The collection of collections – Hallwyl Museum

When I was preparing for my summer in Stockholm I made a list with all the castles and museums I was going to visit. Six weeks into my stay I’ve only visited two. One thing I can blame this on is the heatwave but I’ve also experienced a lost interest in walking around castles this summer. I’m not quite sure what’s going on but I’ll have to revisit the subject when I get back to Helsinki.
One place I visited pretty early on is the Hallwyl Museum. I had seen some pictures of the interior on social media and I knew it used to be someone’s home so I was a bit curious. I’m really glad I paid for the guided tour, I got a lot more information than if I had been walking around by myself (I sometimes get lazy with reading the descriptions). There was only three of us on the tour so we got to see more spaces than if we had been a larger group. The rooms are preserved in their original state and give you a glimpse of how the super wealthy and forward thinking lived during that era.
The rooms are as one would expect, heavily decorated and filled with beautiful artefacts.The most impressive thing to me however, is the collections and the meticulous documentation of those collections. Wilhelmina von Hallwyl who did most of the collecting, knew early on that she wanted her home to eventually become a museum. She had every item in the house (as well as the house itself) catalogued. Not only is there an image and a thorough description of every item but there’s stories and personal anecdotes as well. I was drooling over her jewellery collection, there were so many pieces in it I would love to wear.
I’ve never really been a collector of anything, I’ve moved so many times that I’m very picky of the things I own. Maybe that’s why I was so impressed by this avid collector. If you’re ever in Stockholm and are maybe a Downton Abbey fan, I would recommend you to visit this museum.

The fairytale castle on the hill

Category : Travel
Date : 18/04/2018
The fairytale castle on the hill

When our professor told us about the Ispo fair, I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to afford the trip to Munich. I wasn’t that interested in a sportswear fair but on the other hand I desperately needed a change of scenery. Out of pure curiosity I started looking into Munich and the touristy things I could do in the city and its surroundings. I think once I saw the pictures of Neuschwanstein, I knew I had to find a way to make this trip happen.

I was going back and forth for a while whether to go to the castle by myself or try to find an affordable guided tour. I found this great step by step guide on how to get there but I was still a bit hesitant. In the end my budget made the decision for me and I simply had to get over the fear of taking the wrong train and getting lost somewhere in Bavaria. In reality it wasn’t so complicated, I reserved my ticket a week before my trip and two days before my castle visit, I went to the train station and with a brochure and literally said “I want a train ticket to this castle on Tuesday” and voila it was done.

When I got there and was sitting in the cold waiting for my group to be allowed to enter, I was starting to wonder if all this effort was worth it. Sure, the castle is beautiful on the outside too, it’s a castle on a hill after all. But I was cold and hungry and annoyed that you’re not allowed to take photos inside. Then we entered the castle and it all made sense. I was glad I was here during the low season, there was only about 20 of us ( the guide said it’s usually groups of 60) so there was more space for us. You see every part of the castle is heavily decorated, I’ve seen a couple of castles in my life but nothing like this. Maybe it’s because the style is quite different from what I’ve seen before. You really felt like you were in som medieval fairy tale castle. I could try to describe it but I feel I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I now also understand why you can’t take pictures, there simply wouldn’t be enough time. I know I could have easily spent 3-4 hours in there but now it was limited to about 30 minutes. I wish the tour would have been a little bit longer but I can imagine the queues would be endless during the peak season.

There are downsides of visiting the castle in winter. The hiking trail and bridge were closed and there was no bus from the ticket center due to snow and ice. When you’re waiting for your turn to enter you’re doing it outside in the cold. So wear enough layers. There are other castles and museums in the area that are probably worth a visit. I wanted to be back in Munich before it got too dark so I opted to focus on Neuschwanstein only. It would be great to come back in the summer, maybe on a roadtrip trough Bavaria, hike around the castle and spend some time in the village.


Some  parts of the castle are off limits, like this inner court yard.

Even though it was grey January weather, it still felt special to be up here.

This would be a great spot for a picnic!

One of the castles I didn’t vist, Hohenschwangau Catsle. 

When I was waiting for the bus to return to the train station, the sun lit up the castle like it was a closing scene in a disney movie.

Hello Munich

Category : Travel
Date : 16/03/2018
Hello Munich

In January I visited Munich for a few days. Despite getting a migraine the day before the trip and having to get up at 3AM it was nice to take a break from the hectic school life and get to wander around a new city. I was mainly there for the Ispo fair but I have to admit it was all the Bavarian castles that got me to book the trip in the first place. The fair was really overwhelming so I spent most of my time wandering around the city and in historical buildings. I even made to the most visited castle in Europe (probably in the world) but more on that later.

