Postcard from Tampere, Finland

20 Feb 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Most people wouldn’t spend two consecutive summers in the same small town – but I was happy returning to Tampere to visit my sister-in-law’s family. As someone from Karachi, growing up in Muscat and living in London, the verdant surroundings and the crisp, unpolluted air were overwhelming.

In case you don’t know, Tampere is part of the Pirkanmaa region, located in south-west Finland. Nestled between two incredible lakes, Näsijärvi (pronounced Nasi-yer-vee) and Pyhäjärvi (Poo-ha-yer-vee), it is a small but spectacular place boasting an enticing mix of nature and adventure. Since the lakes differ in level by about 18 metres, there is a rapid linking them called the Tammerkoski. The Finns, a wise and environmentally clever bunch, use it as a source of power, most recently to generate electricity.

Like most Nordic countries, Finland enjoys cold winters, where the temperature stays beneath 0•C  from November to March, reaching bone-chilling lows of -25 •C. Fortunately, the summers are mild, with pleasant highs of 22•C and lows of 11•C. The good-natured residents of Tampere make the most of both seasons, enthusiastically participating in outdoor jazz festivals and flower markets in the summer, and bundling up for months of sledding and skating on frozen lakes in the winter.

Getting to Tampere is fairly easy from Helsinki by a one and half hour-long train ride or by a two-hour car ride. Tampere itself possesses a respectably efficient public transport system, which includes private car hires, taxis, and buses. My family and I were in London before our trip to Tampere, so we simply took a crowded Ryanair flight out of Stansted to Tampere’s own quaint little airport.

During our week long trip we indulged in all the marvellous things Tampere has to offer. We spent lazy summer evenings at the family cottage enjoying the traditional lakeside saunas, after which we filled ourselves with a delicious al fresco dinner of fresh smoked salmon, scrumptious new potatoes and home grown greens.

Our favourite place   Tampere’s families all go to the Särkänniemi Amusement Park (Pronounced Sar-can-nee-emi), which is located close to the town centre, and on the edge of Lake Näsijärvi.  Another breath-taking feature is the Pispala-Pyynikki, which is the world’s largest gravel ridge and home of the best doughnuts in Europe.

During the summer, the sun shines for up to 24 hours, with just a few minutes of dimly-lit skies. While relaxing at the cottage with my family, I recall the serene sunshine illuminating the gentle blue of the lake and the vibrant green of the land. It was an incredible sight.

Tampere is an amazing adventure for anyone who visits during the summer. The winter, however, is a whole other story. It provides little sunlight and plummeting temperatures.

Stock up on lifelong towels and linens from Finlayson, Tampere’s cult cotton company.

Where to stay
Tampere’s most iconic hotel is the Tamere, conveniently located overlooking the Tammerkoski rapid. For the more adventurous, you can rent out a picturesque cottage along either one of the lakes and enjoy hiking through the voluptuous forests.

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