A Travellerspoint blog

Today it's Tampere

A day in Tampere

sunny 18 °F

We thought it was cold, but it has gotten colder, more snow on the ground and less light in the day.
We hopped the train to Tampere, arriving in the late morning. This train was another 1-1/2 hour ride and, really nice was that the station was only a block from our hotel. Easy walk.

We were lucky that a room was ready for us when we arrived, and we were upgraded to an Executive Suite. Especially nice, since this was all paid for with our points.

The hotel clerk gave us a map and pointed out a restaurant that locals love, a good walk away but easy walking. And off we were onto another experience.

The walk to the restaurant goes thru the town square and the New Christmas Market. We walked up the main street, crossed the bridge and there was the town square. Some beautiful old buildings surround the square.
Up a hill, from the square is an old building that was built 1877 for a cotton mill. The restaurant is in what was the weaving area. The restaurant is a brewery and I was guessing that I’d find some wine to drink. But no, they not only brew regular beer but also gluten free beer. What a treat. http://www.plevna.fi/?page_id=263IMG_20161210_162757107.jpg

We found just what we wanted, Finnish foods, the Cream of Salmon Soup, that we’ve fallen in love with. We also had a meatball dish and a stir-fry, what we’d call a potato and meat scramble at home.
As we ate, we were talking about how this salmon soup was more like what Dale’s mom use to make. We then realized that we have never seen salmon soup on a menu before Finland, but then, we are very close to Russia. When our dinner arrived one of the salads was a pickled beet salad, like Dale’s mom use to make. That made us wonder if she grew up with those dishes as her family did not come from the Russia area. Or if she learned to make them from Dale’s dad’s side, who came from Russia. Wish she was here so we could discuss the food with her.

A little further up the hill was the “old” Christmas Market. The old buildings are, for the most part, smaller. One building, selling various items, appeared to be a barn with a horse stall in the rear right side. Sheep were in the rear left side and the children were petting the sheep.
It was a nice walk back to the hotel in time for a Finnish Sauna.

Posted by Miss Chris 00:55 Archived in Finland Tagged food walking finland tampere brewery christmas_market winter_in_finland plevna Comments (0)

On to Turku

Another stop on our trip to the Arctic Circle

overcast 25 °F

We wanted to hop on an early morning train, but alas, we took too long getting packed up so didn’t arrive in Turku until early afternoon. The cab driver to our hotel gave us some ideas for dinner and things to do.
We quickly put our stuff in our room, asked the front desk to call a cab, but before we were off the lady gave us a map and circled the places to go and where to walk. In the cab, we were listening to rock music, like Penny Lane, in Finnish.

We had 2 things we wanted to do, go to Aboa Vetus recommended by the guide book and eat dinner at Foija, which was recommended by the cab driver.

We thought we’d eat a late lunch first then see the museum as the museum was open until 7pm and after 5pm the restaurant was likely going to be packed with reservations because of Christmas parties.

The restaurant has 2 levels, one on the street and one in the basement. The basement is very old, some of the brick walls are over 200 years old. The waiter suggested salmon and vodka, a wonderful choice for a starter.
We ate our meal then walked to the Aboa Vetus. http://www.aboavetusarsnova.fi/en/exhibitions/aboa-vetus-permanent-exhibition
It was dark by then but we found our way. The Aboa Vetus is a museum consisting of ruins, some as early as the 13th century, existing under the present day city. Being interested in Archeology, this was of a huge interest to me and we both really enjoyed it.

There is an art museum, built on top of the ruins which contains various types of art. We went thru those exhibits as well with the time we had before closing.
One striking exhibit is a sketch of the city of Turku. http://www.aboavetusarsnova.fi/en/exhibitions/okko-poylio-vartiovuori
The sketch is very moving but very dark.

Unfortunately, the Christmas Market was closed up by the time we walked back to the taxi queue. But it was cold (about 18F) and we were ready to go back to the hotel and have some wine.

Posted by Miss Chris 00:36 Archived in Finland Tagged food walking finland turku outdoors train_travel winter_travel_finland Comments (0)

Helsinki Day 2

Another day in Helsinki

overcast 34 °F

After oversleeping and missing our free breakfast, we had to rush to the Cathedral at Senate Square for the free noon concert.

We arrived at the Square before noon and were surprised to find a group of people on the steps singing. We were under the impression that the concert would be inside the Cathedral, but it was outside and not at noon.

More people, both young and old, joined the chorus then Saint Nicholas and young kids joined in. They sang songs that we did not understand the words to, but we enjoyed them anyway. Then the group finished with Finlandia. We think we’ve heard it performed 4 times now, but then we are in Finland.
We later came back to the Christmas Market as there were some candles that I wanted to take home. After we bought the candles we discussed whether we should have some Reindeer Sausage, we were not very hungry. I thought we should try it just because we were there. While we were at it, we decided to have more Gluhwein and some traditional Eastern Finnish pie.
The food was so good and with stomachs full of food and insides warm from Gluhwein we walked off to the Music Hall for the evening concert.
We got to the concert hall, Dale in his best Levis and hiking boots, I in my best cords and warm LLBean boots, all dressed in our best. Fortunately, we passed through the people dressed for a concert. No one seemed to pay attention, or at least they were polite.

