Welcome to our wedding website. We are extremely happy and honoured that you will join us on our special day, and thank you beforehand for the effort your making to do so. On this website we will try to keep that effort to the minimum and give you all the information you need for a great stay in Finland.
Let's start with the important stuff, the wedding details. Of course you received an invitation with the details, but there is only so much you can push onto a little card without jeopardising aesthetics and readability, and here we have infinite vertical scroll! The wedding ceremony takes place at the Tampere Cathedral at 16:00 (GMT+2) and afterwards we will move towards the Finlayson palace for the reception to eat, dance and celebrate! The palace is very near to the cathedral but there will be transportation arranged so all of you can be there before we are. During and after dinner people will have the opportunity to say or do something nice, funny/embarrassing. Afterwards we can try to forget all about it with some beverage and dancing (there will be a great band and we have our super-playlists ready). As we specifically like the dancing part, we made sure we can stay there until 02:00, and no, we are not leaving our own party prematurely, whoever came up with that silly idea should be banned from all future weddings!
Suomi, as the Finns call their country, is shaped as a woman, a woman who had to sacrifice her arm for an ultimate victory over the Soviet Union in the winter wars. It is a country of lakes, forests and rocks, of pines, birches and berries, sauna, steam, tar and smoke. First and foremost, at least in our opinion, Finland is thus a country of nature (with some people in it). The east is often heralded as the most beautiful and pristine area of Finland, in the southern part of the West coast is the amazing archipelago, in the north is Lapland (Lappi), where the Sami people still herd reindeer, and in the south there is Helsinki with its design district and Moomin World...and, well, the rest of the world ;)
Finland is where father Christmas (Joulupukki) has his citizenship and his secret workshop in the lapland city of Korvatunturi and his own amusement park Santa Claus Village. Where christmas is called Joulu (looks familiair to Yule doesn't it?), and Kalevala is the national epic. Of course we should also mention Nokia, Iittala (both also named after the city they originated from), Angry Birds, Moomin and Marimekko to name but a few of the wonderful finnish creations that have enriched the world. And what about stunning artist such as Jean Sibelius with his masterpiece Finlandia, the famous finnish symbolist Hugo Simberg with his Wounded Angel, and the amazing screenwriter and film director Aki Kaurismäki, with films such as Man Without a Past and Le Havre.
Of course understanding the particular Finnish type of drama and gloominess in combination with their great sense of humor and self irony helps to appreciate all the layers Finland has to offer, and nowhere can these elements be better seen than in the documentaries Steam of Life where Finnishness is evaluated straight from within the sauna, and the recent The Salesman Of Happiness that takes a critical look at how our society is chasing after happiness. In other words, enough to dive into in preperation for a great summer holiday!
The wedding takes place in the beautiful city of Tampere which is the third largest city of Finland, about a two and a half hour drive from the capital Helsinki. Getting there naturally depends on where you are coming from, and we have quite some nationalities in our circles. Generally though, Finnair is a great airline, often with cheap options. You can fly to Helsinki and go from there by bus or train, but often taking a second flight to Tampere from Helsinki is the same price or even cheaper as flying only to Helsinki. We often use Skyscanner to find good value tickets from Amsterdam to Tampere. Another option if you have a bit more time or come with the car is to go with a ferry (Finnlines, Tallink or Viking Line) from Germany (Travemunde), Estonia (Tallinn) or Sweden (Stockholm). If you are planning to stay a bit longer and want to get out into nature, we advise you to come by car or rent a car. Although Finland has an excellent public transport system, it is not the cheapest, and the really beautiful places are often difficult to reach by public transport. If your doing a city trip or only highlights, public transport works very well though.
The Tammer Hotel is the high-end accommodations in Tampere. It is a bit the traditional place to stay for newly weds, so it is here where we will stumble into our private sauna and bed after the party. The Cumulus Hotel chain is a well-known mid-range option in Finland and very close to the church (Tampere is not that big though). The Omena Hotel is a good low-end option, located smack in the middle of the city centre at the main street, and a good option for people enjoying the city life but that don't want to spend too much.
