One Vappu in Turku

NOTE: This article will NOT be objective. I’ve spent like 6 of the best months in my life in Turku, and I just can not be 100% neutral on this. Also, it won’t be the classical “touristic” view (in which case, you might enjoy this link), but mostly putting together my experiences there. Thanks for understanding.

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Turku was the city that became my home in 2007. Erasmus, oh yea. A messy one, as it happened that I signed up for IT studies in the UK, and ended up in Journalism in Finland, but well, I can say it was not possible to have a better experience than this one.

I arrived there decided to prove myself out. And in my opinion, it really worked out somehow, as most of who I am today comes from there (yes, also the bad sides). I had my first, (worse) destroying, crush ever. I was living abroad and on my own for the first time. I ended up in an internship that has nothing to do with my studies, but was amazing, because was facing a lot of different aspects (from helping on organizing a rock concert to teach photoshop and excel, to take part at the graduation of the students in my University).

And through everything, I was able to get out of that renewed and hungry of experiences. That’s why, after 9 years (and taking advantage of my current location, just on the other side of the Baltic Sea), I decided it was time to come back there.

Turku is not a huge city: it has like 180000 people roughly, but with an impressive number of students and people from everywhere. And most important of everything: it’s ALIVE! And in a certain way, peaceful to me.

Islands… Islands everywhere!

One of the particular elements of this city is the tremendous amount of islands it has in front: this is the Archipelago. More than 20.000 islands, that gets people puzzled when they arrive for the first time without knowing it, and see the view from the windows of their flights. When I arrived there, I kinda felt immediately at home, probably as it has A LOT of common points with Turin, my “real” city:

  • Well, they were both former capital. It’s not much, but it’s always nice to make a point out of it.
  • The river crossing the city, with all the bridges and the bars/pub all around (in this case, the boats):
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    Cheers!
    Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They both are walking cities: I mean, to really enjoy them, you have to be patient and make your way walking for several km around!

A big difference, thou, is that everything is organized to be lively around the center: on the central square, Kauppatori, you have impressive numbers of pubs, discos, places to eat (special mention to the gelateria “Le Nuvole“!) or to make shopping.

A normal day in Kauppatori.
A normal day in Kauppatori.

And well, when you go there in Vappu (it should be only 30 Apruil-1st May, but it easily extends to all week), you might experience a subtle difference:

Nearby Kauppatori during Vappu

Vappu is the celebration of workers, students, and the incoming Spring/Summer – all in one! Each city has a different tradition, but concerning Turku, it involves meeting at the main square, celebrate the start of Vappu drinking nice sparkling wine with your friends, and then walk until the most representative statue of the city, where one of the Students association will clean  and put the hat that people receive during the high school graduation on top of it.

The second day is the one of the picnic, in which you can see some amazing scenes:

No, luckily there was no baby. Well, I suppose.

All of this is Turku for me: a second crazy and charming home, a safe place in the world, peaceful and amazing.

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