Tag Archives: city centre

56: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…

26 Oct

So I haven’t got much to say about this week except that, as week’s go, it was bad. Perhaps my worst since I’ve been here in Oulu.

However, after a couple of days of watching Gilmore Girls, eating chocolate and generally being very soft on myself I was cheered up by the snow! It’s like it came just for me (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!)







23: Ice Hockey and Marshmallow Pizza

23 Sep

Last night I went to my first ice hockey game. Overall impression: ice hockey is a violent game. But brilliant. Those guys have so much skill, it’s incredible! Flicking the puck from one end to the end while manoeuvring like they do is amazing to watch.

We began by cycling from Linnanmaa to the stadium, the five of us creaking along at high-speed on our rickety, pathetic bikes. We made it after a few bumps and busy crossings, thanks to my friend’s inbuilt GPS system. The stadium was really big and really crowded, and we had no idea where to head. We ended up right next to the rink, the only adults in a line of children, but the view was great and no one told us to move so we stayed.

What To Wear

I hadn’t been sure of what to wear, so I played it safe and layered up. An hour into the game I was glad to have worn my thermal leggings under my jeans! It was pretty cold by the ice, and I couldn’t feel my feet for most of the game. My advice – wool socks, plenty of layers that can be removed if necessary and a scarf for added comfort.

The game began with the two teams skating out, accompanied by some cheerleaders and sparklers – it was an unexpected start, but interesting. The game was Karpat (Oulu) vs Tappara (Tampere). Here’s a link to my friend’s video of the opening. Right from the word go the crowd was yelling, thumping their feet and chanting songs. The hockey players didn’t leave any time to warm up either; as soon as they were playing the violence, taunting, shouting and shoving began. Hockey was much messier than I had imagined! 

I didn’t really have an idea of what was going on, but the game was fast-paced and interesting to watch. During one of the breaks we grabbed some popcorn and coke and edged back through the crowd for the second half.

Sadly it ended rather quickly with a 3-1 defeat for Oulu, but it was a great experience! Afterwards we cycled into town for pizza and ended up at the ‘Golden Rax Pizzabuffet’ where we found this little delight:

                                                                                                                  Marshmallow pizza!

I was dismayed to find out that the Finns put odd things on their pizza (for example prawns) but this more than made up for it. One of the girls described it as ‘dessert pizza’. MMMM.

One word of advice though, unless you’re absolutely desperate, don’t use the toilet at this place, they stink. The most foul toilets ever.

To brighten up the mood after that, here is a picture of last night’s sunset.

  And a view over the water this morning.

Ainola Park

16 Sep

As hoped, today was much more productive. This morning was beautiful, so after a trip to the gym (which was surprisingly busy for 8.30am on a Sunday!)  I went for a bike ride to Ainola Park.

A short bike ride in the direction of the city centre to begin with…

I hope I’m right in saying that the above view is of the Baltic Sea. It was beautiful either way.

EDIT: Thanks to   for pointing out my mistake, it’s the view of the Oulujoku river! Silly me =)

Just before you get to the path which leads to the park there is Linnansaari, or ‘Castle Island’. This is where the ‘ruins’ of Oulu Castle are. I say ‘ruins’ because this is what I found:

My ‘Oulu Guide’ tells me that the castle was commissioned by the found of Oulu, Charles XI of Sweden, in 1605. The castle was destroyed in 1793 when lightning struck on a wooden gunpowder magazine. Kaboom, no more castle. In 1875 an observatory was built in the ruins instead, to teach students of the Oulu Maritime Museum astronomy. What you see in the picture is a pretty little summer cafe which inhabits the spot. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was pretty enough.

This is the kirjasto (library) and although it doesn’t look much from the outside it’s very modern and swish on the inside. They’ve got magazines in a variety of languages downstairs, as well as free internet, and an excellent section for kids (or novice Finnish readers like me!)

The Rough Guide says this of the park:

It is a ‘ pleasantly wooded space which makes a nice spot for a picnic or a late evening stroll’.

That’s it. That’s all it has to say. What a massive understatement; I think whoever wrote the guide either didn’t actually visit it or was feeling particularly lazy when he got the the ‘Ainola Park’ section. The park is incredibly beautiful, even though the summer has passed and autumn has turned the air chilly and the trees gold. A short walk from the city centre it stretches back a lot further than I was expecting.

Ride past the fountain (which I stupidly didn’t stop to photograph because I thought I’d come back the same way) and follow the path under the underpass. It gets a bit more woody, like this:

Keep going and you’ll get to this:

A stunning park, more like a stretch of woodland or a nature park than the kind of park you normally find in the city centre. The sun was shining as hard as it could, and the place was filled with families and bikes and little kids running around after these little guys:

Finnish ducks!

