South to Tammisaari

The stone men of Helsinki railway station

Leaving Tampere and the good Doctor.* I headed back to Helsinki by train to meet up with an old chum from the Navy at Pullman’s bar which is located upstairs in the central station. Pullman’s is a nice place to catch up with an old friend, a comfortable old school decor and a small but decent selection of beers on tap (try the London Pride) make it very easy to while a way an hour or so in conversation. Then it was off down the freeway to Tammisaari where Rob (my friend) and Outi (his wife) have their place.

Continue reading “South to Tammisaari”

The Lenin museum

V.I.L is in da’ house And just when you thought that Tampere couldn’t get more interesting it’s a flying visit to the Lenin Museum. ‘Visit’, said the invitation on their website, so I did. The museum is located in the Tampere workers where (naturally) underground meetings of the RSDLP were held back in the day. Oh and it was also here, in 1906, that Lenin met Stalin for the first time. All … Continue reading The Lenin museum

Alexander Church

There’s a lot of churches in Tampere, and this Neo-gothic* survivor from the Russian Duchy is named after the Russian Tsar Alexander II, yep him of the Blood of the Martyrs in St Petersburg. The church park used to be a graveyard, there are still tombstones lying around, and (so the story goes) there’s also a mass grave from the Finnish civil war somewhere in … Continue reading Alexander Church

Welcome to Moomin Valley



Yeah all right you’ve got me, this whole trip was just an excuse to visit Moominvalley. Well more precisely the Moominvalley museum in Tampere dedicated to the works of Tove Jannson. Like y’know Moomins! Oh alright, I’ll explain a little more, the Moomins and their friends are a cast of fantastical characters that populate the novels of the Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jannson. Moomintrolls are distantly related to trolls, but prefer to live in houses rather than behind stoves or under bridges. The series charts the adventures of Moomintroll his family and friends (my favourite is Snufkin the chap sitting in the tree in the illustration below with his trademark and much beloved hat) as they deal with everything from floods to comets. If you have a young reader in the house with a taste for the fantastical then I recommend the Moomins series unreservedly. Continue reading “Welcome to Moomin Valley”

Night train to Paris

Travel by train is an education in the places in-between

From Madrid we took the Francisco de Goya service that runs overnight to Paris. Our last long journey for the trip and our second last day together. In the early afternoon out train pulled out of Charmantin and headed north across the rolling plains of the Meseta. As evening closed in we adjourned to the dining car, shades of the Orient Express to sit and watch and talk as the landscape of central Spain rolled by in the afternoon light. Paris in the morning…

Continue reading “Night train to Paris”

Morning train to Madrid

‘High Speed Trains are Cool!’, or three hours on RENFE’s AVE from Barcelona-Sants to Madrid. You wander into the station run your luggage through the detector and then straight onboard. Then it’s a smooth fast ride on the rails all the way to Madrid, as you watch the climate and the landscape change, as the trip meter unwinds and the speedo clocks 300 kmph. Side … Continue reading Morning train to Madrid

Museo Picasso

And after Dali we came upon the Museo Picasso in the La Ribera district. Walking through the narrow mediaeval streets of the old town. Five baroque houses, built on the bones of roman villa’s and linked together into a single exhibition space. My favourite? Well you may have guessed from the above, his series of meditations (58 in all) on Las Meninas by Velasquez. How … Continue reading Museo Picasso

Casa Batlló

Galina and the dragon Visiting with the architect of the non-euclidean

And a building such as this. Monet’s water lilies, a carnival expressed in the masked balconies, the confetti effect, the roof like a Harlequin’s hat, Saint George striking down the dragon, the sword, the skulls.  What lies within…

” Those who look for the Laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” Antonio Gaudi

Continue reading “Casa Batlló”


A visit to Monaco

Well according to the CIA fact-book (yes I know) Monaco has the world’s lowest poverty rate, and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world. And at just 17 km away from Nice, which for you Novocastrian readers is the distance from Newcastle CBD to the airport, definitely worth a visit.

Continue reading “Monaco”