Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday – the Way Home

Actually I had no night at all. After we left the restaurant I had to pack the last few things and try to get my suitcase closed. I managed pretty well considering the wine bottles and other boxes which are always hard to pack.

My plane was not leaving until 7 am, but Chie and Hisa were leaving two hours earlier that I was. There would have been no point in me waiting for two hours and get another taxi. I knew I could not sleep anyway.

Our taxi arrived at 1 am and to my great surprise getting three suitcases in the trunk of a VW Passat seemed impossible at first. The trunk was big but it was not high enough. Two suitcases did not fit on top of each other and the opening to the trunk was not shaped right to get the suitcases in. It was like a 3D puzzle which finally was solved.

I have had difficulties to sleep in cars in the past few years but now I slept most of the way to Tel Aviv. I had to say goodbye to Chie and Hisa after getting inside the airport because our security control gates were on the opposite sides of the hall. They were starting their journey to Japan by going to Italy first and my first goal was Budapest, Hungary.

The security control was strict as always. I was of course asked if I had packed my things myself, if anyone had given me something to take to Finland and all the usual questions. Now however the woman asked also questions I had never heard before. I was asked what the origin of my name is. Well, it is totally Finnish. I have taken my husband’s name when I got married. The next question caught me totally by surprise: “What does it mean?” I knew I should not start joking or arguing about anything at the airport but now I had no choice but answer: “I have absolutely no idea!” I really have not. It has been a name of the house (and probably the whole village) where Jukka’s grandfather was born and generations before him. I have once checked a book where language researchers have tried to analyze old Finnish names but the origin of my name was left open. They had theories, but none of them sounds even a bit familiar to modern Finnish. The problem is that written Finnish is fairly new. Swedish was the only language used in writing originally.

Maybe they were just checking my honesty because the answer was satisfying. This time I also had to open my suitcase. I am not sure what caused that, maybe the wines. I had a very hard time opening the suitcase and had to struggle for a while probably because it was so full. After picking some items and asking if I had bought them myself, the woman behind that counter let me go.

Katri told later that she had counted that they had to show their passport 7 times before they got past all controls but I didn’t need so many. I think 4 would be a good estimate, but I may also have been so tired that I can’t remember clearly. I had about 4 hours to wait. I walked through the shops but I did not actually need anything and decided to go and sit near the right gate. I was really tired, but the chairs were just impossible to sleep on. I tried to solve puzzles and had some coffee. I could have used my computer but I was too tired even to open it.

Finally in the plane I fell asleep. They served breakfast in the plane but I woke up with the tray in front of me totally unable to eat. I drank the water and managed to eat some fruits but then I fell asleep again. When I woke up just before landing I felt like I was really awake again.

The Budapest airport was very small and I had to walk to the departure hall going first outside. The airport was so different from Brussels. Here the smoking area was just separated from the café without any walls. The funny thing was that I had spent two weeks in a country which was supposed to be very hot and now I was sweating. It was hot in Europe also and if the airport had air conditioning it was not very effective. In Tel Aviv the airport had been even a bit cold!

Now I didn’t have to wait long to get to the Finnair airplane. I had a smooth change to getting back to my homeland. I was seated beside a couple and they were speaking Hebrew. The first implication of getting home was the food in the plane. It was a cold lunch containing cuscus, meat (probably pork) and vegetables. The tomatoes looked and tasted like they should have had a decent burial for a long time ago!

Budapest from the air

Helsinki from the air. The scenery is so familiar. Water and trees.

We arrived in Helsinki in time and my suitcase came, this time even among the first. Jukka was waiting for me in the hall. He had come with my car to get me. The airport is not in Helsinki and getting to a train would have taken me too long. Taking all the luggage I had to a bus was not something I wanted to do.

We spent the two hours driving home talking about the last week. Piitu, my dog had survived the kennel or maybe I should say that the people in the kennel had survived Piitu. She had jumped over a one meter fence, opened doors so that they had to lock them and tried to conquer the pillow from the owner. I tried to warn them, but thought that they had seen all kinds of dogs but actually Piitu had surprised them. Who could imagine a Corgi jumping fences :)

After getting home I was so tired that I did not even now open the computer. I just sent text messages to Gil and Dave, ate a bit and went to sleep.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday – The last day in Israel

Yesterday evening the others were wondering if they would go to the Dead Sea which we all have heard is worth to see. I announced that I would not join them. I have had to sit in cars lately in Finland too much and that trip would have taken at least 3 hours in one direction. Also I still had friends I had not been able to meet yet and I could have tried to contact them. Chie also did not want to go since she had some work to do with Dave and wanted to get on it while still in Israel.

