A Place of Chilliness and Warmth

October 25, 2013  |  By Bogdan Zaharia, Romania


Photo : Bogdan Zaharia

There is a saying that got passed around a lot along the years regarding variety it being the spice of life. That is what I thought and still consider being a valuable idea to this day. That is what I had in mind when I decided to go to Finland. I asked my parents if they could book a flight to the icy lands in order to see my relatives and to make new and worthwhile memories. While I have plenty to say about the time I spent in the Finnish town of Tampere I am having great difficulty putting these experiences into coherent sentences and paragraphs, not because of its lack of things to do but because I can’t describe separate moments without taking the experience as a whole. There aren’t any monuments that symbolize Finland such as the Eiffel tower in France nor is it famous for its specialties in food or movie industry. Instead I got to see a place where the people are in tune with life and where nature coexists peacefully with the urban surroundings, a feat that not that many countries have managed to accomplish.

It was passed midnight when I arrived in Helsinki by plane. I had to eat a substantial amount of sweets in order to keep myself awake and by the time I got there, the sugar high was wearing of and thus tiredness was setting in. After I got some well-deserved sleep at my aunt and uncle’s house who were living on the outskirts of Tampere where the suburbs were, I took the warmest vest I had and set on a small hike through the surrounding woods. Winter in Finland is harsh as it is beautiful. The first thing that I encountered during my trek was a frozen lake, one of many. The ice was rock solid and I could see people walking on it. Others were actually skiing around me and there weren’t any valleys or specially prepared slopes, not like in my own city’s Poiana Brasov. They were graciously sliding along as if the Finnish were born on skis. I took a moment to enjoy the scene and I wasn’t even in the city yet.

Back in the day, Tampere was originally a heavy industry center and there was proof all around me. From the abandoned warehouses to the old factories every bit of them was screaming history. Tampere is considered to be the largest inland city in the region probably because it is spread out very much. The city has over 200 lakes and ponds and a forest that you could easily get lost in and the bus rides can take a while until you can reach the city center. That was probably my only problem during my stay there: the long bus rides. Doing this every day for 2 weeks just to get in the city was tiring. When I set foot in the city however, I forgot my problems and was quickly overwhelmed.

The first thing I did was go to the music store, maybe because I lacked inspiration or maybe I was intimidated by how many people were on the sidewalk. Either way, when I entered this little shop I noticed how the man who was working there was happy to assist anybody who came by. He was relaxed and calm, and it was a nice change of pace. It was like tasting a sample of what’s to come and that dose was all I needed for me to get out in the crowded street and start exploring. ”Moi moi” he said to me and because I didn’t understand Finnish at all I just nodded and left. The bridges where full of tourists and artists alike, artists who were reciting poetry on one corner and others who were acting a scene from the matrix in another. The coffee shops weren’t out the ordinary but still retained a sense of sophistication and overall Finnish touch. For the first time I was alone in a city far away from my home and it felt good. The following days I got the chance to visit the Tampere’s planetarium and what was surely a highlight of my trip, Näsinneula tower. This structure was built in the 70’s and is the tallest observation tower in the Nordic Countries. The design of Näsinneula was inspired by the Space Needle in Seattle and from what I’ve seen, it surely lives up to its name. In one part you could see one of the two massive lakes that reside along Tampere, Näsijärvi which was frozen solid, and in the other the city line.

I concluded my trip with my aunt and uncle taking me on a cruise to Sweden. In Tampere I met all types of people, from various cultures but on the cruise the concentration was greater. Even though my trip was ending I felt like it rightly should. It was like a story. A beginning, a middle and an end which summed it all up.

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