My summer as a hau-pair

As my last week in New Zealand is about to turn into journey back home, I’ll take a look back at this fantastic summer. 

After xmas and New Years I got to do this amazing trip to South Island and share it with the loveliest people. The next two months were filled with all kinds of fun and new activities, road trips, wedding planning and most of all hanging with my two new best friends Axel and Flint. 
Taupo is a perfect location if you want to see the North Island and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s right in the middle and has everything! There’s an event on almost every weekend during summer. You can go hiking, swimming in the lake or river, relax in hot pools (especially sweet when it’s cooler weather or raining), kayak, sup, mountain biking, sky diving, fishing, basically every known water sport you can think of and all the hair raising adrenaline pumping stuff the Kiwis are known for. Even got to watch the Iron men and women compete in Taupo. 
Even got to see mine and my sisters favorite stand up comedian in Hamilton, Eddie Izzard! And when you have a chance to do a 3.3 km xstream river swim you go for it, right? Well I did, and it was tough but fun 🙂 
So how do you spend your days in Taupo if you don’t feel like doing a bungy jump? Enjoy a nice walk along river or go jet boating. I had my two furry friend to keep me company. My friend called me a hau-pair when I got here and I believe that describes my summer here the best. What is a hau-pair? Well, hau is what a dog says in Finnish 🙂 hence hau-pair. All the runs in the park, swims in the lake, throwing sticks and belly flops to the river, cuddles and scratches, kisses, morning welcomes, games. My two shades of grey, happy and snappy, snoopy and scrappy, baxel and flinky, Axel aka snoopa-loop and Flinty the flat ears aka mean badass wolf. I had the most fun with you this summer and I will miss you like crazy but I know I’ll see you again real soon ❤️ and Suvi, Simon, Lewis and Jackson family and all my amazing new friends from near and far, thank you!! You made my journey and stay unforgettable.
It’s time to wrap up. This trip for me was in a way a new beginning for sure. Where it will eventually take me, I don’t know yet, but for now back to Finland. Later New Zealand! 





The great outdoors

What better way to start the new year than to make the most of the great outdoors in New Zealand. South island is like one big rollercoaster with changing scenery. Lush green rainforest mountains with breathtaking river crossings next to gorges and shores with beautiful beaches that come in all shapes and sizes and waves to match. Lakes in different shades of blue and rivers running so crystal clear and ice cold you wouldn’t believe.

The hardest part has been putting it all into words since no amount of (my) pictures can capture the true beauty and magnificent scale of it all. I must have written this post a hundred times in my mind while driving. So here goes version 6277 😉

Picture this. Magnificent mountains with some snowy tops in between, driving thru a valley where crystal clear blue river runs along the road. That’s the road from Picton to Westport. Breathtaking views, crossing one lane bridges and little creeks, while the winding road takes you past lookouts and campsites where families have stopped to enjoy a gorgeous summer day. Once you get to the west coast there’s the Tasman sea waiting for you. Wow! Next stop Punakaiki. A small town ninety km south of Westport that has no petrol station, no shops or an atm. Sounds perfect. Only down side is that I am only staying here for one night in the cutest little hostel on the beach. Beach seems to go on for miles. There’s loads of driftwood. After a nice walk on the beach a small crowd starts to gather to watch the sunset.

I wake up early to continue my trip, first stop the Pancake rocks just at the end of the beach. Next stop is the Franz Josef glacier. It’s a hot day but since I’m headed to a glacier I decide to put on a hoodie. It’s almost too much. Still getting closer to the glacier you start to feel the breeze from above. Today you are no longer able to walk up to the glacier but 250 meters is quite close enough. It really is quite intimidating. You can see the change before your eyes. Water gushing down to the river down in the valley. Makes you think. Tonight I’m staying in a nice little hostel in Haast.

Saturday. Today I get to see the girls in Queenstown. Along the way there are more mountains, lakes and blue pools of ice cold water. I want to stop at every lookout. Passing more amazing campsites I’m now really looking forward to our camping trip.

Queenstown is a cool little town by Lake Wakatipu. Filled with all sorts of extreme activities, from skydiving and bungy to horse riding, jet boats and mountain biking. It’s the home of bungy so what can you expect! Ha!
The girls are there already. Lovely to meet new people and to explore this part of the country, in true outdoor adventure style, camping! After one days rest in Queenstown we start our journey towards The Fjordlands and Te Anau and Milford. Our plan is to camp out for three nights along the Milford road. Luckily the area has plenty of campsites to choose from and you don’t need to book, well you can’t, even though it’s high season.

First night. Campsite is by a river like most here with plenty of space. The views are to die for. It’s been a long and hot day, so I decide to take a dip in the river. Wow it’s refreshing! Feels great! Not the easiest of access but with a little imagination you can have a good wash there 🙂

For the next day we have booked a cruise on the Milford sound. Another early wake up and we are on our way to Milford. Passing more magnificent scenery we decide to stop on our way back. Milford sound, which is really a fjord is like a little piece of Norway. Once we reach the Tasman sea and turn around the clouds lift to reveal the mountain tops, it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon. These views leave you speechless. We get to see some seals sunbathing on rocks. I can recommend this to everyone! On our way back from Milford we see more of the local wild life, the mountain parrot Kea. Many of the campsites are quite busy by now but eventually we find an empty one with spectacular views and access to river. After a short walk along the river bed we get to a true gem of a swimming spot in the big river! Has to be the coolest place I have ever swam in and views to match! Our very own private lagoon and crystal clear if icy cold water. With the best camp fire on Milford road that evening thanks to Riika 🙂 we enjoy a lovely meal that evening. Perfect way to end a perfect day! That night I dream there is a small earthquake while I’m lying in my tent. Later turns out it wasn’t a dream! Wow!

On our last camping day we head down to Lake Manapouri. Another little piece of heaven by a quiet beach. What more can you ask for? Well maybe little less sandflies would be nice. Next day we return to Queenstown via Arrowtown and finally have a swim in Lake Wakatipu as well. For dinner we have the famous Ferg burgers 🙂 Thank you Queenstown! It’s been an absolute pleasure!

It has been THE BEST road trip in lovely company, thank you Riika, Anna, Nush and Andrea, it was a joy to share this with you! I’m off on my own again, still unable to operate the damn radio in the car because it’s in Japanese!! So I will continue this journey while listening to This Is War and Sonic Highways. Not bad at all! 🙂 After leaving Queenstown I have witnessed the steepest street in the world in Dunedin, some blue penguins in Oamaru and the wonderful Moeraki boulders, not to mention seeing a glimpse of the life of rebuilding Christchurch. Next stop, the amazing Kaikoura!

In a charming small sea side town Kaikoura I get to see more wildlife. Large seal colonies and whales cruising along the shore! Temperature must be close to 30 degrees! Sweet as! The time has come to leave this paradise for now. So much was left for the next trip and hope it will be sooner rather than later. Back to explore the amazing north island! Here are some views from the south!

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Kia Ora!

It’s so great to be back in New Zealand after two years. Seeing my sister and her family, their two new puppies has been just amazing.

The week before xmas was filled with last minute shopping, cooking, playing with the puppies and just enjoying summer!! Taupo is the cutest little town with the most beautiful surroundings. Lake, volcanoes, river, parks, beached, tracks along the river and endless options of activities from bungy to SUP and everything in between 🙂

We spent xmas with our NZ family in Motuoapa. There is nothing quite like the view of the lake from the house. The best thing about getting up early is you have the whole day to do all kinds of cool things. And with the weather here and outdoor activities available you really don’t wanna miss a thing. This week we went to the beach with a couple of kayaks. I’ve never tried one before so I was very excited to get in one. It was FUN!! With perfect clear water and long shallow beaches Lake Taupo is a perfect place to do all that. I could just spend all day on the lake.

Later that afternoon we took the boat out for the men to do some wakeboarding and fishing. Of course I couldn’t say no when I had the chance to try the board!! Having snowboarded most of my life I felt somewhat confident but still very nervous. I’m not that comfortable in water after all. After four attempts I finally got up!! Sweet!! The lake was so smooth and weather was perfect. Totally hooked now! 😀 There’s a video of all this that I hope to download somewhere soon.

Being a vegetarian in NZ can be little tricky when there’s a whole lot of BBQ going on and everyone else enjoys their lamb roast, ham and steak. There’s also beautiful fresh trout from the lake (yes I do eat fish) and plenty of delicious veggies and salads available. But I did have a little taste of the lamb and ham. Thank you to all chefs for the lovely xmas feast and for making yet another xmas in New Zealand so fantastic! ❤️ with my xmas present of NZ travel guide I’ll start looking for all the great places to visit in the new year 🙂 until then, happy holidays!!

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Into the wild

Last couple of days have been pretty busy and amazing. They definitely have enough to make for four or five posts but since I’ve been too lazy to write anything lately I’ll just jam them into one.
Friday was our farewell party. Yes sadly this journey in LA is coming to an end. It couldn’t have been more amazing, journey or the party. We went to Burbank to celebrate our friend Max’s birthday and ended up jamming at his studio the whole night. Erika totally rockin it on drums!! It was so cool! Everyone played at least one instrument or several and you just played even if you didn’t know how, that goes for me. We even came up with a song. All I can say, we may have made history that night and if you’re lucky you’ll hear us some day 😀 Gigantic thank you to the whole band!!

Saturday we were invited to go sailing courtesy of our landlord. Pretty cool!! Sailing off the coast of Venice and Santa Monica we even saw a seal!! Yay! It was a beautiful day! Sadly though it was also Erika’s last night in LA. We have been travelling together for three months now, seen things we never dreamed of and more, so it felt strange saying goodbye. But I’m sure the adventure’s for us have only just begun 😉 right?

So what to do when you only have five days left in LA? I wanted to see the canyons. But first coffee.. So I’m walking down Melrose Place and I almost bumb into Frasier, I mean Kelsey Grammer. What was I doing on Melrose?? Well, in search of some great coffee. It really was pretty damn good. On todays agenda was Runyon Canyon. Yup. Famous for famous people jogging, and The View! No I didn’t see any famous people but the views were incredible.

On the other hand, if you really want to go into the wild 😉 (Into the Wild – a documentary series about the longest tour in the history of rock, now available on VyRT.com) I suggest you go for a hike in one of the other bigger parks, like Rustic Canyon, Will Rogers or Temescal. Those are closer to the beach and offer several different trails. There you are little bit closer to nature and it’s not as busy as Runyon. I took the Backbone trail and Inspiration Loop in Will Rogers park on Monday and it was so amazing, one hell of a climb but totally worth it.

Only two full days left for me in LA. Oh boy… I think there’s only one city at the moment that comes even close to how I feel about LA right now and that’s Edinburgh. I’d love to come back one day, soon I hope and maybe stay a bit longer. Who knows. But right now I am crazy excited about going to New Zealand and seeing my amazing beautiful sister and her family, after two years!! xoxo

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Thank you for the music

Wow how time flies when you’re having fun. Feels like Thanksgiving was million years ago. We did got invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with a friends family!!! So we packed our bags and hit the road down to San Diego. It’s incredible how lucky we have been to meet so many lovely people and enjoy their hospitality. Big thank you to Mike for inviting us and Rachael for having us!!

Thanksgiving to me felt a bit like pre xmas party in a way that you eat and drink a lot and just spend time with your family and friends. And what a feast! So many new yummy dishes! And I finally got to taste pumpkin pie 🙂 it was good. Tastes little like gingerbreads. I forgot to write on my name card what I’m thankful for so I just want to say I’m thankful for my amazing loving family and friends. And of course I’m thankful for all the music in my life and being able to live my life and realize my dreams.

