Finnish Roadtrip: Tampere to Jyväskylä (day 3)

On day three of our Finnish Roadtrip we woke up in Tampere. We had realised a few days before that the Midsummer holiday was today. However, we were still hopefully that large department stores, restaurants and attractions would be open. Little did we realised that everything would be closed for the next three days. We still managed to fill our days as best we could with outdoor activities. We also made a stop in Jämsä before arriving in Jyväskylä.

Tampere

I had a couple of places in mind for breakfast. Apparently, Kaffila has the best third wave coffee, Vohvlikahvila has the best waffles and Fazer Café has the best brunch. However, since it was a public holiday today they were all closed. Luckily there was one place in town that didn’t let us down. The Tampere Market Hall/Tampereen Kauppahalli was open for business. I’m not sure if it was open all day, but it was first thing in the morning.

We bought pastries from pastries from Pullapuoti Wilenius. We got a Pastija Liha (pastry with meat), a Pastija Muna-riisi (pastry with egg and rice), a Berliin Munkki (jam donut with icing), a Mansikka Wieneri (strawberry and custard danish), and some Posso Munkki (donut balls) for the road. Not the healthiest breakfast, but we are still on holidays!

Luckily, the Tampere Cathedral also didn’t close for the public holiday so we were able to go inside. I heard that it has an amazing serpent roof that I was eager to see.

The Tampere Cathedral is a Lutheran church, which was build between 1902-1907. It was designed by Lars Sonck, in National Romantic style. It is known for its famous frescos, painted by Hugo Simberg and Magnus Enckell. Enckell painted the large altarpiece, which represents future resurrecion of people of all races. I am not sure if it was Enckell or Simberg who painted the long fresco that wraps around the walls. Simberg’s fresco sparked alot of controversy for its preceived wicked natures. This includes the winged serpent on the red background (ceiling) The Garden of Death (left corner) and The Wounded Angeel (top floor). Despite the modernity of this church, it is quite beautiful and the paintings are exquisite.

Jämsä

We originally intended to go from Tampere to Ähtäri Zoo. However, since there the weather was scheduled to rain and there were some renovations being done, we thought we would keep going to Jyväskylä. At this point we we still not expecting everything to be shut. So it seemed a good idea to skip the zoo. So we drove a more direct route to Jyväskylä, and made a tourist stopped at Jämsä.

Jämsä is a small town and part of a large municipality of Jämsä. It is know as the centre of Finnish aeroanutics industry. We stopped at a little kiosk on Vähä Valkeajärvi lake, just outside of town . This lake covers 11.7 hectares and is 850m in length and 300m in width. There is a picnic area and kiosk is open here in the summer and serves coffee and snacks. Since we only had card, no cash we weren’t able to get anything from the kiosk. I think this is quite common for these small kiosks, since they are only open for a few months a year. Nevertheless its a lovely place for a photo opportunity.

These photos were taken in the Jämsä countryside. The weatherwas just so gorgous and by now I was thinking perhaps we should gone to the zoo.

Another stop we made, a few minutes outside of Jämsä town centre was Juvenin Koski waterfall. This famous waterfall is 7m in height and is supposibly the highest and steepest free-flowing waterfall in Central Finland. To get down there we took a small flight of stairs then another couple of metres to see it mid way. Marco and Octavia went all the way down, but I prefered not to with my slippery boots. It was quite nice to see, but there was these enormous flying bugs, so we didn’t spend long.

Jyväskylä

The entire trip from Tampere to Jyväskylä took about two hours and by the time we arrived so did the rain. Jyväskylä is the largest city in Central Finland and Finnish Lakeland and is the fastest growing city in the country. It is known as the Athens of Finland, since its is the educational centre of the country.

We walked down the Kauppakatu pedestrian street to see if any of the shopping centres, department stores, boutiques or musums were open. Sadly we everything was closed. I’m sure this would be an amazing city normally.

So for dinner I originally planned to go to the viking themed restaurant, Viikinkiravintola Harald. They actually have a few locations, but I figured I would leave this dining experience for Jyväskylä. It was actually closed for the entire weekend.

There was only two places in town with open with food, the supermarket and Pancho Villa. I was’t that keen on Mexican food in Finland, but it seemed like a better idea then eating cold cuts on a cold night.

Pancho Villa is a Mexican chain restaurat, that you can find throughout Finland. They offer burgers, salads, Mexican classics, protein fillets and kids meals. They also cater for lactose free, gluten free and vegan. The decor was a little dated, but it was cosy place to have meal.

For dinner, Marco had the Cheese burger with fries and pickles, I had the Soft Taco (two vegan and two prawn) and Octavia had the children salmon fillet, chips and salad. We also recieved free corn chips and salsa. I have to say I was pretty impressed with dinner. For a chain resturant the food was relatively good quality and everything was really tasty.

After dinner we stopped by the supermarket and bought some fresh strawberries, raspberries and bananas for dessert. If your travelling in an Nordic countries you must buy the berries any chance you get. They are so sweet and have so much flavour.

We had our fruit salad in our Airbnb. I won’t recommend this particular acommodation because I didn’t really love it. In comparision to other places we had stayed it wasn’t the most comfortable and the bathroom was really old.

Tomorrow we travel to Kuopio and visit a zoo. Only three more days until this trip comes to an end…

Finnish Road trip: Turku to Tampere (day 2)

On day two of our Finnish roadtrip, we started the day in Turku and drove to Tampere. It was quite a rainy day, so we didn’t do as much walking as usually, but we do alot of eating. Some of the highlights of our day include the Turku Cathedral, Tampere Cathedral, lunch at the Tampere Food Hall, eating the best donuts in town and ending the day with a satisfying Belgium gastropub meal.

Breakfast

We woke up in the Scandic Hotel in Turku, which was actually the only hotel we stayed in during this trip. The room wasn’t very exciting, so I didn’t photograph it. It was comfortable and clean though. The only reason we didn’t book an Airbnb for this location was because they were much more expensive at the time of our visit then this hotel.

The good thing about staying in a hotel is the free buffet breakfast. I was a bit curious what kind of foods they would give us for breakfast in Finland. I wasn’t disappointed either. There was a variety of pasteries, Finnish breads, fresh fruit and vegetables, ham, cheeses, herring, oats with berries, roasted vegatables. giant baked beans, juice and coffee. This was probably my favourite breakfast buffet on this entire trip, since I wasn’t a big fan of the buffets on the ships.

Turku Cathedral

The last place we had to visit before leaving for Tampere was the Turku Cathedral/Turun tuomiokirkko. It is located off the bank of the Aura River, across from Downtown Turku. We had been nearby the night before, when we walked along the promenade of the Aura River and had dinner.

This cathedral is massive in size and is considered to be one of the most important Lutheran churches in Finland. It was previously a catholic cathedral, built in the 13th century and constructed of wood. However, it was later renovated and constructed mostly stone during the 14th and 15th cenutry. It was also badly damaged during the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. During the reformation the catherdral became Lutheran and much of its present interior was designed during the 1830s, by various renown artists and architects.

The altar was just gorgeous and awe-inspiring. The Altar piece was painted in 1836 by the Swedish artist, Fredrik Westin and depicts the Transfiguration of Jesus. The walls and roof surrounding the high altar are Romantic fresco’s, which were painted by the court painter,  Robert Wilhelm Ekman. This series depict the events from the life of Jesus, and the two key events in the history of the Finnish Church, including the baptism of the first Finnish Christians by Bishop Henry and the presentation to King Gustav Vasa by the Reformer Michael Agricola. The rerdos behind the High Altar and the pulpit were both designed by the German architect, Carl Ludvig Engel in the 1830s.

The side chapels were originally dedicated to various saints. However, most were converted to funeral vaults. Many of these graves and memorials are of notable people, including bishops, military commanders and royals. One of the most famous is Queen Karin Mansdotter, wife of King Erik XIV. Her sarcophagus is overlooked by a beautiful stainglass window, featuring the Queen and her sons. It also had a large playroom for children. This is such a great idea and something I have only come across in Sweden and Finland.

Tampere

Driving to Tampere took about two hours. We were anxious to get there so we didn’t make any stops along the way. I am not sure that there are any notable ones to make anyway. We first settled into our Airbnb. We were hosted by a lovely elderly couple, who provided us with a cosy, modern apartment. It was located in the Amuri district, a short walk from the Särkänniemi amusement park.

So Tampere is not a place I knew about before we were planning this road trip. So I will tell you what we learned. It’s one of the most populated inland city of all the Nordic countries and it is located in Pirkanmaa, southern Finland. It is known as the ‘Manchester of Finland’, because it was formerly industrial history. It is surrounded by over 2000 lakes and ponds, which make up 24% of its land surface. It is full of parks and green areas and also has popular amusement park, Särkänniemi and a host of other attractions.

Alexander Cathedral

On our way into the Tampere city centre we first stopped at the Alexander Cathedral/ Aleksanterin kirkko. It is surrounded by a large green park, Pyynik Church Park. Previously this park was the old cemetery of Tampere, but ceased to be used for this purpose after a new cemetary for the city was built in 1880s. However, during the Civil War in 1918, the land was used as a mass grave. It has a beautiful little fountain which is overlooked by the stunning architecture of the church.

Alexander Church was constructed by Theodor Deckin in 1880-81 and is known as one of the most beautiful examples of Neo-Gothic style. It was named after the Czar Alexander II for his 25 anniversary of his coronation.

Tampere Food Market

By now we were pretty hungry so we headed to the Tampere Market Hall/Tampereen Kauppahalli. It has been operating in a gorgeous art nouveau building since 1901 and has become the largest indoor market amongst the Nordic countries. It is bustling with over 40 vendors, sellingn fresh fish, meat, cheese, pastries, local foods. It has a host of cafes and restaurants and is open Monday- Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 8am-4pm. This is the perfect place if you after a quick lunch or Finnish snack.

After looking around a bit we ended up choosing Ravintola 4 Vuodenaikaa. They offered French faire, including homemade sausages. They actually make 20 different sausages for their deli stall, from a variety of local meats, including pork, sheep, elk, reindeer, bison etc. It’s a lot more fancy then I expected to see in a Food Market. Marco and I both ordered the same dish which was Housemade Sausage (I think it was boar) with roasted potatoes and dijon aioli, with a small side of bread, salad and watermelon. It was simple but delicious!

Tampere Town Centre

After lunch we walked down to the city centre. Here you can find various department stores, restaurants, music venues, concert halls, theatres and cinemas. The large square in the photos below is the Tampere Central Square or Keskustori. It is quite open and is lined with important buildings, including the Tampere City Hall, Old Church of Tampere and Tampere Theatre.

Since it was rainy, we made a coffee and donuts stop at Pynikin Munkikahvila. It is only a small cafe just off the Tampere Central Square, but they also have another location at the Pyynikki Oberservation Tower. They offer sweet option, including large, small, vegan and gluten free donuts, cakes and “Wilhelmiina” biscuits. For something savoury, they offer grilled foccaccias, salads and more. They also offer a range of beverages, including filtered and espresso coffee.

Well we only came for the donuts and damn where they good! We just got the regularly large donuts and they were just perfectly spongy and sweet. These were the fried sweet treat we had so far. Marco also got a filtered coffee, since he was such a fan by now. I got my favourite oat milk cappuccino. This is definetely a must-eat stop if you are in Tampere.

After that we headed towards Särkänniemi. We went past the large city park Näsi Park or Näsinpuisto. This park is 6.2 hectares in size and was originally a bare rock. However it was redesigned by Swedish gardener, Svante Olsson. At the highest point you can find Näsilinna Palace, which was built in 1898  and is now a museum. Since we were on our way through we only took some photos at the Näsikallion suihkukaivo (Näsikallio shower well). This Art Nouveau granite fountain was completed in 1913 by architect Birger Federley and the three bronze sculptures are by Emil Wikström. The statues are based on old folk tales and are in the style of French realism. It is quite stunning to see on a sunny day or even a rainy day.

We walked all the way to the amusement park Särkänniemi, which has quite a few attractions along side it. These include Doghill Fairytale Farm , Aquarium, Planetarium, and the famous Näsinneula observation tower. I really had my heart set on taking Octavia to Doghill Fairytale Farm. However, due to the weather conditions most of the animal were going to be put back in their enclosures and alot of the programming was cancelled. We decided not to both with visiting Särkänniemi either since with little for O to do and we would only have a few hours. Instead we stopped by a little playground on our way back to the apartment. I was a little sad, but I think for the ticketing prices you should really spend the whole day.

