Friday, October 28, 2011

Best in travel 2012

Thinking about where to go? The Lonely Planet - one of my favourite sources of travel info - just published their top 10 list of countries for the next year. Quite a surprising mix from around the world:
10. Switzerland
9. Taiwan
8. New Caledonia
7. Cuba
6. Bhutan
5. Denmark
4. Jordan
3. Ukraine
2. Myanmar ...and drumroll:
1. Uganda!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Czeck, check - pt. 2! A stop in Prague

I never pass up an opportunity to visit a Medieval European city and during two warm & sunny September days I had a chance to see Prague. Quite similar to Budapest, the city is split by a river with a a big decorative castle on top of a hill on the river's west bank. Hey, if you find a good layout for a city, why change it?

The city as a whole is quite spread out but if you don't mind a bit of walking you can see all the main tourist attractions in one day. The metro and trams are very easy to use and a 24h ticket costs 110 CZK (~4,5€). Busses I didn't try in Prague but in Brno they were very good with displays inside showing of the name of the next stop, running accurately according to the schedules on bus stops. Hotels are plenty, and like restaurants, offer good value for money (a room for two in a nice 3* hotel in September +/-50€, meal with beer easily for 10€). The traditional food is pretty heavy and meant to be washed down with local beer - I recommend both! If you like shopping, I would direct you to Palladium.

Personally I enjoyed my stay in Prague. I'd say it's best for a quick & simple city break - the old town is pretty compact but lots of things to see; everything is made easy for the tourists (and hopefully you don't mind seeing plenty of them); it's clean, cute and cheap.

The Opera House

Tudo bem?

I'm halfway through my Spanish and Portuguese courses! And thoroughly confused...

It was a great idea to brush up on my language skills before the "big trip". But... Maybe it wasn't the best idea to take the first Spanish course in about ten years and at the same time start learning Portuguese. Though I am feeling more and more confident with Spanish (and obviously also noticing how limited my vocabulary still is). It's the Portuguese I'm struggling with.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pole Art 2011 - a vertical dance competition

Though I'm a big fan of dancing of the horizontal kind, I didn't want to pass up an opportunity to see some of the vertical kind: pole dancing. Figured it would be interesting and oh boy was it! I definitely hold a high regard for people with such acrobatic capabilities that they can move with grace up and down on the pole. Or two poles actually, a static one and another that is free to rotate.

Pole Art is rather new competition and showcase event for pole dancers. Well I guess so is the pole dance community as well, pole dancing beign a rather new art form, sport and type of dance. This particular event was the third of its kind and most competitors were champions of various national and internation events from the current or past two years (but nothing was noted from before 2009). Also the group of nationalities was rather narrow: Finns, Swedes, French, Russian, Britons and Americans. Though the backgrounds of the participants varied - people from various dance arenas, gymnasts, acrobats and circus performers. This was the first Pole Art event where males succeeded to get to the finals and thus had the male category for the first time. Altogether 9 females and 4 males competed for the respectives trophies (shaped as a huge diamond BTW). In addition to to the competitive series, there were a number of showcase perfomances.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First zouk demo!

Yesterday my darling friend Sami celebrated his 30th birthday with a big bash. As the date came closer he invited me to do a little zouk demo at the party - and probably had no idea what he signed up for. Neither did my dance partner Jaakko but he was happy to make it happen. With two hours of practice on the afternoon before the event we came up with some small tricks.. I cut up an old white skirt.. And our zouk "show" was ready:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Zouk 1 year in Finland!

It's now one year since the zouk invasion rolled into Finland! I've been part of the crusade for 7 months only but a strong member of this crazy crew that's about to take over the entire country ;) To celebrate this birthday (or anniversary?) the FinZouk team organised a big party last Saturday!

And what a party it was! The Helsinki Salsa Academy was ours for the night and we had lured in quite a number of old and fresh zoukers. The program packed evening included a couple b-day rodas, our talented teacher's show and loooots of dancing! I had perhaps the best zouk night of my short but expansive zouk history!! An equivalent of a "perfect game", I burned the floor with passion and precision all through the night. And good times didn't limit to the dance floor - was happy to just hang around with the happy crowd while catching a breath between all the dancing :)

First draft of the BIG TRIP all laid out

Ready - steady - go!
My big trip starts December 2011 and will go on approximately for six months.

The idea is to see the world, specifically some of the most exotic & far away places I never get around to visit during a couple weeks' holiday trip. I've also picked places where I can (at least a little bit now) speak the language, have a chance to practice my dancing and - obviously - where it's mostly warm when it's cold in Finland. I want to see nature that doesn't exists in my home country, explore new cities, experience different cultures and and give myself some time to relax & enjoy life and see where that will take me. And come back home happy & healthy :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Zouktime! Czech, check!

I took part in a great congress in Brno, the 2nd Zouktime congress - an international zouk and lambada event. Excellent teachers, good venues, great parties, fantastic shows... :) There were six of us FinZoukers and about 15 other nationalites, altogether over 250 people. The organisers had clearly made an effort to make the event interesting and each feel welcome.

It was great to see the development in myself since the last (and my first) congress three months ago in Sweden! And was surprised I'm starting to get more into the lambazouk style with its faster tempo and snappier movements. But I still have a firm hold on the slower and more creative Rio zouk as well.

I really enjoyed taking all the workshops even despite beign completely sleep deprived after the "no end time" parties :D I'm always amazed how open, happy and down to earth all the zouk dancers and teachers are. My hat really goes off to the teachers: was excited to see how well they performed, especially those that got coupled with partners that have a different dance style, in a surprise Jack & Jill one minute dance-off. I also got to be one of the judges! Adilio Porto & Natasha Terekhina won and Renato Veronezi & Solage Dias came in second place.

Looking forward to the next congress (yes, I have something already planned)! Some video and pictures from the Brno congress weekend below.

My favourite show of the Brno weekend by Leonardo and Layssa: