Letters from Santa Claus: he starts charging in Finland

Some time ago we wrote a post about how to send letters to Santa Claus and his address in the Finnish Lapland. And we commented that one of the great things about that system was that Santa himself responded to you and it was free. Unfortunately, Santa Claus has begun to charge for writing back.

Lapland: the place where Santa Claus lives

Santa Claus and Finland

As we all know, Finland is Santa’s land.

There they call it “Joulupukki”, which literally means “Christmas goat”, and comes from an ancient tradition.

The Finns are very fond of this man and in Lapland, where he lives, they make Christmas a big thing. They take it seriously.

The Santa Claus village in Lapland
Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Source (CC: by-sa)

In Lapland we can see for example three Santa Claus attractions, including the best known: the Santa Claus village. In the village you can visit the Arctic Circle line, the post office, and the good guy in person, who is available to chat for a while and have a picture taken for a fistful of Euros.

Santa starts charging for writing to you.

But the photo once you were there was the only thing the nice guy charged you. Until now.

Santa Claus with kids
Santa, chatting with some small visitors. Source (CC: by-sa)

A commentator of the post on the letters warned us: from 2019 it is no longer free to receive a letter from Santa Claus, but the price will be 8.90€.

Diligently we began to find out the details, and they are as follows. As you can read on the website of Posti (the Finnish Postal service), it seems the person who tipped us off was correct. The new payment card can be ordered in any of the 13 languages you speak (English included, of course) and will be personalized, addressing the recipient (the lucky boy or girl) by name. At least, the Posti guarantees that it will arrive before Christmas – according to its website.

It is a pity for all of those who have written to him up to now. Regardless of financial status, anyone would receive a letter response from Santa Claus in their home. At least the service has not closed completely, but it is definitely a pity that it has changed in this way.

And you, did you send a letter to his address in Lapland and he replied? What do you think of this change of policy?



Flying a drone in Finland – what to know

Private drones (the ones people have to take pictures and play) are already a very common element in the backpack of a tourist or traveler, and the truth is that the photos and videos they make are extremely cool. Because of that, I began investigating the topic. So here is all the information you need if you want to fly a drone in Finland.

But first, the video with a drone that inspired this post. @enriquemt upload travel photos often, and they are always pretty cool. Follow him too if you want! (and you can follow the best instagrammers of Finland too)

Flying a drone in Finland

What are the rules for piloting a drone in Finland? That’s the question we’re going to answer here.

In general, flying a drone in Finland is allowed almost everywhere. There are even several clubs and areas designated for this hobby all over the country’s geography.

But of course there are also areas where flying is forbidden. These zones include nuclear power plants, oil refineries and areas used by the government. It is also forbidden to fly them within 1 km of an airport, and if you want to do so you have to ask permission from a control tower (if you are interested, these are the steps). Between 1 and 3 km from an airport a drone can be flown just at the height of the objects you fly over, but not higher.

In general, when go to Finland to fly your drone and to do it well, you should download the Droneinfo app (for Android and iOS), which is also in English so there is no excuse not to follow the rules. The App is developed by the Finnish Transport Security Agency, so it is always up to date.

Safe areas for Flying a drone in Finland
Screenshot from the Droneinfo app.

Things to know to fly your drone in Finland

Here is a list of things to know:

  • Flying over inhabited areas is permitted if the drone weighs less than 3 kg.
  • You don’t need permission from the people you record if you do it in a public place like a market.
  • Do not spy or post photos of people in their private environment.
  • Flying a drone over a crowd is not allowed. The minimum safety distance is 50 m.
  • The maximum flight altitude is 150 meters.
  • You must put your name and contact information on your drone.
  • Buying a third party damage insurance policy is recommended.
A drone in air. Source (CC: by-nd)

Flying with drones in Helsinki

We focus a bit on Helsinki, the capital of Finland, as it’s the place most people visit when they go to Finland, and the place where you’ll probably fly a drone then.

In the capital there are several areas where it is totally forbidden to fly your drone, and unfortunately one of them is the center-center of the city: the place where is for example the white cathedral of Helsinki.

For the rest, follow the recommendations of this post and its sources.

Areas for not flying a drone in Finland
Visual guide of droneinfo.fi to know where not to fly your drone in Helsinki.

Flying your drone in Lapland

Extreme cold can make drones work differently than they do at “normal” temperatures… as well as affect your fingers if you operate it without gloves or protection (here are some tips on how to dress for the extreme cold of Lapland).

