This blog is dedicated to my great journey to the United States of America. Most of the events take place in San Diego but at a later stage the east coast will take over as the main setting for the story.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Finally, finally finally finally! This is really the peak of my whole American Adventure, that much I can tell you already! New York City is the coolest city on earth and Brooklyn has got to be the best borough ever. My first couple of days have been long indeed, which is not a bad thing in any sense. I wish the days here would be even longer.

My flight arrived in La Guardia airport in the evening of Tuesday, December 26. A little late but hey, it was through Denver; what do you expect after all the blizzards and all that. Some people probably had to spend their Christmas at Denver airport so I can't really complain...much. I saw New York from the plane and wow wee indeed; it is impressive to say the least! Never have I seen anything like that, built by man that is. We got the cab to our place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and quickly settled in. It's a nice place in a very nice neighborhood. Fort Greene is quite close to Brooklyn Bridge, between Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant (also known as Bed-Stuy). Bed-Stuy is one of the less comfortable neighborhoods here in Brooklyn, at least by reputation. Home of Biggie, Jay-Z and even Big Daddy Kane himself…so I guess I gotta pay a visit if I have time.
These photos are from just around the corner...actually the upper one is from our window.

I can't even begin to describe how much I like Brooklyn so far. It's know, it's seen a lot of life, or that's the feeling I get when walking around. Taking clothes to laundry, visiting the nearby deli or just walking down the streets is very, very pleasant to me and I honestly could picture myself living here. For the first time during my stay here I actually feel that I could stay here if it wasn’t for some ongoing, important things in Finland. The situation being what it is, I really could not stay at the moment, but I love this place nonetheless.

Central Park, some more Brooklyn

The first real day here we went to Manhattan and just strolled around, got to see Wall Street, Ground Zero and all that. The Empire State building we saw too, even if from afar. Managed to catch the Staten Island ferry and got a great view of Manhattan, Hoboken, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. It was a breezy day but the weather was great otherwise, no complaints really. Most of the time I was just looking around, totally awestruck by the size of the buildings. It was kinda like in one of my dreams in which I was walking in New York and feeling dizzy from the height of the buildings surrounding me. We also did Times Square, which was off the hook! It was incredibly crowded there and the lights kinda reminded me of Vegas…but the amount of people, the size of the buildings, made it a totally different experience. Of course we went to Toys R Us which was the most ridiculous toy store ever, the mother of all toy stores so to speak.

On the second day we slept kinda late due to sleep deprivation but managed to get to Central Park after all, had some hot dogs and all that, and after that we went to 5th Avenue to check some high end showrooms and shops, like Nokia, Dior etc. We also went to Comic Strip to see some stand up comedy, cost like 7 bucks each. Comedy Strip is the place where Seinfeld tells jokes at the beginning of every episode by the way. It was a brilliant show mostly, but one of the performers was just horrible. Apparently they had all been on TV at least 5 times but only a couple seemed even vaguely familiar. After that, at like midnight, we went to Lower East Side, near Chinatown, for some underground-esque clubs and it was actually quite a bit of fun. Then we took a cab back home.

Today we were supposed to go to Empire State Building to admire the view over New York City but couldn’t get up early enough and didn’t feel like standing in line for 2,5 hours. So we just went to Chelsea and walked around for some hours and had some pizza and stuff. Also went shopping a little, or tried at least. I did buy one hoody from a mall at Columbus Circle. The price was right so I thought what the hell…but in reality, the only shopping I’m gonna do here is a pair of sneakers. Don’t what sneakers though, that’s what I was trying to find out today…most likely either Adidas or Le Coq Sportif…the Le Coqs were really nice for the price and are the ones I’ll probably get. At the moment, the others are preparing for a night out while I’m preparing to go to bed early to get up early for a run perhaps, and an expedition deeper into Brooklyn. Still gotta walk Brooklyn Bridge, see Coney Island, check some record stores and yadda yadda. Brooklyn!


In the uppermost picture all three of us get to shine...Arno, me and Alex. Though I really don't shine in that particular pic :S

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Aloha, Mahalo and Farewell...

My last few days in the sunny San Diego. Without an apartment of my own, with my car at Chau's place it really feels like I'm leaving...but, it's for New York that I'm departing, which cannot be a turn for the worse. And no matter how sunny San Diego can be, it's just no match for Maui, Hawaii.

Yup, I just came from Hawaii yesterday morning. And boy, what a trip it was. It was Thursday December 14 when I took my flight to the island of Maui, home two volcanoes and from what I had heard, an island of immense beauty. We got there in the evening; Me, Mike, Steffi and Sunshine. But since it was so dark we couldn't really discern whether it was beautiful or not. Our hostel for the first night, the Banana Bungalow was located in a less than inviting neighborhood but our room was decent enough. The owner thought we should have been carrying knives or something while out in that neighborhood. Well, we survived and started off towards Lahaina the next morning. Our car for the week was Dodge Caliber, arranged by Mike, and the car was actually pretty good, very European. And that must be good.

The town of Lahaina is a beautiful old village, though a bit spoilt by tourism, as is most of West Maui. We just chilled at the Kaanapali beach for the most part on that day, and then headed to our condo in Kuleana Club, north of Lahaina and Kaanapali. The apartment was very nice, especially the view from our balcony. We didn't spend much time wondering, but decided to go touring around North Maui despite the warnings by some Expedia tour guides. Told us that you can't drive up there, that you gotta take one of their helicopter tours. Yeah ass. While the road wasn't exactly a seven lane highway, it was decent enough for driving and not that dangerous at all. Instead, it was incredibly beautiful there, with all the villages, bays and mountains. We also saw this hill called the Iao Needle, which, quite frankly, looked like a huge penis to us. Well, turned out that the "peak is known as the phallic stone of Kanaloa, Hawaiian god of the ocean". So it wasn't just a product of our perverted imagination, fortunately.

The next day, Sunday, we just chilled for the most part, at the beach. It was a fun day, but the next one was even better when we went to Big Beach, hands down the best beach I've ever seen in my life. Straight from a paradise post card, like the Garden of Eden. There was also a nude beach right next to it and of course we just had to check it out. Surprise surprise, it was mainly vacated by obese Germans; not much to see there fact my eyes are still burning. After the beach me and Mike hiked up a hill that was strictly forbidden to climb because of some recent earthquakes or something, and landslides. We hiked it up nevertheless and it really wasn't all that dangerous, just some American paranoia. The view was easily worth the 40 minute climb, and it would have been fun to climb it even without the view.

Tuesday was perhaps the best day of the whole trip; we drove down the Hana highway and checked what the southern part of the island had to offer. Simply put it was one of the most beautiful places I've even been to. We saw dozens of waterfalls, small hidden pools and some bamboo forests as well, in addition to the jungle that was all over the place. We had some local banana bread and fresh pineapples for snack, and man it was goood. After driving all the way down to Haleakala national park, we took a hike there to some big waterfalls and bamboo forests, along with some breathtaking sights indeed. Maui wow wee!
The last couple of days were just mainly chilling at the beach and stuff. On the last day I actually played a few rounds of tennis with Mike and man it was fun! I gotta start playing again, it's a lot of fun and a good exercise, especially in the heat of Maui! After playing tennis we went snorkeling and I finally got to see one of those big sea turtles! Damn it was nice swimming amidst all the coral and fish, and even feeding them with some bread...and then seeing a big turtle right before sunset. It was like a meter long almost, so not exactly a baby. After the snorkeling I packed up and flew to San Francisco for my connecting flight. Had a pancake breakfast there, and after a while I was in San Diego again.

These last couple of days in San Diego...well, I got the deposit from my crib, my car is already at Chau's place and available if someone wants to buy it, I'm at Trever's house and pretty much ready to go. Good times, I love San Diego but I know it's time to move on, towards New York City and towards my homeland.

Monday, December 11, 2006

An ode to Animal Style

I just had to write this down as quickly as possible cause I wanted to capture the essence of this feeling! Went to In-n-Out tonight, possibly, and unfortunately for the last time (in a while at least). See, In-n-Out only exists on the West Coast, as far as I know. Now, I must say I'm gonna miss that Double-Double combo animal style. Damn, first of all, the burger is hands down the best double burger in any fast food chain ever. Make it animal style, which adds a whole lot of flavor to an already tasty burger, and it simply makes even the toughest healthy food activist drool.

Now how bout those fries? You'd think you really can't make fries THAT special, right? Well take another guess. Those fries are some very, very good fries to begin with. BUT, at In-n-Out, if you order them animal style, they add some melted cheddar, thousand island dressing and grilled onions, which is one off the hook combination! Honestly, I've gotta take that recipe to Finland, never had better fries ever! Needless to say I was quite content once again, after eating all that gourmet food.

Now, finally, I got a pic of those Christian activists. Thanks to my Dutch buddy Joris for taking these pics! Maybe I should get a cell with a camera as well, for these situations. Well, maybe later when I can afford one.

Look at that idiot. He even looks like a retard even though I'm not one to judge people that harshly, usually. I look kinda fed up as well.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Time! It's about time baby...

Another week has gone by quickly, and only 9 whole days left in San Diego. Time really flies sometimes. The last week hasn't been the most active for my part, meaning that not much has been going on really. Just chilling with friends and having a good time. Yeah, good times, these really are good times. Can't remember the last time I had this much fun for 4 months straight. I mean sure, there have been happy periods in my life, plenty of them, but this whole study abroad period has been pure bliss. Of course it helps a lot that I know my life won't be getting any worse when I get back to Finland, though the change in my life and especially in the rhythm of my life will be drastic. But you know as fun as it has been, that kind of change is very welcome actually.

I've made many very good friends while here, but I haven't forgotten my good friends back home. Yes, I'm pretty sure I know where my home is. And of course friends is not the only thing I miss, nor is my family...nor my nuclear family! I miss the crisp winter air, I miss the snow, the cold, rainy days. I miss the small cars that are so common in know, those Renault Clios and Volkswagen Polos. Heck, even that ugly Toyota Yaris will be a sight for sore eyes after all these mega pick up trucks. What about the food? I love the food here, there's so many different options...especially the fast food here is light years ahead of that of Finland. Then again, I'm getting a bit tired of all this fast food. Where's the rye bread, real cheese and normal food? I like "cooking" and even real cooking if I have someone to cook with. Meaning someone who actually knows what's going on in the kitchen and can tell me how to do things. I'm learning though.

Naturally there are things I don't miss that much. As hard is might be to believe it, I find it actually more pleasant that people are so extroverted here, and everyone is always smiling. Everyone is extremely helpful if you're in need of assistance. I really don't miss that general grumpyness and sour faces that are so prevalent in Finland, especially during fall...which is exactly what I've managed to avoid by being here. Still, I do miss Finnish people. I've really learned to appreciate the honesty and sincerity that is so common in the wonderful people of Finland.

Now, while all this important and all that, the reason why I want to go back really really bad is my girl, Minttu. Without her I wouldn't be in such a rush. And I don't consider that a limitation or anything, more as something that makes my life a whole lot richer and more exciting. Life is good.

Even though the last week has been somewhat bland, it's only been bland until the last couple of days. First the bad things...we still haven't been able to get our car sold. It's a good car and I wouldn't wanna part with it but I gotta get rid of it before I leave! Other than that, it's been all good. Yesterday was weird. I went to school like normal, and gave a presentation in was for my German class; I don't just go out and give presentations in German for the sheer fun of it. It was on sauna and the sauna culture in Finland, and people actually thought it was very very interesting despite my broken German.

After my German class I witnessed something that can happen only in America. There was a bunch of Christian fundamentalists/extremists at the Aztec Center preaching about Christianity. By the beard of Zeus, great raven of Odin, six arms of Shiva and Ukko Ylijumala himself, if that is Christianity then I'm resigning from church. They gave such a disgusting picture of themselves and their religion it's simply unfathomable. One of the guys actually had a big banner denouncing homos and lesbians, moslems, mormons, roman catholics, unloving husbands, unsubmissive wives(!) and so on. When asked for clarifications and reasons for all that hate they responded by simply reciting their precious Bible. Now I'm pretty convinced that only idiots take the Bible as some form of absolute truth. It was written by men and represents only fraction of the writings about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and all those gospels were written a generation after the death of Jesus anyway! I told them that at one point but they refused to comment on that...shows just how ignorant they are. It was great entertainment, however, to watch them rant. It even attracted a few gay couples, both male and female couples, to go make out in front of them...followed by cheers from the audience. Also one must not that the smartest comments came from non-christians. And I'm not talking about atheists here either. Just a word of advice for people...stay away from organized religions and find your own path whatever it may be.