Dinner

For dinner we visited the Belgium Gastropub Tuulensuu. This is the perfect place for a hearty dinner and some drinks on a drizzly evening or with some friends. They menu is quite traditional and offers a variety of snacks and small dishes to enjoy with an alcoholic beverage or meat-heavy mains. The prices are also pretty reasonably as well.

We started with some Apple ciders, followed by Schnitzel with fries  and Smoked pork neckroasted potatoes, horse raddish, Sauerkraut and beer sauce. They were massive meals and was definetely enough for two and half hungry people. They were incredibily delicious and cooked really well.

Well that’s it for today. We have a couple more stops in Tampere tomorrow morning before we make our way to Jyväskylä during the Midsummer holiday.

Finnish Roadtrip: Turku Castle (day 1)

The Turku Castle or Turku linna is the top attraction to see in Turku. It is a well preserved medieval fortress and one of the oldest buildings in Finland. It was founded in 1280 on the banks of the Aura River, after the south of Finland became part of Sweden. Its has been attacked, extended and renovated over the centuries. It has served as a defensive fortress, luxurious residenital palace, prison, administrative centre, granary, garrison, and lastly as a museum since 1881.

To get there we travelled by car, but you can also take the bus from the Market Square in Turku, which delivers you straight to the castle. The current prices are: Adults 12 €, Children (7–15 yrs) 5 €, free for younger children and discounted rates for students, pensioners, families, groups etc. They offer guided tours, which are currently an additional 3 €. We took the guided tour and it gave us a great overview of the castle history. They only take you through the medieval part of the Main Castle, which I have detailed below. Just note that the tour won’t take you through every single room. Each room does have text panels and there are also a couple of museum exhibitions, which you can visit. When we enquired about the tour, they weren’t too keen on us doing it with our small daughter. However, she found it interesting to wonder through the rooms and wasn’t too much of a nusiance. Other than that there is a restaurant and shop on the grounds, which we didn’t get a chance to see. We arrived quite late and did the last guided tour of the day at 4:10pm, before visited the exhibitions. We also didn’t see the Bailey, which has more exhibitions.

If you would like to see more this castle without leaving your home, you can actualy do a virtual tour. It gives you great panarama views inside the varies rooms in the main castle, bailey, courtyard, etc.

Turku Fortress

The photos below include the exterior of the fortress, the castle courtyard (bailey) and the main castle. During the Middle Ages, the castle looked more like an island, as it surrounded by a moat, which joined to the River Aura. However, the keep (fortified tower, within castle) was built in the early 15th century and the bailey was built towards the end of the 15th century.  The bailey’s hey day was during the 1600’s, when it served as the Governor-Generals office and was the centre of regional adminstration. It later served as a prison until 1891. Today, it exhibits the history of the Turku Castle, Children’s Castle and model rooms which are decorated in different eras. We didn’t get a chance to see this part of the Turku Castle, but you can see it on the virtual tour, that I mentioned above

The main castle is seven levels and is built from grey stone. The bottom level were built through the Middle Ages and the spaces are dimly light with low ceilings. The upper level were built later in the Renaissance period, so they are more spacious, bright and lite with natural light. There have been not extra modifications since the Renaissance era, so much of its character stems from this period. It’s gold age was during 16th century under the reign of Duke John of Finland and Catherine Jagiellon.

We began our tour of the main castle, from the reception area. The guide took us upstairs to show us a diarama of the castle in its current form, since the 16th century. The green roof building is the main castle, which is where we would be exporing on our tour. Within that building is an L shape courtyard, which is where were standing (in the photos above), between the grey stone walls.

The Porter’s Lodge

The next room we entered is the Porter’s Lodge on the fourth level of the main castle. During the Middle Ages, this room had a direct view of the castle and there was a window where the door to the Jordon’s Chambers its today. There was a control mechanism in this room for the lattice gate (to gateway) and the drawbridge. This was the only room that could be access from the gateway, via a staircase. The beautiful wall murals were painted in 1530, to celebrate King Gustav Vasa’s visit to the fortress. These were the best preserved murals we had come across on this tour.

