Last days in Tampere

I don’t know if this week has gone by too fast, or too slow. However, today is the Big Day: after breakfast, it’s time to cry and hug my mom and brother goodbye (the dog is in Helsinki, I am extremely sad that I did not get to say goodbye to her!), and go sit on the bus to Helsinki. At 6 pm I will take off to Beijing, and continue to Fukuoka from there tomorrow morning.

But, about this week. On Monday I did somersaults for the first time in years, in Aikido class! I wanted to try the sport, since it might be something I want to practice in Japan. Maybe taekwondo or karate, instead.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were not eventful, therefore my anxiety to leave grew a bit. On Friday, I went to the Pyynikki swimming hall for the first time since elementary school, when we used to swim there in PE (hello, trauma!). The place has been renovated for several years, and now it looks almost brand new. I blame my company for swimming only 15 minutes and then heading off to the sauna, but I have to admit that I was pretty bored with the monotony and the chilly water, too.
Later on Friday, movies with a friend (Magic Mike, rather entertaining!), and the rainy day finished off with a fancy-ish self made dinner, mussels in white wine sauce.

On Saturday, I went to do all my last minute shopping, even to Ideapark in Lempäälä. I had a schedule to say goodbye to my best friends, and I managed to go try CrossFit, too! Whoa, that’s a good reality check for those, who want to realize how bad shape they’re in. The CrossFit intro was just 30 minutes, and I did not push myself enough to vomit, but my neck is very sore today.
In the evening, we went to the fastest dinner ever (2 course meal plus ice cream afterwards in 1 hour!), and at home I finished packing while watching a movie so bad and embarrassing I won’t even tell which one it was. I also had my last sauna before bed.

So, here I am now, with all the Japanese Yen I could exchange from Tampere (someone else had ordered Yen, so they did not have as much as I wanted), eating my stomach full of rye bread. 3 hours, and then I am off. Surreal.

This is what I am leaving from.

Finnish style, August 2012

My brother took me to the Pyynikki tower to have the last glance of my home town.

View from Pyynikki tower
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Comeback of summer

Another post about local food – this time something that I thought I would completely miss out on this year!

Yrjölä berry farm in Mahnala, Hämeenkyrö

My summer isn’t complete without (Finnish) strawberries. Usually I’ve gone to a farm to pick strawberries, which is like the perfect buffet – you get to eat as much as your stomach can bear, for free! This year I thought I’d miss the berry picking season, but ha! on Sunday, September 9th, 2012, there still was some perfectly delicious and flavor-bursting strawberries, just hanging in there and waiting for me.

Strawberries in September – my dream come true!

We got one box of strawberries, then moved on to the raspberries, which were aplenty. The weather was summery, although the temperature was breezy +10 C. Good thing I was wearing few layers of clothes!
We skipped the garden blueberries, since the forest ones are tastier, cheaper and healthier, too. The Yrjölä farm also offers different currants and peas for self-picking and to buy, but their season is already over for this year.

Farm fresh produce – we bought quite a bunch of different veggies

Maybe next summer I will be picking more berries – who knows?

The road goes on

From land to table

Tampere dialect, since Penttilä farm is near

Local food has become more and more popular in Finland, which of course is a good thing. Even though the two big store chains, S and K still rule the markets, the selections for local produce and bakery products have expanded with the increased demand.

This weekend one of my favorite places in Tampere, the market hall, hosted a local food event.

The haystack in front of the entrance apparently symbolises the origins of the food

There was bread and local cheese samples and the Ahlman farm gave out leaflets about local food.

Chantarelles, berries, and other local treats

There was also a local food event in Laukontori, where the fish market is held. In addition to the two veggie stalls that daily inhabit the market square, there was various different stallholders, selling delicacies ranging from organic vegetables to smoked fish, pastries and chili condiments. Not quite the greenmarkets in New York, but our little Finnish version of it.

Rye bread, made with a rye starter in stead of yeast

It seems bizarre that usually the closer the food is produced, the more expensive it is. Polish apples are one third of the price of the local apples, the fish from the lakes around Tampere are four-, even five times more expensive than the fish imported from Vietnam, the mushrooms from Estonia are cheaper than the mushroom from here – even though you could get them for free in the forests, if you knew where to go (and which ones to pick).

Martat, the traditional power ladies, gave information about different mushrooms

The event, called “from land to table”, is still going on tomorrow in the market hall. It’s good that more people get familiar with the products that come from our own turf…or surf.

What’s a farm event without animals in small cages and kids pestering them?

Dog days

Now in Tampere, my pretty much only daily task is walking the dog. Easier said than done!

About to go for a walk

The dog is incredibly lazy – after hours of lying on the bed, or on a chair in the balcony, I’ll have to persuade her to go out.

Pit stop on the driveway

Yes, people do find it funny that the dog will go lie down and refuse to move.

Pause to watch the scenery

Although I am a woman of action and a rather brisk walker, I and Sophie share one interest: berries. So, I take a “beard gaffer” (Greek yogurt) container with me when we go out, and then we are in harmony – she eats as I pick, mostly blueberries but also raspberries.

Maybe this years’ last raspberries, self-picked from Pyynikki

Life is all about compromises.
Ps. a small box of blueberries costs probably around 5€. Win-win!

Living dead walking

The living dead came to surprise and scare (and maybe also amuse) people on a sunny Saturday evening in the city centre. Crazy doctors, nurses, brides and other creatures gathered together and dragged themselves from the Tammerkoski rapids to the end of Hämeenkatu and to Näsinpuisto, which is basically the whole city center of Tampere.

Zombie bride

I happened to join the crew by a quick decision – heck, who doesn’t love fake blood and scars?

Pretty pretty, though probably not my best day

Since I was feeling like a zombie already, it was fun to actually get to look like one! This was the longest it has ever taken me to walk Hämeenkatu, or every other street, for that matter.

There was quite many kid zombies, looking for brains

I could have my own one person zombie walk every week!