In the evening I went to the local Comedy Club at La Jolla with Trever, his friend Rob, Anssi and his girlfriend Suzanne. There were some really good stand up comedians up there on the stage and we some really good laughs, but at one point the level of the performance started to dive bigtime and by the third consecutive crappy comedian me, Trev and Rob decided to bail. One of those guys was seriously tripping, he couldn't be that retarded from just alcohol or weed. Nevertheless, the night was a success and I'd say we all had a good time. Fat Tire is one good beer.

Today I went jogging first thing in the morning. Felt good after doing it, but man that was the most horrible run I've ever done. It just doesn't feel good to go running dehydrated, tired, stiff and with an empty stomach. Well it got better as we were in a rush to get to Chau's house vie Mike's place. We were going golfing. Yes, I went golfing for the first time in my life. Luckily Mike was a first timer as well but I was the worst nevertheless. I had a really good start: as I took my first swing, aiming straight ahead, the next moment I noticed the ball rocketing to the right, towards a car that was (stupidly) parked next to the starting place. Well luckily the ball bounced just before the car and hit it in the bottom so no harm done. We had a good laugh nevertheless. Aside from that, golfing was actually a lot of fun, especially with the heavenly weather of San Diego! Not to mention a few beers and some serious golf car racing!
That's Chau (one of my best friends here) and me chilling in the golf car.

Look at the guy with glasses in the back...turhan fileissä!?!?!?

After golfing we finally went to have something to eat (it was about time, we hadn't eaten anything before that!) the one and only Hooters. Well there are plenty of Hooters restaurants here in San Diego but everyone knows the deal with waitresses in little clothes. Not a bad combination if you ask our party of four. The food wasn't all that special but it did its job and I went through yet another all-American experience! We had a good laugh at Hooters, the whole idea is just off the hook. Anyway, I'm getting a bit tired here and gotta go to bed now...I'll be writing again when I come up with something to write about.

Team Scandinavia here: Perttu, me and Mike.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Return of the Bogi

Ahh finally got some time to write a little bit. Yes, as the headline suggests, a lot has happened over the past few weeks. First, let me recount the past week or so. Tuesday was a great day for us San Diegans: our Briton-turned-Finn arrived in San Diego safe and sound. Of course the first thing we did was take him to In-n-Out for a late night dinner. Animal style, needless to say. Oh, before you read further, be advised that there's some vivid descriptions foul language and inappropriate behavior.
Like that.

The next day is what I refer to as "Black Wednesday". Yes, the day when John Bogi returned with a vengeance! Me, Sebu and Perttu got absolutely smashed after shopping a little bit (!) and whatnot. We had a our fridge full of different beers, 2,5l of red wine, around 1l of whisky and around 1l of vodka. Well, we really got ourselves started with that amount. No, we didn't exactly drink all of it at once but ended completely hammered nevertheless. We decided to go skinnydipping with Sebu for some odd reason, after waking Perttu up of course. See, Perttu had sneaked into his room to pass out at some point. It is rather self-explanatory that we got him back up to shoot a video of us jumping into the pool in the middle of the night. Other activities of the night included some nostalgia filled moments at, watching some old M.A.S.K, He-Man and whatever intros we could come up with. Classic shit! Why don't they make cartoons like they did way back when?
Hung over and ready for Vegas!

