05 October 2010

Oulu Tidbits- II

Finnish people eat the 2nd most ice-cream in the world…2nd only to the Americans. The latest average is 18 ltrs per person!

The people of Oulu also read a lot! The average is 23.4 books per person. They have a wonderful City library and there is this very interesting anecdote about it. There was this lady who wanted to loan some music but couldn't remember the name of the album, so she sang the song on the phone, and they were able to provide her with the CD. So you can get service by singing at this library!

Romeo and JulietOulu has a FACEBOOK page!

The worlds Northernmost Pyramids are in Oulu – Romeo and Juliet, the 2 greenhouses at the Oulu University Botanical Gardens!

There is a 300 year old Pine tree in Oulu. This was used by the sailors to navigate when arriving in Oulu. The farmer on whose land this tree grew was a smart fellow. He threatened to chop off the tree unless he was paid 2 sacks of salt  by the sailors…hence it is now called the Salt Pine Tree.

From Fortress to CafeOulu boasts the longest land bridge in Finland. Just step out of my flat and look right and one could admire the Swan bridge…so called because the street lights are in the form of Swans.

Not to miss…Castle of Oulu- from Fortress to Cafe! Bit surprising since its such a young country…and one associates castles with ancient and medieval times…but Oulu has it all, I guess:-) 
Built in 1590 and destroyed by lightning in 1793. The lightning set the wooden parts of the store cellar where the weapons were kept on fire.  The fire reached the powder magazine and  there was an explosion that destroyed the building and caused what is called the Big Bang of Oulu – it is said that the blocks of stones were thrown to the town and in many houses the windows shattered!  The old observation tower built in 1875 for teaching astronomy now serves as a summertime café.

Fish Passage Central Park in New York, Hyde Park in London…was Oulu to be left behind. Hupisaaret with the Ainola park competes with the best in the world. It’s got beautiful natural scenery, a summer theatre, a large playground and the longest fish passage in Finland. When I went to Hupisaaret for the 1st time, I didn't know it was a fish passage, I thought it is just some nice landscaping. Later I was told that the Salmons travel upwards on these steps to spore here. Its amazing how they can swim uphill…i would think it is more like jumping or flying!

Merikoski  Fountains And of course the Merikoski fountains in Hupisaaret – a very popular concept seen in Oulu. Having water fountains in the middle of the water bodies.

Nallikari island– oft visited by me in Winter and Summer was actually 4 islands that merged into one due to the 8mm uplift of land every year.

My 2nd weekend in Oulu I went to Tietoma. Close it it I saw this big building which said Oulun Vankila. I wondered what it was, I even got a snap of the place….was quite tempted to go in and check it out but was tired. Thank god I didn’t, as couple of months later I realized Vankila is Prison!!!

Oulu has its wee bit share of scandal. Sara Wacklin was very popular writer in Oulu, who began her career as a teacher. She founded 4 schools for girls in Oulu, Turku and Helsinki. Unfortunately both the ones in Oulu burned down!
She wrote a popular book, A Hundred Memories of Ostrobothnia, with ironic and sarcastic stories from the area during the Finnish war of 1808-1809. These stories had make believe characters, but the way she wrote them, one could easily point them to real people of those times causing quite a furore at that time.

Am trying to get hold of a copy of this book but cant. Its on my list of Must Reads!

As I have described Oulu above, would you be able to imagine that till the road network was built in Finland (in 1800s), it was possible to reach Oulu only via sea in Summer. No access in Winters!

When I started out on the 1st post, I never imagined that I would write so much…after all Oulu is a small city (head count only 2,20,000)…albeit a mesmeric and intoxicating one. I never thought that I would miss Oulu, but I do. Like I often say…cold, cold city, warm, warm people!

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