Jazzfest?? Naah – just FEST…

Havis Amanda by Ville Vallgren
Havis Amanda is a sculpture by Ville Vallgren, constructed in Paris 1906 and put in place near the Market Square in Helsinki in 1908. Vallgren stated that the maiden rising out of the Baltic symbolises the birth of Helsinki. Another symbol may be found in the Swedish flag that can be seen in the background. The flag is flown from the Swedish embassy just a “stone-throw” away. Each year, as part of the student celebrations – Amanda gets a new (student-) hat

Helsinki Finland is about 5200 miles east of New Orleans Louisiana, where Jazzfest is right now underway (April 26 – May 5 http://www.nojazzfest.com/). There are not really any similarities when compared to what goes on in this part of the world at the end of April. Traditionally in the Nordic countries there is a celebration of the arrival of spring. In Sweden for example there are bonfires and especially in the University town of Uppsala there are extensive student celebrations happening on the very last day of April. In Helsinki the celebrating is also extensive and especially so “student celebrations” – young and old.  The more yellow stains your white capped student hat has – the higher the status of the person wearing it is.


Helsinki Police departments Mounted  Detail.
Helsinki PD is ready for the crowds, it looked pretty troublefree to me though. Just in case I suppose.


Crowds gather to celbrate
Crowds gather for the traditional celebration of the arrival of spring in Helsinki Finland on the last day of April 2013.


Student orchestra on top of van.
Student orchestras are a big part of the celebration.


Tailgating band members in uniform.
The band is tailgating.


A few people in a skylift high up above the crowds.
These guys are getting a good view from up top.


Another picture of the big crowds attending the festivities.
Another picture of the big crowds attending the festivities.

Even the CHP (California Highway Patrol) had a unit at the ready in Helsinki on 4/30/2013.  It would seem like budget cuts are not one of the CHP’s concerns.

California Highway Patrol unit in Helsinki on 4/30/2013
California Highway Patrol unit in Helsinki on 4/30/2013

Mom abdicates, Willem-Alexander becomes king.


The news in Europe today has been somewhat dominated by the enthroning of the first king in the Netherlands since 1890 after his mother Queen Beatrix abdicated today. The ceremony is being broadcast on many television stations throughout Europe. In Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam the ceremony is now underway to enthrone the new king and celebrations were ongoing in Amsterdam and other parts of the country. Many people were wearing orange colored pieces of clothing since this is the color of the house of Oranje, the current ruling dynasty’s color. One can certainly discuss the merits of having the monarchy system in these times, it clearly seems out of  the times to me, thoough this particular and many other Royal families still have a wide support among their “subjects”. The ceremony was not a crowning of the new king, but just an enthroning because the Netherlands does not crown their kings. The new king wants to be known as “a man of the people” and has said that people do not need to address him in any certain manner (your royal highness) but can call him by his name if they want to.

New Orleans

Jackson Square with the St Louis Cathedral in the back.
Jackson Square with the St Louis Cathedral in the back.

If you visit New Orleans you must try the Green Goddess restaurant. They have some really innovative – different and really good dishes on the menu. I suggest you try the South Indian Uttapam, vegan version – It is soo delicious. Then you can finish off with a super dessert, I can strongly recommend the Chocolate Dutch – French Toast with Steens sugar cane syrup and salted caramel – It has Gouda cheese  in it – it is one of the best desserts I have ever tasted. The Green Goddess also have a super selection of interesting spirits, wines and fortified wines to accompany your meal. They also have friendly and helpful waiters. I give it all thumbs up! Green Goddess is located in the French Quarter at 307 Exchange Alley, between Conti and Bienville.  No reservations, first come first served.

Green Goddess restaurant sign
Green Goddess restaurant sign