Thursday was another day and I swore I wouldn't drink a drop since we were going sin city Las Vegas on Friday morning. Well, after seeing some local sights like the beaches and downtown we got back to our place and for some reason I ate my words and started another beer. No, wait. Now I remember: it was Sebu who came up to me as I was watching a M.A.S.K episode on my laptop and asked if I wanted a beer. I replied "No perkele!" but being half British he misinterpreted it and brought me a Sam Adams. That's how it started and we decided to invite our buddy Mike and his brother to our crib in order to have a traditional Scandinavian dryckfest. FYI, Mike and his brother Joije are Swedish. Well, me and Joije decided to get totally wasted, much worse than last night. All of us partied at the pool at midnight making a lot of noise but fortunately no one called the cops, and everyone of us found themselves in the pool since Joije started pushing people there. I wrestled with Joije a little bit and tore my elbow and knee a bit as we fell. It was nothing really, and the whole evening was a lot of fun as far I remember. Which is not far at all. The last thing Sebu remember is me trying to Skype but not knowing how, I heard I couldn't even use the mouse properly. I had to ask him to help me use Skype. Almost sober, huh? One sure sign of Johnny was seen: I was mixing those half and half drinks again, meaning half vodka, half juice. Don't remember that part but they say I thoroughly enjoyed my drinks.

The next morning: Las Vegas! Thanks to me being still drunk when we woke up, we got to Las Vegas at like 8 pm. Our trusty car felt a bit moldy that day for some reason. But my oh my, Las Vegas is the most bizarre city I've ever seen in my whole life. A big city in the middle of nowhere; it's literally in the middle of desert! And the lights, it was an exhilarating feeling to see the lights from far away, especially the ray of light that shot towards the sky from Luxor's black pyramid.
Wynn lobby!

I was a bit grumpy when we got there since I was a bit hung over and VERY tired (and I had forgotten most of my stuff to SD thanks to my mental state), but thanks to Sebu I managed to gather myself and we actually had a really good time. Well, it should come as no surprise; it is Vegas after all! Our friend Ching-yi was already waiting for us at the hotel and we tried to get on the move asap. We had dinner after midnight and after that we went touring around a little bit, visiting some casinos/hotels and their lounges. Now, our hotel Sahara wasn't anything special really but it did have its own rollercoaster. That night we visited Circus, which had its own indoor amusement park; Wynn, one of the most expensive hotels ever built and finally Venetian, a real behemoth of a hotel that was actually a really nice replica of Venice. That's what the whole city is about: replicas. The whole city screams FAKE FAKE FAKE! They got Manhattan, Luxor, Paris, Venice and Caesar's Palace to mention a few. And everything is so superficial, and in a way very dualistic: everything is very fine and all, but seems a bit corrupt and trashy at the same time. Take Wynn for example: an extremely posh, luxurious hotel/casino with a really nice lounge and everything was done in good taste. Except the waitresses: beautiful girls in extremely short, revealing dresses that showed their panties and so on. Also, the people at the casino really did not look like upper class customers. And there were prostitutes everywhere after like 4 pm. That was actually the only sign that time was actually passing. We ended up walking around until 6 am, and there was a lot of people everywhere all the time.
Venice...or is it?

The next day I slept late and so did Ching-yi, so we headed for the Strip with him as the others had already left in the morning. We checked some of the local malls and some of the casinos as well, finally settling in one of the smaller casinos since it happened to have 20-hour happy hour which included $1 beers which we naturally took advantage of as we played some of the machines there. Later that night we got ourselves a limousine and went touring around the Sin City. Our driver was a bit better than Lloyd from Dumb & Dumber and he showed us some really cool spots, like the old Vegas which features the only laser show of its kind: a whole street covered with a dazzling show of dancing lights! And we also saw the biggest single gold piece ever found, which weighed around 30kg. I wish I would have found that! Throughout our tour we sipped some sparkling wine, which was perfect for the mood. Someone might say champagne would have been better but it was Vegas and all about faking stuff so why go with the real stuff? That's another way of saying we couldn't afford champagne if someone didn't quite get it.
Wynn in the background