A very good alternative to the normal hotels are the apartments, often the same price as hotels...but it's not a hotel, it's an appartement. This is of course especially good if you come with more people, but we believe it's also great for solo travelers, and some of them even have a sauna! Two sites you can use to find a nice apartment are Forenom and Apartment Hotel Tampere. Lastly you can check out the Hotel map of the Tampere Conversion Bureau or find an Airbnb place and see if you can find one of those jewels, as you can sometimes find really good bargains, beautiful apartments, complete houses for a good price, with or without the company of a friendly native that can help you find your way.
For our wedding we have made an effort to pick the two best spots in Tampere. The cathedral (formerly known as the church of st.John) is one of the most important architectural and artistic landmarks in town. It was built in 1907 by the architect Lars Sonck and is concidered to be the chief monument of Finnish national romantic architectural style. The artwork is done by Hugo Simberg and Magnus Enckell, two great Finnish symbolist painters. In addition, it is the place Taina did her confirmation. Finlayson palace is a grand legacy of what has historically been one of the most influential companies of the city. James Finlayson, a scottish Quaker, brought the textile industry and with it, the industrial revolution, to Finland. But of course the city has much more to offer, so to help you get the most out of your stay, we will provide a little introduction to our favourite spots.
A good place to start, especially with good weather (and we will assume there will be nothing but sunshine that time of year), is in the middle of the city. There is a small harbour at one of the two big lakes (Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi) that Tampere is connected to. At the harbour front is a little square (Laukontori) where they sell lots of fresh stuff (in summer) such as the sweetest strawberries (mansikka) you most probably will ever eat, fresh peas (herne), cherries (kirsikka) and so on (come back a little later in the year for an abundance of chanterelle mushrooms). From the harbour, you can take one of the boats trips that go around the lake and visit the little islands where you can have a little picknick. Some boats in the harbour are only for drinking though, but you can see the difference clearly :)
The main thing to try here however if you are in for a real Finnish experience, is mustamakkara (black sausage) and lingonberry jam at the Tapolan stall in the middle of the square. If the combination of blood and sausage is not high on your list, just get an ice cream at the stall next to it. Finnish hold the title of being the country that consumes the most ice cream in the world, and yes, they do ice cream very well. Don't let the sight of salmiak (salmiakki), tar (terva) or smoke (savu) ice cream scare you, it's amazing!
If you go a little uptown (basically right up the street from the square), on the main road you will find the big department store Sokos. Not very sexy, we know, though it can come in handy when in need of all sorts of day to day stuff. Why it is mentioned here though is that right next to it is what is known as Kauppahalli, a hall with shops literally, but more like an indoor market, selling lots of local produce and also has some nice places for coffee. And extra plus is a very small little sushi place Umami that can be utilised for in-between munchies.
A little further down the road there is Fazer Cafe, which is a cafe by one of the most famous and oldest Finnish brands for stuff like chocolate, candy and coffee. We like to go here in the early afternoon to indulge ourselves with great cheese croissants and coffee, but there are also loads of other goodies such as salmon or shrimp sandwiches and sweet rolls. Here you will find a nice mix of young couples, older Marimekko ladies and hipsters.
Next on the list is a cute little place called Vohveli kahvila (waffle cafetaria), the best place to have traditional Finnish waffles, nice and thin, not too heavy (did I say Belgian?), with different toppings of which our favourite is the classic strawberry jam and whipped cream. This waffle should not be consumed without their famous cardamom coffee. Yes, you'll learn to love cardamom with everything if you're planning on a longer stay in Finland.
