Just an hour north of Helsinki, I arrived in Tampere to meet an acquaintance from Rotary Youth Exchange who studies there. Unfortunately, he was too busy with finals to see me, and I instead spent much of my time there in the hostel catching up on some sleep—if I’m being honest.

That said, I did walk around the city one morning and found it to be a fascinatingly livable small city. It’s industrial past shows plainly in a large district of factories, (now converted to shopping malls and tech hubs,) as well as several statues across town dedicated to celebrating laborers. I don’t believe I took any photos of these statues, but they were largely in a social realist style, a particular form that was beloved by the Soviets. It was interesting to see them in a country that was so close to, but never a part of the Soviet Bloc.

I don’t have a large sample size, but it seems to me that Finnish cities all have incredible libraries. The one in Tampere is quite different from the one in Helsinki. It bears that iconic space race look of the 50s and 60s, when modern architecture looked to the stars with the rest of the world. I couldn’t help but love the impractically rounded nature of just about everything inside. Though it is not as large or progressively designed as the library in Helsinki, it still focused more on public amenities than most libraries in the US, with a larger portion of its space devoted to study spaces, computer usage, meeting rooms and the borrowing of non-book materials, like sheet music, board games and tools.

That was Tampere, as I saw it. The museums there are apparently wonderful, as well, and there is an Angry Birds theme park in the city. (The game was designed in Finland.) So, clearly, there is much more to see. I hope I get another chance—though, preferably in the summer.


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