Tag Archives: Tampere

Spring is (almost) here – and so is Tampere Film Festival

Ups. They say that times goes faster when you get older but I never imagined it would go this fast. And I’m not that old yet, anyway. 😉

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Photo: yle.fi

Anyway, even the Finnish winter is almost over, which is great. Today it has already been 7C degrees over zero.

However, after an extremely mild winter it feels that we haven’t been as superheroic as after surviving a “normal” hard winter. But I don’t care! I’m looking forward to taking my bicycle out of the storage room and taking all the heavy winter clothes back to the cellar. Soon, very soon… maybe next week!

Another sure sign of the approaching spring is Tampere Film Festival, which always brings me back to my dear old hometown Tampere. What changes from one year to another is the weather.

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For many years now, I’ve written articles about the festival to the Finnish magazines I collaborate with as freelance journalist. This is a tradition I love – and need. Routines give you security, they say. I always return here, meet lots of people I know and get to see a great amount of short films – the best thing about them is that they are short! It’s a perfect concept for these times full of concentration problems…

Further, Tampere Festival is among the most important European short film festivals, so one really gets to see interesting things. All in all about 500 films!

Some of this year’s highlights are short films from Africa, a rare treat in Finland, and films based on Edward Hopper’s amazing paintings. Today I saw a selection of films by a German painter-director Jochen Kuhn. Perfect ones to relax with after a long working week. 

And tomorrow more shall follow! Before that, I’ll concentrate on enjoying the time with my parents, sauna and some delicious mom’s food… Good night, everyone!

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Juhannus – Finnish Midsummer is special

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The midnight sun. Credit: YLE.

Last weekend we celebrated juhannus, the Finnish Midsummer. It’s an important party here in the Nordic countries, I would say the second after Christmas.

Our Midsummer traditions have pre-Christian origin. Like most of today’s Christian festivities, also Midsummer used to be a pagan holiday. The Christian faith then associated the date with the celebration of the nativity of John the Baptist. That’s practical.

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“Kokko” in Pispala, Tampere. Tens of people came to see the lighting of this bonfire waving Finnish flags. The weather was wonderful, too.

Anyway, some of the old traditions still go strong. For example the bonfires, kokko, which are burnt by the lake or the sea. We also get a couple of young birch trees and place them at the front door – with lots of flowers everywhere!

Midsummer is a night full of magic, so it’s the perfect time for performing some rituals like putting 7 flowers under your pillow for dreaming about your future husband or wife… mostly the tricks are for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Probably it’s a high time to update the rituals!

The true star of the party is the midnight sun. This time of the year, the night does not exist. And you don’t really feel like sleeping either, which is both good and bad, of course…

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It’s not midnight sun… but almost. Juhannus in the neighbourhood of Pispala, about 11pm.

During Midsummer, Helsinki becomes a desert city, as everyone heads for the countryside and the summer cottages. Even if every year there are more and more activities also here in the city for those who decide (or have to) stay.

As the idea of renting a cottage felt quite stressful, we chose a “a middle” plan and spent the Midsummer with my parents in Tampere. It’s quite a big city but as my parents live by the lake, it’s almost like being in a cottage (without thousands of mosquitos, which my boyfriend fiercely hates).

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The traditional “ball” grill, pallogrilli, for preparing “makkara”, the Finnish sausage. My parents have one just like this.

It was a perfect choice! My parents were happy and, as many music festivals are organized on the Midsummer, also near my parents’ place there was Pispala Festival that took place on the beach of a lake – with 20 bands performing during two days.

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Sauna inside a tent at Pispala Festival. Cool idea and even better as it’s only 10 meters away from the beach.

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Pispala Festival was organised for the first time this year – and it was a big success!

Pispala is the hippie-punk-alternative-bohemian neighbourhood in Tampere (still, even if there are more and more yuppies moving in) so the place has a vivid alternative culture scene. There’s also a 100-year old public sauna, Rajaportin sauna. I highly recommend it, if you ever go to Tampere!

