Friday, January 27, 2023

Finnair lounge Xmas

 


Colors have been selected correctly!

Found this in the Finnair Schengen-side lounge at HEL. Not bad.

I asked ChatGPT about this:

"It's possible that the blue balls hanging from the white Christmas tree in the Finnair lounge at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport are a nod to Finnair's color scheme, as blue is one of the airline's main colors. Additionally, blue and white are also the colors of the Finnish flag, so it could also be a reference to the country's national colors."

Boring answer, in my opinion :-)

For more flying stories, check out the planetflier.com website! And of course the Planetcaver, and Planetskier blogs for other stories in Blogspot and TGR! The photos and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Rain, darkness, and wind: GREAT Zakopane ski experience!

Their official name is Koziniec-Ski Sp. z o.o. Czarna Góra - Stacja Narciarska, but I have no idea what any of that means. But they appeared with their lights and ski lifts on from the wet darkness of miserable drive through rain and sleet as we were nearing Zakopane on our return trip from Slovakia. And I needed to ski properly in Poland. In 2011 I was on a through trip and managed to hike up a closed ski hill. Nice, but now I when had an opportunity to ski on an actual open and lit ski slope, I needed to take it!

No matter that it was raining cats and dogs. I also didn't see anyone else, and why would there be anyone else, given the weather? But I took my waterproof jacket and run to knock on the windows of the office building. No, they were not closed yet but had been thinking of closing. But as I explained my mission of skiing in different places, and needing to collect an open ski resort in Poland, they laughed very hard and sold me a ticket -- for the price the card, not even paying anything for the skiing. So I took the lift and skied a wonderful run (see below) in the rain. And felt much better, having gotten another day of skiing in :-)

Koziniec Ski is at N 49.367235 E 20.132299. Much recommended! 




Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.


Flying on Air Serbia


I had a rare opportunity to fly Air Serbia. Not quite Aeroflot level ... but I wouldn't trust them :-) Just kidding it was ok.

For more flying stories, check out the planetflier.com website! And of course the Planetcaver, and Planetskier blogs for other stories in Blogspot and TGR! The photos and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko, one picture by Flightradar24. All rights reserved.

Testing the new Matinkylä swimming hall

I had an idea to for once visit a swimming pool somewhere yesterday. Pre-pandemic, I might have gone swimming several times a week. The pandemic interrupted that, but even after the pandemic issues are mostly gone, I don't find myself going too often. I've only been to Finnish swimming pools couple of times a year recently. Maybe being too busy, or trying to use the time for walking. Anyway, missing a lot. But what a nice treat the visit to the Matinkylä swimming pools were!

I was not even aware that there was a new swimming hall. It opened in April 2022, and it is a beauty! It works well, is spacious and has most of the things I'd like to have in a swimming hall. There's a 50 meter big pool (27 degrees), an "activity" pool (30 degrees), kiddie pool, and my personal favorite, the cold pool (7 degrees). Very nice!

Although it was funny to compare this to our recent visit to Poland's Zakopane Aqua Park (link to the article here). First off, they had outdoor pools, one at 36 degrees and another larger one at 33 degrees. And everybody spoke Polish ... just like in Matinkylä sauna, due to some weird co-incidence. But it is very nice that the expats enjoy the saunas and pools in Finland -- I've noticed that they are pretty frequent users in many of these kinds of facilities. A good friend of mine does ice swimming, too, also an expat. Us lazy and scared natives are much less eager to do ice swimming :-)

This hall is also very nice because it is open late even on weekends. Most public swimming pools in my area (as well as in Finland more generally) close at 5pm. Matinkylä's new hall closes at 8pm.

Tony Hagerlund has, of course, reviewed the new pools here. The official Espoo city pages about the hall project and their halls are here and here. There's also a news article from the local newspaper Länsiväylä and about the tech inside in Rakennuslehti.

For more sauna and swimming stories, check out planetswimmer.com and saunablogger.cool websites! And of course the Planetcaver, and Planetskier blogs for other stories in Blogspot and TGR! The photos and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved. I never take photos of other saunagoers or swimmers and visit when there is simply no one else or the facility has been closed or booked only for me.

LEGO snow cat

Want.

See the product spec.

Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.

2x ski maintenance, please!

 

Ski maintenance needed. Make that double! (And maybe on the rocks?)

I've been using my lightweight Blizzard Zero G 85s almost exclusively for my skiing. They are not my rock skis, but they've taken a beating - in the melting glaciers of Hintertux summer skiing to sketchy early seeing slopes. Time to take them to the service, last time was sometime last spring I think. I also took another pair also for service from the family, not being maintained in couple of years.

And of course, I'm using my trusted Ski Service shop for the maintenance.

Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Cave inside the Tatra Mountains: Belianska Jaskyňa

 

Wow, another cave country! Slovakia is I think my 28th country where I've been underground. Belianska Jaskyňa is the largest cave open to the public in the Tatra Mountain region in northern Slovakia. At the length of 3681 meters it is quite big. And, remarkably the tour actually is quite long, rising over a hundred meters in vertical as well inside the cave. And almost two kilometers long! One of the best walking cave tours I've been on.

This was our bad weather day excursion on our Poland - Slovakia trip. Although it turned out that we chose the wrong road to cross the mountains from Zakopane to Slovakia, and it felt a bit .. slippery with the not-so-great winter tires in the rental car. But we made it ok, taking it slow in a line of cars passing through.

But back to the cave. Belianska is roughly at coordinates N 49.22886 E 20.31144 on a side of a steep valley hill. It is not directly accessible by car and needs a half an hour hike from the parking lots in the village. We parked here, but there are many options nearby. Expect to pay a bit for the parking.

Like the inside tour in the cave, the hiking path also rises 128 meters, and may not be easy if you have any health issues. 

At the cave site itself there's a ticket booth (bring cash), restrooms, tables and cover from the rain. And they sell some souvenirs. Entrance is just 12€ for adults, and that's well worth it given the long tour. A permit for photograph costs some extra, which I obviously took.

The entrance to the cave is at the bottom of the cave, and the tour keeps climbing up on stairs through this massive cave. You'll see lit pools of water, stalactites, stalagmites, dripstone, colorful stone, smaller corridors and massively big halls.

The cave was discovered in the 1700s, and opened as a show cave in the 1800s. So an old, and well-known place.

All in all a wonderful place to visit. Much recommended.

More information about the cave can be found from the Slovakian caving association's page, and from Wikipedia. The cave is 3641 meters long.


Here's a video:


And some more pictures:








You can reach the cave by 25-minute hike up the hill. At the end of the walk you will enter a gate and ticket sales building, and eventually the cave itself. 


Read more urban exploration stories from theurbanexplorer.net, and other underground stories from planetcaver.net. Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from Blogspot or TGR. Photos and text (c) 2023 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.