Amo could have gone there with Hisa, but they decided not to go. The other options were Caesarea and Akko (Acre). The decision was Akko which suited me very well. I visited there last year, but it was a lovely place to see again. I had also contacted one of my friends from Conceptis forums, Zohar, with whom we had plans the previous week but missed the chance.

Akko is an amazing place. The English name is Acre, but I am not going to use it. It is situated on a low promontory at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay, and is has a heavy defence wall to the sea. Wikipedia has a very long and detailed article for those who are interested.

We took a taxi from Haifa and the taxi driver showed us the wall, and took us to the old city. After that he was left waiting for us until we had finished our walk in the city. First we went to eat and the restaurant was an Arab style restaurant and it was the same I had visited with Jukka and Anna last year. The food was good but this was the second time the coffee took me by surprise. I ordered black coffee, not espresso and it was delivered in a small cup resembling the ones we use for boiled eggs. It was not strong, not even very hot and a real coffee consumer like me drank it with two gulps. Chie and Amo were amazed but it was really like tasting coffee, not drinking it to me.

After lunch we went to see the market place which was very different from those we saw in Jerusalem. There were people selling fish, juice, meat, spices, vegetables and all kinds of food you can imagine in separate booths. There were also people selling clothes, shoes, jewels and souvenirs. I bought two candles; I am also a candle addict but nowadays buy only very original ones. Now I found one round candle having Jerusalem carved on the surface. The market place was very big and we walked a long way in the narrow alley and soon noticed that the time we had agreed with the taxi driver was up. We did not have time to visit Hamam al-Basha, the Turkish bath, but I saw it last year. They have an excellent tour around the building, following the story of a boy whose father was working in there in the old times.

My friend Zohar lives a little south from Tel Aviv, but his brother was visiting and the brother lives in Haifa. We had made plans that Zohar would give his brother a ride back to Haifa and meet me at the same journey. He said that he would be in Haifa at about 4 pm and I thought I had good time because it was only 3 when we left with the taxi from Akko. However the traffic had not been as hard as expected and Zohar got to Haifa half an hour before I did and had to wait.

When we got back I had enough time to visit my room and then Zohar and his brother arrived. He brought me beautiful and interesting wooden puzzles his friend is making. I introduced him to Chie, Amo and Hisa and we spent some time in the hotel garden talking about Conceptis and puzzles in general. After a while the others started to prepare themselves for a work-related meeting with Dave and Zohar and his brother took me by car to Haifa.

We went to the Stella Maris observation deck and even though I had had a great view over Haifa from the place near Bahá'í gardens, this was even higher and to the west and I had a magnificent view even the weather favouring me.

We went to the restaurant there and also a couple of the brother’s friends showed up. We had fun doing 3D puzzles. Zohar had 3 animals with him and they were built from 20 – 30 pieces and it was not very simple to get them back together. The others were eating sandwiches but I chose coffee and cake. Once again the cake was really big and with the cake I got ice cream, all in a big plate.

Unfortunately I don’t have the picture about me and Zohar, because it is still in Zohar’s camera and I will get it later. Zohar took me back to the hotel and after that left back home. I spent probably an hour finishing my packing leaving only the things I would still need unpacked.
Dave’s daughter Shira got me from the hotel and took me to the restaurant where the others and Dave with his wife already were. The restaurant was in the German Colony area which was established in Haifa in 1868 by the German Templers. This was a very expensive restaurant and the global law was proven to be true: the price of the food is inversely proportional to the amount of food you get.

The food was good, but at this point I had totally lost my appetite. I was sad for leaving and was already mentally preparing to the trip home. I was not worried about the flight or anything like that; I just knew that I had to adjust to the Finnish habit of not smiling, ignoring the people I randomly meet in the flight or shops and not expecting friendly treatment any more. The others probably were thinking why I was so quiet but I guess they thought I was tired or sad about the goodbyes.

