Tampere to Rauma

Trip Start Aug 31, 2008
Trip End Oct 05, 2008

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Flag of Finland  , Western Finland,
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Well today has certainly been better for me than yesterday. I was so tired last night that I was unhappy, and we both agreed that today ought to be lighter. I'm not sure that it was, but it was an enjoyable day.

Again we had another good smorgasbord breakfast and while we were sitting at a window table, the sun started to come out. David had suggested that we check out early but leave the luggage at the hotel, and walk around in Tampere rather than moving the car. So he suggested that I go outside and take a couple of the photos I had in mind near the hotel, while he checked out. Poor David, I think he would do anything to avoid another meltdown such as I had last night.

Our first real glimpse of the sun in Finland was mixed with lots of fast moving clouds, but it was a boost to the spirits anyway.

Tampere has been likened to Manchester (England). It was a milling town & highly industrialised. They have made a very good job though of beautifying the city, taking advantage of the river between 2 lakes, with riverside walks, flower baskets, turning brick ex-mill buildings into pubs & shops & ... We were walking through one little tunnel & I spotted what was unmistakably a craft co-op shop. David said I must have a nose for it - we didn't buy anything but it was nice to look.

Eventually we made our way to the Lenin museum - located in the Workers Hall where Lenin & Stalin first met at a conference in 1905.

Lenin lived in Finland a couple of times when he was in hiding as a revolutionary, and this museum was obviously very pro-Lenin. The first hall was the story of Lenin's life and had lots of photos, exhibits & writings. We had an English language translation folder, which gave a half page summary of the history or relevance of each cabinet (representing a time in Lenin's life). Mostly I didn't read the translations of each item, but the summaries were interesting.

I hate what eventually happened with communism in Russia (or what I know about it anyway) but at least the way this museum presented it, what Lenin tried to do, and why, made sense.

The second hall was about Lenin's time in Finland.

After that museum we went for a bit more of a walk around the centre of the town, including a visit to a supermarket & later a department store. My small travelling-sized talcum powder has just about run out, but apparently Finnish women don't seem to use talc - or goodness knows where they buy it if they do. I even visited a pharmacy, the beauty section of a department store, not to mention the area in a supermarket where they had shampoos & deodorants that I recognised, although the words were different. But no talc.

It's probably explainable somehow by the climate here - nearly everything else is. Roadworks have to be done in summer, so they're everywhere - including outside this hotel tonight. Houses, from preference, are mostly made from wood, because that is warmer to live in than stone or brick.

You'll be pleased to know I'm sure that last thing today we tried in one more supermarket, and when the toiletries section didn't have talc, I thought to look in the baby section, and I did find a small container of baby powder (pudder) so that will do until I can find something more exciting.

Anyway, back to Tampere. We were both feeling a little weary of museums, so opted to skip the museum about the history of Tampere, but instead we did go to another museum - a spy museum.

Again we skimmed a bit, but this time the exhibits were about invisible ink, and the enigma machine, and codes, and miniature cameras & concealed weapons - and how to hack and intercept an email!

There were various historical items used in spying, as well as stories about "legals" and "illegals", as well as about individual spies. As I say, we reached saturation & ended up leaving before examining everything, but still it was a most unusual & interesting museum.

Anyway after that we took a "scenic route" back to the carpark, collected the car & then drove back to the hotel to pick up our luggage.

Our next stop was Pynnikki Ridge, a mountain overlooking the town, and with views of islands amongst the major lakes to the north and south of the town. We climbed to the top of the tower - incredibly windy - for good views. Initially we were pleased just that it wasn't raining, but eventually there were even some bursts of real sunlight.

Then we did the 2 hour drive to Rauma. Rauma was founded in 1442 and, like most other buildings here, it was mainly built from wood. That meant that much of it burnt down several times over the centuries. In the 18th century it became famous thoughout Europe for its lace making. Most of the old town of Rauma now is narrow streets of little wooden houses, painted & decorated in pastel colours.

The streets are mostly cobbled. I found lots of walking on cobblestones in Helsinki eventually very sore on the soles of my feet, and I guess that could happen here.

Our hotel is just on the edge of the old town, or Rauma Vanha. We arrived, checked in, left our luggage & went for a walk. As I say, it is an amazingly pretty old town and heritage listed.

18th century isn't old in Europe, but their church (Church of the Holy Cross) was once a Franciscan monastry and was finished by 1480. Inside the ceiling of the chancel is ornate frescoes, also from 1482. The nave is whitewashed, but with some very old paintings or carvings.

The monastery was closed in the Reformation, and in 1642 the town's church burnt down (the monastery church was only for the monks). Incidentally the old church ruins have been left as is (for 465 years!) but by then the monastery was abandoned, so the townsfolk took over that as their church. It is very beautiful & again, just amazing historically.

As I say, we walked round & up & down various streets until we were exhausted. We'll go back there tomorrow to visit the market & a couple of interesting looking craft shops.

For dinner we went to a place recommended in our guidebook - Wanhan Rauman Kellari - a cellar restaurant, which has a beer garden on its roof. Anyway we had an early dinner in the restaurant & it was excellent. We shared an entrée of cold smoked salmon & prawn salad - and that was smoked salmon such as we know from home. For my main course I had a "warm smoked salmon" with a sauce of prawns & roe. I know that sounds repetitive but it was a very different meal. But it was one of the most delicious ways I have ever had fish.

Warm smoked salmon is sort of smoked as it is cooked, as opposed to smoked raw fish which is what we call smoked salmon.

Anyway, that is today. We're as tired probably as yesterday but just more optimistic.

With love to you from Kerry and David in Rauma
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