Sunday, December 11, 2016

My moment in fame and reactions

Screenshot from Facebook page of on 11.12.2016 published an article about me moving from Finland to Spain on Friday 9th of December. In the article I brought up adversities/difficulties like broken pipe in my flat, summer heat and the price differences in groceries. The reporter naturally added some dramatic tone to make the article stir up reactions. The article received good amount of attention, 360 reactions, 96 comments and 44 shares in 2 days. Naturally I was interested in to see the reactions of people and read the comments. It was interesting to see that many got angry to me because I mentioned negative things about Spain. Some were feeling sorry for me and saying that I should have brought my mom to support me.

The most liked comment (105 likes) by Olli Elovaara was saying that my article was propaganda because the depopulation of Finland is so high that it is necessary to convince Finnish people to stay every other day by saying that it is not so great abroad. Then there were people who could relate to me as they had had also faced difficulties in Spain or in Finland. Despite of possible difficulties there were still people saying that it is worth going to Spain as Finland is depressing. I already published an article of more extreme difficulties what a family can face in Spain because I felt that the positive point of view staying abroad was emphasized too much in the media. I wanted bring some realism to the picture and I can say that speaking Spanish has helped me a lot dealing with the issues.

Then few corrections to the article. My rent is 580 EUR/month and not 680 EUR/month like mentioned in the article. The article also misleads that I have to pay annually agency fee of 816 EUR but in reality it is paid just once when you sign the rental contract.

Working in Barcelona is a different kind of experience than living in a Finnish community in Costa del sol.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Top Posts 2016

Fountain in Parc Ciutadela
This year I returned to Spain and wrote an article about me. Below I have listed the top articles from this year.

1. This article stirred up nice conversation in Finnish expat group.
2. Grocery basket in Finland is not as expensive as people might think compared to Spain.
3. Housing law protects tenants in Spain which gives opportunity to live for free
4. Not everyone sees tourism positive in Barcelona
5. Read what you can experience in Macao

Top posts from previous years 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Spanish third division match

l'estadi Narcis Sala
Today I went to see 17th round match of Spanish third division. The match was Sant Andreu against Vilassar de Mar. The entrance was for free but still the crowd was small. The capacity of the stadium Narcis Sala is 18 000 but there was only around 2 000 spectators. The match itself was not very entertaining as there was only one goal and very few chances to score. Both of the teams were focused on playing with short passes on the ground. Even though the third division football players are not professional the level was good and not far away from the level of Finnish league. Some third division players are getting offers outside of Spain to live by playing football. For example some players get recruited to united states of america or Australia and get paid 1 500 - 2 000 EUR/month.

My previous football match report is from Georgia.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Neighbor who sells drugs

In one expat group of Barcelona one woman asked help what to do with the issue of neighbor selling drugs. In this case the neighbour is selling heavier drugs like cocaine. Drug selling neighbor naturally means shady visitors in your building which can cause trouble. The woman was thinking to report the neighbor to the police but the experienced expats in the group advised her not to report to the police as it can make her a target of criminals. It was clearly advised to just try to ignore the issue because you do not want end up in black list of criminals. According to a Spanish news article assasination in Spain costs from 500 to 5000 euros. It seems that getting someone killed in Spain is pretty cheap. Some expats were also saying that such drug dealers have likely connections to the police officers who are corrupted.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Parks of Barcelona

There are many parks in Barcelona and the three most famous ones are Parc de la ciutadella, Montjuic and Parc Güel. These parks are beautiful and crowded with tourists. Beside the most popular parks there are also other beautiful parks which are more calm compared to the three parks mentioned before. Below I am going to introduce five parks which you can consider visiting when in Barcelona.

Parc Guinardo
There are basically four parks on top of a mountain in Barcelona from each of them you can see a city landscape. The parks on the top of a mountain are Montjuic with a castle, Tibidabo with a attraction park, Parc Güel with art of Gaudi and Parc Guinardo. Parc Guinardo is in the middle of the city and you see a city landscape from every direction. Guinardo was also used for defensive purposes in the past.

Parc del laberint d'Horta
Parc del laberint d'Horta has a labyrinth like you could guess from the name. There are also other nicely taken care areas in the park and the labyrinth is not the only nice thing what you can see in this park. Good place for taking a relaxing walk.

Parc de les aigües
Parc de les aigües is outside of Barcelona in Cornella. The park is on an old water pumping place where the drinking water is being pumped. You can also visit a museum to learn more about the water pumping. The park is small so not good for having a walk.

