Tag: Travel

A visit to Hakunila, Vantaa

Håkansböle Gård (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Early summer is here, and what better time to explore areas near you instead of travelling to here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes it is actually very rewarding to just pick up a place near you and head out to get to know your home town much better.

I spent many years in the Håkansböle Manor House area when I was smaller, but ever since then it has always been “too far away” to go there. Since the Vantaa Town Council bought the manor house and the surroundings in 2005 from the Sanmark family, they have started to renovate the whole area, and also the manor itself.

Håkansböle Manor House (C) Two Queens Travel Blog

This manor house was built in 1908, but prior to that there has been a manor ever since the 16th Century. One of the oldest, still standing, houses is the “Mutteritalo” (Nut House), called that as it is shaped like a nut. This was built in the 18th Century as a summerhouse to commemorate the visit of the King of Sweden, Gustav III.

Mutteritalo (The Nut House) (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

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Images from the Håkansböle Manor House area (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019


Any house or area that has a recorded history ever since the 16th Century is bound to have happenings that cannot be explained, and Håkansböle definitely doesn’t make an exception to this rule.

When I was a wee lad, and my friend’s family was a caretaker of the manor when the Sanmarks were in Sweden, we would sometimes be allowed to enter the manor – just for a quick peek. Once I witnessed a chair moving on its own, and have seen a horse-drawn carriage in the park…

But I forgot about all of these stories and things until I was an adult, and we had the fantastic opportunity to visit the manor during a Halloween, when an manor preservance organisation hosted ghost tours and told about these kinds of events that are said to have taken place in the manor. It was quite scary.

If you have the possiblity, visit the place yourself, but before you do, watch a Ghost Vigil video from a Finnish paranormal group (Paranormal Investigations Group Finland), who spent a night in the manor.

Is the Area Worth Visiting?

It definitely is. The major renovation of the area was completed in 2011 and the whole manor park has now been restaured in early 20th Century look. The area is suitable for strolling around leisuredly, there is a café Ruuna offering drinks, quick bite to eat, and knowledge of the history of the area.

Nearby there are jogging tracks, offering possibilities to further enjoy Vantaa’s countyside scenery, and about 1 km away there is a public swimming hall, and sports park with a skateboarding park as well.

ADDRESS: Kartanontie 1, 01200 Vantaa, Finland.

Hakunilan kartano – Håkansböle Manor House (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

23.05.2019: Review – Pensión El Portillo


Pensión El Portillo is located conveniently near the Mezquita-Catedral, one of the major tourist hotspots in Córdoba, in the old town. The alleys around the area are small and winding, thus making the place peaceful and quiet, even though there is a road just nearby (with bus routes).

When we made the booking via Hotels.com for the place, we didn’t have a car rented at the moment, so we thought nothing of it, but for future reference – one should inform them before arrival if you are coming with a car; they will try to arrange you a parking spot nearby. Otherwise, there is none. We ended up parking across the river before managing to secure ourselves a spot by the Pensión.

Check in was quick and easy, the lobby was furnished in a typical Córdoba style, very charming indeed. The hotel does not have any lifts as the building itself is believed to be over 100 years old. The lobby is your typical indoor patio and it is clear that the roof has been put in much later than the house itself was built.

The Room

The room was actually really small, however it was very cozy, clean, and comfortable. There was no noise coming from inside the hotel although our room was right next to the staircase, which was a definite added bonus as this was something we were slightly apprehensive at first.

The room has a wardrobe, air conditioner, a dresser, night stands on each side of the comfortable bed, and two chairs to sit on. We used the chairs to sit on the small Juliet balcony overlooking the small plaza just outside the front door, a nice, quiet time with a glass of vino.

As it is with many rooms we have stayed in, there is a lack of power outlets near the bed, so if you are used to charging your phone whilst sleeping, prepare to leave it further away, or have a longer charging cord so you can keep it nicely on either of the night stands.

But as the room was small, it posed logistical problems for our luggage as we had everything with us (including a big suitcase we just bought from Fuengirola), and for me this was a definite downside. Having wheeled the bag around before arriving to the hotel room and then having to place it on your bed is not exacly my idea of keeping the bed clean, but on the other hand, there was a bedspread, so you don’t have to place it on the bed linens.

The Bathroom

The bathroom was clean and quite spacious, but no bidet. The shower cabinet was cleverly designed to take about 1/4 of the whole bathroom space, giving you good space to have a proper shower. The Pensión also provided shampoo and shower gel in sachets, and bars of soap to wash your hands with. This is a small gesture that we both really like over the wall-attached dispensers that you can see in many places around Europe nowadays.

The Verdict

The next time we venture out to Córdoba, the Pensión El Portillo is the first place we are going to check for availabilities. The location makes it perfect base for the exploration of the old town, and the surroundings. Knowing that they have two reserved car parking spots nearby makes it even more enticing (even though I suspect that other hotels around the area offer same kind of service).

Even though the room was small, it didn’t feel claustrophobic. Instead, the size of the room allowed the air conditioner to cool down the room quite fast, and it was kept of a steady temperature even during the night.

Check-out time was convenient, as it is not too early in the morning, but instead allows time to wake up before having to rush out of the door. We, on the other hand, had to depart earlier than the check-out time was as we needed to drive back to Málaga airport to return our car before the flight but that posed no problems either.


14.05.2019: To Málaga With Norwegian

Wake up is at 4 am and when one is trying to remember who and where one is, it all comes back! It’s time for another trip.

At Helsinki Airport (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

This time we are heading to Spain, to Costa del Sol and Málaga area. Compares to the last trip, this is going to be a bit different experience as we are not actually staying in Málaga, but in Torremolinos, and for part of our trip we have decided to rent a car – which allows us to venture a bit further away without being tied up to public transportation schedules.

As much I would love to just have a Sun, Sea, and Sangria type of holiday, I know that I would be left craving more if we only stayed at one place.

Sunshine at 10kms (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019
On Top Of The World! (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

Helsinki Airport

At the moment the airport in Helsinki is undergoing a major renovation as they are revamping the whole entrance area. This far they have closed some of the driveways, and demolished a car park. We will see what the future holds. But for the moment this means simply that one should come to the airport a tad earlier, especially during the vacation season.

One thing that hasn’t changed are the extravagant prices at the shops! I am still amused that a 500ml bottle of soft drink can cost just under 4 euros. I blame the high rentals and the fact that most of the kiosks and restaurants are managed by one company.

Now they have also opened an extension which has added even more gates to one end of the T1. This is something to keep in mind if you are transiting at Helsinki – distances between gates can be long and time consuming!

Luckily for us, the walk today is not that bad. I also forgot how much we Finns love to queue up! People are actually standing, in a neat queue, at the gate about 30 minutes before departure. So funny.

The Flight

The Norwegian Cabin. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

This time around we opted for a direct flight with Norwegian instead of using Lufthansa, which we have tried to do since realising that it might be better to concentrate on one company for the miles and more.

But as we found a really good bargain with Norwegian, as as it was a direct flight, we bought the tickets.

As there were some things that we thought warranted a bit more discussion, we made another post about it.

Arriving Málaga

Cafe Manon at the Airport. (C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2019

As on the previous trip, finding your way from the terminal to the Renfe train station is a bit of a bore. This time around we managed it quite easily as we almost remembered the route from the last time. Just pay attention to the train logos until you get outside, where the buses depart and then you are almost there!

The single tickets for the trains can be bought from the vending machines that are quite easy to use. For me, using the train is an extremely handy way to go around between Fuengirola and Málaga.

And as it is over 20⁰C warm, it seems to be turning out as fantasting holiday ahead!

11.03.2019 /2: What’s Up, Estonia?

Years ago, when I used to “blog” into a small, black diary much like we do nowadays over the internet, I usually ended my travel with a closure-type text where I would moan about having to go back home, back to the normal life. You know that post-holiday blues. Continue reading “11.03.2019 /2: What’s Up, Estonia?”

11.03.2019 /1: Review – The Tallink Express Hotel


The Tallink Express Hotel is a good option for those travelling with a budget, and to those who are willing to stay further away from the Tallinn’s beautiful Old Town.

The hotel is conveniently situated near the Tallinn Harbour’s A-terminal, which is not where the Tallink ships dock. If you are travelling from Stockholm or Helsinki with a Tallink cruise liner, you have to either walk about 15 minutes or take a taxi from the D-terminal. Continue reading “11.03.2019 /1: Review – The Tallink Express Hotel”

10.03.2019 /3: Dinner Buffet at Tempo @ Tallink Express

As persons who don’t eat everything on the menu (mainly pork and its derivates), we are a tad sceptical when it comes to preordering a buffet. We did it already as part of our holiday package, as I thought it would be slightly cheaper at that time. Everybody knows how the hotel prices are, expensive. Continue reading “10.03.2019 /3: Dinner Buffet at Tempo @ Tallink Express”

10.03.2019 /2: Cappuccino At Nord Coffee At Nautica Shopping Center

We are positively surprised that Tallinn seems to be the odd bird out when it comes to hitching up the prices in the areas where the tourists go. Or it might also be misleading as nowadays we just hang out in the areas where the tourists go when we come to Tallinn. Continue reading “10.03.2019 /2: Cappuccino At Nord Coffee At Nautica Shopping Center”

09.03.2019 /2: Evening Meal at the III Draakon

The III Draakon, a small mediaeval tavern located at the Old Town Square is a gem in itself, and our favourite haunt whenever we are in Tallinn. Apparently, according to the staff, there has been a tavern there ever since the town hall was built, so it would be hundreds of years. And maybe it is so! A piece of living history! Continue reading “09.03.2019 /2: Evening Meal at the III Draakon”

Safety Should Always Be A Priority, Part 2

When writing this blog about safety issues when travelling, I realised that it is just slightly longer than I would like a blog post to be. Also as the blog is about safety both before and during the your trip, it means it was quite natural to clip it in two at that point. If you missed the first part, you can find it by clicking here.

Continue reading “Safety Should Always Be A Priority, Part 2”