I love ducks. They are adorable. Watching ducks will cheer me up even on the worst of days, so I’m pleased that I’ve found somewhere with such an abundance of them.

There’s a cafe too, which as far as I could work out is open from 9am everyday, even Sundays! (many shops don’t open until midday on Sundays)

Just next to the cafe are these incredible water fountains!

And another pond with more ducks!

I was truly in heaven.

The park hasn’t really brought to my attention by anyone which is surprising for two reasons. First, it’s so beautiful and, if you’re like me and you like to relax in nature as often as possible, it’s convenient and does the trick. It’s magical and the morning light and golden leaves made it even more so. I can’t wait to see it in winter! Second, it was really popular! It was filled with people, probably the most people I’ve seen in one place (apart from the main shopping are of the city). It’s obviously a hot-spot for Sunday morning walkers, bikers and families.

It’s also home to the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, Oulu Museum of Art and the Tietomma Science Centre.

If you follow the path right to the end you reach the dams, which you can walk along.

On the other side I found some mushrooms growing – and managed to tread in dog poo. The second time in two days! A great big wodge of it too that embedded itself into the tracks of my trainers and dampened my spirits a little. I really should learn to look out for it here.

The path keeps going until you get back to the path which leads to Linnanmaa, perfect for a circular jaunt. It only took an hour and a half approximately to get from my apartment, through the park and back home again. And it was well worth it.

Day Twelve in Finland: The City and the Weather

12 Sep

Today I experienced my first pulla. It was delicious and a great reward for cycling back from town in the pouring rain. We found a lovely little shop at the back of the market hall in town that sold them. From outside the building doesn’t look anything particularly special, but inside it’s warm and welcoming. There are cosy tables for coffee as you walk through the door, followed by stall after stall of wonderful looking food. So much meat and cheese and fish, there was even a tank with what looked like very small lobsters swimming around at the bottom. Next to this was a shop/stall with bread, buns and cake. The pulla are huge (the rumours are true!) and we’d hoped to sit at the water’s edge to eat them, with the smell and noise of the market behind us and the peace of the open water in front.

It was not to be; it had started raining whilst we were inside and instead we were forced to make a hasty retreat back home.

We had had a chance to visit the city again though, and gotten a little lost along the way – largely due to my incompetence with map reading and orientation. My first impression of the city had been one of surprise and awe. It’s very beautiful (to my mind anyway), with very unusual looking buildings and very wide, uncrowded pavements. I expected, perhaps foolishly, a busy, crowded city with skyscrapers and tons of traffic. It’s hardly busy at all and there is traffic, but nothing like a city like London’s, for instance.

The city hall is really impressive (and really clean! It’s been kept very well), fronted by some lovely flowers and close to the cathedral, another incredible, awe inspiring building. At the back of the city hall is a row of figure, each of which represents those who have contributed to the creation of Oulu city.

We also located the Tourist Information, a giant building just near the city hall (you can see the city hall from inside it) and plundered it’s shelves of information. There’s a great selection of leaflets in English, Finnish and a variety of other languages and the staff are very friendly. They also speak very good English and I even felt brave enough to ask for a few directions.

A note on the weather here at the moment; when I asked my kummi what to bring with me she said:

‘I think the weather here in September is not very different from UK.
>> You’ll need some jeans, long sleeved shirts or sweaters and a light
>> jacket. It’ll rain some days so you should bring your umbrella! ;)’

That’s not entirely true.

I think it’s a little colder than Britain at this time of year, some mornings it has felt like a British November or December and my hands and feet have suffered. I also have very few clothes with me, thinking that just a few jumpers would suffice. I would recommend a mix of jumpers and long-sleeved shirts, to layer one under the other. Whilst the main halls of the university are as warm as anything, the classes can be quiet cold, especially when you’re sat down for three hours straight.

It’s much better to have a bike here in Oulu (I resisted for about a week and got so frustrated with getting everywhere slowly that I’ve borrowed one until I can find something better), but with a bike comes the need for something waterproof. Unless you want to try cycling with an umbrella. My coat is still wet from the ride back and I need it to be dry for tomorrow, otherwise I’ll be cold. Some super thick socks wouldn’t go amiss either, as well as some padded, sturdy gloves (not the thin, stretchy ones in the UK which gain holes in the fingers after a certain length of time, they’re next to useless here).

A few more pictures of the city (and the market square policeman) before I head off to try my first Finnish sauna!

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