2.7.2014 Tallipiha –stable yards If you are looking for authentic atmosphere visit Finlayson Stable yards. It consists of 1800s stable buildings which have been renovated for different uses, but still respecting history. Walking around and visiting little shops, cafés or maybe taking a part of some event – you must sense the business in Stable Yards is made with heart. Stable yards were built to serve the Finlayson palace. Manufacturing family Nottbecks needed a place for their servants and later the people working at Finlayson inhabited the place. Present buildings are named after the old-time uses, so they are easy to find. There was a stable of course but also carriage shed, stable master´s, watchman´s and driver´s houses. Nowadays these are turned into four houses full of yummies, décor, handicraft and art. If you hear music, murmur and smell delicious whiffs, there is one of the yard´s events going on. During the summer, I recommend to check out the event list at Stable yard when you are planning your visit. Almost every week there is some happening and during July there will happen something special every day in the courtyard. For me, visiting the St. Petersburgian Fair in August is a tradition. Finland and Russia have had an interesting history together. Because of Finland´s location next to Russia, rich foreigners (like James Finlayson) established factories here. Stable yards architecture has also influences from Russia, so it´s a wonderful place to enjoy borscht and blini. Try café´s plentiful salads for a lunch. They always make them fresh and from quality ingredients. Pastries match also demanding taste. Can you resist temptation? I never can. At least if I make the mistake of visiting a unique chocolate shop. My favourite is the white chocolate with salty licorice. Everybody loves the tasty handmade souvenirs here. I promise. Take some time, little bit of money and an empty stomach when you visit Stable yards. Maybe if you are right time in a right place you have chance to get traditional horse ride in the Finlayson landscapes.
3.7.2014 Rajaportin sauna -How Finnish! We Finnish people think that sauna is Finnish invention – well at least we have our own special sauna culture and own temperatures. In Finnish sauna we get used to be naked and the temperature in sauna is about 80-120 °C. Sweating and talking together makes our relationships deeper. In Rajaportti you´ll find always chatty sauna mates. Don´t be scared if somebody whips oneself with birch branches (called vihta or vasta). It is a part of sauna culture in Finland. By using vihta you’ll get your blood circulation going on and it’s good for your metabolic system. Rajaportti sauna was established in 1906 on the border of Tampere city. First Maria and Hermanni Lahtinen established a shop and they wanted to keep on traditional Sauna culture also in the town, so they started to heat the sauna for their neighbors. This is the way legends are born. Nowadays Rajaportti is the oldest public sauna in Finland. Rajaportti has its special relaxing effect, not also for your body, but also for your mind. After plentiful heats you can cool-off on a terrace. It´s important to drink enough during and after sauna. Water is the best but tradition is to drink “sauna cafes” after bathing. The Sauna offers also massages and traditional Finnish “bonesetting”. Sauna´s temperature intensifies the good effects of both. Sauna was still heating when I step in. I warm my frigid fingers in front of the sauna stove. Tuomas, the heater of Rajaportti sauna begins to tell about his job: “I start the heating six hours before first visitors come.” There are three 1000 kilos weight stones in the stove which he is going to heat. Sounds impossible, but he says that is quite easy if there is proper wood in a stock. “I´ll put one meter logs in the stove every 15 minutes.” I arrived a bit at the wrong time, because the sauna was full of smoke! You see, when the heater throws water to the stove for the first time the place will become filled with carbon monoxide. Luckily I managed to take photos! “After ´carbon monoxide heats´ sauna keeps constantly warm longer” I heard afterwards. Saturday sauna is very important in the Finnish culture, so if you have any interests towards the sauna culture I recommend visiting sauna during your time here. By the way, you´ll get your best night sleeps in your life after visiting the sauna!
25.8.2014 Tampere Theatre When you’re travelling to Tampere and are craving for culture, you should head for the Central Square. 11.8. Tampere got a new culture shop that offers tickets to all larger Theatres in Tampere and also to the events in Tampere Hall. In the same premises there is the local tourist information. The tourist information recommends using the local public transportation for the means of moving around. I’ve found that it’s entirely possible to walk or cycle through the city centre, all the way from Hämeenpuisto to Sorsapuisto. The Central Square is monumental, there are two massive buildings that rule the sight: the Tampere City Hall and the Tampere Theatre. Both are a great part of the local history. This time I visited the Theatre, which will turn a whopping 110 years this year. The building itself is 100 years old, and the maze-like corridors of the building have a sense of tradition, stories and history. The theatre has a repertoire of different sorts of performances every season.