We did feel very glamorous drinking champagne with Christmas spices during the intermission. But it was easy to feel glamorous inside of the beautiful music hall.
Even though we couldn’t see the stage when we sat back in our seats, the music was pure and sweet. We just enjoyed.

Posted by Miss Chris 00:24 Archived in Finland Tagged helsinki walking music outdoors sibelius christmas_market music_hall Comments (0)

Helsinki Day 1

Exploring Helsinki

overcast 34 °F

24-hours from leaving our house to landing in Helsinki; 9:30pm and -10F. We hoisted up our backpacks and we were off on a new adventure.

After a great, and free breakfast we went to the tourist information office to find out what we might want to do for the next 2 days. The lady gave us info on where she eats lunch for a reasonable price and gave us info on concerts.

We also found that everything is within walking distance to our hotel; the Christmas market, concerts, shopping and a ton of restaurants. There is a different restaurant every few feet.

We decided to go to a 6pm concert at the Rock Church. The lady at the tourist office said that the music would consist of pieces composed by Finnish Composers. We thought that might be fun. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temppeliaukio_Church

We were at the Christmas Market checking out items and drinking Gluhwein when it was time to walk to the Rock Church. As we walked it started snowing, so nice to experience when walking thru a European city at Christmas.
The concert was exactly what we’d wanted to experience, yet so different than what we expected. The music had a jazz and big band edge. There was a singer and he sang various songs, none of which we understood. We did recognize the music “Little Drummer Boy” but it was all Finnish, of course.
The singer spoke between many of the songs. One song, after he spoke we understood that he had invited the audience to join in. Many knew the words of the song “Beautiful Savior”. As it was being sung in Finnish, we couldn’t think of the words in English. But it was beautiful anyway. This version attached is performed by the St. Olaf Choir, which we heard several years ago .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QJ4TkIcSkk

The audience also sang along to a Sibelius piece. We were unfamiliar with the piece, only knowing a few of the pieces by the composer. It again was moving, everyone around us singing. Here is a sample of the piece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIt3nx2uMEc

The last piece was the Christmas Carol “Silent Night”. Again, it was probably introduced to the audience but we didn’t understand what was being said. Everyone sang along, in Finnish, of course. But we were happy and warm inside the rock church while it was cold outside.

We walked back to another part of the city where we found a restaurant. We ordered bowls of steaming hot Cream of Salmon soup. Our insides were warm and full. We fell in love with Helsinki!

Posted by Miss Chris 05:59 Archived in Finland Tagged helsinki walking music outdoors sibelius christmas_market rock_church Comments (0)

A Winter Trip to Finland

Finland for an anniversary

sunny 55 °F

After a long day of flying, flight delays, and more delays, we made it home from NM. We made it home, just in time to get unpacked and re-packed.

Years ago I saw an article and photos of glass igloos in Finland, up in the Arctic Circle. I decided it would be a really great place to celebrate one of our anniversaries and maybe see the northern lights. Up until now, we’ve always been too busy to go, but now the time seemed to be right.

Several months ago we cashed in a bunch of our frequent flier miles for tickets to Finland. That in itself became a challenge when Turkish Air changed our flight from Istanbul to the US to leave before we’d actually arrive in Istanbul from Helsinki.

Turkey was having political issues at the time and we were a little nervous about flying in and out of Turkey anyway so impossible flights were a good excuse for a change. I called United and when they realized that the flights were impossible, changes were made with no charge to us. Now we will fly Helsinki to Munich to the US.

We leave on Monday, you’d think that we’d be ready for this trip, having known and planned it for months. But no, it is being put together even now.

First, we need to go from Helsinki up to the Arctic Circle. We thought it would be fun to work our way up, visiting cities on the way. We’d planned to drive but after reading warnings on Trip Advisor we decided the train was best.

I got online and after looking for things to do, I found a site that will plan trips depending on what one wants to do. I took their ideas and thought it would make a good itinerary for us.

We will stay in Helsinki for 2 days and were lucky to get tickets to a Sibelius concert at the Music Hall. We got the last 2 tickets available.
From Helsinki we will travel by train to Turku- A Christmas City, Tampere- when the lake is frozen people walk out on the ice to a café, Kuopio, Oulu and then Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is the city for Santa Claus, it also sits on the border of the Arctic Circle, ½ on and ½ off.

I went to buy Eurail passes and found that they must be delivered to our house prior to leaving. As there was no time for delivery I called the toll free #. The lady asked for our itinerary and as I sat there looking at the map of train stops I selected the town of Oulu. Oulu was not on the online guide but it has a train stop which is good enough.

From Rovaniemi, we will take a bus to Kaksluttanen, where the glass igloos are. We have reservations there for 2 days. Hopefully, we will get to go on a Reindeer Safari and a Sleigh Ride. And we are hoping for northern lights.
Most of our hotels are free nights from points which is nice. I still have 3 nights to book and will get that done before we leave.

So much to do and so little time.

Posted by Miss Chris 11:08 Archived in USA Tagged winter travel finland train_travel Comments (0)

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