In addition to following the recommendations of this post (and visit the official sources we linked in case anything has changed), you must consider how to fly a drone in cold temperatures.

Lapland is at least this snowy for half a year.

If the day is wet as well as cold, this can accelerate the freezing of some parts of the drone such as the propellers or rotors. Sensors may freeze or give readings that are not correct. Fog or if it starts to snow are two other things to keep in mind, as they can limit visibility and snow can accumulate or interfere in some parts of the drone.

Equally, as we commented in the post of tips for photographing the aurora borealis, the cold also makes the batteries last less, so keep this in mind when flying a drone in Lapland. If you have extra batteries, be sure to carry them and keep them under your coat until you use them.

And you, have you flown a drone in Finland? Can you show us a photo or video you made?



Top 7 Instagrammers in Finland

Instagram has given us great moments. For me, it is a great way to see life at this moment in different parts of Finland. Through it I have made awesome connections, like the day I met the person who included us as the only recommended blog in the Lonely Planet of Finland (ES), and many more. So I thought: why not showing you who are the best Instagram accounts in Finland?

How to find the best instagrammers in Finland

In this post we follow the methodology that led us to conclude which were the top 10 Finnish bands. In this way, we use popularity as a measure of “better” (and we let you decide if they are or not: tell us in the comments).

On that occasion, to build the top-10, we were guided by number of Google search results to find out which bands were most talked about. HIM dominated.

Let’s face it: it is a very instagrammable photo of our previous trip.

This time we will be guided by other tools, since Google is not a good way to search for instagrammers from Finland (based and creating content about the country). The tools we found – if you know a better one, tell us in the comments – are myus and influence. Here they come.

Finland’s best Instagram accounts

#0: Big in Finland‘s instagram account

Ok, it is possible that our one isn’t the best, but now that we have reached 1000 followers (we started late the account), it seemed a good time to present it on the blog. Follow (if you want) Big in Finland on Instagram if you haven’t yet!

Photos of travel in Finland and around the world await you there.

And now, for the really followed and popular ones, here comes the top-7. One note: the accounts are of people, not institutions like the country’s tourism office.

1.- Marianna Mäkela (181K followers)

A Helsinki fashion blogger is the number 1 on the list. She shows us a new look every day in instagram, and her fans are definitely responding. A few days ago, for example, she showed us these Balenciagas (hey, I may not be a fashion blogger, but it seems to me that after June almost no one wears this style any more!).

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4pecSKAsnl/

2.- Virpi Mikkonen (165K followers)

Virpi (we do not know what Finnish city she is from, since it is not shown on her Instagram account) has achieved her impressive number of followers with eye-catching photos of healthy food, most of them with a recipe included. Here is a tasty example

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1lMQJpF4Jr/

3.- Mikael Sandberg (161K followers)

This Finnish man from Espoo is mostly known for his YouTube channel. But definitely one can say his Instagram does not lag behind in terms of popularity and large number of followers. In this account he shows photos of his different activities and trips (while leaving the Vlogs for YouTube).

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3wzvUknNby/?utm_source=ig_embed

4.- Natali Karppinen (117K followers)

Natali is a Finnish photographer from (and based in) the capital of Finland, Helsinki. She defines herself as a conceptual art photographer, and that is what she shows us on her website. However, her Instagram is more focused on portraits like this.

5.- Sandra Hagelstam (89.7K followers)

This Finnish actress uses her Instagram account to show us fashion and trips in which she participates, mostly. And beauty products and tips, as the following (funny) picture shows us.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3CbqjKgC-V/?utm_source=ig_embed

6.- Piia Tuuli (82.2K followers)

Piia is a Finnish interior photographer. In her Instagram account she shows us different Finnish houses from inside, and also some lifestyle photos. For example, this is a photo of a great looking Finnish house.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4u9yXMg3Pg/?utm_source=ig_embed

7.- Sofia Marof (76.1K followers)

This young (and so young!) Finnish girl from Tampere is perhaps the youngest fashion blogger in Finland at 6 years old. Or, at least if she’s not the youngest, she is the one with the best age/ followers ratio in the country. Her account is manged by her mom (who also appears with different items in some pictures). Sofia shows us what she is wearing and provides links so that we can purchase the items directly. As in this photo.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4xrIGsBewI/?utm_source=ig_embed

And that’s our list. If you like the topic you can browse along the tools linked above in the blogpost ( as Inluence.co they list up to 1000 Finnish instagrammers) and perhaps find your new favorite instagrammer from Finland.