Parc natural de la Serra de Collserola
Behind the Tibidabo mountain is Parc natural de la Serra de Collserola. The most of the tourists stay in the attraction park and see the impressive church but behind the church is a big natural park with good and long paths for walking. You can find good views of nature and the old ruins of Casino de la Arrabassada.

Parc del Clot
Near Torre Agbar (the building what looks like a dildo) you can find Parc del Clot. The park is surrounded with old ruins which give nice atmosphere to the park. In the middle of the park you can find area to play football and basketball.

I have also visited many other parks and in the future I will write also about the other parks.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Payment in 14 installments

In Finland yearly salary is generally paid in 12 installments. In Spain it is common that yearly salary is paid in 14 installments.It means that monthly payments are smaller as yearly salary is divided to smaller portions. Though the interval of the 14 payments is not even. You get paid monthly but the 13th and 14th installment are paid usually on July and December. Basically you get double salary on these months. The employer basically saves money for the employees for summer holiday and Christmas shopping.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Vermouth (Vermut in Spanish) is a traditional alcoholic drink in Catalunya. It is typically enjoyed as an aperitif or with midday snack. It is typical to bring your own two liter bottle for a refill which costs about 6 euros. The drink is served with ice and olive. The taste of vermouth is sour. The base is wine and many different aromatic herbs are added to create the flavor. Naturally manufacturers have their own recipes. Probably the most well known internationally is Martini Rosso which is considered as vermouth if you want to try.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer heat in Barcelona

View of Barcelona from Guinardo
The summer weather is hot in Spain and I have experienced it in Madrid and Barcelona. The sea makes the air humid and therefore it feels even hotter in Barcelona. The sea gives a chance for refreshing during the summer but on the other hand it makes the climate more uncomfortable. In my opinion the biggest problem with the hot summer weather is the heat during the night which makes sleeping difficult. In Madrid I was able to sleep without a fan but in Barcelona I have had a fan running the whole night and it still has felt too hot. This issue can be naturally solved with air conditioner but I have not had such luxury.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Broken pipe

One day I received a call that my apartment is flooding. I was asked to come home as soon as possible. Once I arrived I found out that a pipe under my kitchen sink had broken and water leaking on the floor for some hours. The leak was discovered because water was dropping to the street from my balcony. I was naturally concerned about the damage caused by the water and also about possible mold issue in the future. I was thinking that some company specialized on drying flats would be needed. To my surprise all Spanish were saying that the mold will not be an issue and just opening the windows and doors will dry the wetness. Apartments in Spain do not have isolation materials which might get wet like in Finland. In Finland it might be necessary to tear down some walls after such leak but apparently it is not needed in Spain.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Comparing prices of grocery baskets in Finland and Spain

Oats, bananas and minced beef from Spain
I saw a table of grocery price comparison between Finnish supermarkets. From there I got an idea to compare Finnish prices to Spanish prices on the selected products. In the below table you can see that the selected food basket is 2,25 EUR cheaper in Finland than in Spain. The result is surprising to me as I expected the prices to be lower in Spain than in Finland. Though comparison is not 100 % accurate because of the differences in product specifications and package sizes. For example In Spain fresh milk was not available.I guess that the selected coffee is also different in each country.

There is a big difference between the oat and Edam cheese price. Oat is considered as a special health product in Spain and not as an every day ordinary product like in Finland. Edam cheese is not similarly consumed in Spain as in Finland and therefore it is more expensive in Spain. On the other hand tomatoes and coffee are cheaper in Spain. As basket includes products typically consumed by Finnish people it is understandable that it is cheaper in Finland. My guess is that if the basket would include products typically consumed by the Spanish people the basket would be cheaper in Spain.

Finland Spain
Oats/kg 0,75 1,78
Flovoured yogurt/1 liter 0,85 1,19
Minced beef/kg 6,83 6,2
Coffee/500 grams 3,25 2,5
Bananas/kg 1,25 1,29
Fat free milk/1 liter 0,65 0,6
Margarin 60 %/kg 1,18 1,7
Edam cheese/kg 3,66 6,35
Tomatoes/kg 1,79 0,85
Total 20,21 22,46

  • Prices of Finland are taken from Prisma Helsinki by Kuluttajaliitto on days 24. - 27.5.2016. Prices from Spain are taken from Mercadona in Barcelona on 10.6.2016.

