Signs (Ad Edition)

As someone interested in design and usability, signs fascinate me. In the US, I often ignore them because I’m so used to seeing them. But when I travel. I find myself inexplicably drawn to all types of signage, from ads to street signs to store names. And so, with a brand new camera in tow, I take pictures, which I then share with you. These are all pictures from my summer trip to Europe.

So here are pictures of ads and storefronts. It is a long post, but hopefully it will be interesting.

Giant reindeer head museum. I can only imagine that inside the museum there are loads of reindeer heads.

IMG 0057

Strawberry, raspberry, and mango popsicles. I WANT.

IMG 0058

I have no clue what this is an ad for. Mika appears to not be a Finnish word, but it is a European pop singer. I don’t know what this means or why there is a question mark after it.

IMG 0061

A moving ad in the tram in Helsinki. DOCTAGON. Yeah!

IMG 0062

Red bull has mini trucks even in Finland.

IMG 0092

Dude in a jacket, bow tie and crow bar. Woman in a dress and paint roller. Weird.

IMG 0171

This struck me as sounding like Cook Pot. Which would be a funny name for a kitchen store.

IMG 0170

I want to buy things from the brand Your Face.

IMG 0172

TexMex is popular food in Finland. I guess so are girls with shot glasses and blonde hair.

IMG 0180

Here’s a TexMex restaurant called Gringos Locos. The crazy white people restaurant.

IMG 0196

Here is a art gallery with a show called Lorem ipsum. I thought it was a typo at first, then I saw the art. It’s a show about fonts and things like that.

IMG 0197

Harry Potter in Finland. Kaikki Päättyy.

IMG 0198

Dog parking at the local grocery store.

IMG 0204

Why take the time to mix Jack and Coke when you can buy it combined together in a can?

IMG 0214

Outlet mall in Estonia.

IMG 0220

I am so sad I didn’t try that soup.

IMG 0287

Everything’s store. Oh Estonia!

IMG 0344

I really want to go see Jäääär in concert.

IMG 0346

Shopping mall in Estonia. They have Marks and Sparks and everything!

IMG 0348

Captain America and Cars 2 in Estonia.

IMG 0363

This sign just cracked me up. I’m not sure why. Chicken Restaurant in Tallinn.

IMG 0375

These next two pictures are two side by side coffee shops in Helsinki. Robert’s Coffee.

IMG 0415

And Wayne’s Coffee.

IMG 0416

I’d never actually seen an actual Gone Fishing sign before this one in Helsinki.

IMG 0421

I think this is a maternity store in Malmö. I don’t know why there is a Japanese maternity clothes store in Sweden.

IMG 0445

I I really wanted to go to Burger King in Sweden in order to eat a BKool Sundae 🙂

IMG 0446

No clue what this ad is for. Slurp. In Copenhagen.

IMG 0452

Nun advertising Sister Act and praying in Germany.

IMG 0513

I know you’ve been wanting to see the Starlight Express, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s roller skate musical, right?

IMG 0521

I don’t love you. I love ice cream.

IMG 0526

I like that the gambling halls are associated with cherries.

IMG 0546

Just as rubber ducks are associated with glasses.

IMG 0567

Mini truck with big kegs of beer.

IMG 0578

A coffee shop that sells bras and underwear.

IMG 0625

Capri-Sun Cola Mix. Very odd. Uncarbonated, lemon flavored, uncaffenated, coke drink.

IMG 0629

I think this was an ad for the psychiatric museum art museum. Not that you can tell from the banner.

IMG 0772

Christ Jewelers. Seems like an odd choice of names…

IMG 0774

Home of Shirts. Whatever do you think they sell in this store?

IMG 0780

This is a chocolate shop in Heidelburg that has a bench out front reserved for Forrest Gump.

IMG 0786

The Backfactory. I don’t remember what they sell, but it’s some sort of food.

IMG 0924

Snowballs of ALL flavors.

IMG 0927

In Germany, Bridesmaids was known as Braut Alarm!

IMG 0933

Big Fries! The restaurant!

IMG 0934

Marc O’Polo clothing store. Not, amusingly enough, Marco Polo.

IMG 0935

There is a men’s clothing shop called Macho. Their logo is a shirtless man-chest.

IMG 0986

Bison. A bizarre name for a clothing store.

IMG 1041

I kindof want to work at a place called CyklopStudio.

IMG 1057

nü by staff-woman in Copenhagen. I think this was a clothing store. For women. Or woman as the case may be.

IMG 1073

Change. I don’t know if they just want you to change your bra or what.

IMG 1185

Back to Helsinki. There is a whole Sauna shop in downtown.

IMG 1213

Bright and Shiny Hippies in Helsinki means BEN AND JERRY’S. No, I didn’t eat there.

IMG 1215

TINTIN. If you don’t know who Tintin is than I’m ashamed of you.

IMG 1216

That is all for today. Do you want to come and see Jäääär with me sometime?

Usability Issue 5 (No Question)

My first day in Helsinki it took me over 45 minutes to get to my hostel. Not because it was far away, but because of extrodinarily bad signage. So this is less of a question and more of a usability what-not-to-do show and tell. (I had WAY too much stuff with me, poorly packed, and had been awake for about 36 hours. And it was hot. So hot that after eventually finding my hostel, I changed into a short skirt and tank top to go out to dinner. And I was finally comfortable.)

So this is the story of what not to do when creating signage for your youth hostel. Keep in mind that I did have a Google Map and it did not help one ounce. Or gram.


This is the sidewalk I was walking on. I had taken the bus they told me to get on and gotten off at the stop they told me to. The bus driver had given me vague directions and I had my map. So I was walking. The left side of the sidewalk (red) is the bike path. The gray part is for pedestrians.


IMG 0067


When I got to this point., I thought to myself, weird. There is a road going off into the soccer fields. I never once thought to myself, I bet that’s where the hostel is. Note, no signs. I should have turned right instead of going straight.


IMG 0068


If I had turned right I would have gone down the road or ended up in this quasi-parking lot at the top of a staircase. I should have gone down those stairs. (Still no signs.)


IMG 0069

Then after walking along the soccer fields, I would have come to a giant flight of stairs. I should have gone up that.


IMG 0070


At the top of the giant flight of stairs, I would have found my first sign that a hostel actually existed, a small sign that said Hostel Stadion <- 100 yds. At this point I was standing on a paved walk/bikeway next to a parking lot. But I would then have turned left and powered on (as the tiny sign said).

IMG 0071

Journeying on, there may have been one more small sign, as one would walk along this empty path. There would also, undoubtedly be bikers to dodge, with a huge pack on.

IMG 0072

Then, you make an unexpected right, down a man-made path in the grass, to another trail, across some rocks, and through a small break in the fence. It is very official. BUT there is an official Hosteling International Sign here, so it must be legit! Relief!

IMG 0073

As you turn right from the hole in the fence, you will see this. You may or may not be able to see the HOSTEL STADION sign. You are in the right place.

IMG 0040

If you come another way, good luck to you, fine sirs and madams. Hopefully you brought lots of rations and your bag is light. And hope they don’t give your bed away…

It wasn’t always perfect

On our second day in Aialik Bay, the day I wanted to do two biggish kayaking excursions, we woke up to this gray. Gray is fine. I can handle gray. But I was sluggish getting up and then we had to eat and wash dishes, and by then it was raining. Ben went on a long walk down the beach and I curled up in the cabin and started reading The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, an oddly appropriate book. (Appropriate because it takes place in Sitka, AK where the weather is almost always like it is in this photo…gray and rainy.)

So I spent most of the day sleeping or reading and then we went on a long walk down the beach, where this picture was taken. It’s amazing how some places are still so gorgeous even when the weather is less than ideal.

This is a shorter post, but it’s also about nine hours overdue. For that reason, I’ll toss in another gray picture for free. Aialik Bay has lots of dead trees, leftover from the tsunami/earthquake in 1964 that heavily damaged Seward and changed the landscape of much of south central Alaska. (This is not a super optimistic post.) For more information go to the Wikipedia page.

Because my train of thought is leading to more images, I’ll throw in one tsunami related image. This is a new awareness campaign, I believe, in coastal towns near fault lines. (I’ve seen it in Seward and Monterey, CA) For some dark reason, I find it highly amusing. I think it has to do with the visual, not the message.