There are two stages in the Theatre, the main stage and the Frenckell-stage. In addition there is the Cultural Coffee Shop Kivi in the theatre building. The main stage has 450 seats. This year the main event on the main stage is the play that conquered Broadway: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (in Finnish “Villikalkkuna”) starring the legendary actors Heikki Kinnunen and Tuija Ernamo. The play has its Nordic premiere on 28.8 and has been directed and translated by Mikko Viherjuuri. There are two other premieres on the main stage this autumn: “Ihmisen osa”, which is based on the novel by Kari Hotakainen and starred by Anja Pohjola and the farce “Don’t Dress for Dinner” that was a great hit in Tampere on the 90s.
The Frenckell-stage is smaller and more intimate, it has 230 seats, which makes it especially suitable for thrillers, such as premiering “The Woman In Black” and “Cold Murder”, which continues from the spring. There are also comedies on the stage: “Jatkuvaa kasvua” and “Klassikot Lavalla” that also continue from the spring season. The Frenckell-stage is also great for visiting performances. The Cultural Coffee shop Kivi with 80 seats is also a great venue for smaller events such as poetry evenings and monologues.
The productions in Tampere Theatre are quite largely local. Most of the actors are permanently on the lists of the theatre. The costumes are made at the theatre house and the props come from a studio in Hatanpää. Also the foods that are served in the two restaurants try to have mostly local ingredients in their portions. Even though the larger props mostly can’t be used in different plays as they are, the materials and smaller props and costumes are saved. The smaller props and some costumes can be used again and there is also a costume rental at the theatre. The rental service is especially popular among the young men during the “Wanhojen Tanssit” when they need dark suits. The event has become more modern lately so the girls don’t want as much the old-looking costumes as they used to.
Especially for the foreign tourists it is nice to know that some of the plays will have subtitles this autumn. There will also be Finnish subtitles so the hearing impaired will also be able to enjoy the plays. There are two seats for wheelchairs in both the main stage and the Frenckell-stage and the intermission restaurant is accessible by a wheelchair lift. For the families with children there is also a free childcare available in the rehearsal room of the Theatre. It can be reserved to certain shows while ordering the tickets for the show itself. The childcare is a theatre workshop in which the children are encouraged to try out their social and articulacy skills. The rehearsal room in the theatre is naturally used to rehearse the scenes on the plays, but it is also used to promote the wellbeing of the worker and there are yoga and pilates classes arranged weekly. In the cellar there is also a gym that can be used by the staff at any time. The good shape of the staff is needed during the shows to ensure the smooth moving of the props. The large parts are moved by the muscular strength of the stagehands. This means that no machinery is needed for the moving of the props and no electricity is used in the process. The same goes for microphones, which are used only in musicals, since the building has so good acoustics. There are quite a lot of workers in the plays that the customer never sees. In addition to the stagehands there are people who take care of the smaller props, costumes and the wigs and hairdos of the actors. The responsibility of the arrangements is with the organizer of the show, who signals the cues and controls the special needs with the help of ushers. There are many stories that involve the theatre building, but none other as impressive as the local ghost story. It seems most theatres have their own ghost and Tampere Theatre is no exception. The corridor over the stage is among the staff known as the Bridge of Sighs and the ghost is said to be seen there more often than anywhere else. He seems to appear as a vague, grey human form. The story behind the ghost is a sad one, but then again, there’s no such thing as a happy ghost story. During the civil war the theatre building was the headquarters for the Reds. During one battle a young soldier got badly wounded and tried to get to the safety of the Theatre. He managed to get there, but his wounds were too severe and he passed away. It seems he had some unfinished business, since his soul seems to haunt the corridors even today.
27.8.2014 Join me for the gigs in Tampere? Tampere has a wide range of musical venues to choose from, whether you’re looking for experiences on high culture or feel yourself more at home with popular culture. The most of the high culture is located in Tampere Hall, where there are the performances of the philharmonic orchestra and opera of Tampere. There are also many visiting artists with various performances: concerts, dance performances, stand up and so much more. During this autumn the foreign artists include for example Elvis Costello, Cirk La Putyka and Brit Floyd. Most of you probably know Elvis Costello, so let’s take a closer look on the other two.