What is your favorite Finnish instagrammer? Recommend it in the comments!



Central Restaurant in Peru: dining in Lima

As I have already commented on the blog, apart from a lot of Finland (which I love), I am going to talk more about other places I traveled to and find interesting to write about. And I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about my visit to the Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru.

If you want, check out a selection I made of restaurants in Helsinki, and the Michelin-starred Finnish restaurants (ES).

The Central Restaurant

A friend who was there told me about it.

It is one of the five best restaurants in the world (it has been around position 5 for years, one up or down) but at a price that – saving a little money on the way and if you like to spend money on eating – almost everyone can afford.

A central restaurant website snapshot
Website of the Central Restaurant.

It is also on the list of the best sustainable restaurants in the world (you know we try to compensate and offset CO2 when we travel)

The Central Restaurant (website) of Lima is run by chef Virgilio Martinez, and has been open in the Barranco neighborhood – a classic neighborhood that the young bohemian have taken by a storm, a bit like Kreuzberg in Berlin – for several years, delighting diners.

It has appeared in one of the episodes of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table“, in which Chef Martinez visited the places where he gets the ingredients from and showcases the restaurant and its philosophy. Here is a video.

Making a reservation in the Central

It just coincided that this year the trip to Peru was going to be to escape the dark and cold winter in northern Europe. And that also coincided with my birthday.

Because of the good feedback that my friend gave me, and because I could just book such a great dinner for my birthday, it was easy to do it. Reservations can be made through its website (you, as us, we chose not to make an upfront payment).

In the reservation you are given the choice of menu (the “short” one contains 13 dishes, and the long one 16), with the concept of tasting foods of the different heights that are to be found in Peru.

Central Restaurant Menu
The menu of the restaurant.

My experience in the Central Restaurant

I have been to nice and tasty places and tried interesting foods in my trips, but never been to one of the world’s top restaurants.

And the Central restaurant didn’t fail to deliver: the night was fantastic.

The space is very well designed, with not too many tables at a good distance from each other, so you have a good space to enjoy. There is a huge window into the kitchen, where you can see the kitchen team almost dancing, as they know their motions very well and it feels like they flow through their work. We peeked often to see what they were doing, and to see Virgilio in action, and we were pleased with this big window.

The staff is polite and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid to ask them anything about the food or to repeat something to you (as sometimes the normal level of conversations around you will make you miss something).

In terms of food, the chef plays – apart from the heights where the ingredients are found – with textures, temperatures and other variables. The different dishes come at a nice pace, so you can take your time to appreciate each dish’s merits while not having to wait a lot for the next one.

Not all of the 16 dishes we tried were extremely rich and tasty and the best we have tried in our life: this is one of the thing one learns the first time that they go to a world-famous restaurant. The concept (food from different habitats), the techniques, and the presentation they all play a part on each dish, as they are also a piece of art. But it was very interesting to hear the story behind each dish and know how all the ingredients come together from a given ecosystem.

My favorite dishes were the sea urchin, cooked to perfection and something I’ve never tried before. I couldn’t believe something I that looks a bit alien on a plate, and not offered in a lot of restaurants could taste so well. As well, I loved the pure percebe clams, which – as far as I could tell – were cooked with the sferification technique and they exploded in my mouth delivering loads of amazing taste.

Eating Piranha in the Central Restaurant
Sometimes the Piranha eats you, and some others you eat the Piranha (or, more acuratelly, what lies on top of it made with Piranha parts)

It seems that the more aquatic side of the Peru ecosystem was the one that left me the happiest food-wise. As you can see from the picture of the Piranhas above.

It was like traveling through Peru with your mouth. And it was a good preview of dishes we would try later on in Arequipa, Cuzco, Titicaca Lake… Concretely, we had a meal in the Amanantí island prepared from an indigenous family, which used a lot of the same ingredients as Chef Martinez’s one.

As a last note, we said “what the hell, let’s go for it” and asked for the wine pairings with the food. Even as fantastic as it was, in the end we ended up a bit tipsy and lost a little focus on the dishes, and I personally think I wouldn’t ask for it if I go to Central again. But of course, is totally up to you.

All and all, it was an amazing birthday dinner that I will remember for a long time.

What did you think of this post? Would you like us to encourage you to tell you more about our trip to Peru last January?




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