The limo dropped us at MGM Grand which hosts the famous nightclub Studio 54. Wait, wasn't Studio 54 supposed to have been in New York and not even exist anymore? Nah, this is Vegas and in Vegas anything is possible. So inside we went and enjoyed a couple of drinks, the others dancing and me just enjoying the atmosphere. They actually played some really good music at one point which meant that I had to step on the floor which has happened in ages. What kind of music? Warren G & Nate Dogg - Regulate and Biggie - Hypnotize just to mention a few. Oh that was heaven and it lasted for like half an hour! It is such a rare occasion to actually hear good music in a big club. After that the other guys went to this club called Pure in the Caesar's Palace but me and Tuija decided to go for some pizza instead, and I had a couple of those $1 beers as happy hour was still on at O'Shea's! I'm glad we went for that pizza since it cost like $30 to get inside Pure and drinks were around $ about highway robbery.
Posing at Caesar's Palace

On the day we left Vegas behind, Sunday, we visited this tower that offers an awesome view over all of Las Vegas, and even has a small amusement park on top of it! Me and Sebu dared our hangovers and tried this ride called X-Scream which was basically a cart that slid off the edge of the tower and when we were sitting on it, it felt like dropping down all the way to the ground. Easily the most thrilling and frightening ride I've ever tried! Well, at least most frightening, in a good way. After that we had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe and everyone had a 10 ounce burger which was filling, and after that we took the road back to San Diego, at around 4 pm. We arrived in San Diego at 2 pm. Why? Because of the bitchiest traffic I've ever experienced, hands down. During that trip I really hated America and the American attitude. All the lanes were packed, the whole 2 of them, and some cars were trying to overtake traffic off the road, from the right side. And of course try to squeeze into some spot ahead which would jam the traffic even more. But they couldn't see it, couldn't comprehend it...that kind of showcased just how well the average American can understand the big picture, and the very short-sided thinking that is prevalent here. Well, one guy made our day by blocking everyone who tried overtake him from the right side, off the road. We had a lot of fun watching that guy blocking those idiots and we even congratulated him when we overtook him (the velocity wasn't too high for some pretty obvious reason). Also had to use the middle finger quite a bit during the drive. Oh, one additional observation concerning the traffic around here: the worst and most senseless drivers are usually the pick-up drivers. Wonder why.God forbid pick-up trucks!
Chillin' with Ching-yi

The next day, Monday, Sebu had to leave and we resumed our regular school duties. I actually had my biggest project yet, a sales presentation plan. I spent 2 whole hours and one half with it, and we didn't really even prepare for the presentation but it turned out to be awesome. I had a good team, naturally. Other than that, my school motivation is at an all time low. Gotta do something fun on the weekend, not including alcohol.
See the roof? That's where the laser show would be.

Oh yeah, on the week before Sebu came we went to Tijuana again, for dinner. This time I decided to go for some even more exotic foods than last time, by having worms (or maggots I'm not sure) for starters. They were actually pretty decent, and me and Mike had em with some tacos and salsa. They would have had crocodile as well but we decided not to have that as crocodile is an endangered species and we did not want to support poaching. As for other stuff, we lost the quarter final in our tournament, and our competitive team lost on the second round, unfortunately. So no more soccer. It was fun while it lasted, big ups to everyone who played!

The last few days...well nothing much has happened. Except that I finally got my New York accomodation set. I'm staying in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It's close to Brooklyn Bridge and next to Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jay-Z is from Bed-Stuy, and more importantly, Big Daddy Kane is from there. Bed-Stuy isn't such a friendly neighborhood ("Bed-Stuy do or die") but I should be fine at Fort Greene. I'm going there with Arno, and our lodging is $35 per person per night. Not bad for the place we've got. Oh, I was also surfing today, for the first time! It's not easy but it's FUN! But it was pretty and Chau were the only ones without a wet suit! We managed fine enough without them though.

Well, I suppose that's it for now. Oh, there is a couple more things concerning my future here. I'm going to Hawaii on 14 December for a week, and to New York City on 26 December, so I'll be spending Christmas in San Diego. And the big news for me at least is that I decided to return to Finland on 4 January. Well, the flight departs on the 4th so I'll be arriving in Finland on the 5th. I decided my comeback is way overdue as it is, and more than traveling alone for a while, I feel like spending time with people close to me and traveling some more later next year. Until next time!