After dinner we walked to the car and this time I saw the Bahá'í gardens from below and in the dark it was amazing. I did not take a picture, because my camera does not take good photos in the dark but here is a picture from

Dave game to the hotel to say the goodbyes. That was a sad but a nice moment. I thank all my friends in Israel and all the Conceptis people (including Chie, Hasi and Amo) for making my trip so memorable! I have nowadays more real friends in Israel than I have ever had in Finland. All the Israeli people I have met on my two journeys are so friendly. It is not just appearing to be friendly. I can see it in their eyes that they really mean what they say and that is something I have rarely seen anywhere. In Finland maybe, but here the problem is that we don’t so much speak to each other ;)
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Friday – vacation from vacation

The past 3 days have been very intense and at this point Chie was frustrated about the work she had no time to do. I was the only one who really had a vacation; I don’t have to think about school work right now. Of course I missed the things that were going on in the social networks but I don’t have to take that so seriously since my income has nothing to do with any of it.

So Friday was mostly free time. I had time to update my blog and Chie and Amo worked on their computers. The others wanted to go to a beach and now I followed along even though I had no intention to go to the sea. We took a taxi to the Camel Beach. The waves were very high and the man on the rescue tower was shouting warnings all the time. We did not understand anything but at times it seemed like he was really shouting. In Israel you can’t really know; they speak Hebrew very intensely, totally unlike we Finns who can speak almost without opening our mouth. Kimi Räikkönen (the F1 driver) is a good example and he speaks even English like that.

The mysterious Korean lady who did want to hide from paparazzis

I solved puzzles while the others were swimming and collected some shells and beautiful stones which looked like jewels.

After getting back from the beach we had some free time and then we went to Dave’s house. Dave has 3 cats and one dog. The others were interested in the cats but I hoped to renew my friendship with the dog. I met her last year and even though Dave said that she is very shy with people, I succeeded in gaining her trust. Now she obviously did not remember me, but after some time she let me tap and stroke her :)

We had some coffee and Amo gave Dave instructions how to use the noodles and sauces she had brought to Dave from Korea. We went to Dave’s office which is a place of magic to me: all those puzzle magazines from all over the world. Dave told us to make some “cleaning”. He has several copies of some of the magazines, sent by the publishers and he said we could gladly take whatever we wanted. Normally to me that was like saying to an alcoholic that he can drink as much as he wants but I think I have reached a certain point. I have my selves full of puzzle books and magazines and I am never going to be able to solve them all. I concentrated only on magazines I rarely see, or have not seen at all also remembering that the space in my suitcase is very limited. The family took with them some extra stuff I did not need any more but I already had brought the wines and other things. To my satisfaction Dave also had two Rummikub games and gave me the other.

After Dave had showed us the whole house, we took a taxi to the Steak restaurant, and Dave went to get his parents. We spent a delightful evening talking and joking. Dave has wonderful parents and I just love their British accent, the real Oxford English!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday - Jordan River

One more early start; we were picked up from the hotel at 8 am. This time we had 19 people in the bus and Boaz was again coaching us. Only part of us left from the hotel, we picked up more people on our way. Here is finally a good picture of our guide Boaz.

The first interesting place to me was Magdala, because it (probably) is the place where my name comes from. Wikipedia says:
The reason for interest in a place called Magdala is that all four gospels refer to a follower of Jesus called Mary Magdalene, and it has always been assumed that this means "Mary from Magdala", though there is no information to indicate whether this was her home, her birthplace, or whether she had some other connection with the place. Most Christian traditions assume that she was from the place the Talmud calls Magdala Nunayya, and that this is also where Jesus landed on the occasion recorded by Matthew.
Magdalene is translated in Finnish Magdaleena or regarding that gd does not appear in Finnish: Matleena. Matleena is very rare, but the end of the word Leena has been commonly used. Many people seem to think that the origin of the name Leena is Saint Helena, but I think that is not possible. The Lutheran church has no saints.

Our first stop (except for coffee) was Capernaum and the Church of the Multiplication.
"In the same place (not far from Capernaum) facing the Sea of Galilee is a well watered land in which lush grasses grow, with numerous trees and palms. Nearby are seven springs which provide abundant water. In this fruitful garden Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish."

From there we went to see the Sea of Galilee, and some of us took a shower under a waterfall. I was also walking in the water so at this point I got to use my most natural way of walking barefoot.

