Destination Berkeley

“Your visa has been approved” were the magical words I heard this morning. This is not another vacation plan. In a few days I will receive my visa to the United States. Then, I am moving to Berkeley, California to continue my tweeting for @HERE from nine time zones away.

This is an edited version of a longer self-interview and has been approved by the interviewee as factually correct (he disagreed with some of the stylistic choices).

Where are you moving to?

We are looking for an apartment with easy public transit access to Downtown Berkeley BART station. Preferably 2 bedroom apartment, large kitchen and moderate rent. We’ve given up on looking for a place with “cheap” or “affordable” rent. That just doesn’t exist in the Bay Area.


In California, right?

Correct! Looking at the map, I would estimate about an hour away from Silicon Valley and the NHL team San Jose Sharks home arena. But that is about as much as I know. I’ve never been there but I couldn’t be more excited to go. I researched the area through two of the most reliable sources: Reddit (/r/BayArea) and San Andreas – the earthquake disaster movie starred by Dwayne Johnson.

 When are you moving?

I don’t know. I have not booked tickets yet but I expect to be moving quite soon. There’s quite a lot of practicalities to sort through first :)

Is there a party?

Yes! We will be in Helsinki on Sunday 21 June ready to have a few drinks with anyone who is in town during Midsummer. Afterwards, in Berlin, there will definitely be opportunities for something similar.

But what about…?

I will be answering more questions in a live Q&A on Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section below for the next 48 hours straight. EDIT: I meant 4-8 hours but missed the dash. Sorry about that!


Ohio taught me the importance of college football

When a college football stadium fits more people than the Third Reich megalomaniac Berlin Olympic stadium, you know it is a sport to be taken seriously. Is there a sport in Finland that gathers an audience of 90 000 for a practice game? Hint: in Finland, ice hockey draws bigger audiences than any other sport and the Finnish Hockey League has an average of 4 300 viewers per game.


My Alabama-born boss takes it very seriously. That’s why I am officially the fan of Alabama Crimson tide. Sorry Columbus, you were nice and all but this is a political decision. Roll tide!

Back to Ohio. Overall, I was hugely impressed with the Ohio State campus. It felt like a city within a city, including a power plant, several parks and some of the most beautiful buildings in Columbus. Click on the map below to explore the campus area.


We were there on a Sunday, wondering why so many people were coming in and out of the halls so I sneaked into one of the buildings. I backed out quietly once I read the sign that said “exams in progress”.

University Hall

Continuing my series from Detroit of ice hockey arenas shot from the car window, I also managed to find the Nationwide Arena, the home stadium of Columbus Blue Jackets.


On West 5th street, I was introduced to the busiest Dairy Queen of Columbus, Ohio. We couldn’t figure out what makes the location so special but our guides told us that the drive-in queue often goes all the way around and sometimes even blocks traffic. Seriously, it’s just ice cream!


A little before midnight, we decided to go to the nearby drug store and stopped for a blizzard at the DQ. That is, soft ice with crushed cookies (Oreos, of course). While we were digging through our pockets to find Dollar coins instead of Euro cents, the lady who bought a blizzard before us handed her card to the cashier. I tried to tell her that it’s okay, we have the cash and that we just need to find it. But she would not take any of it and insisted on paying our blizzard. Such kindness, thank you!

That is two important lessons of the American culture in one stop: people are extremely nice and do not mess with college football. These are lessons that Hollywood does not teach you.

We visited Ohio on our way back north towards Toronto. The second time we stopped in Cleveland for the most amazing wedding.

The Canadian Bacon is a 3-week road trip in April – May 2015 around the Great Lakes starting and ending in Chicago.

Motor City drive-by

The Canadian Bacon is a 3-week road trip in April – May 2015 around the Great Lakes starting and ending in Chicago. 

There is nothing in Detroit. Why would you want to go there?

It’s derelict, empty and bankrupt but yet I find myself wanting to explore and understand the former capital of car manufacturing. If there is nothing in Detroit, where did it all go? Could it rise again?

Despite my pleas of discovering Detroit we only had time for a quick stop. The destinations on this trip are all about family and right now there was no one to visit in Detroit. We did however take a small detour to 8 Mile Road to see where my girlfriend’s father had grown up.

On our way to the tunnel leading to Canada, we quickly passed Joe Louis arena, the legendary home of the Detroit Red Wings. The fans like to throw octopuses on the ice to delay the game, which explains that huge purple one looking over the stairs.

Windsor was waiting on the Canadian side of the tunnel, so our rental SUV kept moving. Don’t worry Detroit, I will be back. Maybe next time we get to spend the night together.

Lake Michigan from east and west

The Canadian Bacon is a 3-week road trip in April – May 2015 around the Great Lakes starting and ending in Chicago.

While our stop in Chicago could be characterized as a short man staring up at high steel and glass structures, the time in western Michigan was radically different. That’s the perfect start for a 3 week tour of the flyover country of USA.

Food-wise we took a trip from deep dish pizza, that we ate twice in 24 hours, and massive eggs Benedict at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago to the breakfast of champions home-made banana bread French toasts, muffuletta and quesadillas in west Michigan.  Best food out of all those? The homemade Muffuletta that was new to me is a better version of any subway sandwich with plenty of olives and deli meat.

I was underwhelmed by the deep dish pizza and have to say it doesn’t make the the top of my pizza crust list. Yes it’s like a pie crust but I was left the feeling that I would have enjoyed the special tomato sauce and sausages more from a lower dish crust.

Scenery-wise: I’ve seen Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the worlds tallest building but the density of sky reaching buildings in Chicago is what made it stunning. We decided to walk among the tall ones and visit the navy pier with the 8 hours we had before getting our road trip started.

Discovering the rural communities of west Michigan doesn’t happen on feet. You need a four-wheeler just to get to the backyard and the backyard is big. There’s even a pond construction, perfect for shooting skeet or time trialing around on the ATV known here as the “quad”. I somehow managed to blow the tire but according to reports that has already been fixed and I am good to go when we stop by there on our way back to Chicago.  A few towns, over the wind was howling and the scenery was like a set from a modernized western just waiting for a six shooter duel. A cold Monday in April seemed to have scared off the tourists for who Grand Haven was evidently built for. Submitting into evidence: miles long sandy beach at the lake and stores that are open only in the summer.

One thing these two completely different worlds share is the love for Lake Michigan. A lake like a sea but no sharks or salt as the locals say.

Next part of the Canadian Bacon adventure will be about my love affair with Detroit.