Friday, 28 December 2007

Italia and the Rest!

After Prague, we were tired. But we decided to run through [literally] the rest of Italy, for sake of completion. At this point in time we just wanted to get to Finland, and rest our heavy luggage in our rooms. Italy was a bit disappointing from here on.

Some of the factors that hindered our enjoyment of this end of the trip were:
  1. Our Heavy luggage which we had to drag around all day since we did not book a hostel in these cities. We ended up having to pay the train station baggage check to keep it. and in Venice it was way too expensive so we paid a Chinese guy who owned a hotel to keep them in his lobby. Unfortunately he could not speak English, Italian, Spanish or sign language so he communicated in sharp prehistoric grunts and expressions of pain and agony. It was quite entertaining.
  2. Trenitalia, the train system in Italy was the worst, stinkiest trains in the world! i will never travel in italy by train again. There were people in our seats, people on the floor, ticket problems with the conductor, bad smell throughout and a lot more. We did mange, however to sneak into first class and sleep on the beds. Once in our trip to Milan, we almost missed our connection train at Bologna and had to run from one end of the train to the next, hopping over people to ge tour luggage and exit before the train left again.
  3. Since we didn't book hostels, we not only had now where for our luggage, but also no where to shower. Our solution? McDonald's of course! We started off the trip hating McDonald's, but in the end we loved it! There were free toilets, and rooms to wash up, free wifi in some places, coffee, food, warmth, hott girls [check out the Romanian cashier in Florence], and great maps [better than those in the tourist office], there was even a free McDonald's Bus in Florence! Our entire trips, began to be modeled around McDonald's and finding a McDonald's branch.
First: Venice. Not the romantic city that everyone talks it up to be, it was totally touristic and we were bombarded by tourists, tourist shops and souvenir sellers. You could not move, there were so much tourists, and every "house" was not a house but a tourist shop. IT raped the romanticism out of the entire city. Of course it was a beautiful city, but it was masked with this cesspool of tourists. There were however the dark lanes and corners that were tres romantique, but of course the reason there were no tourists there was that it looked like a total area where you would get mugged, robbed and raped. At the end, we sat in a park with some whiskey waiting for the train, like two homeless people :).

Florence, more impressive and romantic than Venice, this town was quiet, peaceful, serene, lovely. Of course the works of the genius Micheal Angelo was there, including the intricate sculptures such as the naked David. Since Pisa was so close, just 1 hour away and cheap, we decided to visit the famous leaning tower while we were there and had so much time to kill. Pisa was a beautiful small town as well, and we had a wicked sizzling pizza in Pisa! After this, we began our final trip to Milan. Now this famous capital was utter disappointment as well, since we had some administrative problems with our hotel [no wifi access :(], but this was mainly because we were so tired from our travels and just needed to get to Finlandia!

Italy was ok, maybe it may have been enjoyed more with the woman-love of your life rather than with just a guy-friend.
More Pictures?

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Prague: Spy Capital

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its official name is hlavní město Praha, meaning Prague - the Capital City.

Prague has architectures quite unlike any that I've seen in my life, or in southern Europe on my adventures thus far. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful city in Europe, with it's uniquely-architectured and vibrantly coloured buildings. The golden city, as it is sometimes called, is home to the largest ancient castle in the world: Prague Castle. We visited this, but to us, it was not impressive, though fairly large, the structures seemed almost new and reconstructed and far from ancient.

So, we settled in the world's cheapest hostel [cheapest that we've found so far] at 10€ per night and free wifi and great rooms: Aparcay Hostel. Then explored the city a bit, saw the sights: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, New Town, Old Town, Jewish Town, Lesser Town, and to kill some time in the end, we even visited the sex-machines museum :|. The machine to the right is an anti-masturbation device :| what?! These Czech people...weird.

More adventurous pictures of Praha can be seen on the Prague: Spy Capital web album.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Pardubice: The Real Czech

Who goes to Czech Republic!????!? Having met a Czech girl, Marketa, in France, we decided to spend our Christmas 2007 with her and her family in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

Let me rephrase: who goes to Pardubice??? We were blasted with positive impression! Czech republic was by far, the best European country we've been to, beautiful landscape, beautiful and different architecture, beautiful girls, and completely different from southern Europe.

