In Calgary, we don’t really have a “market square” – but I noticed in the Finnish cities I visited that these central meeting places are pretty common. Smaller central areas have one, while in Helsinki I passed a few. These open spaces are multi-purpose… meeting places, activity places, space for weekend and summertime markets, places to grab a bite to eat on the way home…
In Calgary we certainly have open spaces in the central core – there’s Shaw Millennium Park, a skateboard park maintained by the city, Olympic Plaza where there are regular concerts and cultural events, and Prince’s Island Park where large events like Canada Day and Shakespeare in the Park are held. There is Eau Claire Market close to the island, which started as an indoor marketplace with the promise of a Calgary-version of Vancouver’s Granville Island, but has evolved into a poorly filled shopping mall with only one very tiny grocery-style store.
Markets like the Kingsland Farmers Market, The Calgary Farmer’s Market, and the Crossroads Market are bustling, active places, but well out of the regular route for commuters coming home after work, and many have limited hours, opening only for weekends to share their delights. (Check out my fairly recent post about Big Catch, Pranzo Italiano, and Gluten-Free Foodgasm for more!) More disappointing, most of them aren’t even on major transit routes in car-loving Calgary.
How amazing would it be to have a Market Square in neighborhoods?
In Turku we were staying close to the central Market Square, which in the 1800’s was called the “New Square” in contrast to the Old Great Square which is located right across the street from the Turku Cathedral. (It’s now a lovely open park area where a medieval festival is held each June.)
Each weekday there is a lively market in the morning, filled with stands selling fruit and vegetables. There are also a few fast-food places with permanent stands – I think I counted 5 ice cream stands in total, along with a cafe and two hamburger places including the Finland Hessburger chain. There are proposed plans to change elements in the market, but for now the Market Square is also the central hub for transit connections and has many spots for taxis as well – making the Market Square area busy all day.
I found it utterly charming how many people were carrying shopping baskets in the Market Square. Some of them were wicker like the one above (carried by one of many, many, many, tall, impossibly blond shoppers) while others were modern folding versions made of fabric with aluminum frames. I had read before my visit that many shops in Finland were doing away with plastic bags, and that more and more places were charging for plastic bags to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags. Nice open baskets like these are wonderful for carrying fruit or flowers, or anything else that might get crushed when held in a regular shopping bag.
Along with fruit, vegetables, ice cream and other edibles, there were also numbers flower stands. My companion and I agreed that if we were staying longer at our hotel, we would pick up fresh flowers to brighten up and scent our room. How wonderful would it be to wander home after work and pick up fresh flowers once a week to fill your hall?
Midsummer in Turku
In my last post about midsummer in Naantali, I mentioned how Turku became a bit of a ghost town during the midsummer celebration.
Here’s a photo from Midsummer day just to illustrate my point….
Turku Market Square
Learn more about the Market Square at: http://www.visitturku.fi/en/turku-market-square_en