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Virtualmeet.net "The Gathering" mid-2009
(Read 38909 times)
Alberto Caraballo
Lifter
 
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Male 25 posts
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2008, 05:26:15 pm »

There's a chance I might be able to do this.  I should be entitled to another 15-day period of R&R leave, and the government pays for the ticket no matter where I want to go.  If there was ever an opportunity this would be it.  I could probably do a week or so.

All I would need to know is what airport to fly into, reasonable hotels nearby, stuff like that.  Also, would I be able to get by language wise?
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2008, 09:40:59 am »

Hey Alberto, I like the sound of that. We have known each other online for quite a few years now and I would really look forward to meeting you in person. Smiley

The airport to fly into would be Helsinki. Depending on whether we do this in Helsinki or at Toffe's Gym (you'll probably vote for the latter?), you would either take a train (4.5 hours) or another flight (45 minutes) up north to Vaasa. My suggestion would be that I meet those of you coming in Helsinki and we hop on the train together. Naturally, I would also be picking you up at the airport. If it's just Christian (possibly with family) and you, then we could accomodate all of you in the cottages at Toffe's Gym and/or at our apartment here in Helsinki. Otherwise I can probably have you booked into a suitable hotel in advance; my brother is a hotel manager and knows the ins-and-outs of hotels here. We could look closer into these details once you know whether you will be able to come.

Language wise you wouldn't have big problems getting around Finland. English is compulsory in most schools from the third grade and we don't have dubbed TV-programs, so most of us speak at least adequate English. The pronunciation is of course heavily affected by our native tongue and may not sound pretty at all times, but you'd get by fine. Won't have much use for Spanish there though.  Wink

This is starting to sound pretty exciting. Smiley
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2009, 03:19:54 am »

More info here now:

http://virtualmeet.net/gathering/

At this stage, two lifters are tentatively coming. Smiley
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Christian Burger
Staff  [Moderator, German Translator]
 
Austria Austria Male 598 posts
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2009, 07:44:17 am »

Nice job on the video Kris. Especially the part were you you move the camera through the woods towards the power rack.

Not being familiar with Finish cuisine: Could you point to some examples. I only stayed one night on a stopover on Helsinki airport many years ago. That included just about the best breakfast I ever had. So I am curious.
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2009, 09:57:50 pm »

An update: seems like one more lifter is ready to book his flight, so tentatively three lifters are flying in from abroad. Måns Rinne and I are naturally attending from Finland.

Nice job on the video Kris. Especially the part were you you move the camera through the woods towards the power rack.

Hey thanks! And thanks to Måns for letting me borrow his video camera, decided to do a larger size video simply because I had DVD quality footage to work with.

Quote
Not being familiar with Finish cuisine: Could you point to some examples. I only stayed one night on a stopover on Helsinki airport many years ago. That included just about the best breakfast I ever had. So I am curious.

Well, we eat our share of pasta, Asian food and what not, but of course we also have the traditional Finnish cuisine. Our cuisine bears evidence of having had a lot of contact with both of our neighbors Sweden and Russia; as a trivial example, Swedish meatballs are as much a staple here as in Sweden.

I once took a course in nutritional anthropology where it was pointed out that Finland can traditionally be divided into an Eastern oven food culture influenced more strongly by Russia and a Western stove food culture with more Swedish influences. This difference also ties into cultural and health differences.

I think the following list I found in the Finnish section of Wikitravel gives quite a representative picture of the most common suspects:

Quote
Finnish cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbors, the main staples being potatoes and bread with various fish and meat dishes on the side. While traditional Finnish food is famously bland, the culinary revolution that followed joining the EU has seen a boom in classy restaurants experimenting with local ingredients, often with excellent results.

Seafood

With tens of thousands of lakes and a long coastline, fish is a Finnish staple, and there's a lot more on that menu than just salmon (lohi).

Specialities include:

  • Baltic herring (silakka), a small, fatty and quite tasty fish available pickled, marinated, smoked, grilled and in countless other varieties
  • Gravlax ("graavilohi"), a pan-Scandinavian appetizer of raw salted salmon
  • Smoked salmon (savulohi), not just the cold, thinly sliced, semi-raw kind but also fully cooked "warm" smoked salmon
  • Vendace (muikku), a speciality in eastern Finland, a small fish served fried, heavily salted and typically with mashed potatoes

Other local fish to look out for include zander (kuha), an expensive delicacy, pike (hauki) and perch (ahven).

