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Turku - Tallinna 2011

Former capital of Finland, Turku (pronounced tourkou ) is a medium sized city located at the mouth of the river Aura, about 150km west of Helsinki. Famous in the Nordic countries, especially since the great fire that ravaged in September 1827, the city founded in the thirteenth century, the oldest in the country, is virtually unknown in our latitudes. Their selection as European Capital of Culture should help fill this gap.

  Image: location map for Turku and Tallinn.


Quiet town with wide sidewalks, Turku stretches lazily from both sides of the river running through it. The fire of 1827, which made ​​few victims, has certainly eliminated many of the earlier buildings but allowed the Germano-Finnish architect Carl Ludwig Engel to rethink the layout of the streets and to launch a reconstruction the elegant neo-classical style then in vogue. The following times have added their own style but without altering the original plan. And Jugendstil (name of Germanic Art Nouveau), does it remain wise, as well as modern architectural achievements ( Alvar Aalto ) or contemporary.

  Image: central Turku.

The sense of space that emerges from the city center, with its wide track and its beautiful buildings, extends on a river, where a long walk you will reach the end of the harbor, the medieval fortress (inaccessible) and the ferry terminal (the Swedish Stockholm is just a few hours of sailing). The stunning collection of boats from the Maritime Museum is discovered only when the outside is in a wheelchair but this view is broadly rewarding one! Inside the museum does, however, no difficulty of access. Food available on site, parking, restrooms. Until the end of August, the giant daisy Daisy , work of local artists, punctuates the landscape in its own way. Other recreational facilities also can be discovered in the city, randomly rambles: contemporary art without the fuss!

Image: Daisy Dasy to the Maritime Museum of Turku.

  Image: ships at anchor in front of the Maritime Museum of Turku.

Like other European capitals of culture, Turku has the opportunity to renovate public buildings and roads, improving accessibility and ushering in a new cultural shift called Logomo , near the city center, near station. This former railway repair shop, accessible on one level, presents several exhibitions, including the variety is puzzling, if not perplexed: it goes interactive football ("Only a game?") Sponsored by UEFA, the very conceptual "Alice in Wonderland "(installation combining photography and vaguely disturbing collection of objects) through the playful" Fire! Fire! " dedicated to fire in all its forms (kids love) to get lost in gay erotica with Tom of Finland , native son disappeared in 1991 (children should stay out) ... Other exhibitions and events (including performances) will follow one another throughout, and after, Turku 2011, but the must of the place, here to stay, stay ... the cafeteria, surprising environment of black lines on white background where one hardly dares to enter but offers a visual experience and taste totally unique! Easy parking, adapted toilets.

  Image: Logomo cafeteria.

Turku 2011 also involves disabled people in a series of events, including several mounted by the association Treshold , Bridge Builders : the festival of disability movie took place in April, the festival of dance in May, the festival remains Taika scheduled on December 3 at the European Day of Disabled Persons, and for the closing events of Turku in 2011. Meanwhile, the graphic designer David Stevens joined by flutist Simon Desorgher proposed, August 3, children with disabilities, creating a colorful world through the " Colourscape ". And in November, the play Yhteys testify to the cultural proximity of Turku and Tallinn: Estonian written by playwright Martin Algus will explore how a completely paralyzed teenager communicates with the outside world using the most advanced technology, questioning the public the meaning of life. Regarding the general accessibility , the timing of the website provides information about the different adaptations: three events are advertised with sign language interpreter (Finnish), two with audio description. Logomo assistants help to disabled visitors with reservation.

  Picture: Exposure 'Fire!  Fire! '  at Logomo.
Picture: Exposure 'Only a game?'  at Logomo.

Convenience, Turku lacks neither hotels nor restaurants accessible, and several taxi companies have adapted vehicles fitted with ramp. The cost of living, lower than Helsinki, remains high by French standards (about 30% more). In season, also a sun that is slow to lie down, the climate is pleasant and the people who love to party, prove a good humor! English is widely spoken. To get there, unless you arrive by boat, passing by the capital required: an air shuttle between the two cities but can also take the train (accessible by walk-gap filler): this is cheaper, larger side though Spartan comfort, and announcements in Finnish and English, are shown on screen. Washrooms. Count 40 minutes travel by plane, two hours by train. And in Tallinn ... Two hours is the duration of the voyage Helsinki-Tallinn in speedboat (globally accessible and comfortable). The arrival in Tallinn since the sea is a real postcard of steeples, bulbs, towers and fortifications ...