On 2010 I wrote about my living costs in Alcalá de Henares

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Local Holiday

Each town in Spain has two local holidays in a year. It means that there might be a bank holiday in Barcelona but in a nearby city which is in the same metropolitan area you have a normal work day. For example I live in Barcelona but I had to go to work even though it was holiday in Barcelona because my work is in another town nearby Barcelona. Luckily the public transportation is also quite frequent on holidays and going to work was not an issue. In addition to local holidays there are naturally holidays which are common all around the Spain.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Beach volley in Barcelona

Nova Icaria beach
You can see many beach volley nets on the beach in Barcelona. There are just some fixed nets provided by the city but people bring their own nets which you can buy for 90 euros from a sports store. The beaches are not yet fully conquered by the sunbathers so there is still space to set up a net.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to live for free in Spain

Beginning of the Passeig de fabra i puig
The housing crisis caused that many newly build apartments in Spain are still empty without any residents. In 2015 there were almost 400 000 new and empty apartments in Spain. The most of the empty apartments are owned by banks. This gives a possibility to occupy an empty house and start living there for free. Once you have spotted an empty house you just need to break in and change the locks. There are even corrupted bankers who might give you keys to an empty apartment for a bribe. After breaking in, you need to stay in the flat for 72 hours and getting kicked out from the flat will be a long legal process. During the long legal process which can easily take more than a year, you can still stay in the flat. It is good to have some money to get electricity, gas and running water to the flat though there might be some tricks done to make living more uncomfortable. I do not encourage anyone to occupy a flat but I heard this story, found it interesting and decided to share it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Touristic Barcelona

Touristic destination in Passeig de Gracia
Barcelona is 4th on the list of the most visited cities after Paris, London and Rome. On 2000 Barcelona had around 3 million visitors and on 2013 the number of visitors was over 8 million. I watched a documentary called "Bye Bye Barcelona" which discusses about the problems caused by tourists to the locals. The tourism has caused locals to escape and variety of shops to disappear in touristic areas like La Rambla, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guel. La Rambla is now full of souvenir shops and restaurants trying to attract tourists. It is estimated that 80 % of people walking in La Rambla are tourists. When I visited Barcelona on December 2009, it was free to enter Parc Guel but since last year entering the monumental area has cost 8 euros because of the massive amount of tourists visiting the park.

My Finnish colleague who has lived 6 years in Barcelona has also noticed the increased number of tourists during her stay. In the center life does not get any calmer during the siesta time. I live in a calm area where you can still see the local culture. For example shops are closed and streets are quiet during the siesta time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Simultaneous work and holiday visit in the University of Macau

View in Macau
My father Risto stayed 5 months in Macau and I asked him to write about his experience there. Macau is known as a gambling paradise in Asia like Las Vegas in USA. Click 'Read more' to read about all the other activities you can do and experience in Macau instead of gambling

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bull fighting arena in Barcelona

Bull fighting arena in Barcelona

The bull fighting arena from the inside
Bull fighting has a long history in Spain but in Catalunya bull fighting has been banned. in Madrid I had a chance to see an "encierro" where bulls were running in the street and afterwards in the bull fighting arena. As bull fighting is banned in Catalunya the bull fighting arena in Barcelona has been converted to a shopping mall.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hockey on roller skates

Match of juniors in Cerdanyola
I have stayed in a town nearby Barcelona and here many children are practicing hockey on roller skates in Spanish "hockey patines". Nearby of my house is a sports hall where I saw today juniors playing. It was surprising to see that the match was played in mixed teams (girls and boys). I checked that there is a professional league in Spain where most of the teams are from the area of Catalonia and few teams on the Western coast of Spain. The size of the field in roller skate hockey is about the same size as in floorball or handball. Each team has four players and a goalkeeper. I would like to play and see how well I can do with my stickhandling skills learned in floorball. Once I get the chance to play I will write more how it is to play and more about the equipment and the rules.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Few weeks in Barcelona

I have been now few weeks in Barcelona. I was warned that Catalans might try to speak me Catalan instead of Spanish. So far I have been able to get along well with Spanish. No one has refused to speak Spanish to me. Though my impression is that Barcelona is more Catalan than I expected. Everything is written in Catalan and Spanish is not always available. Luckily with my Spanish knowledge I can understand most of the written Catalan. You can see also plenty of Catalan flags decorating the balconies of apartments.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Georgian hospitality

Tower of the wall in Signnaghi
Georgians are known to be very hospital towards guests and foreigners. I was told a story which highlights how important it is to be a good host for visitors. People from UNICEF was visiting Georgian rural areas to see if families needed some aid. The news about arrival of visitors reached the area and the families wanted to wish them welcome. One of the poor families was struggling and thinking how they could give the visitors a warm welcome. The family felt that they did not have anything good enough to offer for the visitors. Finally the family came up with an idea to sacrifice their only chicken which provided them steadily eggs and serve it for the visitors. When the visitors heard this they thought that sacrificing the chicken was stupid but the hospitality was so important to the family that they sacrificed something very valuable for them.

