Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Travel plans

I have now bought my tickets to Finland. At first I thought of avoiding the volcano by travelling overland: this would have involved 5 trains and 1 boat and taken 3 days - trains from Bristol to London/Brussels/Cologne/Copenhagen/Stockholm and then boat to Turku and 1 or 2 trains to Seinäjoki. All this would have cost at least £500 and there would be plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. There are other routes but they all take longer and are not available every day. Actually taking a week for the whole journey and stopping off at the various cities on the way would be very pleasant but of course very expensive and I could hardly expect anyone to look after my cat for that length of time.

At length I decided to travel SAS from London to Helsinki. Not from Bristol: that would mean changing at Amsterdam or Paris and doubling the chances of a flight being cancelled. Ryanair is no longer cheap - Stanstead to Tampere costs £115 (plus extras for checking in, luggage in hold etc) as compared with £160 for SAS. Furthermore by the time you have cleared immigration, collected your luggage, and got the bus into Tampere it is nearly midnight. There is just about time for a shower and change in the Omena hotel and to dash over the road for the last hour at the Hämeensilta, but the people who have to get up in the morning are leaving by then, and those who don't may very well be drunk.

Bryan Adams is giving a concert in Tampere tonight(26 May). I won't be going, but at least two celebrities will be: Mira Kunnasluoto and Saija Tuupanen. I know this because they have said so on Facebook. I have a new Facebook friend: Päivä Nieminen, Finland's last Humppa Queen. I know there was once a Humppamarkkinat on the lines of the Tangomarkkinat, but I can't find anything about it, even on Finnish Wikipedia. In fact, I can't even find my original source for thinking that the Humppamarkkinat ever existed. But I have bought Päivi Nieminen's CD, Solenzara, which is well worth seeking out, and not only for the picture of the gorgeously blonde Päivi. There are humppas of course, and waltzes, and a very different version of the classic tango Rose of Kotka. A far cry from Arja Saijonmaa's anguished heartfelt version with Rose weeping softly into her kossuvissi, this Rose struts up and down Kotka harbourside challenging the sailors. One of the humppas is called Seven Kisses. Päivi is a lot more restrained than Kaija Pohjola, who once offered us Eleven Million Red Hot Kisses.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Tangomarkkinat preview

Never mind all that political stuff filling the papers - here is something important. The programme for the 2010 Tangomarkkinat has been released. It will be held from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th July. Highlights: Kaija Pohjola and Marita Taavistainen on Thursday; Arja Koriseva, Johanna Pakonen, and Jari Sillanpää on Friday; Eino Grön and Johanna Debreczeni on Saturday; Maestro Lundberg and Kaija Lustila most days. Plus lots of others. The only problem is: will the volcano allow flights then? Should I try to get to Finland by train?

I said last year that the Tangomarkkinat would be in two sections in 2010: one for Finnish tango and one for international. I now know that this is not quite right: The World Tango Summit will be held in Seinäjoki in July 2011. I do not know if this will be held at the same time as the Tangomarkkinat, instead of it, or at a different time. Look here and you will know as much as I do: