f you’re looking for a vacation experience and a timeshare resort that are a little out of the ordinary you ought to take a look at the Lake Region in Finland.
About a third of the country is comprised of this region, a huge area of glittering bays, inlets and islands, punctuated by dense forests. In fact, with its towns lying on narrow ridges between lakes, water is more evident here than land. In spite of the fact that this area holds most of Finland’s industry, you’ll be surprised to find it a tranquil, lush region that can insinuate itself right into your heart. Even Finland’s main industrial city, Tampere, rests peacefully on an isthmus between two lakes.
Tampere is the largest inland city in all of the Nordic countries, a lovely place full of parks and leafy glades in spite of its industry. The third largest city in Finland, with a population of 219,624 (364,000 in the greater metropolitan area), Tampere is located 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Helsinki, the capital of Finland.
The city was founded on the banks of Tammerkoski rapids on the 1st of October in 1779. Tammerkoski rapids flow through the city, connecting the two lakes, lake Pyhäjärvi and lake Näsijärvi, that surround it. In the 19th century the rapids created power for industry. Nowadays the area is surrounded by parks and you can even go fishing in the heart of Tampere.
Tampere’s rapid growth began just over a century ago, when Tsar Alexander I abolished taxes on local trade. This encouraged the opening of textile, metalwork and shoe factories, which drew labor from rural areas where traditional crafts were in decline. The owners of these factories, partly to keep their workers happy and involved, supplied culture to the workforce by promoting a vigorous local arts scene. To this day those early traditions are maintained with free outdoor rock and jazz concerts, lavish theatrical productions and one of the best modern art collections in Finland. All of this works to the advantage of tourists, too, who will find plenty to see and do there.
Bridging the gap between yesterday and today is easy in Tampere: the past, the present, and the future prospects can all be found in the banks of the Tammerkoski rapids. If you want more than just to sit on a park bench by the rapids and contemplate on the past, guided industrial heritage tours as well as the Museum Centre Vapriikki in an old engineering works are there for you, waiting to tell the tale of Tampere. Besides Vapriikki, the most interesting museums of Tampere include the Art Museum, the Lenin Museum and the Ice Hockey Museum, to mention just three.
The oldest part of Tampere is downtown, where nearly all the sights and shops are located. The busy main street, Hämeenkatu, runs through charming Keskustori main square and is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Many of these are set in the foundations of beautiful historic buildings dating back to late 19th century.
While enchanted by the past, the present should not be forgotten. Today, Tampere is also a city of culture and science. The city has both a University and a University of Technology. A major venue for concerts (from rock to symphonies), operatic and ballet performances is Tampere Hall, which also houses hundreds of meetings, congresses, fairs, exhibitions etc. The capital of Finnish theatre, Tampere is a real Mecca for lovers of the dramatic art as well. There are two large theatres and numerous smaller theatres in the city, as well as the famous Pyynikki Open Air Theatre with its rotating auditorium.
In addition, Tampere hosts several international festivals, cultural, sports and other events every year, among them festivals dedicated to short films, choir music, folk dance, theatre and contemporary jazz.
A quirky thing about the city, according to Wikipedia, is ostensibly a long-standing mutual feud with the city of Turku, the first capital of Finland. This hostility is largely expressed in jokes in one city about the other; prominent targets are the traditional Tampere food, mustamakkara, the state of the Aura River in Turku, and the regional accents. Since 1997, students at Tampere have made annual excursions to Turku to jump on the market square, doing their part to undo the post-glacial rebound and push the city back under the sea.
For a visitor, a lake cruise is a must. There is no need to travel to the seaside to enjoy a lovely breeze, or a leisurely atmosphere by the shore. Tampere is the busiest inland harbour in Scandinavia, allowing direct access to the picturesque Finnish lakeside landscape – just for a quick outing or for the whole day.
In summer the best place to meet locals would be at one of the market places, for example Tammelantori or Laukontori, or on one of the charming terraces around town. If you’re the physical type, a nice walk on one of the area’s pedestrian paths is also a good place to meet fellow outdoors enthusiasts or you can rent a bicycle and take to one of the cycling paths.
In winter the city lights up with decorations and there are festivals to attend such as the Circus Ruska Festival, the oldest contemporary circus festival in Finland. In January 2013 the festival had its 9th anniversary in Tampere. The festival brings together new contemporary circus acts, where the circus techniques go hand in hand with new expression methods.
Winter also brings an excellent Christmas Market and New Year’s festivities as well as outdoor sports such as ice-skating and ice fishing, and some of the summertime cycling and pedestrian paths are transformed into ski trails during the winter time. Local residents also swear by ice swimming: drill a hole into the ice cover of a lake and hop in! They say the water under the ice stays at constant temperature of +4°C (39°F), and is very refreshing. You may choose to join them or not as the mood strikes you.
The place to stay in Tampere is the Holiday Club Tampereen Kylpylä (known as Lapinniemi in Interval International’s exchange), one of Holiday Club Oy’s portfolio of resorts. This is an Interval International Premier and RCI Gold Crown dual-exchange resort at the Spa Hotel Tampere. Housed in a century-old cotton mill that has been renovated and modernized to meet the needs of spa and conference guests, today the building only looks old from the outside – the inside has been totally updated.
Available units include studios with a loft and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom suites. All units come with a sitting room, bedroom, refrigerator, microwave-oven, balcony, sauna and two bathrooms. They are decorated with traditional Scandinavian-style furniture, clean-lined and comfortable, and added pops of color throughout the suites brighten everything up.
The lovely Lapinniemi is a first-class spa hotel and timeshare resort, and it is conveniently within walking distance of the city center’s culture, entertainment, sports and shopping. Onsite you’ll find a pool table, chessboard and children’s playroom; bicycles and skis for hire; canoeing on the lake, paddle steamer cruises; and no shortage of other water-related things to do, in addition to its indoor tropical pool and health spa.
If you’ve never considered Finland in your travel plans before, you might want to give it another look. It’s a country filled with beautiful scenery, cosmopolitan cities, a casual and friendly population and year-round things to do. Be the first among your friends to discover this delightful country!
Websites with more information for you:
- http://www.holidayclub.fi/ The website for Holiday Club resorts
- http://www.visittampere.fi/ The official visitors guide to Tampere
- http://www.visitfinland.com/ The official visitors guide to Finland
- http://www.tampere.fi/english/index.html all about Tampere, in English
- http://www.tamperemusicfestivals.fi/jazz/ Tampere Jazz Happening is a festival of new jazz music, taking place in late October-early November every year since 1982.
- http://finland.fi/ Virtual Finland
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premier quality. However, these resorts are not usually the only timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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