Meat dishes

  • Karelian stew (Karjalanpaisti), a heavy stew usually made from beef and pork (and optionally, lamb), carrots and onions, usually served with potatoes
  • Liver casserole (maksalaatikko), consisting of chopped liver, rice and raisins cooked in an oven; it tastes rather different from what you'd expect (and not liver-y at all)
  • Loop sausage (lenkkimakkara), a large, mildly flavored sausage; best when grilled and topped with a dab of sweet Finnish mustard (sinappi), and beer
  • Meat balls (lihapullat, lihapyörykät) are as popular and tasty as in neighboring Sweden
  • Reindeer (poro) dishes, especially sauteed reindeer shavings (poronkäristys, served with potato mash and lingonberries), not actually a part of the everyday Finnish diet but a tourist staple and common in the frigid North
  • Swedish hash ("pyttipannu"), (originally from Sweden, Swedish: "pytt i panna") a hearty dish of potatoes, onions and any meaty leftovers on hand fried up in a pan and topped with an egg

Other dishes

  • Breadcheese (leipäjuusto or juustoleipä), a type of grilled curd best eaten with a dab of cloudberry jam
  • Pea soup (hernekeitto), usually but not always with ham, traditionally eaten with a dab of mustard and served on Thursdays; just watch out for the flatulence!
  • Karelian pies (karjalanpiirakka), an oval 7 by 10 cm baked pastry, traditionally baked with rye flour, containing rice porridge or mashed potato, ideally eaten topped with butter and chopped egg
  • Porridge (puuro), usually made from oats (kaura), barley (ohra), rice (riisi) and rye (ruis) and most often served for breakfast

Bread

Bread (leipä) is served with every meal in Finland, and comes in a vast array of varieties. Typically Finnish ones include:

  • hapankorppu, dry, crispy and slightly sour flatbread, occasionally sold overseas as "Finncrisp"
  • limppu, catch-all term for big loaves of fresh bread
  • näkkileipä, another type of dark, dried, crispy rye flatbread
  • ruisleipä (rye bread), can be up to 100% rye and much darker, heavier and chewier than American-style rye bread
  • rieska, unleavened bread made from wheat or potatoes, eaten fresh

I'll take any feedback, but I can see the gathering as an opportunity to serve you all up with a good selection of the more tasty bits and pieces of our cuisine. Salmon, breadcheese with cloudberry jam, rye bread and sausage would be likely delicacies and go well together with a lifter's diet. And of course, you'll have the opportunity to sample salmiakki and Finnish sauna beer if you like too.
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Måns Rinne
Staff  [Moderator, Finnish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 57 posts
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2009, 01:50:37 pm »

I'm also thinking Terva-snapsi (vegetable tar schnapps) as something to enjoy during and after our post-meet sauna on the island.

Very Finnish to the taste, and you'll either love it or hate it vehemently. Not much middle ground, I'm afraid. Same goes for salmiak, incidentally, which also has been made into a drink. I think definitely the salmiak can be mixed together with the terva drinkwise to produce something most Finns would love. Grin
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Anything is possible, except maybe skiing through a revolving door.
Marc Aube
Staff  [French Translator]
 
Canada Canada Male 27 posts
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2009, 08:02:08 pm »

That would be awesome ! I'm going to take two weeks off from work for this weekend !
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2009, 08:44:38 pm »

That would be awesome ! I'm going to take two weeks off from work for this weekend !

Excellent! Smiley Smiley Shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions, want to discuss travel plans or anything.

Generally about the schedule, I recommend flying in on Wednesday and leaving some time on Monday for those that have the time. This leaves enough time to make this a stress-free experience, but flying in Friday and leaving Sunday also works. If anyone wants to stay longer to combine this with some sightseeing, going to Lapland/Russia/Sweden/Estonia or whatever, that's also an excellent idea. 

Regarding food etc., I'm going to send out a small questionnaire before the event to get a list of possible allergies, won't-eats, really-like-to-eats and so on. While there will be opportunities to try out some of the Finnish peculiarities, I will make sure that there is something on the menu for everyone.

Also, to clear any confusion about schnapps, Finnish beer etc.: there will be some of that available but don't expect any drinking parties on the island. There's many reasons for that, but foremost I think it rhymes badly with the spirit of Virtualmeet.net and this gathering. I also want to ensure that this event is welcoming to everyone whether a party animal or not.
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Christian Burger
Staff  [Moderator, German Translator]
 
Austria Austria Male 598 posts
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2009, 07:26:37 pm »

On a practical note: How about mosquitos at that time of the year? Just so I bring plenty of of repellant.
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2009, 07:45:06 pm »

An update: Alberto Caraballo got his travel request approved and his arrival looks fairly certain at this stage. As he will be staying for almost two weeks in Finland, we decided to drive up to Kilpisjärvi in Lapland a day or two after the gathering. It's a 900 km (560 miles) drive up north past the Arctic Circle into wide open rugged nature and the most sparsely populated area of Scandinavia. The itinerary is still open, but we plan on camping and will possibly also do anything from a day hike to a two-three day one. It's also something of an unique melting pot between what is officially three countries (Finland, Sweden and Norway) but which are united by a common culture, people (the Sami) and, in practice, open borders. This gives us plenty of options to consider, including returning south through Sweden and then crossing back into Finland by ferry.

