воскресенье, 27 декабря 2015 г.

Tampere. Part II. Spy Museum

I got off the train Helsinki - Tampere at 1 p.m., so I had three hours before I could check into Omena Hotel Tampere. Museums close early everywhere around the world, that's why I decided to start with them and to see the city from the outside on the way.

My first stop was at the Spy Museum. Founded in 1998, this museum became the first of its kind in the world. Wiki even states that there aren't any other museums connected with espionage in Europe. It was correct when I visited Tampere but since the 19 of September it is not right anymore.

The museum provoked conflicting feelings in me.

I enjoyed reading the texts which accompanied the displays. The story about the Sanada clan and their successful defense of the castle having 3 thousand soldiers against nearly 20 thousands, as well as mentioning the fireworks as a tool of a spy made me recall one of my childhood hobbies: reading about ninjas and samurai. Going through the texts about famous spies, like Mata Hari, I gained some insight into the intriguing parts of the world history which passed me by. But the record in surprising me was established by soviet paratroopers. If you are from one of the ex-USSR countries, then this question is to you: what do you know about the Winter War? I remember that hardly a couple of pages in the textbook were dedicated to it. I also recall an interesting documentary shown by our history teacher. The most striking detail of that film was that Finns took advantage of the snowy days and deterred the Soviet army advance with their rapid-moving ski troops. But even the documentary hadn't featured Soviet paratroopers. But they arguably were the first regular paratrooper units in the world. What is more significant, the first airborne combat drop in history was performed by them exactly during the Winter War.

Another thing, I enjoyed in the Spy Museum, was espionage devices, about which I've never heard before. To be precise, not the devices themselves (most of them were pretty unattractive) but their concepts amazed me so much. Among them I can mention shotgun microphones (they accept sound from one direction only), photosnipers, a camera hidden in a pen.

However, I'm sure I could become familiar with all of the above in a good book while a museum should provide other experience than a text. Exhibits should be eye-catchers but almost all of them in the Spy Museum of Tampere presented a sorry sight.

There was one more detail which I disliked very much. Around a half of the displays was devoted to the XX century (together with the beginning of the third millennium). Lots of the texts contained descriptions of double-edged historical events (the official positions on those events of Western countries on one side and either ex-USSR countries or China on the other side still differ). The descriptions provided both points of view but presented them not as equal ones. I had a feeling that they laughed at Eastern countries opinion. I'm sure, it is a shame for a museum. Especially taking into consideration that all texts presented in the Spy Museum were available not only in Finnish (as it is in some of the Finnish museums) but in ten languages (Russian among them).

While people fight against intrusion of politics into sports, politics gets into museums. And it is far more dangerous.

суббота, 19 декабря 2015 г.

Tampere. Part I. The hotel with "invisible" staff

In the end of August I spent two days in Finland. This time I chose Tampere as a destination. I'd like to tell you about plenty of things I've seen during 8-hour walk around the city. However, I'll start my story not with a place of interest but with the most unusual hotel I've ever stayed in.

I'm talking about Omena Hotel Tampere, a specimen of the large hotel network. Currently it covers only Finland but as recently as a year ago you could also stay in Omena hotels in the certain cities of Denmark and Sweden, too.

The story begins several weeks before the trip. After I booked a room online, I received an email specifying all details including the door code. As that email promised, 24 hours prior to my arrival another email, containing the room number, was delivered. The same information came 8 hours before the check-in in SMS message.

Now let's turn our thoughts to the moment when I found myself opposite the front door of Omena Hotel Tampere.

Step 1. Enter the door code, open the door and find yourself on a dark staircase.

Step 2. Ascend the staircase to the third floor, enter the same door code, step into the light and look around. Well, the corridor looks better than the staircase but it is still more like a dormitory than a hotel. At least, floor in the hotels is usually much cleaner than here.

Step 3. Walk to your room, enter the code, that you've already learnt by heart, and marvel at what is inside. I often lack for an electric tea kettle in the hotels, and here it is as well as a microwave. Have a lot of electronic devices that are running out of charge? Six wall outlets at your service! Hairdrier, fridge, TV set don't surprise but are present, too. Oh, look! Two beds (from which I deduce that it is actually a twin room at the price of a single one) and two chair-beds (for those who prefer to have a choice in whatever situation, I suppose). Switch on the TV...


wait... I'm not acquainted with you. How do you know how am I called?

Are you sure that you are a TV set?..

... but not a sheep?

Whatever you are, thanks a lot for the built-in information about the schedule you show each time I switch you on!

Well, I stop speaking with TV sets and sheeps and turn back to you.

There is plenty of other things here including the New Testament and twenty bags of sugar. And if you worry about your safety because of all these door codes (who knows how many doors does the code match? Exactly three or more? Frankly speaking, I didn't check it :) ) there is a heavy hasp and a peephole, too (not sure I see the latter one in the hotel rooms' doors often).

Additional benefits and drawbacks I'd like to mention:

  • Check-in is at 4 p.m., while check-out is at 12 p.m., i.e. if you stay in Omena hotel for a day, you can actually be there for no more than 20 hours. Sounds unfair, don't you think so?
  • Omena Hotel Tampere is situated on Hämeenkatu, the main street of Tampere. The good point is that Hämeenkatu starts (or ends?) at the railway station. So if you arrive too late or if you just want to leave the luggage in your room, be sure that it would be easy to find the hotel: after your train arrives, just go straight ahead and look to the left from time to time.  

Let's finally switch to the heading of this post. Why do I call the staff "invisible"? My counterquestion is: have I mentioned any staff in the above paragraphs? No. In fact, I noticed only a cleaner on the staircase when I was leaving the hotel on Sunday in the morning. Why is it cool not to communicate with any staff? Some people are shy, some people don't speak English but still want to travel. And as for me, I just enjoy saving the time (and the space of the hotel) by such an elegant solution.

Have you ever stayed in a hotel with a similar concept? If so, share your impressions in comments.

воскресенье, 13 декабря 2015 г.

Is regular blogging possible?

Do you belive in the great potency of promises made publicly?

Do I believe? I really don't know. But I think, the time to test it in practice came.

During last three months and a half no posts have appeared here. It wasn't due to a lack of ideas. Actually, even without brainstorming I have at least ten possible topics in my mind at the moment. However, I don't have much time and don't set blogging a high priority.

But here is what polyglot Olly Richards says:
In summer 2013, I started a blog.
Two years later, my dashboard shows 167 published articles.
That’s over 1 blog post per week.
During this period, I’ve worked full-time, lived in three countries, published a book, and completed a master’s degree.
So a lack of time shouldn't be considered as a solid reason not to write. Let's test it, too.

I promise to publish one blog post per week during the following twelve months. Each Saturday, no later than 11:59 p.m. (Saint Petersburg time) a new post will appear here (as well as the links to it on VK and Facebook). Thus, 52 posts over the whole year.

What I don't promise is:

  • that they would be as long as they had been before. In fact, I'll strive to make the posts shorter and to improve their readability.
  • that I'll write only in English. In general, I will, but don't be surprised if someday you will read my new post in Russian.

To keep the promise I need your help. If the time has come and I haven't published a post yet, feel free to remind me about that either in social networks or in the comments to this post.

P.S. Any feedback about the content of the posts, style and language is still highly appreciated.