Sture Church

In the next room was the Sture Church, which is the last monument in the castle to the Catholic period. It was built in the 1480s, by the order of Regent Sten Sture the Elder, when the most extensive renovations of the Middle Ages were taking place. The walls were adorned with 12 crosses, to celebrate the Apostles, as well as the coat of arms of Sten Sture and his wife Ingeborg Tott (on the alter wall). In the back corner of the room tehre is a piscina, which was used to wash vessels used for Mass. During the 18th and 19th century this space was used for storage for grain and weaponry, after the court left the Main Castle. Today, it is used to exhibit the sculptures of the saints, from the Museums collection.

The Gaolers’ Room

One level down on level 3, we came to the next space, the Gaoler’s room. It had perfectly polished wood from top to bottom and side to side and didn’t seem like much of a torture chamber. However, under the floor lays the prison cell, where prisoners would be detained. One famous occupant was Jaakko Ilkka, who was one of the leaders of the Cudgel War (1596-1597). Although this room is quite bright today, during the Middle Ages it didn’t have any windows, except for a small slit in the wall.

The Guest Room

The next room is the Guest room, which is currently housing a small exhibition. It was previously the space where vistors to the castle were accomodated. It is located near the entrance of the castle courtyard, so that guests could freely come and go. It was only furnished with benches and it had a large furnace to heat the room and the upper floors.

The Old Guard Room

Besider the Guest room, was the Old Guard room. Today this room is filled with models of the castles various construction stages from the 13th century to today. The castle began as a small fortircatio on a rocky island, surrounded by sea water. By the end of the 13th and early 14th century, a two-storey residential building was built inside the fortress, with a three-storey palace extention. During the middle of the 16th century the Main Castle received a new Renaissance floor, for the Duke John. However, a fire damanged the Main Castle in 1614 and the entire court had to move into the bailey. By the 18th-19th century the castle became a base for the Swedish and Russian armies, storage and prison. It was lastly renovated again at the end of the 19th century to become a museum.

Medieval King’s Hall/State Room

Back up on level four we came to the Medieval King’s Hall, which was Finland’s most important secular room from the 14th to the middle of the 16th century. Both Finland and the rest of the kingdom has been governed from this very space and many celebrations were held here. Nearly every Medieval Swedish ruler has graced this hall. This room has large gothic windows, which open out to the courtyard. There are two small rooms within this room. One is a medival privy (toilet) and the other was a storage space

The Youth’s Quarter

Above on level 5 is the Youth’s Quarters, which was the very first room to be converted in the Renaissance Style in the 1530s. The valuted ceiling was replaced with a flat ceiling and window openings were enlarged to let more light in and make the room seem more spacious. Open fireplaces and tiled stoves were also added to provide more heat. John, the Duke of Finland and son of King Gustav Vasa , resided here between 1556-1558 while the renovation to the residential floor was being completed. After it was used by the children of Duke John and his mistress, Karin Hansdotter.

The Ladies’ Parlour

Next we arrived at the Ladies Parlour, which was a workroom for the women. It is located in the West Tower, which was contructed in the early 14th century and until the early 1580s it was only accessable from a gangway mounted on the outerwall. This room served as an entrance this floor (third) and upper levels, via a spiral staircase. This room has a beautiful large bay window with a benhc, which was added in 1585. Beside the window there is a labyrinth motif, carved on the wall. Supposely, it was meant to travel evil spirits that entered the room to protect its occupants.

The Scriptorium

On the same level, was the Sciptorium, which was a workroom for the castle scribe. The oldest ledger that would have probably written in this room, was from the middle of the 16th century. It told of everyday life, renovations and how the storerooms were used. The recesses in the walls were used as bookshelves. This room was later used as a guest room and some of the names of the guests have been recorded on the wall.

The Stone Chamber & The Great Guard Room

Next we went up to level four and first entered the small room, the Stone Chamber. This was the bailiff’s chamber, where the bailiff levyed taxes and acted as an assistant to the lord. Below this room is a medieval storeroom/pit dungeon. We continued into the Great Guardroom, which is a large room built in the 15th cenutry. During the Middle Ages it was was the gathering place for the castle garrison. Today it is a temporary exhibtion for various castle objects.