If you’ve been here before you know I have a thing for museums, even when they’re considered to be  huge tourist traps. I really enjoyed walking through the Munich Residence, talking a gazillion pictures of all the chandeliers ( I think I’ve always liked them but the Hermitage took it to a new level) and silly mirror selfies (when you’re travelling alone and don’t have a selfie stick). Another favourite was the Nymphenburg Palace. Even though it was grey and chilly, it was nice to walk around around the garden, observe the locals and hang out with the swans.

Remember not long ago when I had difficulty eating at restaurants by myself while traveling? On this trip I managed just fine, progress people, progress!


The Gilded Wonderland

Category : Travel
Date : 14/09/2017
The Gilded Wonderland

Before we even arrived to the Hermitage Museum I was told of one (of many) theories the locals have, that in order to see all the contents of the museum, you would need to visit the museum five days a week for seven years! That still didn’t prepare me for the overwhelming grand golden overdose that was to come. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many chandeliers in my life! I don’t really know how to describe it, hopefully the images give you just a hint of the extravagance of the place. At some point I couldn’t even look at the paintings anymore because there was so much else to see within the rooms themselves.

When I visit grand and heavily adorned castles like this, I at some point think about how wealth was so unevenly distributed back then (some would argue that things haven’t changed that much). I can only imagine how the poor lived if this is what the rich and privileged enjoyed. At the end of the day it’s the craftsmanship and history that draws me to places like this. I’m not saying we should go back to this way of building and decorating, I’m just appreciative of the skills of the craftsmen who put it all together.

I was at first thinking that I need to go back to the museum the next time I’m in St. Petersburg but then I remembered the other castles in and around the city that my friends tell me I need to visit. I do need to return one day though, to actually see the paintings. Until then I’ll keep dreaming about massive golden chandeliers.

Photos of me by Tong Ren

Hello Saint Petersburg

Category : Travel
Date : 10/08/2017
Hello Saint Petersburg

One of my new rules regarding travelling is, if someone offers to guide you around their home town, find a way to make that trip happen no matter how tight your budget is. You experience a place in a completely different way when you’re with a local.

Saint Petersburg is a city I’ve always been curious about but because of the crazy world politics, I didn’t think I’d visit the city for a very long time. So when my friend suggested a group trip to her home town, I jumped at the opportunity. She had told me so many stories of this city and this was my chance to see it with her.
So on an early Wednesday morning we got on the train and headed to the historical city not really knowing what to expect. The dreaded interrogation by the border patrol and customs didn’t happen (our passports were checked by officers with very serious looks on their faces and we were asked what we had in our bags, and that was it) and a few hours later we had arrived to a very sunny Saint Petersburg.

What followed was three days of incredibly fun and intense sightseeing which included endless beautiful buildings and cathedrals, many couples on their wedding photo shoots, tasting a variety of artisanal lemonades and my first ever ballet! And then there was the mind blowing extravaganza that is the State Hermitage Museum. I think I need to do a separate post about it because it’s difficult to describe in words, I have to show you some pictures.

I feel like this trip was like an introduction to this grand city, there’s so much more to see that I’ll have to go back. I need to do a proper metro station tour. Metro stations in this city are something else I tell you! There are also more palaces and hipster spots to discover. Not to forget all the vintage shops and design stores we didn’t have time for.

Thank you to my queens for making this trip possible and so much fun!

Copenhagen is always a good idea

Category : Travel
Date : 18/07/2017
Copenhagen is always a good idea

I’ve been really fortunate in the past few years that I’ve gotten to visit Copenhagen several times. At this point I have a nice Copenhagen routine going. I’m usually there by myself and most of my visits tend to be brief but they’re always fun and eventful. There are certain places I often return to but I also try to explore a new areas, shops and restaurants each time. This trip was a bit special as I got to act tourist guide to my mum on one of the days. We were on our way to Lund for my brother’s graduation.

So what did I do this time? I visited The Botanical Garden for the first time, tried vintage shopping but found nothing, ate some delicious food at places I’ve wanted to try for a while and visited a friend. I don’t have images of all those things because sometimes I just forgot and sometimes I just chickened out. Like that time I was eating my yummy artisanal ice cream on Elmegade, watching cool Copehageners cycle by and couldn’t bring myself to go full tourist mode with my camera. Well, there’s next time, I’ll make sure of it.