As we got back from San Diego it felt like a great idea to devour this giant grapefruit, or at least it looked like one, grapefruit I mean. It took three people to destroy it and it was good. One of those things that is hard to explain, you just had to be there. Sorry I don’t have a pic of the grapefruit thing 🙂

So much has happened after this and I will get back to that… soon 😉

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Dream big, work hard, live life

Already a month in Los Angeles. We have met some amazing people and come to realize once again that it’s a small small world. Music scene especially here is kinda small. Might be hard to believe but that’s my impression so far. Perhaps it’s because so many here work in either the music or entertainment industry. You can find yourself talking to someone and they most likely know a big name or two or have worked with one. I find these encounters very interesting and encouraging. Networking is still something I am learning. That is the key that opens doors if you are looking for a chance to make it here and even work one day.

We both love music. This may not come as a surprise, but music has been the biggest inspiration for both of us on this trip, and in life. Los Angeles may not be the music capital of US but you are sure to find a decent gig almost every night if you feel like it.

I love the fact that it’s quite easy to cycle to West Hollywood from Venice. Like yesterday. We went to visit the High Voltage Tattoo shop. It was so cool!! They are temporarely working next door at Wonderland LA because of the fire in the shop. So me and Erika both got new ink done!! Kat Von D wasn’t at the shop today. I’d love to meet her. Maybe next time 🙂

So.. What else. This week is Thanksgiving. Let’s see if we end up cooking our first ever Thanksgiving meal or get to spend it with some amazing locals. That would be awesome!

And just so you know, it seems like the most famous Finns here are Renny Harlin, Tony Halme and Alexi Laiho 😀 yup… but not necessarily in that order. And another thing. We have finally found the masterpiece that is Breaking Bad 😀 thank you Netflix! Totally hooked!

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Worship the Music!

Always a winner idea to out before an early flight right? Yup, not. But what can you do when you have the opportunity to be part of the KROQ Halloween costume ball with Thirty Seconds to Mars. Well you GO that’s what!

Gotta say costume parties are not my specialty. I always have like couple decent ideas but don’t want to spend a lot of money on buying stuff I’m not gonna need later. And putting together a costume from what you already own just never works for me. I had had this one character in mind ever since I heard about this gig. Even on the day of the show I was still little hesitant about putting on this full face make-up but what the hell, it was a MARS Halloween show so I wanted to do it 🙂 So after some careful face painting and new white shirt I saw a Creep by the name of EggEye in the mirror. Haha!!

After two hours on a bus we finally arrived at the Henry Fonda theatre on Hollywood bulevard. Erika as a Fanther and me as EggEye!! Party on! It was a blast! I had missed MARS so much and now seeing them in LA was a dream come true! I was even recognized as a Creep by the MARS crew!!!! Success 😀 The night continued in the legendary Viper room and Rainbow room. First proper night out in Hollywood and it really was something I will never forget 😉

So yeah, like I said going out before an early morning flight.. well let me just say I should have known better. Better still. I was going to a three day festival so an hour of sleep before the flight was a little too little. Arrived in New Orleans feeling like a zombi, which is kind of fitting it being Halloween and all. Luckily I was able to crash at my sweet dear friends’ place, thank you Elyse, you saved me!!

Wanna guess? No I did not make it to the festival on Friday. Instead we went out to celebrate Halloween in the only city in the world you should do it, New Orleans!!! So cool! People were wearing such amazing costumes!

Saturday. A new day. Today was all about about MARS 🙂 before that though I got to witness the coolest marching band ever!! March Fourth Marching Band! Definitely not your usual marching band. It’s a party on stage with acrobats and most awesome still walking. Thank you! After the fiasco that was Lauryn Hill (40 minutes late and then cut off mid song after 30 minutes, that’s what you get for being late. Not sorry.) it was time to get crazy and warm in the chilly night with MARS. You know that feeling when everything is just right, you feel happy and safe, like you could stay in that place forever? That’s what I feel everytime I see MARS, even being there alone. But that’s the thing, you are not alone really. You find yourself singing your heart out with other Echelon you just met. You are with family ❤️ Once again MARS gave their all and it was beautiful. Kind of homecoming show for them because the brothers are from Louisiana, that was sweet and it really showed. And even though most of the audience was seeing them for the first time it was one big celebration of music and a great party led by our heros.