The trip will probably be about a week. We will be going by car so if there is anyone else contemplating staying longer than the gathering we have two seats left. Epic gathering followed by an epic road trip...  Grin

Also: I mentioned creating a list of events in Finland and neighboring countries earlier for those considering a longer stay. I started but it is a bigger project than I anticipated. I think it makes more sense if I look into events and locations by request (eg. knowing when you plan to come and what your interests/budget is). So please, contact me if there is anything I can help you with.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2009, 08:09:16 pm by kris » Logged
Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2009, 10:44:09 pm »

The gathering is now an exciting four weeks away! Toffe's Gym is also officially open for the season as I spent the weekend at the cottage bringing it out of winter mode and cleaning up for the gathering. It was still rather cold there with the mercury just above freezing at night and 11-13 degrees celsius/52-55 fahrenheit in the shade on sunny days. The temperature should be much higher in four weeks unless this turns out to be a very odd summer.  Grin

To make sure there is enough weight around, I also tested how much weight the bar can hold with my current plate stash. It came to 270kg/595lbs (see the picture below, click it too see a bigger version). We will bring some more plates with us if anyone thinks that there is even a small chance that they will need more come meet time, but I suspect this will be enough for now.

At the moment, it seems like Alberto, Christian, Måns and myself are coming. I haven't heard anything recent from any of the others who said to be considering it. It is not too late for any Virtualmeet.net member to jump on board (even if you haven't been in touch about it earlier), but I would appreciate a small update on your plans regardless of whether they are still tentative or fairly certain. If you can't make the gathering, there is of course still the option to join the virtualmeet on that weekend.

Can't wait.  Smiley


* toffes_gym_270kg_loaded.jpg (92.07 KB, 500x375 - viewed 1370 times.)
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Alberto Caraballo
Lifter
 
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Male 25 posts
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2009, 08:48:24 pm »

My request was electronically transmitted for ticketing on June 2nd so I should have an itinerary in a couple of weeks or sooner.
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2009, 08:50:03 pm »

My request was electronically transmitted for ticketing on June 2nd so I should have an itinerary in a couple of weeks or sooner.

\o/ Excellent!
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Christian Burger
Staff  [Moderator, German Translator]
 
Austria Austria Male 598 posts
« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2009, 07:35:49 am »

I plan to arrive in Helsinki on Friday 10th. I will get the tickets beginning of July, then I should have the final itinary (going back Sunday or Monday).

Looking forward to the meet.
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Kristoffer Lindqvist
Staff  [Project Manager, Developer, Moderator, Swedish Translator]
 
Finland Finland Male 1178 posts
WWW
« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2009, 08:53:30 am »

Christian, sounds excellent! If you are able to get a morning flight it's a bonus, we could then get an early start and arrive at Toffe's before evening (it's a 5 hour drive minus any pauses or scenic detours). But the afternoon will work fine too. Since Alberto and I are heading to Lapland after the gathering, we will be going up by car. We're four at the moment so we will fit comfortably in our car, but if more people are coming Måns could probably take his car too.

For the return trip you have the options of grabbing the train or a flight. Flight prices vary wildly depending on what flight you take and on what date and may in some cases be cheaper than a train ride (but do check the price after taxes and charges, the base price is often listed really low).

To check train timetables against the return flight, head over to vr.fi. In the "Tickets and timetables" box, enter Vaasa as the departure station and Helsinki as the destination. You should reserve about 1.5h for the bus ride from the train station to the airport; in practice you'll get there in a tight 30-40 minutes but this would leave some room for possible minor delays. The train ride is about 4.5 hours depending on what kind of train you select. If you opt for the train, you can buy your ticket here, no need to book beforehand.

For flights, check Finncom (again Vaasa as the From and Helsinki as the To). The flight time itself is only about half an hour.

Regardless of how you're going back, I'll naturally drive you to the train or airport. They're pretty close so no need to factor in any driving time should you opt for, say, an early Monday exit.

As usual, if you have any question you know where to find me.  Smiley This is going to rock.
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