I love watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations program on the Travel Channel. Secretly, I want to be him. Writing, traveling, drinking, and doing it all on camera, on someone else’s dime. Now that’s the life.
Tonight’s (14 May 12) excellent program takes place in Finland, mostly in Helsinki, the nation’s capital. I visited Helsinki in 1984 and thought it was an average city. I always made the joke that it was like visiting Baltimore (Md.), but all the signs were screwed-up since the Finnish language makes no sense.
No more. Helsinki, I believe, has made a wonderful and unique contribution to travel and enjoying life on Planet Earth: the Sporakoff beer tram.
Now I never rode this public transportation-turned-pub when I was in the city, since it only opened in 1995. But what a wonderful concept! Here is the Lonely Planet review on this novel idea. And here is what I like about it:
1) Using the public transportation system to make money. The Finnish beer company Koff is leasing this use of the city’s streetcar rails to run this restored vintage 1959 tram car. Visitors get to be taken around the city in comfort and in a conveyance that would ordinarily be overlooked as another plain streetcar ride. And the city of Helsinki gets paid, always a good thing in tight budgets.
The city ran this pub tram for 17 years until a Finnish entrepreneur decided to do it one better. And thankfully, the city listened and gave control of this novel tourist/fun idea to this private company.
2) Traveling around the city, getting a sightseeing tour while enjoying a beer. Think about the advantages: no drunk driving, the ride is only 8 Euros, and you get to see the city while getting a little tipsy. It’s a booze tour bus, but better. I mean, you can ride it again and again!
3) Just what a great idea. I mean, really, there are so many ideas out there that just do not have any redeeming value whatsoever, like most of the crap we produce here in Washington. But if someday Washington, D.C., gets an extensive streetcar system, we should do the same thing here. Beer, streetcars, sightseeing, a unique way to enjoy a city: a pub tram. What could be better?
The Sporakoff Beer Tram. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a Great Idea. Well done, sirs!