Category Archives: Book review

Is Monaco, Cannes, Nice, Antibes, or Grasse your favorite in the French Riviera?

The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera travel guidebook focuses on the coastal section of the Alpes-Maritimes region in southeast France (also known as the Riviera or locally, Cote d’Azur). The book covers the Riviera from Cannes to Menton, describing towns like Antibes, Grasse and Monaco, In addition, the book unveils Riviera gems tourist buses haven’t discovered yet.

Riviera is not only about the sun and the sea, but it is also about spectacular mountain sceneries and exciting activities. Nice is much more than the Boulevard des Anglais – the old town, market places, galleries, restaurants and shopping streets are buzzing with locals and visitors. St Paul de Vence is advertised as the most visited medieval village, and that’s how it feels. Why not try Vence, a larger medieval village further up the mountain as the guidebook suggests?

My favorite place in the region is Antibes, but my travel companions like the mountains (Vence, Grasse) and the little bit more quiet side of the Riviera in Mandelieu.

The best thing with this travel guidebook is that it includes plenty of pictures. Some places reveal their characteristics in two or three photographs. It makes it easier to decide if a village or a town is worth a visit. All and all there are more places and things to do in the book for many weeks in southern France, even if you try to visit a new place daily.

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Fells, fjords, reindeer, Sami, hiking, fishing, mountainbiking: the great outdoors

A popular method for tourists to absorb the landscapes and sceneries of Lapland is road travel. Roads maybe few, distances long and services infrequent, but very few destinations in the world has the same variety, wildlife and rough beauty as Lapland. Nordkapp (North Cape) is the modern pilgrimage destination located at the end of the world; it is the northernmost point of Europe. In Nordkapp, the road ends into the Arctic Ocean.

Touring Lapland by car, motorbike or bicycle rarely presents a dull moment. Majestic, often lush, inland fell sceneries changes to rough and scarce Arctic landscape in the north as the Arctic Ocean gets closer. Following fell rivers that flow west introduces yet another scenery as the landscape transforms from fells to steep mountains and gorges, and picture-perfect fjords provide shelter for residents from the Atlantic Ocean.

Lapland is all about nature and respect for the environment. People who live in Lapland say they have eight seasons: first snow, Christmas, frosty winter, crusty snow, departure of ice, midnight sun, harvest season and colorful autumn. The traditional life and livelihood has been tightly coupled with seasons that have determined how reindeers have behaved, and how hunting and fishing have been conducted.

For visitors, the peak seasons are summer, colorful autumn, Christmas and crusty snow (spring).

Travel guidebook to the North Europe, Lapland:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.de

Travel guidebooks for Europe

I am once again planning a long journey to Europe during the mid-year vacation period. Since I want to be able to quickly browse for information on destinations, I prefer travel guides that provide plenty of visual information. Here is a web page (Travel Guidebooks Europe) that lists a number of ebooks that can be downloaded and read on a tablet, ereader, laptop or smartphone, and that are rich in images and maps.

There are not many good guidebooks for the northernmost region of Europe (Lapland), but here seems to be one, as well as southern France, Sweden and Mongolia. Is Mongolia Europe – don’t think so.

Lapland travel guidebook
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Tips for shooting action videos for YouTube

Professional stuntman H-P Virkki has written and directed a book that gives tips for skateboarders, BMX-bikers, martial arts experts, and everyone who wants to shoot video clips that include action. That’s right, he has written and directed a book Stunts, Scenes and Safety which means that there are video clips in the book.

It is uncommon to have a book that features video clips, but at the era of ebooks it is possible. In this case, including video material in the book is a wise decision because readers can actually see live clips what was talked about in the book.

I had an opportunity to review the Apple iPad-version of Stunts, Scenes and Safety, but the ebook is available for the Kindle and as an EPUB edition as well. The iPad edition is the nicest to read, browse and view, because of its well-designed layout, photo galleries and included videos.

You can read the book even if you are not interested in shooting your own videos at all. Here and there, throughout the book, the author drops tips on how to prepare oneself if you are truly committed to trying your skills as a stuntman. Getting into the business is very difficult, but some people make it every year.

The key learning for me from this books was that scenes – especially scenes that involve action – require planning and practicing. If more than one people are involved in a scene, it requires careful coordination as demonstrated in the book’s skateboarding scene.

The author H-P Virkki and his book on Stage 32
Amazon reviews
Apple iBooks

Stunts, Scenes and Safety by H-P Virkki

Fun in Finland

Summers are bright and green in Scandinavia – that much we knew already, but The Lighter Side of Finland claims that it is not all grey and gloomy in winter, either. The book is an entertaining description of this Nordic country that is renowned for its education system, racing car drivers, and Angry Birds.

For a tourist, the biggest attraction is the capital Helsinki, followed by Lapland, lake district in the East and South-West archipelago. This book, however, is not a travel guide (even though it includes a few travel tips as well), but a warm-hearted account of the culture, people, traditions, food and sauna etiquette.

It is a well-written book that is a pleasure to read even if your next travel destination wouldn’t be Finland, but if it is, and you are interested what makes the nation tick, this book is worth your time.

More reviews in Amazon.
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The Lighter Side of Finland

Culture shock in Europe: Spaghetti and Sauna

Finns are from Neptune and Italians from Mercury – that is what someone moving from Italy to Finland (or vice versa) might think. The differences in culture, behavior and socializing – not to mention weather and food – are so great that it can drive a normal, healthy person to believe that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy correctly defined the meaning of life.

Spaghetti and Sauna is a very personal story of a young woman who moved from Italy to Finland in order to study and work in the Nordic country. Her personal story, however, develops into a insightful description of Italian and Finnish cultures. The author believes that these two countries are the remotest countries in Europe culturally. She tells countless funny and humiliating stories how easy it is to misinterpret people who have different background than yourself.

I happen to be fairly familiar with both Italian and Nordic cultures, and I can confirm that the detailed insight in the book on the people, their customs and the way of thinking and behaving is similar to mine. I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to understand at least two from the many diverse cultures of Europe.

More reviews:
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Helsinki travel guide

The Best of Helsinki is a travel guidebook for tourists who like to absorb information via images and maps. The book is clearly designed to be a visual guide that shows the places to go and helps visitors navigate in the destination.

This guidebook can be browsed in order to get an overall understanding what the city has to offer, and once interesting sights or attractions has been discovered, it is easy to study details of those places that seem interesting.

Reviews of the book at Goodreads: here.
Amazon.com: here.
Google Play: here.

The Best of Helsinki travel guide

Goggles and Dust

Everyone who is interested in sports and especially road cycling – think of Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix – is bound to learn something about the sport’s history when getting to know the sport. For one or another, history is present bicycle racing. Old winners are respected, stories of their victories remembered even if the champions are long gone.

Goggles and Dust is a book that shows you in detail how cyclists used to race in the last century. The images are simply fascinating. When you carefully study the photographs, you also learn a lot about Europe’s history.

Goggles and Dust is absolute must for cycling fans and people who are interested in last hundred years of Europe’s history. Photographers find the pictures in the book educating – it is a photo book where only the best historical images have carefully been chosen.