Easter weekend in Finland happens to be a four day weekend, thanks to Good Friday and
Easter Monday. Typically, I would jump on this opportunity to travel somewhere in Europe for three nights, but we had plans on Saturday with friends that we’d been trying to see for weeks, so Husband and I settled on a day trip on Monday. After all, what better time to explore some more of the country we’re living in? Not only that, but we’d get to take a train! Train travel is sadly declining in popularity, not to mention availability, in the US, and is more of a novelty than an acceptable means of transport. I think I’ve been on two train trips in the US. That must seem so odd to Europeans!
We booked our tickets online, as our generation will do, picked our seats, and anxiously awaited the arrival of Monday morning. I’ve come to greatly admire Rautatientori, or the Central Railway Station. I think it’s partly the architecture, and partly the possibility of adventure that it holds. There’s just something in the air.
After locating our car, we found the stroller parking (in the next car over), which was, luckily, pretty wide open. There are also lockers available for folded strollers and luggage. Small shelves are located above the rows of seats for backpacks and purses, and coat hooks adorn the walls next to the windows. It’s all very well thought out.
This first train ride was planned around Little Man’s nap, and it worked perfectly. (A total win, for those non parents reading this.) About 25 minutes into the ride, he passed out on Isä.
Upon arriving in Tampere, we were met by one of Husband’s Finnish coworkers, who was nice enough to give us a tour. She took us to the Tampere Torni, a hotel that is actually the tallest building in Finland, boasting a whopping 25 floors, with a restaurant/bar on the top floor that offers stunning views.
It was a beautiful, clear day. For our next stop, we headed to Tampere Cathedral. Originally the Church of St. John, the cathedral was built between 1902 and 1907. It was renamed when the bishop’s seat was moved to Tampere in 1923.
I’m not very comfortable taking pictures inside churches and cathedrals, so you’ll have to believe me when I say that the interior was beautiful. I take great delight in stained glass, but unfortunately those pictures never turn out. This cathedral had some fabulous stained glass windows, the roses being my favorite.
From there, we walked to the rapids, passing stone buildings draped in history.
I love brick buildings. There’s a timelessness about them that is so alluring. I particularly admire the archways here.
This is a plaque naming the men who gave their lives in the Winter War and Continuation Wars, respectively. Each town in Finland has a memorial commemorating those lost.
The Tammerkoski rapids run through the town and were used to power factories back in the day. It’s actually the reason Tampere became such a strong industrial town.
After all this sightseeing, it was time for lunch. Going with the recommendation of Husband’s coworker, we went to Plevna. It was a delightful meal of meatballs and blood sausage, accompanied by a delicious flight of beer.
After refueling, we tackled the main attraction of the day: the observation tower. This is located on the opposite side of town from the train station, and took about 30 minutes to walk to from Plevna, punctuated of course, with beautiful artwork.
Not surprisingly, most of the walk was uphill. Once we passed through most of town, we made our way up one of the many hiking trails. On one side of the tower are stairs, but the longer route is smoothly sloped. Since Little Man was rolling along with us, Husband and I decided NOT to heft the stroller up an unknown number of stairs. Who doesn’t love a good cardio workout right after a filling lunch?
We made it to the tower rather more quickly than I’d anticipated (though still a little short of breath), and claimed a picnic table outside. There’s a cafe at the bottom of the tower, from which it’s customary to purchase a donut and coffee once you’ve successfully reached the summit. (I did feel like those poor souls who drove to the top were really missing out on a vital part of the experience.) I sat outside with the little one while Husband braved the crowds to retrieve our rewards. He also came back with tickets to the observation deck.
We wholeheartedly enjoyed the coffee and donuts (made with cardamon and sprinkled in sugar), but chose not to linger as it was a rather windy day, not to mention our looming train departure. To my delight, there was an elevator to the top of the tower, leaving only a small flight of stairs to climb to get outside to the observation deck. Again, there were stunning views.
Back down the hill we went, across town, and to the train. The ride back was uneventful, albeit very crowded as so many people were coming home after the long weekend. We made it home in time to make dinner and put Little Man to bed after he had some non-stroller play time. It seems remarkable that we did so much in one day and were still able to sleep in our own beds. Ahh, the wonders of train travel!