Moving out of the city centre into the beautiful forest area of Pyynikki, you'll find our ultimate favourite place in Tampere, Munkki kahvila / Pyynikki observation tower (näkötorni). A munkki is a doughnut and kahvi is coffee, very important to know as the Finns love their coffee, and it is here that you can get Finland's best coffee-and-doughnut (note that this is a single concept referred to as munkkikahvi), not the weird and obese sticky things they sell at the USA Dunkin' Donut, but lovely fresh made brown, with cardamom and covered in sugar crystals. As said earlier, Tampere is situated between two huge beautiful lakes, and the observation tower is a good place to get a great view of those two lakes and the city of tampere.
After this life-changing experience, take some time to stroll around in Pyynikki forest and enjoy the amazing lake-views, smell fresh pines and spruces, and wander off towards the Pispala area. This area is the home-turf of the Tervahauta family, and that alone makes it an interesting visit of course. But if you get hungry or thirsty somewhere late afternoon, visit the lovely Cafe Pispala, and enjoy all the goodies this place has to offer in the midst of one of the most beautiful living areas of Tampere.
Since you made it this far, and the feet must be getting tired, there is still one place here up in Pispala that needs to be mentioned, and it's the oldest (public) sauna of Finland, Rajaportti Sauna, and it is here that raw Finland can be experienced. This sauna has a separate male and female part (with the same central stove) and thus can be experienced in full nudity without shame or guilt. Temperatures can get pretty high, around 100 degrees, so take some sauna-drinks, know your limits and dive in.
If you made it till here, we salute you, and you have earned a good dinner. Any sauna experience can open up in you some long lost memories of pre-christian paganism, with blood, sweat and tear rituals, warriors and gods, healing plants and guiding animals, so about time to get the Viking experience at ravintola (restaurant) Harald. This place might seem a bit tacky at first, something you can expect from a themed restaurant, but the atmosphere, food and service here are excellent. Have one of their own brewed honey beers (in clay cup) to wash down that great reindeer steak, or get a sword in a woodblock for two full of goodies. Desert here is also great and do try out the Icelandic moss or the Finnish tar ice cream!
If you are not into Vikings, along the main road you will find the more familiar Irish version of this theme, The Irish pub/restaurant, and this beauty is called Ruby and Fellas. Great food and beers, with one of our favourite combinations, the Hop Gobblin beer with Chilli-Cheese-Fries. In the weekends there often is live music here, and you can sit on the river side enjoying your drinks, listening to music, watching the strong current of the river in between the lakes, that flows like a blood vain through the city and provides it with electricity.
All the way from the Vikings, passing along the Irish, we come back to the Finns. Head to the Finlayson/Siperia area (finlaysoninalue) and get yourself a seat at Plevna to have a home-brewed dry apple cider and some good food. The area is situated in the old Finlayson factory buildings, so it's provides a good backdrop to experience Tampere. This is also the area where the Finnkino cinema is located, some more restaurants, and you can buy the famous Reino slippers at Reino Kauppa.
If this is all too pub-like, raw, unstylish for you, do not worry, Tampere offers haute cuisine too! Two restaurants by the same owners have enriched the Tampere culinary scene in recent years. Catering to the finer tastes in life, Hubert is the place for the better meat experience and Bertha should definitely be visited if you are into new food tastes, combinations and experiences. If you really crave for something you know, something not so foreign, something close to home, go back to the main road and get some raw fish and miso at Maruseki Sushii.
When you feel you've had enough of the authentic Tampere experience, and you just want to be a tourist, let us end with some tips for that too. Tampere has it's own family amusement park Särkänniemi, in particular nice if you are with children or after recovering a hangover. The good thing about it is that it sits next to one of the city's landmarks the Näsinneulatower, also known as The Needle, which in addition to providing a great view, is a rotating restaurant, guaranteed to provide a stunning backdrop whilst eating some siika, the local white fish.
And there you have it, the best of Tampere, in a nutshell. Of course there is much more to explore, but we don't want to deprive you of the opportunity to explore for yourself.