The Baltic -- Estonia Part 2
I note from the instructions on the door of our hotel room that
the company has “the right to sak the tenants” if they make too
much noise. Dont you just love foreign English!
Tallin clearly has the look of a remodeled city. There is the
old city centre, roughly bounded by remnants of the old city
walls. There are buildings dating back to the fourteenth
century, large chunks of renovated defense walls, and several
There are also modern additions, and one area of the city is
rife with cranes. On top of the hill is Alexander Nevsky church
with its onion domes.
Down in the city itself are churches with ridiculously high
steeples, made higher by extra features built in to emphasise
the message: Somewhere up there is salvation. I assume the
towers and spires are pointing the way.
I was reminded of a remark by Lawrence Durrell, that God must
get fed up looking down at all those fingers pointing up at him.
Although these days I suspect God has moved house, while space
craft have moved into his old home.
The devout still light their candles and go through their
curious rituals. The rest of us gawp, and then repair to the
nearest cafe. Across the street someone is going through the
trash bins, collecting bottles, presumably to get some pennies
on returns, or simply recycling. I was too lazy to get up and
ask, but later I found a woman collecting cans, which she
stamped on to flatten, and added them to her big black bag.
Clearly there is money in recycling here.
The main square is ringed by restaurants selling mostly
over-priced meals, and boasting medieval feasts. Specialities
are elk soup, smoked beaver, and bear steaks. This evening I
tried the beaver. It looked and tasted like ham, only with less
flavour. You haven’t missed anything.
I hear there are wild bears in the forests, and there is a
licensing system in place. There is a maximum cull of thirty
bears a year, and that provides those restaurants who have the
relevant license to add the meat to their menu.
The roofs of the buildings are steep, presumably to encourage
the snow to slide off. That means they are substantial, and
clearly the rain is too. The downpipes are built to carry a
Everywhere are groups of girls mainly dressed in black, with one
dressed in pink or white and carrying balloons. There is a
custom here of pre-marriage festivities, and the tourist trade
in hen and stag nights is well established with shops
specialising in hiring or selling outrageous gear, mainly for
If the evening’s spectacle was anything to go by, tomorrow is
going to be busy for the churches. There must have been at least
a dozen groups of girls flanking a bride-to-be.
I ought to be paying attention to the property market, although
I can’t imagine this place will appeal to most people. There is
a solid base of English speakers. Apparently Russian was the
second language until the break-up of the old Soviet Republics,
and the general view of Russia is not sympathetic. Generally,
folks seem to be glad to be rid of what was seen as a ghastly
repression. With Russian out of the way, English has become the
second language, and folks are keen to practice.
The countryside is generally rather boring. The country is as
flat as a pancake, and covered in forests of pine. Where there
are no trees, there are fields of cows. The coast is interesting
with a few islands. If you like the countryside and wildlife
this is a great place to wander about in peace during the
summer. However, there is a lot of rain about, and winter is
As we wend our way south we pass lots of country properties like
sheds and barns, many of them derelict. Clearly there is a
market for renovating these properties. Every so often along the
highway we pass a tiny pit-stop, just a small room with a
curving driveway off the highway. Outside the capital city
things are on a small scale, except for the forests.
< < < Part 1