Cirk La Putyka has a show called Slapstick Sonata, which is an intriguing combination of Mozart’s sonatas and slapstick humour from the time of mute films. The whole concept is then spiced up with breath taking acrobatics. This should be interesting enough. Brit Floyd is a musical tribute to Pink Floyd, performed by a 13 piece orchestra accompanied by a stunning lights and lasers. So what you can and should expect, is a massive show that cuts through Pink Floyds long career. Popular culture is more easily accessible, because the amount of venues is so vast throughout the city. When you start out from Tampere Hall towards Hämeenpuisto, the first venue that’ll catch your eye is most likely the Old Customs House that serves nowadays as a cultural centre, usually known as Pakkahuone. It also has a little sister called Klubi. The history of the Old Customs House as a cultural venue reaches soon its 30th birthday. Due to its versatility as a venue Pakkahuone it is a popular venue to arrange gigs, but there are also other events such as Tampere Theatre Summer and Tampere Film Festival. Of course it is a big venue during the musical events such as Tammerfest, Tampere Jazz Happening and Lost In Music.
As a musical venue Pakkahuone is usable for acoustic and electrical music and is by no means restricted by genres. During the larger events the doors between Pakkahuone and Klubi can be opened and so get another stage to use. I personally prefer the more intimate atmosphere of Klubi, which is great for a bit more alternative gigs. There are no restrictions on genres here either. During this autumn there will be seen anything from doom metal to electric pop and deep into psychedelic rock… and everything in between. I will be seen at Klubi on 12.9. Then there is a fine serving of Nordic indie pop available: Electric Eye from Norway, Sin Cos Tan from Finland and Jennie Abrahamson from Sweden.
The next gig stop is located right next to our office on the shore of Tammerkoski. Jack the Rooster is concentrated on a bit more rock spirited material. Also the food they offer is coated heavily with attitude, or was it chili: the list includes burgers, salads and pastas. Due to its Show Case –nights, Jack the Rooster is an ideal place for a rising, local band to play. They also arrange the Kukkona Tunkiolla –competition for rising bands. The prizes are said to be great, but I reckon that the bands consider the feedback more important.
There are smaller venues that are suitable for these rising bands to play at to get merits to play for bigger crowds in the future. Places such as Amadeus in Tammela or Dog’s Home at railway station. Amadeus has musical events every wednesday. and Dog’s Home every weekend. Amadeus’ events are even of a free entry so the lack of money is no excuse to not going.
Not all gigs are music, since there are quite a few locations that have theatrical or stand up events. Irish pub O’Connell’s has something theatrical every Thursday and music every Friday. Telakka on the other hand has its own theatre.
As you venture deeper into the city centre you are sure to find even more rock bars, such as Doris or Henry’s pub. They offer venues for different sorts of bands. Doris is a bit more on the heavy side and they also have club nights, like Bella Morte in which the people clad in black is presumably pretty much at home. Henry’s pub is a bit different sort of venue, their events are mostly form Sunday to Thursday and include cover nights, rock nights and the best known jam night in Tampere. Mikes Monster Jam is a possibility to anyone to enjoy their moment in the spotlight no matter what your instrument is. Just grab it and go perform with the house band!
YO-talo is almost a legend already. It is a great environment for stand up, disco, club nights and gigs. During spring there were some of the Valoa-festival gigs, which were a bit more on the pop side, for example Iisa was performing there. The upcoming autumn offers a wide variety of genres to enjoy. There will be for instance a possibility to get lost in music with Hopeajärvi’s psychedelic rock. Other performances from different genres to come include Olavi Uusivirta (pop), Machinae Supremacy (SID-metal) and Elonkerjuu (neo-folk). My next excursion to YO-talo will be next week when the British gothic rock band Die So Fluid arrives to Tampere.
The most alternative rock venue is probably Vastavirta in Pispala. No matter who you are you won’t fit the pattern, mainly because there is none. This apparently serves as the second living room of the more punk spirited people. The bands vary from death and thrash metal to punk, and sometimes even all of those mixed together. You could say anything goes as long as it’s spiced up with heavy elements. Practically on the opposite side of Tampere you’ll find yet another alternative venue, Varjobaari in Hervanta. Every weekend there is some gigs, usually even free of charge. In addition to music Varjobaari offers improvisation theatre, quiz nights and some student events arranged by the students from Tampere University of Technology. Vastavirta and Varjobaari are great examples of a lively gig culture a bit further away from the city centre. The venues in the centre are accessible by city bikes quite easily, since there are parking spots near every place mentioned. The exception are Varjobaari and Vastavirta that don’t have parking spots. But there is a catch! You can reach them by public transport, which on the other hand can be found almost in every corner of the city centre. So what are we waiting for? Let’s go already! -Nina