Winter in Tampere

Sunset on Näsijärvi (Lake Näsi) ice in February, direction Särkänniemi amusement park.

I woke up early this morning (almost a sunny day here) and decided to write about one exotic journey destination - my hometown Tampere, since I know there are some people abroad reading my blog. This is something for you guys, and to passers by,  because there is a LOT going on today in here especially if
you´re an outdoors person.

This very time is the time of the winter holidays in Finland. This year 2013 the weeks have been 8, 9, and next week 10. The weeks are separated by the part of the country, Southern Finns have them first, the North part last. This is because we do not want everyone to travel at the same time (practical Finns) but also because the snow could be already gone in South by the week 10. The traditional word for the holidays in here is "skiing holiday", but there is no doubt why we Finns tend to leave to southern destinations to warmth during these weeks. This winter has been quite bad, it has been the most overcast winter in 50 years! But this might even be my favorite time of the year...when it is sunny and clear, like in the picture above. This time of the year is when the spring starts rising. the sky is (normally) clear, the temperature can be just anything between -15 to +5 (like last week) and you totally need shades when walking outside.  When the weather is like this, the most fun this for me is to go to walk on Näsijärvi ice. Of course my dog loves to run there unleashed. And this is probably my favorite past time activity after sauna and ice swimming.

Rock Siilikari beacon, clowdy day. 
For those who do not know Tampere is located between 2 big lakes and shared east-west by rapids. The lakes are not even, so this was the main reason for Mr. Finlayson to build up a factory by the river to get power from the moving waters. Walking on Southern Pyhäjärvi ice is not recommended because of the drift which makes the ice thinner. Näsijärvi is the lake in the north, and the significant place I am soon talking about is rock Siilinkari. The destination from ashore to the rock is something 1,2 km depending on the place where you go to the ice. And the thing is; you´ll get fresh air, a lot of sky above you, snow and in the end there is a cafe in a tent for refreshments.

There are several places where you can enter the ice, but NOT where the city cutting rapids start, you do not want to get to water. You can find these places mentioned by using Google Maps. Easiest will for walking (my experience) is to go from Naistenlahti (near the power station) or from Lapinniemi because there is a man made road to the final destination. A road means that there is no water on the ice and also less snow. From far you can already see the people walking like little ants to the rock. From these starting points you might be able to get close to a geocache accessible only during the winter time.

Refreshments from 1-2€
Another  place to go (mostly actually used by people walking the dogs) is through Tampella area next to Syssyn Sulkis under Kekkosentie and it is the most convenient place to start if you arrive with a car. A strip of "wasteland" will give you a nice place to park. BUT do not go under the rail bridge, there is open water throughout the winter!

The major starting point for outdoor enthusiasts is the Bikini Bar in Santalahti where you can rent winter sports equipment! You can find all the info from this web page http://www.hikingtravelhit.fi/engindex.htm A tour skating trail to Siilinkari rock starts from here. HIT is also responsible for the nice cafe near the rock. A big applause for them!! Coffee or hot chocolate 2€, hot or cold juice 1€ (every Finn remembers how this hot one tastes like after a school skiing competitions), grill sausage 2€ (Finnish style with mustard, or ketchup or both) and munkki 2€ (sugar covered bun with jam inside or a doughnut style bun) They have a FB site in Finnish for messages. The Cafe tent is open  from noon until 16.00 pm when the weather is right (no heavy snowing and wind less then 10m/s, or the tent will fly) during weekends and on the Skiing holiday week in Tampere region. Check the message board on FB.

It is not allowed to walk on the skating trail. It takes unfortunately a lot of time and effort to keep it maintained for skaters, so, please try not to walk there. Use the sides of the trail if you really need to or use the other good entries to the ice.

The sports you can do there are of course the basic walk (many parents take their kids on a sledge or a "Nordic pulk") and skiing, there are fishermen doing ice fishing (also some places marked for the nets under ice. Note! Dogs really love to wallow on leftover fish intestines or eat them). HIT provides equipment for tour skating, cross country skiing, snow shoes, pulks and old fashioned kick sledges (FUN!!). There are pictures of the equipment on their pages if you´re not sure what they are.  I seriously must have been an idiot for not noticing this rental place before!

There has been now, for several winters actually, a growing snow kiting scene on both lakes in Tampere. Found a nice snow kiting video from last winter (during this same time of the year) from Vimeo by Miika who apparently is the guy appearing on the video.

Of course there is a short distance from Siilinkari to both ice dipping places and public saunas by the lakeside where you can walk as well, but prepare that it takes a bit more time to get there. From both Rauhaniemi Sauna and Kaupinojan sauna  there is a bus connections back to city if you feel like you are too exhausted from winter sports. If you want to know more about winter swimming take a look here, visitfinland.com has produced a beautiful info package about this.

Today the 2nd of March in 2013 you will probably see all this going and also something truly exotic at 13.00pm - ZUMBA on ice! Tampereen Jumppatiimi  has organized an event for all (reservation needed) at Siilinkari to try Zumba TM (yes, the dance related exercise in gyms) outdoors in snow. What could be a better place for that?!

Clothing layers. 
Remember to wear appropriate clothing when you go on ice!! I have been there with some Finnish guys who knew nothing about wearing layers and they were freezing, even though they are from here. The wind is usually harsh on the ice! It is better to check the wind/weather and calculate the wind chill factor for example on this calculator or check the chart. Celsius is used in Finland, and just -2 degrees when the wind is 8m/s (HIT cafe tent open) it feels like -9 degrees, on ice even a bit more I would say.

Today, I noticed, there is also an annual  rousette skating happening next to Tampere Hall at Sorsapuisto park on a small pond. It starts at 16.00 and it is filled with side happenings (already mentioned HIT responsible for rentings) from sausage grilling on real fire, rousette making workshop, tours in Tampere Hall, syncro skating performances with Tampere Philharmonic orchestra, curling, snow floor ball etc.

If you are interested about Finland, you have to click to http://www.visitfinland.com/  I was really amazed to find this page, interesting facts and beautiful layout. Unfortunately there was nothing about Tampere region (kinda inside the Lakeland section), but you´ll get anyway good idea about this country. Now I will also add some of my own links to Tampere Wikitravel website, and challenge everyone else to do the same of you own country/city/town in there too.

Sounds good? Wellcome to Tampere! 

Oh, almost forgot! The famous Tampere Short Film Festival takes place next week 6.- 10.03.2013  in here.
And connected to my last travels, this year one theme is "focus on Philippines"!


Miss Mureena said...

After writing this, we went to ice with the dog. It was freezing even though the temperature was -7. My estimation was that with the wind chill factor it might have been something like -15. Now I checked and it was very close to that. Wind 9m/s and gusts 13m/s today and -8 now, could have been even more.

Noelfy said...

I was in Tampere in September 2010 and it was really COLD at that time!! :)