This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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There is always time for yellow flowers


Sometimes it is impossible to find the time to explore new places. Land, cab ride, two days of meetings in a hotel, another cab ride, and back in the air again. But even then it is possible to sneak outside to stand in the spring sun, if just for five minutes, and to enjoy the forsythias, magnolias, and cherry blossoms. Frankfurt I heard your old town is gorgeous. I had no idea – and still don’t. Please keep it gorgeous until I return?

And sometimes a darling mother drops by with her own key, leaves a huge pot of yellow daffodils on the balcony right behind the door, and places an order for sunshine for the next day. Spring arrived at home, as well.


(Frankfurt, Germany; and Helsinki, Finland; March 2014)

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The unsinkable


She was supposed to be unsinkable. If only the watchmen in the crows’ nest had not lost their binoculars. If only more than two out of nearly ten iceberg warnings had reached the captain. If only there was no pressure on breaking a record from Southampton to New York. If she only had hit the iceberg straight on, instead of it carving a gush on the side. If only she had only been turned instead of reversed, too.


If only the regulations for lifeboat numbers had been updated for larger vessels. If only lifeboats had not been removed from blocking the sea view on promenade deck. If only they had been lowered more than half-full. If only people had believed she was going to sink, after all.

But she was unsinkable. She was big and strong like the Roman gods she was named after. Until that early dawn in April 1912, when she sank on her maiden voyage, along with over fifteen hundred souls. And yet some of her and the people she carried will never sink into the depths of oblivion – because the legend of the Titanic will always stay afloat.


(Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Tallinn, Estonia; March 2014)

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Listening to the layers of the city


It was the first weekend in March. That dreadful in-between time when winter is tired and spring is timid. When the days are long enough to give hope but too short to give joy. When dry cold turns into a wet cold. And then there was a Saturday of sunshine, and two sisters in need of a weekend escape.

What better than to hop across the pond to Tallinn and spend a day listening to the layers of the city? The walls do talk, and they whisper stories of great battles, bloodshed, flourishing trade, and of an ancient city that through the ages has boasted more than five names. We dove into the kilometers of criss-crossing bastion tunnels to hear tales of great escapes from war, illness, and persecution.
As I walked the worn cobblestone streets I could not help but wonder: why is it that the most beautiful cities also have the bloodiest history? And why do we associate fortresses with beauty, when they are built for war and death and suffering? Today Tallinn in the sun is beautiful. Other sunny first weekends in March have been quite different.

And suddenly there was another hue to the light shining on the city walls, reflecting from the gilded cathedral cupolae, and bouncing on the market square. It was the hue of life-despite-the-hurt, sprinkled with wisdom-of-age, and topped with a dash of pride. Despite the struggles and battles in the past and the future, or perhaps because of them, today Tallinn is vibrant, and beautiful in the sun.

(Tallinn, Estonia; March 2014)

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Good morning Vienna!


Good morning Vienna! Grüss Gott how pretty you are, old and new side by side. Bet everybody here eats Sacher torte for breakfast. I began my day with tea and coconut torte, and ended it with Sacher torte. Not kidding. This is Vienna, after all.

Delicious chocolates, dances, and Strauss waltzes beckoned to me as I sped through the morning rush in the cab towards Am Stadtpark. Forty-eight hours in Vienna can be a life-changing adventure, but for me it had to be a meeting room and many, many powerpoint slides. Next time, city of chocolate and music – next time I am yours.

(Vienna, Austria; March 2014)

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Modern amulets

travelessentials-1Amulet (ˈamjʊlɪt): an object worn to protect from disease, bad luck, and things evil.

We all have a few things that keep us safe and sane on our travels. For some of us, modern amulets are larger and more practical, such as my Rimowa. The beginning and the end of each business trip. Approved cabin baggage size – yet fits enough for a 3-night stay. Easily identified among the growing crowd of Rimowas on business commuter flights by a well-worn sticker once applied at Kathmandu airport. Bruised, battered, and unyielding after 200+ trips.

travelessentials-2The Beats and the iPod: for when babies scream, seat neighbors consume too much alcohol, or when I need to lose myself in thoughts for a while. And last but not least, the Nepalese silk and yak wool shawl – for winter dinners, airconditioned conference rooms, and those frigid mornings in the Finnair Embraer 190.

What keeps you safe and sane during your travels?

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Rain over the Minch


One rainy morning we boarded a ferry at Uig, Skye. The rain clouds dragged over the water like shrouds, sweeping us into a soundless blanket. That morning the waters of the notorious Minch were calm. Suddenly the gray shrouds gave away for a few precious minutes of soft green-tinted yellow daylight, the kind you only see on a rainy day.

As we slipped into Tarbert harbour the light vanished like a dying ember, and the clouds swallowed us back into the shroud of swirling droplets. Sun is rare on the Hebrides.

(Isle of Harris, Scotland; July 2011)