And of course we were simply just fascinated by being in Czech, a country where we had no idea what the language was about, a country whose capital city, Prague, was featured as the Spy Capital in many movies [including the Bourne Identity], and in my favorite video game: Soldier of Fortune. Their language was quite astonishing, we had no idea what the hell they were saying, and it had no similarities whatsoever to English or any of the Latin languages; luckily all Czech children get a sound education in English language and thus, most of the younger people speak English.

I have to say, Czech people [or at least girls] are the most friendly, amicable and nice people in Europe. On our flight to Prague, both Marcos and I met two Czech girls each on the plane, who both offered us rides from the airport afterward. The one i met, was a bit crazy though, student studying language translation [Czech - French - English], and reading a bible, but then admitted openly that she did marijuana quite often with her boyfriend. :|.

So, after taking a ride with these girls from Prague airport, and a train to Marketa's, we had the traditional Czech Christmas dinner, dumplings, potato salad, and carp. We then had some whiskey with Marketa's dad, :), then went to explore the Real Czech: Pardubice. It's always better to steer away a bit from a country's capital city and the touristic areas and just visit the real small towns, that way you interact more intimately with the country and its people. Pardubice is a really beautiful town, small, compact, and Czech. We even got muzik original from Pardubice, Czech: it was Metal of course.

A bit freezing, since the temperature was significantly lower than the almost warm southern Europe [in Italy], next day, we saw a bit more of Pardubice. We went to a glass museum, WHO goes to a glass museum??? :| but it was part of an armory museum as well, so we got to see those small spy pistols that were sooooo Czech. Afterward, Marketa took us to Vesely Kopec: a small open air museum that exhibits preserved traditional Czech housed and barnyards. That was definitely worth it, and exposed us to some of the history of the country, plus we got to walk on a small frozen lake [just to show how cold it was]. The Pictures at Pardubice [The Real Czech] will reveal it all...

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Rome: Roman Pillars

So our Euro-Super-Trip begins, in Rome:

"Rome wasn't built in a day"
"All roads lead to Rome"
"When in Rome do as the Romans do"
"Roman Pillars"

We've grown up on these words and famous quotes, and i would never have imagined myself being in what was once the greatest empire on earth! Rome, Italy was impressive, huge structures [more like ruins] that were built so long ago without the technology existent today. It was one of the most impressive cities in Italy. The streets were cobblestoned, but a bit dirty, i expected more.

We managed to cover most of the famous sights in two days, doing some sightseeing in the night as well; checking out the hott Roman Girls. :) and Roman nightlife. I managed to see the pope at the Vatican delivering a speech, not much people in this world gets to see the pope. And of course we sampled the fine Italian cuisine, pasta, pizza, the works.

The better pictures are published at the roman picasa web albums Rome: Day 1 Roman Pillars and Rome: Day 2 The Vatican .

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Super Trip

Ok, so it's the end of France, and 2 weeks free until Finland. what do we do? Euro-trip of course! the route:

Aix-en-Provence [France] > Nice [France] > Rome [Italy] > Pardubice [Czech Republic] > Prague [Czech Republic] > Venice [Italy] > Florence [Italy] > Pisa [Italy] > Milan [Italy] > Helsinki [Finland] > Turku [Finland]Wow. tired just by typing all those places, far less for visiting them. This trip was exciting, exhausting, and exasperating at times.

The following posts will give a bit of details of each place, starting with Rome...

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Last days in the southern France

12-12-2007, a day we will never forget, the last day of school in France, the beautiful, warm, south of France, south of Europe, Mediterranean sea, our last taste of French culture, French cuisine, French girls....

On this sad day, we had our last lecture with the entertaining Mr. Paul Laifa all of use dressed in suites. After which they took us for lunch at a typical country-side French restaurant. We had a nice afternoon with most of our lectures along with the coordinators of our programme for France [Monique, Robbe].

