Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sauna on a boat

 

My train trip through Europe also involved one boat ride, from Turku to Stockholm. A day boat... arriving just in time in Stockholm for the night train. But, more importantly, the boat had three nice things going for it: (1) a cabin included in the ridiculously low 30€ price, nice for conference calls and naps, (2) decent restaurants to eat at, and (3) a spa with several saunas and pools, all with views of the archipelago as we were sailing towards Marienhamn.

The boat I was on was Viking Line's Viking Glory, a brand new 2022 ship with energy efficient engines and spectacular insides. Not bad!

The spa visit cost only 24€ for two hours, and was well worth it. There was a hot Finnish sauna on both men's and women's side, a shared sauna with large windows, and a shared steam room. There were two large jacuzzis and one large pool with bed-like resting platforms, all right next to windows to at the front of the ship.


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) 2022 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.

Far, far away by train-bus-boat

 

Trying out the slow travel option for a conference in London, left yesterday from Kauniainen, now somewhere between Copenhagen and Hamburg. Trains, boat, couple of buses, walking … 16 legs. Two days, one night but still some opportunities for missed connections or train strikes 🙂 Pretty nice so far, sleeper cabin in the night train and some sauna relaxation on the boat. Noisy stations and choppy sea WiFi have disturbed some conference calls but still workable. Energy savings? Not sure. This is an experience or experiment though.

Update 1: On segment 11, train departed 50 mins late and predicting I will lose the connection and consequently the days last Eurostar … and then tomorrow is what, UK rail strike? Experiment seems to be producing results 🙂

Commenters were right, it is an adventure. Now the next train is even more late so I may make it. But obviously still miss the last under the channel train so … suggestions? Back to Finland and try again with the Volvo?

Update 2: Finally on segment 12 towards Brussels, resigned to not make to tonight’s channel crossing and rebooked it for the morning. But also, in addition missed the designated train to Brussels so waited an extra 90 mins for the sake of own stupidity. Oh well. Getting there eventually I hope.

Update 3: Finally able to admire the views on the channel crossing. Soon in London.

Update 4: Final 16th segment, walking to my hotel initially planned hotel. The trip was 56 hours - planned 46 - and 2200 km, 39 km/h on the average.

Summary: I made it! It was actually quite a lot of fun, despite some delays. I didn't lose luggage, get permanently stuck, or get sick. And was able to work and sleep and eat during the trip. Or even visit the sauna on the boat!

What about CO2 effects then? Using suspect and highly variable numbers as we unfortunately often do - my train trip saved around 76% of emissions but upped the trip length 8x. It also increased delay and infection risk.

Worth it? Yes definitely if one likes the trip and can work and can survive with some delays. Maybe easier and more realistic for slightly shorter trips.

Segment 1 - walking to the station (see above for a picture). Left 04:30 am from home on day 1.

Segment 2 - Kauniainen to Kirkkonummi by local train. Here are some nice lights in the Kirkkonummi station:


Segment 3 - Kirkkonummi to Turku Kupittaa by VR train, with a nice restaurant carriage, and some porridge breakfast:


Segment 4 - Kupittaa to Turku harbor, due to trains not running on this segment because of ongoing repair works:


Segment 5 - Viking Line day boat from Turku to Stockholm. What was nice was that this 32 € ferry ticket included my own cabin. And I was able to visit restaurants and a day spa with saunas (for a cost, but the costs were quite reasonable):




Segment 6 - bus from the ferry terminal to the Stockholm Centralstation:


Segment 7 - a three hour layover, which included 17 000 steps around the city center (with luggage in tow) and a nice restaurant dinner:





Segment 8 - sleeper train from Stockholm to Lund. Too short night, but nice to have my own cabin with a shower. And water... The trains were dated though.






Segment 9 - Lund to Kopenhavn C by local train:



Segment 10 - Kopenhavn C to Hamburg HBF. A nice train, but somewhat packed with people. WiFi works, carriage's are nice and modern.


Segment 11 - Hamburg HBF to Köln, but this is where the problems start. The train from Hamburg is several hours late. I have now lost the ability to connect to the last Eurostar of the day. In addition the first class train ticket I had puts me in a carriage which has no heating, no electricity, and we are told to move "somewhere else". Deutsche Bahn ...



Segment 12 - Köln to Brussels, by now there is even more delay. And the problems continue. Me and some other passengers lose even more time by missing the first train due to the unclear signage. I feel like an inexperienced tourist and want to kick myself. Not that it would help, or that this delay would matter, but still.



Segment 13 - we arrive hour plus after the last train to UK has left, so now I'm forced to camp out in a hotel in Brussels. I walk there.


Segment 14 - Finally, early next morning I manage to board the Eurostar. With a horribly expensive ticket though, as I had separate tickets for the Deutsche Bahn and Eurostar parts. I view the wonderful views from the under-crossing of the Channel :-) 




Segment 15 - tube to my hotel.

Segment 16 - walk half a kilometer to the hotel, still dragging my luggage :-)

Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko.

Tube from Whistle to Barking

 

This is all just so London... but all so funny as well. Or not. Perhaps you had to be there...

Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Caving images generated by DALL-E

Wow. I've seen DALL-E's pictures from other topics elsewhere previously, but now I tried it myself for caving. And since we just had the pre-Xmas party of our association in the cave, I gave the AI the task of imagining what it would look like. True to its style, the generated images are mixture of amazing with some very disturbing undertones.

DALL-E is of course the image-generating AI that takes natural language descriptions as input. It is created by OpenAI, and you can read more about it ​here.

The first task was to imagine "Finnish Caver's Association's Annual Pre-Christmas party in a frozen cave in the woods with mood lights and a dog. Mulled wine was served, along with cookies." See the picture at the top! It is somehow right ... yet disturbingly right because the dog is too human, and the human is reminiscent of my friend Jaakko, who is one of the owners of the actual dog we had in the party. How would the AI know this?

The next question was "A cavers' association Christmas party in a small but warm cave in the frozen Finnish forest". The first picture is kind of nice, well done DALL-E.

But the second one is just wrong somehow ....  what is the contraption in the head, a helmet or a hat?? And the thing in front is surely not a lamp? And the human seems definitely wrong somehow, like an alien is about to jump out. Scary.

The final question was about something the AI surely would not know about, and we didn't do this year. But sometimes we have a squeeze box competition. I asked DALL-E to draw pictures of "Squeeze box competition in a caver's party. Box was set to only 16 cm, and it is very difficult for people to squeeze through. They have to empty their lungs to be able to push forward." But I don't think DALL-E really knew what a squeeze box is:

But in this picture it is somehow getting there... 16cm box that people try to squeeze their head through? But again some disturbing imagery:

This was so much of a mixture of fun and worry about our new AI overloads, that I had to give it a bonus task: "Red granite stalactites, wish we had them! But the rock is too hard." Reliably, DALL-E cave us red stalactites and cave bacon, in a style reminiscent of some aliens:

This article has also been published at TGR. 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, videos, models, maps, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Caver's club Xmas in a cave

 

The Finnish caving association, Luolaseura, has a tradition to hold pre-Xmas parties. This time we started it in a warm place ... in the Grottberget cave in Siuntio. And it was surprisingly warm, I guess because the cave entrance is lower than the cave itself. And with a dozen cavers in this small cave, it also heated up quickly. I really liked the old style oil lamps. And the cave dog!

The Grottberget cave is in coordinates N 60.161948 E 24.137638.



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, videos, models, maps, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

London skiing. On a side of a building.

 


One thing you do not expect when strolling in London is a huge mural on the side of a building, depicting skiing and ski lifts. Well done, South Kensington!

The building is in coordinates 51.493248, -0.176785, at 9 Reece Mews, South Kensington, London SW7 3HE.

This has also been reported by the In The Snow.

Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Season is on again! Only six months break in Vihti and Hyvinkää

 

I opened my official Finnish ski season on 16th of November in Vihti. Vihti actually opened already on the 14th and Hyvinkää had already had sessions from October 24th. The last seasons ended on May 10th in Vihti and May 9th in Hyvinkää, so only 5.5 - 6 months summer break! Well done!

And I was really glad skiing in Vihti now. Only the small slope for the kids was open, with a magic carpet lift but ... it's a start. And all the snow guns started in the night that was getting colder and colder... so soon there's more!

See the video here:


This article has also appeared in TGR. Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

October turns at the x-country ski hall

 

The city of Helsinki maintains a previously commercial Kivikko indoor ski hall. It has been scheduled for closing, however, due to rising energy costs and small number of users. Hopefully that decision can be turned! But. It is an *x-country* ski hall, how can one enjoy it for downhill skiing? To begin with, I was wondering if I'd be allowed in with my ski boots and alpine skis. But no one batted an eyelid... and I put them in touring mode, which made progress on the track nice. And then .. there is about a 4-5 meter slope along the track... I switched to "skating" mode and side of the track... voilà!

Video:

Ski hall building:


Inside:



The slope that runs between the two levels in the ski tracks:



Author:


Funny character:

This article has also appeared in TGR. Read the full Planetskier series at planetskier.net, or all blog articles from BlogspotTGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2022 by Jari Arkko.