Moomin Museum, Tampere, Finland

Hosted inside the Tampere Philharmonic building, which is worth a visit in itself, the Moomin museum is about 100m from the Dream Hostel, and not much further from the city centre. It is as much a “Moomin Experience” as a museum, though it does take you through the history of the books’ release and some of the author’s development. It is much stronger, though, on the contents and general sense of wonder that pervades the books. If you aren’t carried along by that, you might not get much out of a visit.

After a few initial misgivings, I loved the place. I remember the Moomins, though am not sure I ever read a book, and didn’t love the couple I paged through after my visit. Being a little jet lagged still, it’s entirely possible I was too tired to read them properly; they aren’t a simple kids’ book. The cartoon stories were more my level at the time, and even they seemed a little long and wordy.

The place itself is on two floors, mixing dioramas, early editions of the books, electronic descriptions and displays of sketches – disappointingly all labelled “sketch for artwork”, so devoted fans can have a lot of fun working out which work they are from. The lighting is mostly dark, which allows for light effects in places, kaleidoscopic and adding to the mood.

There are plenty of scenes from the books, produced primarily by Jansson’s partner, Pietila, but with the author’s help. Most of them have aural clips, in a variety of languages, which I found captivating, though most visitors didn’t seem to bother with them. Most had brought young children, who perhaps didn’t want to stand in place for a few minutes at a time. They had plenty of fun anyway, it seemed.

I thoroughly recommend the museum, but treat it as an experience rather than a place to go and get a thorough overview of the books. You may well get the latter, but you’ll do just as well soaking up the atmosphere and feeling engendered by the displays, the lighting and the audio narration of the scenes.

And as I travel light, this final quote (final for me, anyway – you can find it on the first floor, so you might start with it, depending which way you turn) summed up my view of ‘things’.

Quote: "I know. But that's how it is when you start wanting to have things. Now, I just look at them, and when I go away I carry them in my head. Then my hands are always free, because I don't have to carry a suitcase." Snufkin
I was drawn to this quotation.

Tampere parkrun, Finland

Tampere parkrun route
Tampere parkrun route – 2.5k out, 2.5k back, wiggling along the side of the lake.

Tampere parkrun has been going for over a year, having started on the 14th October 2017. Crucially for me, that date was just after I left for Singapore, so I had not had the chance to get to a Finnish parkrun before – there are now three, so they have started popping up.

The course itself is right near the city centre, easy to find (just make sure you pick a road that takes you over the train tracks, if you are East of them, or you might follow a road a long way, away from the lake. I spotted my near-error in plenty of time). I got there just a little after 9 – 9.30 start here – and had a chat with the team who were setting up. It was far too cold to stand there, though, and I eschewed the offer of a wait in the stadium in favour of a proper warm up run. The stadium sounds great, though, offering toilets and showers, so if you aren’t staying in Tampere on a Saturday, you can still wash up afterwards.

The run director spoke excellent English, and was kind enough to do all briefings in both Finnish and English, which is great, and super welcoming.

Scenic lakeside route
Signs are obvious, so long as you look up.

The course is about as flat as it gets. Although it twists to follow the lake, and has a 180 turnaround at the halfway point, it is about as quick as it gets. That said, there was a bit of a breeze – more annoying for being genuinely Baltic than a movement stopper, though I felt it – and I felt the occasional slow down from an incline.

But the surface is good, going from concrete to hard-packed trails, and I had a good run. It’s a scenic course, with the lake on your right on the way out (guess which side on the way back?) and running through flora otherwise. Frankly, it’s wonderful.

Laukonsilta bridge, near the start/finish
Laukonsilta bridge, near the start/finish.

I was pleased with a decent run, and to be able to add another country to my parkrun list – 16, now, with just Germany and South Africa to go (though the latter has runs in Namibia and Swaziland, so the completist ought to get to those two, as well).

I headed to the cafe post-run, which is just over the bridge. Finnish people mostly speak excellent English, and I picked up plenty of travel tips from a couple of Finns, discussed hangovers with an Irishman and enjoyed a soft chocolate cake and orange juice. The lady in the cafe didn’t recognise that in English, but her colleague pointed it out. Plenty of coffee available, and that is order able in English without problems.

Post cake, I was full of energy and had a run through Tampere. The centre is divided in places by construction, as they put in place “a pram” (tram), but that just meant I had an excuse to run around the edge of that and run a little further than I might otherwise have. On a cold but sunny morning, it was a pleasure.

Sorsalampi lake, mid Tampere
Sorsalampi lake, mid Tampere (not on the route, just pretty).

Coffee etc. afterwards, at Cafe and Salad Bar Sanna’s, Laukontori 10.

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