Sunday, November 14, 2010
Haven't spent too much time in Lithuania recently, been busy exploring Russian tourists in Eqypt and the wonders of hostel life in Tampere. As there was little more than the all inclusive hotel that I saw in the country of sand and 1001 leathal fishes, I guess it would be a much better idea to brief you on the all exclusive Tampere trip.
It was a dark and a stormy night, when we landed to Tampere last Sunday. But little did we know how the weather would turn its back on us - perhaps the first snowstorm of the year began the moment we were waiting for our luggage to arrive. The destination was Hostel Sofia, the YWCA hostel of Tampere. Earlier, this hostel was notorious for having a tight curfiew - either you were inside before 22:00 or the Christians showed no love to you: you were not let in after the deadline.
These days, Sofia is a all exclusive hotel. Yes, I believe that is a better description than a hostel on the 2 person's room we booked. It was actually a flat divided into two rooms, and the prices were on a regular hotel level - of any other city in Finland, except Tampere and Helsinki - the 2 person room without a lunch and with a shared toilet/shower did cost 72 euros a night. Breakfast was 13 euros for 2, thus the actual price was 85 euros. Surely, living in Tampere did not look too good at that moment, given the wet shoes, disgusting weather and baffling price level.
Thus, it was the time to find cheap places to eat - and good beer too! Quite obviously, Finns like to eat kebabs. Almost every corner in the city had a pizza-kebab restaurant, and the price for a kebab was from 4,5 till 7 euros. Quite much higher than e.g. in Germany. Also, there are quite a few Chinese places. Of them, the first we visited was Lotus Garden. The menu outside had very attractive prices: take away meals were less than 6 euros. However, inside, the reality bote with its sharp teeth into the groin area: all meals were more than 11 euros if eaten indoors and the water did cost 1 euro a person.
On the other side of the main street (Hämeenkatu), there is a much more affordable place, where the prices range from 7 to 10 euros a portion. Also, the food was clearly better there plus the service faster. Lotus Garden did offer a more authentic looking Chinese restaurant, but when a person living with a Baltic budget looks for a place to eat, the curiosities do not really matter. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the more affordable place, but it is close to the "Surprise Me" - gadget shop, the number one place in Tampere to buy your rubber duck.
The next place we tried was La Mamma, located in the shopping centre Koskikeskus. This Italian style restaurant seems to be also run by Turks, but what was a very refreshing change was the menu, which contained only one food with kebab meat. The pasta did cost 6,5 euros and a steak 7,5 - the portions were so huge they would fill your tummy for the whole day - but there is the danger of becoming over filled. The food was of a standard gasoline-station level - the steak was dry and the salad was barely defrozen - but still the restaurant was truly bang for the buck. And the coke was 2 euros of 0,5 liters - I guess that is almost cheaper than in a shop.
Then, it was time to test real Italian food - we went to Pizzeria Napoli. Napoli is one of the oldest pizzerias in Tampere and boasts a menu with 100+ pizzas. It was terribly popular during the lunch time, but we managed to catch the last free table. For 7,5 euros, one could choose from pizza or pasta meal, which did include a rather standard salad table known from any kebab pizzeria, a free drink (milk, water or soda water) and a cup of coffee or tea. The food was fine, although the pasta was significantly smaller than the previous one - which also included free water and salad buffet.
Then it was time for something more extreme - we fetched from Kebab Pizzeria Koikkari (located 2 kms from the centre) the largest pizza of the town. This 30 euro and 70 cm monster was more than enough for a group of 6. It was the usual, freaking greasy Turkish style pizza, but really worth to see. It kept me wondering, how it could fit a pizza oven.
The last restaurant was a bit more classy than the previous ones. In Tampere, there operates a local brewery Koskipanimo, which operates a brewery restaurant called Plevna. Not only does the brewery offer the best stout and wheat beer in the country, the food is rather good too. The German style restaurant offers some quite traditional Finnish foods, but there is certain hint of Teutons in it, offering a rather good selection of German sausages. The food is above average in quality, and it is mostly stewed in beer.
But eating only fills your stomach, one needs also food for the soul and the brain. That is, beer and coffee. For beer, the most recommendable place of the whole town is Oluthuone, which quite simply is also the best. This traditional looking bar, offering mostly Koskipanimo's products and having its very own lager too, is open every day from 12 to 02.
Another quite fine place is Hemingway's Pub, located close to Tuomiokirkko. The small and cozy restaurant perhaps does not have such a selection to offer, nor is it the cheapest pub in Tampere, but the people there are perhaps a bit more classy than in the Finnish style drinkers (there must be an equivalent for a diner, I'll call it a drinker) Ale Pub and Ale Bar. Those two are the places to go, if you fancy the cheap pint and the company that also fancies to drink it cheap. But back to Hemingway's: it offers surprisingly good coffee, if it is fresh at the moment.
Then, closeby, there are two other famous cafes, of which other is recommendable. Vohvelikahvila is a cafe famous of its waffles. They cost from 4-7 euros a piece and are usually topped with spray-cream. The coffee was perhaps organic, but one never can truly tell on a cup made with an automat. Avoid, unless you want to go there for the athmossphere. Instead, I recommend Satukahvila, Fairytale Cafe, located almost next door. Here the coffee actually is good, although in comparison to Hemingway's it is nothing that special. Still, the rather nicely decorated cafe looks unique: the ceiling is breaking, windows look like from 1960's and it is fille - totally filled - with paintings.


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