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Finnish traditions include beating your friends with “vihta”, a bunch of birch boughs tied up in a special way. It’s good for your blood circulation! Credit: http://www.pispala.fi/rajaportinsauna/satavuotta/jutut.html

Barbacoa is the thing to eat for juhannus. My parent’s are not so much into barbacoa, so we only did it once with the typical Finnish makkara that has different flavours. Then we had sauna, where we beat each other with vihta (another tradition) and drank some beer. Well, we drank very little taken into account that heavy drinking is closely associated with juhannus. Actually it’s very sad, as every year we calculate the dead after the party is over. This year at least 15 people got killed, and most of the deaths were related to alcohol: traffic accidents, drowning in the sea or a lake, fires… I wish one day we would learn to drink a bit more moderately. Let’s see what happens the next juhannus…

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Finnish juhannus – theory and practise. There’s a point here, even if this year we had sunshine. 😉 Credit: Naurunappula.

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Relaxed weekend vs success

This weekend I’ve been visiting my parents in my dear old hometown Tampere. More about this excellent city shall follow later on in the blog.

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Hämeensilta, the main bridge of Tampere. The statues have got decorated for "vappu, the 1st of May party.

All week I’ve been feeling tired and a bit stressed at work, so my plan for the weekend was only to relax. This is why I came to come to Tampere to my parents’ place. Enjoying their good company, great food supply, sauna and sofa cures anything. I told only one friend that I was coming to avoid any “obligations” to meet. Yesterday we did some successful shopping and enjoyed cava in a cozy restaurant H2 + K.

However, things normally don’t go as planned. Lately I’ve been writing quite actively as freelance journalist to some magazines and, because of my slight crisis at work and big need to develop myself as writer, I’ve been saying YES to all the enquiries to write something. So on Friday I promised to write an article about Pixelache festival and Helsinki African Film Festival, both to be held in Helsinki in May. As I’m “specialized” in writing about arts & culture…

The negative things is that deadline for both these articles is tomorrow. Thus, a big part of my “relaxed” weekend has been contacting interviewees, looking for background information, writing, editing and watching African films.

The paradox is: I love writing and I’m ambitious, but at the same time I feel a constant voice saying in my head “it’s weekend so please please relax – as you promised – and have some fun!” Of course, it’s not the first time when this happens. I really want to become a better writer and establish freelancer contacts with new publications, but this means working in the evenings and weekends. And I’m jealous about my freetime. I love, need and deserve it!

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Would I rather spend a Saturday evening with my friend and cava here or home alone working? 2h + K restaurant in Tampere.

This morning I read a column about success in Aamulehti, the daily newspaper of Tampere. The journalist asked himself, why he hadn’t become a professional photographer, which used to be his dream. In the end he said that he loved too much his “freedom to do whatever – or nothing at all”. And to succeed you need to concentrate on ONE thing and forget about everything else. It might not sound that hard, but it is. For me, this weekend it meant forgetting about the following:

  • Spending a whole evening on the sofa reading a good book – without a work-related thought on my mind.
  • Cooking and having a nice long dinner with my parents and enjoying some good red wine.
  • Visiting the new home of my friends, even if they live nearby.
  • Having a long, relaxed walk around the neighbourhood observing the spring around me.
  • Hanging around the centre of Tampere and having a coffee – without time limits – with my old friends. Concentrating on their stories – without thinking about my own work!
  • And, most importantly, having time just for doing nothing. This is very important for me, and anybody, to get totally relaxed and letting your thought flow freely and get some creative ideas…

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Sure, this is just one weekend, so I’t ok, but I definitely wouldn’t be ready to give up of all the spontaneity and fun in life just to become an excellent writer. Or excellent whatever. And they say, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I prefer to be happy and free than excellent at something – and I still don’t accept that these two things are incompatible! So for now I’ll shut down the laptop and go with my Dad to visit a fish market in Tampere.

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