Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Visiting Turku

Yesterday I wrote about some tips for eating. Today I thought I’d continue with some other assorted tips about visiting Turku.

Getting About

The center of Turku is relatively small, and you can walk to just about everywhere. Walking from the center of the town to the con site takes about 20 minutes (the distance is 1,6 km). If you don’t want to walk, or are planning to take trips within the city but outside the immediate center, I’d recommend getting a Tourist Card. You load the number of days you want on it at purchase time (it can’t be reloaded later), and it allows you to ride the buses as much as you like during that time. For example, a 4-day card costs 13,60 € (single fare is 2,50 so it saves you money even if you take just two trips a day). You can buy the card at the local traffic service office (Aurakatu 5), or at the department stores Wiklund or Stockmann, all of which are right at the center of the city (Wiklund is across the street from the Hamburger Börs hotel). Lines 50–54, 4, 28, and 280 (and probably some others as well) all take you from the market square to the convention venue (get off at the University stop, 115 / Yliopisto).

Wi-Fi

The odds are your hotel is going to have free wi-fi. The convention also has wi-fi passes available at the info desk. There are some cafés and restaurants that have wi-fi, but if you are at the city center and need to do some work, check your e-mail, etc., I recommend visiting the Turku Main Library. They have computers for people to use, and you can also use their wi-fi with your own computer (ask at the info desk for a temporary user account). There are plenty of desks for working, and chairs and sofas for reading and relaxing. The library has an extensive collection of newspapers from around the world, and they also have a very nice café that servers refreshments, pastries, and also pasta and salad lunches.

Miscellaneous Things

Especially if you are coming from abroad, the following tidbits might be useful:

The ATMs are marked with orange signs that say OTTO.

”Apteekki” means pharmacy. I hope you have no need for these, but if you do, there are several around the market place.

If you need to exchange currency, there is a Forex exchange bureau at Eerikinkatu 13. (Opening hours are limited on Saturday, and the place is closed on Sundays.)

Things to See

Some things you can do in Turku (besides attending the convention of course).

The market square is the center of the city. It is the center for local buses, and it also has a food market on weekdays and Saturdays (morning to early afternoon). If you want to taste fresh Finnish produce or berries, this is where you can get them. It is the season for peas and strawberries, and the blueberry season is also just starting. And by the way, the ice cream stands on the market square (the white-and-blue ones marked with a penguin logo) have both tar ice cream and liquorice ice cream in their selection nowadays. If you’re interested in Finnish delicacies, that is.

There are several museums near the city center. Depending on your interests, I’d recommend the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum which combines a historical setting of the unique ruins of a medieval town quarter and a museum of contemporary art, or the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, an outdoor museum of historical Turku from early 19th century (one of the rare places saved from the great fire of 1827). Not too far away is also the Logomo cultural center which hosts several exhibitions (for example, the Tom of Finland exhibition, ”Alice in Wonderland”—an exhibition of contemporary photography, and an exhibition about the science and history of fire.

If you want to go sightseeing, I recommend taking a cruise on the river Aura. Guided tours are available in Finnish, Swedish, and English. For longer trips, there are also steamboat cruises to the city of Naantali or lunch cruises in the Turku Archipelago.

During the weekend, there is an antiquarian book event called Booktori on the Puutori market place. There’s lots of book and collecting–related programming, and of course old books for sale. Most of these will be in Finnish though, but if you love old books no matter the language, this might be worth a visit.

Or, you could have a sauna. As part of the Cultural capital program, four art saunas have been built around Turku. These include a transparent ”Solaris” sauna and ”Sauna Obscura” where you can bathe inside a camera.

Traveling with Family

If you have a family (with young kids) with you, there are a couple of places I recommend visiting.

If your kids like the Moomings, the Moomin World in Naantali is the place to go. There are recreations of many of the places in the Moomin books, and the kids can meet the Moomins. The place also has restaurants and a swimming beach, so it’s definitely a whole day trip.

In the city center, there’s an Adventure Park in the Kupittaa Park which has lots of things to do for kids, such as climbing, playing in the wading pool, workshops, theater shows, a bouncy castle, etc.

Post a Comment

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Lauren Beukes

The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of this year’s Tähtivaeltaja Award : the best science fiction book published i...