Monday, 20 February 2012

Kuopio: Kauppakatu street

Lake Kallavesi at Kuopio is beautifully and definitely frozen. To prove that, quite a few people are out there, skating or skiing on the lake as I leave the harbour area and start walking towards the market place.
On Kauppakatu street, I stop to look at the wonderful photo postcards displayed at a bookshop window. Wow! Have to get some of those! The bookshop, Rosebud, is fairly new in town but when I’ve stepped inside with care (Varo askelmaa - Watch your step!) I feel already at home. There’s a coffee maker at one corner, a good selection of new and second hand books (mostly in Finnish but some second hand ones in English as well) and the music comes from a real record player behind the counter. Plus you can find the best Kuopio postcards by photographer Jukka Gröndahl right here. Welcome to Kuopio, Rosebud!
Kuopio Museum further up on the same street is a delightful jugend style building. Unfortunately museums are not on my agenda today, maybe next time!
I enter the Snellman Park next to Kuopio Cathedral. Is the green net tent a work of art that’s perhaps illuminated in the evening? Apparently not, it is just sheltering some delicate trees from the hazards of snow.
Joh. Vilh. Snellman on the statue stands for Johan Vilhelm Snellman (1806-1881), a famous Finnish statesman, writer, and philosopher who, among other things, fought for Finnish language. Snellman lived in Kuopio for some years. He’s simply delicious in the snow hat and collar! Hommage à photographer Jukka Gröndahl who has captured the same statue with similar snowy decorations in his great postcards, for sale at Rosebud....
The door to Kuopio Cathedral happens to be open so I step in. It is Saturday but there are no wedding parties about, however, there’s music playing inside. Is there a concert at this hour? Hesitatingly, I enter the church but there is nobody there. Except for the organist who is evidently practising wedding music! I feel priviledged, getting a free private concert... The sound is absolutely fantastic.
Behind the pews of the cathedral, a solitary candle is burning, keeping company to a bible, a pen and some paper. I suppose if you’d want someone to pray for you, you could write it down right here. It is a beautiful thought. I leave the organist to practice more wedding music and return outside.
Kuopio market place is undergoing a major renovation, with a larger underground parking under construction beneath it. Goodbye to the old Fish Market (a later addition to the original Market Hall; the original part stays intact, luckily!)... A pedestrian bridge crosses the construction site and it is decorated by artist Markku-Jussi Komulainen . The artwork has been there for months and it’s nice to see it still in place: among others, lake landscapes and flowers that make you think about the slowly approaching summer! 
The Market Hall (Kauppahalli) is surrounded by the fences of the construction site but the hall is still open as usual. The Market Hall, a Jugend style building, has lovely decorations on its outer walls, mostly animal shapes. The frog that is guarding the eastern entrance is almost totally covered in snow.
The Market Hall in Kuopio is simply inviting. I take a deep breath - the fresh smells of organic rye bread, Carelian pasties and shrove buns (laskiaispulla, filled with whipped cream and jam, above) float in the air, and I can’t pass by the fish or meat stalls without getting something. Kauppakatu street (direct translation: Shop Street) is true to its name. I leave the Market Hall with bags full of local delicacies.

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