Day 10 – Thursday 14th July (Tampere)
Moose count = not a single one!
Today the weather was much improved after the storms of the previous night and for us it was all about Tampere. The apartment was in the middle of a building site (some sort of tunnel seems to be under construction, for what I couldn’t say – however these people could) which had made getting there the night before quite tricky as well, but we eventually picked our way round it to go and visit the Cathedral. Tampere Cathedral came as a bit of a surprise actually.
It’s an unexpected building really, or it was to us, being an exemplary Finnish National Romantic movement building, immense and solid on the outside (rather like Art Nouveau on steroids) but almost delicate on the inside with some very unusual and slightly disturbing frescoes, which apparently caused a scandal back in 1907.
They’re beautiful but in an unsettling way. The building also has the most incredible stained glass windows. It was pretty close to deserted when we went in which seemed a bit odd, until we realised that Tampere is more of a working town than a touristy one, and it being July most people were away.
Oddly the cathedral seems to be somewhat out of the town centre so we continued on our way in, aiming first for the Tourist Information office in case there was some useful material to be gathered. We also checked out our intended dining destination for the evening only to find it closed for the holidays. Plan B then, but we’d worry about that later.
Tampere sits on a channel between two lakes, the Näsijärvi and the Pyhäjärvi. Because of the difference in levels between the lakes the channel in fact is a set of rapids, the Tammerkoski rapids. That’s what was responsible for Tampere’s industrial prosperity in the past and the area along the rapids is packed with all sorts of interesting remnants of the industrial era, many now converted to other uses, including the Finlayson Palace, which now houses several interesting museums – of which again more later. It’s also now a very attractive area to walk or run, with parkland near the town centre linking everything you might want to see.
After gathering the information we dived into the Tampere Fazer café over the road from the office to plan our day. A coffee and a chocolate later we were on the move.
First we checked out the area around the kauppatori, and the massive bridge over the Tammerkoski (which may be the only bridge in the world with a statue of a Tax collector on it).The kauppatori had a lot of stalls selling foods from all over Europe, but even so we thought that trying to inflict marmite on the unsuspecting Finns was a bit harsh.
It was also a good opportunity to dive into the kaupahalli and buy a pack of the traditional Tampere sausage (mustamakkara), made with blood rather like a black pudding, to take home. We’d located the old town hall, which was an impressive wooden structure (but closed) and walked along both sides of the rapids before we reached the Finlayson Art Area where there was a lot of outdoor art on display including some rather stunning photos in the shopping centre foyer.
The Finlayson factory was established in 1820 by a Scot, James Finlayson, and grew rapidly, with all sorts of ancillary building for the workers including a lovely little church. With production now moved elsewhere it now houses museums and restaurants and the Finlayson Palace, which is now a restaurant, proved a lovely location to take a lunch break before hitting the museums. The game sausage hot dog was particularly good, especially with the wild mushroom mayonnaise that was an excellent extra.
Lynne’s smoked duck salad looked pretty good too.
Suitably fortified we wended our way back to the Workers Museum which proved very interesting, with some good material on women in the workforce and the way they were treated.
It also had a lot of machinery from the various eras of cotton production at the Finlayson works, and proved a fascinating way to spend an hour or so, especially when you added in a descent to the basement level to see the steam museum, with the massive engine that used to power the factory. Not many people were bothering to make the side-trip. I don’t know why. It’s a beautiful piece of heavy engineering and I loved it.
We were also treated to some of the art from the Lenin Museum (currently being renovated) which was intriguing when seen as a collection. They are very powerful pieces, which I already knew, but it’s always good to be reminded. One might not like the politics behind them, but as a means of communicating with everyone they were very effective propaganda and do not require the ability to read or understand the language in which they were produced, essential in a “country” spanning numerous ethnicities. The museum is here because it is the location where Lenin and Stalin met for the first time at a conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1905.
One forgets sometimes that Finland borders Russia and thus had an “interesting” time in the 20th century and especially during the Cold War.
Speaking of which, we then moved on to the Spy Museum.There was much interactive activity available here and it was interesting, but could have been more so. The “English” translations of the material were so poor that it made my fingers itch for an editing pen. There wouldn’t have been much left. It was a shame because as I say it was an interesting and pretty comprehensive collection and told some fascinating stories. The trouble was it left my inner editor feeling hideously twitchy. This is why you always get translations done by someone who speaks the language you are translating into as their mother tongue, and not the other way round folks! Most of it looked like it had been run through something like Google Translate but not as good. A bit of a shame really.
Anyway that was enough of museums we reckoned. There are plenty more available but two is really our limit in a day these days. We swung by the Finlayson church which is rather lovely with lots of fossils in the floor tiles, and then walked back to the apartment via the Pyynikki ridge.
There’s a rather splendid park up there, reached from behind a massive fountain at the end of a very stylish boulevard, along with a lot of other attractions. We didn’t go to the observation tower because it was getting late and we wanted to aim for a different observation point before dinner, the Moro Sky Bar on the 25th floor of the Sokos hotel opposite the railway station. We stayed for a while having managed to snag a window table, and watched the weather changing in the distance.
Lynne opted for less traditional food in the shape of scallops to start.
I had the salmon soup (with some more of that wonderful malted bread that we kept encountering).
That was followed by a very good asparagus risotto for Lynne.
Meanwhile I had anothet Finnish staple, in the shape of liver and mashed potato.
The restaurant has recently changed hands and some reviews suggested that the quality had dropped away dramatically. However, we found the food to be tasty, the quantities way more than we needed and the service friendly if a bit vague. Later, stuffed full of food, we navigated our way up the hill back to the apartment for a solid night’s sleep before we moved on again.