Hospitality club town

Trip Start Aug 08, 2006
Trip End Oct 08, 2006

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everyone was kicked out of the bed at around eight in Sunday's morning, as we had to leave the cottage at nine. The Tampere-bound people gathered to decide on the best way to go there and someone could actually convince a Russian guy (Daniel) who lives in Helsinki (really close to Espoo) to drive us all there and go back alone as long as we payed the gas. Excellent! So we went, a little tightly packed, but way better than bus and train.
Then, after saying goodbye to the people who had to hitchhike further, the Tampere guy, Henri, kindly offered to show me and Daniel around and we spent the last part of the morning and beginning of afternoon on a small tour, for an overview of the city (on a tower whose name I forgot...), a look at the cathedral with its really nice paintings, totally different from standard church art and a walk around the river and the old industrial buildings, now turned into bars, shops, etc. Daniel seemed really impressed by the city, and I was impressed that he was impressed, as for me it was just a normal city. I mean normal in the looks, because it was certainly not normal in the deserted feel (and that continued through the working days). In the second biggest city in the country there is not a traffic jam, you never hear a car honk and you almost never see many people in the streets.
Then I had to go to the house of my hosts, a couple with two very cute little girls, and they turned out to be a lot of very nice people. The younger girl, Alva, was especially pleasant, giving me everything from the house (and even picking up my own stuff to give me as gifts :) and always wanting to play. And Maria always cooking very good vegetarian food... I was really glad I stayed with them (more for the good company than for the food, of course ;). And all their neighbours seemed to be HC members too, Maria was pointing at the windows and saying: "these people are in hospitality club", "those are too in hospitality club".
Tampere indeed prove to be an HC town when I called Raj, a guy from Sri Lanka who was a friend of my emergency host in Oslo and we went in a bar for a couple beers. We were alone in the bar until, by chance, two other HC members came by: an Iranian guy who had been to the Espoo meeting and a Finnish girl who had been trying to meet Raj unsuccesfully for a long time...
During my lonesome wanderings in Tampere I also managed to see the orthodox church, again really different from most churches I was used to seeing, a museum that showed how people lived there in the industrial times and the excellent art museum, with paintings from Akseli Gallen-Kallela (who I was told was some kind of Finnish hero) in many different styles, methods and subjects, some of them inspired by the Kalevala (no pictures allowed in the museum :( ). In the end I was loving everything about the city. My guidebook was right - Tampere does grow on you...
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