ruusa works on the mural in Myllypuro.

Can you tell me more about UPEA?

UPEA is the largest art festival in Finland. It is organized every September starting from 2016. In 2016 we only had 3 murals in Helsinki, 9 overall. Now in 2018, we have 20 projects in 12 cities in Finland. We received a very positive feedback for the murals. People really liked them, and they would like to have more.

On website we have all the murals and addresses listed:
http://www.upeart.com/

Artist: Tellas (Italy) UPEA16-festival Address: Helsinki, Suvilahdenkatu 9

Artist: Jani Leinonen (Finland), UPEA17-festival Address: Sillankorvankatu, Hyvinkää

Artist: Eero Lampinen (Finland), UPEA18-festival Address: Vaasankatu 19, Helsinki.

Let’s try to make a summary for the tourists, if they want to see street art in Helsinki and beyond, where should they go?

First of all, all the Helsinki murals and small pieces of art are shown on the regularly updated map:
http://katutaidehelsinki.fi/
There is also a paper version of a street art guide, that can be picked from a tourist office. But the website has more information.

Kallio is a nice place to go, many murals are within walking distance. And then Suvilahti, it is a growing cultural area, with many legal graffiti walls.

I make private tours, if you are interested, you can contact me at Ruusa art.

If someone wants to do street art in Helsinki, what should they do?

If you are a street artist in Finland, who doesn’t know their way around, you can contact me.

Mimmit peinttaa is a female street art concept. Our main event is held every summer, and other events, projects, and workshops with various women artists are organized throughout the year. We welcome all women who are interested in street art to join our activities.

More general advice would be to build up connections. For example, if I go painting to Thailand, I have to check some of the street artists I know. Eventually, I might find someone who has a connection and go paint together.

Follow Ruusa Art

FB @ruusaart https://www.facebook.com/ruusaart/
IG @ruusa_art https://www.instagram.com/ruusa_art/
Ruusa Web Site http://www.ruusaart.com/ (coming soon)
Mimmit Web Site http://www.mimmit.net/
FB @mimmitpeintaa https://www.facebook.com/mimmitpeinttaa/
Upeart Web Site http://www.upeart.com/
FB @upeart https://www.facebook.com/upeart/

Street art in Finland, gallery

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The post Street Art in Helsinki, this interview tells everything you need know appeared first on Finland Travel Blog - Best Places to Visit in Europe | Engineerontour.

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