The next stop was not very far. This was one of the things I was thinking to pass, but Dave and Boaz got me convinced that I should try it. We were rafting the Jordan River. We did it in boats for 2 people and I shared a boat with Dave. Actually rafting is not the right word for it; most of the time we had to paddle and the water was very shallow. In real rapids we got stuck in the middle! Mostly we concentrated on keeping the boat on the deeper part and getting us out with the paddles when we hit a rock and got stuck :) Dave also had to climb of the boat occasionally and he showed how easy it is to walk on water. The images in Wikipedia don’t look at all like the reality was. Even though, because of my inexperience in steering, we made some 360 degree turns we managed to be the first to arrive to the destination. In the rapids our boats always took some water and our clothes were wet. I enjoyed the refreshing coolness of the wet clothes while we were waiting for the others. When they finally arrived we changed for a dry set of clothing and continued.

It was time to eat and we went to a restaurant which served St Peter’s Fish. I think to most people the fish was hard to handle but to me it was easy. I have eaten perch prepared grilled and because it is much smaller, it has smaller bones which can get stuck in your throat. The fish was really good! The yellow thing on the plate is a potato.

After eating we continued the trip to Golan Heights and visited a winery and did some tasting.

The Golan heights have different rocks from the other parts of Israel. The landscape is full od dark geay volcanic stones of basalt. The most common stone in Israel is the beautiful light yellow lime stone.

On the way back we stopped by in a brewery also and tasted some original Israeli beers which were produced on the spot.

In the evening we had dinner again with Dave, Anna and Igor and enjoyed our food outside in the garden of the restaurant. In Finland we have problems with birds but here we had to have big umbrella’s over our table to avoid bat shit :)

Wednesday – Conceptis Party

Today we got the chance to sleep a little later. Chie and Amo have lots of correspondence to attend to and I could update my blog, which is not very easy while so many things are happening all the time.

Around noon Dave came to the hotel and took us to lunch. Again huge amounts of food! Chie and Amo also like to eat and they are so thin! Maybe I have stored too many calories in the past because the weather is so hot that I lose my appetite. I eat at home far less than I eat here. A couple of times I have tried to eat ice cream here, but that is a skill I needed some lessons to be able to manage. I am not just fast enough; part of the ice cream will melt and drop on the ground with all the techniques I have tried. Dave even joked that in Finland I can just leave the ice cream for a couple of hours and it is the same as when I left. Haha!

This time my picture is an eggplant dish. Eggplant is very popular here:

After eating we visited a local liquor store and I have never seen a place like that. I have attached two pictures but I had to take five and even then parts of the corners were left out. We all bought some Israeli wine to take with us home.

Time just flies! Suddenly we noticed that we had only one hour to prepare ourselves for the Conceptis party. It took place in Gil’s house and we took a taxi from the hotel to get there. This time the taxi knew where he was going.

It was wonderful to see Gil, Nitsi and Carmel again. I had been away for two days and for me it felt like an eternity.

I am not even sure how many people we were altogether, but I met people I had not seen before. I met Dave’s eldest daughter, Dave’s sister, one of the founders of Conceptis and Micha Hertzano (from Lemada Light Industries Inc. which invented Rummikub, their most famous game). Micha had been in Finland several times and could even count from one to four in Finnish. He was a very funny guy and was joking that he was just a stand-up comedian Dave had arranged for us.

I also met my friend Tal Siach, a social media guru in Israel, like Avi I told about in my first posts from Israel. We have gotten to know each other in Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook,…, I am not even sure in how many places. Gil is also his friend and this was the first time they met. What a historical moment!

We ate delicious food provided by a caterer, drank wine and had discussions about all kinds of things. We had also a gathering last year but it was totally different. Then the participants were staff members or forum members. No we had important foreign guests (I'm not counting myself as one!) who were introduced to the staff and also other people regarding Conceptis relationships. No talking about the website this time.

We took a taxi back to our hotel in Haifa and the driver knew the way. My problem was that he drove very fast passing other cars so that I was clued to my seat out of pure horror! The others were sleeping in the back seat and did see nothing…

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tuesday - Jerusalem again

Today we had an early start again. We had a mini bus leaving from the hotel at 7 am towards Jerusalem.

Have you ever heard of Jerusalem syndrome? According to Wikipedia The Jerusalem syndrome is the name given to a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences, that are triggered by, or lead to, a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination, but has affected Jews and Christians of many different backgrounds.

I guess I am developing some symptoms :) Wiki has a big list of various effects and in type III the list days that one of them is: Declaration of the desire to split away from the group or the family and to tour Jerusalem alone. That is just what I am doing! This time I also bought myself some jewellery and that is very unlike me!

However I was not alone. Our guide was again Boaz. Then Chie, Amo, Hisa and I were the quests and from Conceptis we had Dave with his wife, Anna, Nir with his two children, Zohar Thawcho, the Conceptis artist who has done mover 100 000 pictures to Conceptis (unless my memory works wrong again) and Dave’s daughter with her boyfriend.

The first part of the tour was very much similar to what I saw last week but I did not mind. It was like in learning processes. The first time you learn about something, you just gat an expression about things. The second time you can get more details because the first time you were not able to swallow and chew everything.

At the end of the tour we also visited the archeological site, the caving which I saws last year but very much progress had happened since.

We visited Jerusalem the same day the bulldozer driver tried to attack people in Jerusalem. We were in the Old City and heard nothing about it. Gil called me and asked if we were OK, so I learned it very soon. I called my husband that if he sees news about that; he does not have to worry. Later it turned out that the phone call was totally in vain. The Finnish newspapers commented about the events in a few words in a left-out corner. That is how Israel is handled in the newspapers and the news. They write about the wars and people can’t even get an impression on how this country looks like.

BTW, at the same time an 18-year old stabbed a 14-year old girl to death. He had planned to do so for a long time. I admit that I am here much more comfortable than in Finland. Two years ago I would never have thought that this could happen.

Here are some new pictures from Jerusalem:

Mount Olive, listening to a lession

Mount Olive, a camel

having a break and listening to Boaz

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Monday - Back to Haifa

Today I really got an impression of how Conceptis works. Last night just before we went to bed, one member of the Conceptis forums had noticed something not working the way it should on the puzzle review page on Conceptis website. I noticed his post in the forums, checked if it worked the same way with me and when it did I showed it to Gil. This is the way it normally works with the exception that this time I could do it while he was sitting next to me. Usually I write him (+some other Conceptis people) an e-mail and they look into it. They have so much to do that checking the forums every hour would be too much to do and that is why I have “taken over” to check the problems people send there. Very often I am able to answer the questions and also other members can do that. Now that the new website has been up for two months, it is quite rare that something problematic comes up.

This time bob.allen2 had found a real bug. It seemed just like the bug was honouring my visit appearing when I was here. First Gil checked the HTML-code and found out there was nothing wrong with that. Then he reported it to the people involved in the production. It was something Anna could not fix either and the problem was transferred to the engineers. One of them called to Gil and even though I was sitting next to Gil, I understood nothing since they were using Hebrew. I am not sure what the situation is now because I have had other things to attend to, but seeing how things work when people are not sharing the same office was amazing. I am more convinced than I was before that telecommuting is a more effective way of working. I am unable to do anything else in my workplace than teaching. All the other things I am trying to do get usually interrupted by others asking me something or just wanting to talk about other things.

Dave contacted me and told me that I had to be in Haifa in the hotel around 20.00-20.30. Chie Fujisaki, the Manager of Conceptis Japan office had arrived with her husband and also Amo Noh, Conceptis agent in Korea. We were supposed to meet at 21.00.

I shut the computer and I showed Gil and Carmel how to play Mölkky, a Finnish outdoors game I brought from Finland to Gil because of all the things he has taught me over the past year. My employer does not have any education for me regarding computers. I am too advanced and I get really bored and angry if I happen to get into training classes where the things they are teaching are too easy. If I took courses on my own, it would have cost me a lot of money and probably I still would have not got what I wanted, needed and enjoyed. So this is like a situation benefiting both sides. I am not on the payroll of Conceptis but I get these wonderful experiences and that is why I want to pay them back by helping on the forums :)

Mölkky is a Finnish game, invented in 1996 and it is made of pure Finnish wood. The rules are simple and even Carmel can play it. Calculating the points needs one older person if the official rules are used. The rules seem simple but amazingly the game is not as easy as it sounds. To achieve exactly 50 points is actually very hard and the game can continue for a very long time. This time I won, but I have played the game before… I guess I was not a good house guest doing that but actually I had to get going.

Nitsi ordered a taxi for me. The prize was confirmed before I left. Not so much because the driver could have cheated me; the Israeli people are very honest but I was glad it was done. The taxi was a total surprise to me. I have told before how advanced this country is and now I was sitting in a taxi which did not have GPS and was keeping contact to the taxi central with a low frequency radio phone. All the Finnish taxis have computers in their cars. They use it to inform where they are and also to get the directions.

When we arrived to Haifa, it was obvious that the driver had no idea where the hotel was, even though I had the address. He drove around and from time to time he asked people where he should drive. Because of this I was glad the price was fixed. If I had paid for the extra time/kilometers we drove, it could have been much more expensive. Now I regretted that I left the GPS totally to Olli's hands. I was sitting in the back seat and not paying much attention to directions. If I had done that, I would have been able to tell the driver where to go.

I arrived early enough to get ready for the evening. I met Amo, Chie and her husband in the lobby and Dave came to get us to Anna’s and Igor’s house. He had got part of the food from the steak house and also Anna had made salads. Amo brought Korean dressings to the table. Igor grilled the huge steaks. I can’t understand why most of the Israeli people are so thin even though they eat so much! This time I managed the steak, last year I did not. I love all the hummus and eggplants and pita bread so much that I could be a vegetarian if I lived here.
Igor made the coffee (he is a real expert) and Anna made tea. Igor even roasts his own coffee beans! The coffee was wonderful. Tea is something I never drink, even though my life depended on it. It is a childhood trauma and I rather go through the trouble of explaining why I don’t drink it than actually just force myself to drink it.

Amo had had a long and tiresome day and we left relatively early. Well, it was past 1 am, but we had so much to talk about and so much fun that it did seem to be only a short time we spent there. Amo and Chie had never seen a Finnish person before and I am starting to feel quite exotic here, which is very funny to me.

Now I saw one more Conceptis office. Anna and Igor share the same room. Igor is not actually getting his pay from Conceptis but he is a share holder and is involved in the development.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gil and I with Computers

Even though it seems I get very late to bed here, I also wake up very early in the morning. Nitsan was taking Carmel to the kindergarten and made me some coffee. After that I went upstairs to Gil’s office to start my computer where Gil joined me a little later. Now I have seen altogether 4 of Conceptis offices. Natalia and Amit share the same room, but Gil and Nitsi are having their own offices, Gil upstairs and Nitsi downstairs. I actually slept in Nitsi’s office :) Here is my morning coffee and I took the picture to show the mug. I still can’t believe it; I am in the house of these Conceptis people and drinking coffee from a Conceptis mug. It is like I was transferred to a parallel universe!

The day is hard to explain to people who are not into computers. At moments Gil and I were totally quiet doing our own stuff and then we also started talking about something and forgot our computers for a while. Besides blogging, I am very active in various social bookmarking sites and so is Gil. We talked about common friends, the importance of the socializing in the internet in the future, Conceptis of course, and I had a really great time. Even though I can contact Gil through IM, it was amazing to sit next to him! I think most of the people don’t understand what I am talking about, it is a totally different world out there, but Gil and I share the common interest.

Nitsi picks Carmel up from the kindergarten and after that Carmel sleeps 2 or 3 hours. After that it is the time of Carmel and Gil together so that Nitsi can work and like this Gil spends part of his afternoons:

Now I was spending that time with them and mostly Carmel liked it. We sat in the garden talking and Carmel ordered where Gil should sit so that he would not block me from her. She fetched passion fruits from the garden (they have own trees) and ate them with me.

Later on Nitsi took care of Carmel and Gil and I went back to our computers.

We were up quite late and I heard news from the family getting back to Finland. The first part to Vienna went well, but in Vienna they had to sit 2 hours in the Finnair aeroplane waiting for the door to the luggage compartment to get fixed. After the 2 hours they were told that the door could not get fixed and that they would be transferred to a hotel. Bad news for Marika, she was supposed to work Monday morning. They went to get the luggage and when they got them they were again informed that the plane is leaving after all! The result of all of this was that they were at home at 5 am and also that Katri’s luggage was left in Vienna. She will get it later….