The return to the cosy city

Category : Travel
Date : 30/06/2017
The return to the cosy city

The city I’m talking about of course is Lund. The city I briefly visited almost two years ago because I wanted to see where my youngest brother lived. This time I returned with my mother to see him graduate and to see Lund in its full summer glory. This was a short visit as well, you can’t pass through Copenhagen and not see Copenhagen (more on that later) but we also made a quick detour to Malmö since we were in the area.
All in all we attended a graduation ceremony, got a tour of the big university campus and did some sightseeing. I was in my usual tourist mode, taking pictures of all the cosy houses and buildings. I kicked it up a notch when we visited The Botanical Garden. I probably took a hundred pictures and I only photographed some of the pretty flowers. We didn’t plan to but we ended up visiting the garden twice and it was just as pretty on the sunny day as it was on the rainy day.
Now that my brother has graduated, i don’t think I’ll be visiting Lund again anytime soon but I’m glad I got to see more of it and in summer time.











Wonderful Kamakura

Category : Travel
Date : 15/05/2017
Wonderful Kamakura

When I booked my trip to Tokyo, I had no plans to go outside the city because I thought it wouldn’t work with my tight budget. So when my friend Sophie suggested we take a trip to Kamakura and told me it was only a short train ride away, I was thrilled! I didn’t look up the location before we went, I didn’t want to build up any expectations.

The main street leading to the shrine had all kinds of small shops, restaurants and food stands. I wish I had a picture of the range of matcha ice creams that came in different shades of green. Some were honestly as dark as the leaves of the trees. At the shrine we managed to crash one wedding and the surrounding garden had a very serene pond and probably the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever seen.

The best part of the trip was however when we visited the Hokokuji Temple and Bamboo garden. I had never seen growing bamboo before! It was definitely a place where I had a “I can’t believe I’m here” moment. It was pure joy, serenity and tourist frenzy all at the same time. To call the place very zen would be a big understatement.


How cool is this tree!


At this point I had seen a couple of shrines but I never got tired of the colours and the detailed craftsmanship.


The garden surrounding the shrine was increadibly serene, if we weren’t on a tight schedule I would have sat there for hours.


The pond had some very cute inhabitants.


The garden also had the most beautiful public bathroom I’ve ever seen! This image doesn’t do it justice.


There were hydrangeas everywhere and I of course couldn’t stop photographing them.


We had some soba noodles before heading to the Hokokuji Temple. I had never eaten cold noodles before! It’s such a simple but so delicious dish. The Vivaldi playing in the background somehow heightened the meal even more.


Despite the amount of other bamboo enthusiastic tourists around me, this place still had a calming effect on me.


The images I took of these ladies are some of my favourite during the entire trip. I just love their kimonos.




This bamboo garden was definitely one of the highlights of my entire trip.


That’s my “OMG, can you believe the amount of bamboo” face. Slightly shocked but very happy tourist. Thank you Sophie for taking me to this very special place.

Tokyo by night

Category : Travel
Date : 29/03/2017
Tokyo by night

On my second day in Tokyo I got to experience the mandatory Shibuya crossing. It was on a Friday evening so there was a lot of people (probably average for Tokyo standards but massive for a Helsinkian). I think that’s when it really sank in, “I’m really here!” I felt like such a globetrotter in this cool capital city that never sleeps. Did the kiwi cider I had just had have something to do with this sensation? Maybe a little. What really happened was that we were home by midnight because we didn’t want to miss the last metro. Luckily you don’t have to pull an all nighter to see the city in this different light.


A few days later I found myself at the Shibuya crossing again. This time I took a few minutes to observe the stream of people walking by.


Walking through a crowd like this and not panic was a big deal for me.

I walked by so many of these small cozy restaurants. I really like the clean yet inviting design of their facades. 


Cartoon billboards, me like!


It’s interesting how lanterns immediately make space seem more cozy. 


I spent a lot of my time in Tokyo in parks, gardens and quieter neighbourhoods. It was on evenings like this, during the after work rush hour that I was reminded how fast paced this city can be.


I’m surprised I didn’t get lost while wandering these narrow neon lit streets.


These buildings in Odaiba immediately made me think of The Two Towers!


Taking monorail to Odaiba is an easy way to see parts of the city from a different angle. It made Tokyo feel even more futuristic to me.


The lights and signs! I could go on another trip just to photograph them. I wonder if I would be as fascinated if I understood Japanese.