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Published: September 4th 2018
The title of this blog post alludes to the fact that Finland, as a nation, officially has the highest standard of living in the world, no mean feat for a nation of a mere 5 and a half million inhabitants. Tampere is the third largest Finnish city, and holds the other accolade as being the Nordic region's largest inland city, though by way of compensation for a lack of coastline, Tampere is flanked by a couple of sizeable lakes, those being amongst the sum total of Finland's 190,000 lakes - so much for Finland being dubbed the 'land of a thousand lakes' then! It is also said that Tampere ranks at the top of the tree when it comes to the average Finn's top choice of city in which to live, a factor possibly swayed by a marginally higher cost of living in Helsinki. As a standalone tourist destination, though, you'd need to look into the wealth of attractions to be able to more clearly define what it is that classifies Tampere as a bona fide tourist magnet. For my money, Tampere comes across as being at least a 'one of everything' kind of city, with all the right kinds of
features in place to make your stay seem wholly worthwhile. Tampere has an industrialized past which has shaped its present day allure, and the tag of the 'Manchester of the North' refers to the industrial output rather than the look of the city itself. The city is manageable and negotiable on foot, though it appears that construction work is well underway for Tampere's tram network which, once completed, will add a dimension to the transport hub which will compliment the existing bus routes. The appeal of the city lies within the various facets which have collectively made the city what it is, and the district known as Finlayson, named after Scottish investor James Finlayson, and a now-gentrified area created off the back of the factories and industrial hub which has now given way to retail floor space and the odd museum or twelve. I mention this because in the immediate vicinity thereof lies a museum complex known as Vapriikki, a single building which houses over 10 separate museums, on themes ranging from Ice hockey, to media, video gaming, dolls houses and minerals, all of which warrant a look-in, convenient given the fact that they are all accessible on the same
admission ticket. Elsewhere, the world's first ever spy museum is a small but captivating collection of all espionage-related artefacts which are enough to make one wonder just how spies operated in their quest for vital info and insights which enabled codes to be cracked and plots to be thwarted. Another of Tampere's prized museums is the Finnish marvel known as the Moomins, created by a Finnish woman Tove Jansson, which later garnered a worldwide audience, and the museum itself has displays of artistic merit, as well as the audio story snippets which bring the visuals to life a touch further. Another more recent Finnish creation is the video game-cum-animation cartoon Angry Birds, which is represented in the form of Angry Birds land at Sarkanniemi, Tampere's very own theme park with attractions a-plenty just to prove that the city has effectively covered all bases for all age ranges. Tampere's shopping culture is represented by a few key elements, such as an indoor market hall, and a couple of modern malls, of which Koskikeskus is the largest and most renowned, region-wide. Independent stores do abound however, which is a must for a traveller like myself whose intention to stock up on Finnish
bands discs (a hotbed of musical talent to boot!) translated into purchases galore at prices which scotched the myth of Finland being unaffordable. The dining scene is substantially represented too, although the lower end of the budget range proved to be more than adequate, and threw this traveller a lifeline when it came to being able to buy one's way into a more complete set of experiences in the city itself. About 15 km due west of Tampere lies the smaller agglomeration known as Nokia, suggesting that the household name mobile phone manufacturer was a big enough Finnish export for the town it originates from to be renamed in honour of its chief export. With its industrial backdrop, quaint wooden houses and polished allure, Tampere is prime city break material, and a must-visit city for travellers to Finland whose intentions to see beyond a nation's capital city are forever woven into their ongoing travel plans.
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