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Saturday - Leaving the Hotel

I seem to be getting behind in my posts…

Saturday we had two important visits planned. About noon we had arranged to visit Natalia and Amit Shrira and their daughter Tamar, who is about 6 months old. Natalia is the Product Manager of Picture-Logic puzzles and Amit is Conceptis Operations Manager. Their work includes so many things that I am not able to even describe also including the fact that I am not even aware of everything. Anyway I know that Natalia keeps the archives of the published puzzles and Amit is involved in handling all the artists.

Little Tamar was really cute! She had a wonderful smile which she gladly showed us.
One thing I have found in common in all the Conceptis people I know closer: they all have cats! Natalia had two. Now I have seen one more of the Conceptis offices. Last year I visited Dave’s office in his home and Natalia and Amit are working in the same room in their home.

After returning back to the hotel I had to do something which was at the same time wonderful but also sad: I started packing. Maybe this sounds funny because the family was about to leave the next day but we had planned that since they had the car, they could drop me off at Gil’s place. That was probably the hardest packing I have ever done. If I had left something important behind, it would have ended up in Finland.

Before we left we went to take some coffee and Marika and Katri got beautiful cappuccinos (my blog is gradually turning into a food blog!)

Gil lives in a small village called Kefar Netter. The GSP informed that the village had 9 streets and so the right address was easy to find. We had had some problems before. The Hebrew names written with our letters can be done in different ways and the GPS did not always find the streets/places typed exactly the same we had found on the map we had.

The journey took again longer than I had thought. The rush hours are really bad when you want to get somewhere and here the rush hours are longer than in Finland.

It was so nice to see Gil again. We met last year at the Conceptis party which took place in Gil’s place. We have learned to know each other so much better since then. Gil has been my mentor in blogging and we give each other hints about new good tools and social media platforms.

We had first some coffee and talked. Gil and Nitsi had made a reservation to a Turkish restaurant which was not in the village. The funny thing was that it had been two years since he was there last and finally we used our GPS to find the place :)

Like I have told before the Israeli portions are huge. Gil told us that they usually order one pot of food for all of them and we took his advice. Two pots and Marika’s vegetarian pot was more than enough for the family.

The yard had also some shops selling clothes and gifts and all kinds of items. After dinner the girls of course wanted shopping! I also like to look things from other countries but I did not buy anything. I have one weakness and it is candles. Nowadays I buy them only when they are something totally different from what I have seen before.

It was late and I said goodbye to the family and they returned to Haifa for their last night in Israel. I went to Gil’s place to stay two nights there. Nitsan and Gil Galanti work both for Conceptis. Nitsan is the Graphic designer and Gil is the Marketing Manager. They have a lovely daughter Carmel, 3 years old and even though she and I have the language barrier between us, we became good friends during these two days.

Their house is beautiful. It has a garden and for the first time in my life I ate passion fruit taken straight from the tree.

Zemanta Pixie

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday - Bahá’í Gardens

This morning we started with shops in a Bedouin village. Anna was with us showing the way and said that she had never visited there before. We saw so much nice handicraft, paintings, clothes, pottery and jewels which again were different from the others we have seen so far. I did buy a new hat for blocking the sun. The previous was problematic because the wind was blowing it off my head.

We had made arrangements to see a friend of mine from Conceptis forums, Anat, who kindly gave us a place to stay last year. After coming from the market we still had much time left. Some of us were sleeping, some puzzling under the sun and I of course did it in the shadows. We had thought that we could have a closer look to Tel Aviv since we were going that way but we found out that because of the Sabbath starting the shops would be closed early.

However Jukka and I remembered that the kids had not seen the most amazing place in Haifa, the Bahá’í Gardens. The two most sacred sites for Bahá’í's - the resting places of the founders of their religion - join a list of internationally recognized sites like the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and Stonehenge. About Bahá’í Faith you can read here.

We needed some coffee and something salty food before leaving to Herzliya and found one nice place which was open. We thought we ordered just some small sandwiches and got totally surprised by the dishes (this is for one person):

We could not eat them all because we were just going out for dinner but they were really good.
We met Anat and all her family in Herzliya in a restaurant called Avazi. Compared to restaurants everywhere I have ever been in, the Israeli ones have really huge amounts of food!

After dinner we had some good time refreshing memories in Anat’s home.