Monday, August 16, 2010

End of Week Number Two

Again, we are very lucky. We live:
  • within a 5 minute walk to the city center
  • across the street from a bike/jogging trail that skirts the lake and leads to a park
  • in a place that was recently remodeled to include a sauna (there's a separate one on the top floor we could rent, but this one is great)

The city of Tampere is fun and very livable. I am not used to a city of this size having such good practical options for people living downtown. We can easily and quickly walk to three places to buy groceries (a cheap grocery store, a larger mainstream grocery store and a 100-year old indoor market with more expensive but wonderful food stalls). There is also a hardware store, a shoe repair store, two bakeries, a small post office and several other service-related stores within walking distance. Besides that, there are of course many restaurants, bars, coffee shops and a huge variety of clothing and gift stores. If we lived in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, which is about the same size of a city, would we have such practical options (not just the great coffee shops, gift stores and bars)?

One of my favorite places is the Tampere Cathedral.

Built in 1907, it has stunningly colorful stain glass windows and a variety of less colorful but equally stunning frescoes painted in the early 1900's by Hugo Simberg. One of the frescoes circles the congregation and features twelve young boys (the twelve apostles) carrying a thick garland of roses, which symbolizes how we carry the burden of our lives.

There's a fresco called "the Garden of Death" which features "friendly" skeletons tending potted plants. That one reminds me of Mexican art I've seen, with Katrina skeletons riding bikes or dancing, etc. Here's a couple of photos of it:

The most famous fresco at the Tampere Cathedral was not available for me to see up close on the day I visited, but it's called "The Wounded Angel" and shows two boys carrying an angel on a stretcher. There's a wicked looking snake with an apple in its mouth painted on the central and upper-most point of the ceiling. He is evil! Surrounding him are frescoes of giant wings, which are a common theme in the decoration of the inside of the cathedral, and they represent protection from evil.
If you are in Tampere, I'd recommend a stop at the Cathedral. If you'd like to see images from the Tampere Cathedral and the city itself (the girls like the amusement park, and watch for the outdoor market - it's right around a corner from our apartment!), check out this video made by the local Lutheran Churches. The video's about 5 minutes long - if you only want to see images of the Tampere Cathedral, it's the first church shown.

We are enjoying living here so far. In our first two weeks:
  • We got over jet lag just in time to visit Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia with our cousins Valto, Seija and Hanni (I'll write a separate post about that trip)
  • Another cousin, Pasi and his wife, Rikka, hosted a get-together for us and two other fun sets of cousins (8 adults, 10 kids and one lively puppy made for a fun evening)
  • We learned that Denny and Becky, Kate's parents, will visit in September (hooray!)
  • We got library cards so we could use the Metso library, which is the main city library with a nice selection of books in English and a large music room with sheet music, CD's, videos of concerts and sound proof practice rooms you can reserve for free to practice the pianos on site or an instrument you bring yourself.
  • Bryan started work and likes it there.
  • The girls started school (a separate post soon)
  • I've started walking around as much as possible to get to know the city.
  • We tried the wonderfully chewy, sugary donuts flavored with cardamom at the Pyynikki Näkötorni (literal translation: Pyynikki view tower). Pyynikki is a neighborhood an easy walk from our apartment the highest gravel ridge in the world. It separates Tampere's two largest lakes and has a park in it that has this wonderful tower. Come visit us and try the donuts!
Above is a photo of the tower and below are photos of the donuts!


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