Existing Member?

Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

Turku and Tampere

FINLAND | Saturday, 15 September 2007 | Views [3900] | Comments [3]

Eleven hours for the Viking Line ferry between Stockholm and Turku seemed excessive, but the reason became clear soon enough - for most of the way we had to go slowly as our huge ferry negotiated the way through the huge Stockholm Archipelago (made up of approx 24,000 islands) and crept almost silently by a long line of other equally massive ferries and cruise ships coming into Stockholm.

We stopped briefly on Aland Island, then had to carefully weave through the equally huge archipelago off Turku, constantly changing course to stay in the narrow channel markered by buoys between the islands and rocks. So in eleven hours, we were only in the open Baltic sea - which was surprisingly rough - for about 90 mins. And, at least up on the deck when the sun was shining, it didn't feel too Baltic in temperature.

Previously I'd cynically thought that maybe the ferry was on a scheduled go-slow to allow the Swedish and Finnish passengers as much duty-free drinking time as possible.

Despite the sign in the terminal making the absolute zero tolerance policy on drunkedness during the journey crystal clear, on board the promotion of drinks at a fraction of normal prices was non-stop. I no longer think that the Brits are ahead of the game in their duty free enthusiasm, having spotted people getting off the ferry pushing wheeled loaders stacked high with crates of beer, wine, spirits, alcohol and snus. As well as plenty space on the ship for drinking, casinos and karaoke, there was a huge sauna area which took up about a quarter of one floor of the ship.

Anyway, got into Turku and found my 'staff free' hotel, the Omena... you book it on the web, get a room number and a code for all the doors, and to check out you just put a 'checked out' tag on the door when you leave. Dead cheap for a hotel, and it even included breakfast at a cafe round the corner.

Arriving quite late, and leaving Turku early, I didn't get the chance to look around, but from what I did see and hear, the architecture and language seems to be getting more Soviet in style as I go further East. Which I suppose is what you'd expect. Prices seem to be getting less unreasonable too, but still quite heavy.

Tampere is an old industrial town, but now has (amongst other things) lots of museums including the coffee cup museum, the museum of refrigeration, the Finnish boxing museum, the shoe museum and many others. I didn't manage to get to the coffee cup museum, but did make it to the world's oldest spy museum. They had lots of interesting actually used real spy stuff, like a bugged ashtray used in industrial espionage, old cipher machines (one made by Nokia, just up the road from here), and gadgets that were used to copy documents onto microfilm. Amazing how much of the cumbersome equipment that they lugged around in the 70s and 80s could now be replaced by a modern mobile phone with a camera. But that could never replace the gearstick from a Lada which concealed a large knife! They also had the same brand of lighter with a hidden knife which was used in the 11th September attacks.

The spy museum was in the basement of the huge Findlayson Centre. Findlayson was a Scot who brought electric light to Scandinavia in 1882 for use in his cotton mill. And supposedly, as almost every household in the UK has a copy of 'Dark Side of the Moon', almost every Finnish household has Findlayson towels and sheets to this day. And the brand is still going.

I was planning to look around more of Tampere this morning, but it was pouring with rain, so (since someone in the hostel dorm had woken us all up early anyway), I got the early train to Helsinki. It was a fast Pendelino one, but quite a lot better than Richard Branson's narrow Virgin trains. It even had screens to show us how fast we were going (200+ kmph)

Tags: On the Road



Loving the bjlog, wish I was there! But enough already of the pictures of buildings, islands and istock-worthy thingies. We want to see HOT Scandinavian chicks and amusing consumer products, like tubs of margarine called Jism or bottles of Kokrot Kola....

  Will Sep 16, 2007 8:26 AM


Thanks Will - I'll try to get more real cultural snaps. I have seen some amusingly named products and shops, but foolishly didn't take any pictures. But I will do from now on! Lots of hot chicks everywhere too, but I don't know how they'd respond to being snapped on the sly.

  george Sep 17, 2007 1:18 AM


Lahetta sahkopostille sun kaikki ystavat

Meidan Rakaus voittaa kaikki Jaana ja M.

  Secret Nov 20, 2009 10:48 PM



Travel Answers about Finland

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.