  Image: mural in the center of Turku.

The ancient Hanseatic city has changed little from what we wrote in April 2009 , except for the transformation of the industrial wasteland of the neighborhood Rotermann in office buildings, shopping "trend" and leisure activities. The recent introduction of the euro can appreciate a quality / price ratio rather favorable, especially compared to Finland. Three times the population of Turku, Tallinn is also infinitely more tourism, which is not without some problems, especially when cruise ships disembark their passengers clusters: guaranteed packed crowd in the old center!

  Image: Tallinn panorama from the ferry terminal.

On the occasion of Tallinn in 2011, the cruise terminal was connected to the port district (but strangely not in downtown) by a "cultural kilometers" with so-called alternative crops: plant in a former barracks and warehouses, frescoes wall, etc.., all in an atmosphere of post-Soviet decay rather sinister. What a contrast with the floral festival that has spanned three years, in July-August, the ramparts, or the beautiful long promenade along the sea towards the district of Pirita ! You can borrow some of that real balcony on the Baltic to visit the district of Kadriorg , where the palace of Tsar Peter I (Removable ramps accessible: ask the guards) sits majestically in the midst of tall trees. A little further up the park, the Kumu Museum of modern and contemporary art perfectly accessible, dedicated to the end of September an exciting exposure to new technologies, " Gateways ", so that questions sometimes disturbing our report Internet: where we (re) discovers that privacy does not weigh very heavy face of new information technologies ...

  Image: Entrance of Kumu in Tallinn.

In downtown, the transaction European city of culture is more discreet, but the overall accessibility has improved, at least for people with motor disabilities (although the road remains steep and paved). Thus, the fascinating Museum of History of Estonia, located in the former home of the Great Guild, he was completely refurbished, with one of the most contemporary museum including the latest multimedia technologies. Medieval building requires, wheelchair access is via scalamobil (make sure in advance from the battery of the guardians of the craft have been charged!), Removable ramps and surprising lift in a minimalist space. Cartels in English, (sumptuous) washrooms in basement. Regarding the recent history, including the Soviet period, the Museum of Occupations , accessible walk-in, offers audio guides in French: as austere as the periods it presents, but really interesting. Do not miss, in the basement (elevator), right next to ... toilet (adapted) fragments of monumental statues rescued from this troubled time.

  Picture History Museum of Estonia.
Image: Museum of Occupations.

Nearby, the Liberty Square ( Vabaduse väljak in Estonian) has been completely redesigned, with the erection of a severe Victory Column honoring Estonians who fell during the War of Independence ( 1918-1920 ). The esplanade, very mineral, is lined with lively terraces in season, frequented mainly by Tallinnois. It opens to the old city and, opposite, on a small complex underground to pass under the boulevard and including a science center, parking very design highlighting the remains of ancient walls, and some shops. The science center Ahhaa (sic) is for families: it is smaller, a local equivalent of the Cité des Sciences de la Villette. Space "Dialogue in the Dark" was installed during 2011 in Tallinn, single event related to disability: accompanied by a blind visitors provided with adequate white canes find, in complete darkness, a succession of environments and situations before holding talks with their guide in the "coffee in the dark" which closes the path. The concept, structure carried by a German , is especially true for the last part, which allows you to link knowledge (in English) with disabilities and Estonians to better understand their daily lives. This is also the culture ... Jacques Vernes, August 2011.

  Image: Freedom Square in Tallinn.


On the Web, the site of Turku in 2011 has all the events related to the European city of culture, including a timetable taking into account the disability criteria. The general site Turku Touring has meanwhile (in English) the city and the activities that you can practice, but its use is quite difficult. Better to consult the French Site Visit Finland by entering, for example, the criterion "disability" in the search engine. See also sites specialized for All Travel (in French) and Finland for All (English), whose data, verified and tested, are quite reliable. Estonian side, the official website Tallinn Tourism has finally put the French and affordability (verified) presented different places is indicated by symbol. The site Tallinn 2011 , however, speaks several languages ​​... but not French, and its use is not the most convenient, so the calendar says it does nothing in terms of accessibility: a pity, especially as access "chair" of events has been checked by an expert! For more specific questions relating to disability, please contact the local association very active.


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