Georgians do not let you pay when you are their guest and will insist serving different foods. Though tourism has increased in Georgia and now there are also people who are taking advantage of the tourists. Beggars can be aggressive towards foreigners and sales people might charge more from foreigners.

Monday, January 18, 2016

500th post and moving to Spain

Winter landscape from Finland
This blog is now 6 years and 6 months old. I am very happy for being blogging for so long time and being able to publish 500 blog posts. During that time I have lived 24 months in Łódź, 15 months in Kuopio, 14 months in Joensuu,  10 months in Alcalá de Henares, 9 months in Ankara, 3 months in Madrid and 3 months in Tbilisi. It means that in Past 6 years and 6 months I have lived in 7 different cities and in 5 different countries. I have published on average 6 posts per month.

This is not an announcement to retire from blogging because a new adventure is waiting for me abroad. I am moving to Barcelona and I will continue blogging from there. I can escape the freezing cold -30 degree weather of Finland and see more sunny days in Spain.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The old new year

Toasting for the old new year
The sky was full of fireworks on the first of January in Georgia as it was the new year celebration. Yesterday night I also witnessed fireworks exploding in the sky. There was not as many fireworks as on the first of January but still plenty of them. Georgians like to celebrate the new year two times. The old new year is unofficial celebration day which is celebrated according to the Julian calendar. I have been said that Georgians like to find always a reason to celebrate.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Spain is a paradise for Finnish people

Beach of Valencia
I read an article of Finnish Riina making her dreams coming true by moving to Fuengirola in Spain.She works as a personal trainer and as a customer service clerk in a telephone number service company. There is a big Finnish community living in Fuengirola. It is estimated there are around twenty thousand Finnish people.

The article got popular and received in one day 168 comments and top comments received hundreds of likes. The most of the comments are very positive even though there is also some envy and jealousy in them. Overall people are wishing that they could do the same, wishing Riina good luck and hoping to be themselves enjoying warm weather of Spain. Finland is seen as a miserable place and Spain as a paradise. Spain is one of the top holiday destinations for Finnish people and therefore many Finnish have actually have had a chance to experience Spain for short period of time. Many seem to be dreaming about moving abroad but they do not see it being possible or lack courage to do it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

How many calories does raw chocolate have?

Finished raw chocolate
Honey, cocoa powder and coconut oil

I have seen fitness bloggers highlighting raw chocolate in their blogs and therefore I decided to prepare some own raw chocolate. I used 70 grams of 100 % cocoa powder, 40 grams (100 ml) of coconut oil, 50 grams of honey, 100 grams of hazelnuts and 100 grams of almonds. The final result was full plate of 360 grams of raw chocolate. The taste was good and also approved by my chocolate loving friend. Then I decided to count the kilo calories (kcal) of the portion. 360 grams of raw chocolate which I prepared contained 2 372 kcal which is 658 kcal and 14 grams of protein per 100 grams. Regular milk chocolate has 545 kcal and 11 grams of protein per 100 grams. Switching regular chocolate to raw chocolate will not reduce the intake of calories. The quality of the ingredients between raw chocolate and regular chocolate is another debate.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas in Georgia

Georgian Christmas tree
Georgian Christmas tree called Chichilaki is made of dried hazelnut or walnut branch. Chichilaki represents the beard of St. Bazil the great who is thought to visit people like Santa Claus. On the top there are three spikes where you place three fruits. Average size of Chichilaki is around 30 cm tall so it is generally smaller compared to a Christmas tree. 25th of December is not a holiday in Georgia. Christmas gifts are given on the first of January and Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Airport taxi Tbilisi

I arrived to the airport of Tbilisi at 5 am on Monday. My friend was late and decided to walk outside to wait my friend there. After stepping outside from the airport door I was surrounded  by 20 taxi drivers who were offering me a ride to the center. I declined offer from 5 taxi drivers while walking to a good waiting place. I was waiting my friend on my feet for 30 minutes and during that time at least 20 different taxi drivers came to ask me if  I needed a ride. There were few who were more persistent than others and I had to decline them 5 times as they came back to me again and again. It felt like Taxi drivers were fighting to have customers. Black market taxis were offering ride for 20 liras (8 EUR) as official taxi costs 30 liras (12 EUR).