Last day at Voodoo. Saw this amazing show by a band called The Revivalists. New to me and instantly fell in love!! More great music with the great Foo Fighters closing the show!! Seen them once before and this was no exception to the rule of excellent rock show that goes on for like two and a half hours!!! Beautiful! But that was it for my first Voodoo experience, and it was great. Keep worshiping the music!! ❤️

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Slow living in LA

Before we had even embarked on our road trip everyone told us you can’t live in LA without a car, it’s just too big. After two weeks here I see their point.

The other day in our nearby supermarket which is like 15 minutes walk from ours I was packing my groceries to my three bags and the check out guy askes if I need help getting them to my car. I told I was on foot so thanks but no thanks. He then paused for a bit and asked if I wanted a cab. I smiled and told him again no thank you cos I live real close. Seems like walking anywhere in this city is really unusual. Well this is how we do it 🙂

From the start we wanted a place close to the beach because we thought it would be more easygoing. Anyway I prefer spending more time somewhere close to nature than next to high streets. Since we gave up the car we have tried the LA public transportation, it’s not impossible, slow for sure but it works. It takes about two hours from ours to downtown or Hollywood but I’m not that bothered, if you’re not in a hurry. We even have bikes now from our ”host family” and I’m more than happy to take a bike trip anywhere than sit in traffic for hours, trying to find a parking spot in the end.

Also, I have been reading this book about slow living. So far I must say it sounds quite appealing. Waking up around 10 am (although I’m very good at waking up at 8am even without a reason) cooking breakfast before noon and then deciding what you want to do. And hey when you live like two minutes walk from the beach, how about a day at the beach 🙂 not bad I tell you!

xoxo

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Lost in the City of Angels

You’ve seen it in films, music videos, tv etc. I too had these different images of Los Angeles in my mind. After seeing it in real life you start to put together a giant puzzle of pieces that mean different things to you and some you had almost forgotten. It’s no longer this mystery but a real city with so many faces and places not just those tv/movie/music faces.

To be honest I’ve never really been that fascinated with LA or Hollywood for that matter. I always saw it as a playground of the rich and famous and big egos. I’m pretty sure it’s still all that but over the past couple of years I’ve started to appreciate LA in a whole new light – softer, greener, loving, filled with hope and new beginnings. Finally getting here was definitely one of the biggest highlights of this journey for me if not the biggest. Nothing is quite the way you imagined it, some are even better 🙂 in other words it’s really hard to put into words what it feels like to be here. Loving it!

Seeing Venice beach on the first day and watching the sunset behind Santa Monica pier I felt like I was in the right place. At that moment we didn’t even have a place to stay for the night. We had just seen one amazing loft space and were about to go see another after our third option fell thru. In the end it was really a no brainer 🙂 we ended up taking the coolest loft you could possibly have in Venice beach!! Thanks to Erika again for hunting down these on air bnb.

So after 4800 miles, 15 states, 16 cities and 24 nights on the road I’m ready to find out what LA has to offer!! All them legendary rock bars, tattoo shops (btw so sorry to hear what happened to Kat von D’s High Voltage, we were just about to head out and visit there when I read there had been a fire the previous night).. canyons, gigs etc. I hope I will find what I’m looking for this time… whatever that may be 😉

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Under the California sun

After seeing first signs for Los Angeles outside Flagstaff I felt like this dream was actually becoming reality. Driving towards LA I had some butterflies in my stomach for sure but before we could enter the City of Angels we were going south to San Diego.

First impressions never count for much just like this time. First it seemed like some deserted rundown town but in the daylight it was totally different. It really felt like California, not that I have ever been here but it felt good comfortable beautiful and warm. San Diego is a relaxed seaside city. I was just too excited to get to LA. But this stop gave us some much needed time to search for potential accommodations in LA. Erika did an amazing job so that we had three flats to see for next day.

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