As we all departed that afternoon, to return to our respective home countries, travel Europe for two weeks, or just have a Christmas in France, we all felt as if we would never see each other again; SO strong has the bonds been built in us. Yet, we all will meet again in Finland in no more than 3 weeks, it felt hard to leave.

It's so strange how quickly one can develop ties to a place [not to mention my girlfriend, but that requires an entire blog post on its own]; within 5 months, we were all attached to France and felt the pain in leaving it behind, considering especially the harsh, dark [oh my god there's the sun in that picture!] winter that awaited us in Scandinavia.

We'll hold this beloved country in our minds and hearts forever.

Jevin :(

Check the Picasa Web Album for more pictures on our Last Days

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Moelleux aux Chocolat

In our last days in France [*snif snif*] we [Biljana, Slavica, Mark, Marcos, Anna, Thulan] decided to go to an authentic French restaurant for dinner. At the end of the meal, not knowing what i was up for, i chose the Moelleux aux Chocolat for dessert. It looked like a stupid cup cake, but delivered a culinary orgasm when tasted. Its a very soft, very moist cake, filled with warm, rich chocolate syrup. nice...definitely the best dessert in the world!


Thursday, 15 November 2007

Snow in France?

Today it snowed! What the hell! It's very very strange. It's the South of France, we did not expect this, it's supposed to be nice and warm and French, we're not in Finland yet. This only happens maybe once in every five years and we got to experience it!

How lucky we are!

You can see more pictures at the Snow in Aix picasa album.

Madrid - Theory of Diminishing Utility

Over the past weekend, I visited Madrid, the capital of Spain. Now, don't misinterpret me, Madrid is a great city, with a myriad of bars, monuments, cultures, and nightlife activities [after all, it is the capital city], but the trip somehow failed to meet expectations.

One reason for this diminished return, may be due to one of three [3] reasons [which will be elaborated subsequently]:
  1. A random coincidence [or the factor of time and unpredictable environmental variables]
  2. A result of poor [or absence of] strategic/logistic planning
  3. A result of diminishing marginal utility
A random coincidence [or the factor of time and unpredictable environmental variables]:
It may be such that the particular time that we chose to go to Madrid was not in concurrence with the occurrence of particular events and activities of interest. Perhaps factors such as the weather, time of year, political stability status all had subtle influences in the success/"unsuccess" of our visit

A result of poor [or absence of] strategic/logistic planning:
Of course the plan, the plan of action, the method of procedure, the order of visiting monuments, which monuments to visit, knowing what to visit, knowing the local "hotspots" [best bars, hot nightclubs] all have impacts on generation of good return [ROI]. Maybe this was one of our mistakes, on the next trip we definitely need to conduct the relevant research and and build a solid strategic/logistic plan: the method of action to ensure the achievement of goals [utility].

A result of diminishing marginal utility:
Finally, my most preferred theory or explanation of what happened, [and what is happening slowly and globally on our stay here in Europe] is such: We have been in France for almost four [4] months and have practically visited most of the southern cities, and some north [including Paris]. A lot of the architecture in Spain is super-similar to that of France [not the same but similar].

Now: "The "Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that for any good or service [in this case. our trip to Madrid, or a place of interest], the marginal utility of that good or service decreases as the quantity of the good increases, ceteris paribus. In other words, total utility increases more and more slowly as the quantity consumed increases. Another point is: The reason is that marginal utility for any good diminishes as the person consumes more of the good. Thus, if a good is scarce, the average person consumes only a little of it, and the marginal utility is (relatively) high. If the good is plentiful, the average person will have more of it, and so the marginal utility will be (relatively) low." -- [Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry]

Drug Addict: It is very comparable to utility of a drug. Initially [and typically], a person may indulge in cigarettes, eventually upgrading to marijuana, at this point, the utility gained from the drug increases at a fast rate, but as the addict continues use, rate of increase of utility decreases until a certain point where there is no longer additional utility gained from that drug [or the increase rate is slower]. At this point, the user [abuser] upgrades to cocaine, or another more powerful drug, and thus the cycle continues.

In the diagram, [figure B], one can replace "wealth" with "use of a drug"; thus, the more a drug is used, the more the increase rate of utility slows [and thus less utility is gained]. Similarly, "wealth" may be replaced by "number of trips that we have been on"; thus, the more trips we have been on, the less utility will be gained, and thus we will perpetually have to "upgrade" our trips, and the trips that gave us utility at the time when we have not been on much trips will no longer give the same utility at the time when we have been on many trips.

Enough! Why am i viewing my life in a managerial perspective? This is not the first time. I have previously been trying to reverse engineer and analyze the strategic plan of bars.

I need to get a life.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The IMMIT Crew!

These are all of the great people in my program: The IMMIT, in the field in front of our school. We've really grown so close together, almost like a family. We'll start fighting soon, maybe next semester ;).

Saturday, 27 October 2007

La Saison Russe

The Russian Season, this Europe never ceases to excite you; there is always a festival of some sort, or something interesting to see or do. These beautiful RUSSIAN girls, were caught dressed in traditional wear and singing in the streets of Aix-en-Provence, today.

Friday, 26 October 2007


So, i was running low on panadol - a common drug that i use for the common cold or sore throats or anything. [I'm sounding like a panadol junkie, let me rephrase, i wasn't running low, i just wanted to top up my supplies so i would have enough for Finland's brutal winter weather]. Anyways, so i went to one of the million pharmacies that there are in this city, and showed them the package. Of course the woman did not know what it was, so she started to read the drug components.

Would you believe they don't sell panadol because one of the components is forbidden in france!

It's illegal to sell panadol in France! hahaha.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Rise of PicasaWeb Albums

So, i have decided to migrate the photo-handling functions completely [to picasaweb, although blogger uses picasa for photos, i wanted to remove blogger from the picture.]

PicasaWeb is great, you can upload as many picture at a time as you want with out the stupid 6 photo limit of blogger, it also renders the pictures automatically and beautifully organizes them.

I will continue to update this blog with my commentaries and maybe drop in a great picture here and there, but i will link to the picasa album when i want to reference pictures.


Monday, 8 October 2007


The French enjoy having an Apéritif, which is an alcoholic drink, as an appetizer before a large meal. It's so integrated here - alcohol - that, for orientation day, THE FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL, were were served wine!

What's even more surprising, is that the vending machines at school have beer! why would you serve beer at a school :|

Even the cafeteria offers beer and wine with lunch...

Very relaxed culture indeed...

Monday, 24 September 2007


Calissons are a traditional French candy consisting of a smooth, pale yellow, homogeneous paste of candied fruit (especially melons and oranges) and ground almonds topped with a thin layer of white icing (royal glaze). Calissons have a texture not unlike that of marzipan, but with a fruitier, distinctly melon-like flavor. Calissons are almond-shaped and are typically about two inches in length. Calissons are traditionally associated with the town of Aix-en-Provence, France; consequently, most of the world supply of calissons are still made in the Provence region. [source].

I had my first one today - it's supposedly famous to the city where I'm at - Aix, courtesy "Cecile" the French 'girl next door'. She's soooo "French" and anitmated!

Boissons de Français

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.

I always knew Evian to be a "high-class" water, that was very expensive, but it seems that it's the most popular bottled water in France, or at least in "Aix". So, i had my first Evian here :).

It should be a rule of thumb that one must always keep a bottle of wine in one's room; in the situation a friend pops in to visit, or you have guests: In case of emergency, break seal, pop cork....

Since beers are so expensive in pubs [bars/clubs], anywhere between 2.60€ to 5€! It is often cheaper to buy a giraffe! A 2 liter tube of beer, split the cost between two people and you get about 4 drinks each. Pas mal...pas mal...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Château d'If

The Château d'If is a stable (later a prison) located on the island of If, the smallest island in the Frioul Archipelago situated in the Mediterranean Sea about a mile offshore in the Bay of Marseille in southeastern France. It is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

Ok, so now you know the history, here is the imagery without comments since i am currently hanging my laptop outside my window to "steal" internet. The most i'd say is that this was the day after my birthday, we got up went to the girls' place, they made lunch :), then we headed off to the unknown.

Château d'If

Ile de Frioul: