Monday, June 16, 2014

Baltic Cruise: Tallinn, Part 1

So today is the first day our packers are supposed to be here to really start the move-out process.  Lee and I got up early this morning just in case they got here early at like 7:30...they didn't.  And now it's after 9:00.  So for the last couple hours or so I've been sitting on the floor of the former computer room, uploading our Baltic cruise pictures into draft blog posts so that I can still share those even when our stuff gets packed up.  After all, we'll still have the iPad and laptop with us even after this computer is boxed up.

Anyway, after a very cold and somewhat disappointing stop in Germany, our next port was Tallinn, Estonia.  A friend of mine who did a Baltic cruise last year (I can't remember which one it was, actually) recommended that we look up the free walking tour of Tallinn, so we did, and even with a tour group of about 60 people, it was awesome.  That made Tallinn one of our favorite ports.


The tour started at noon, so we had plenty of time to wander around a bit on our own before it started.  Here's Lee at the city gate.


Isn't this cute?  I like it.  Not sure what it's supposed to be, but I think it would be a super-cute front door for a house...


One of the towers on the city walls.


Sometimes it's really difficult to get a picture of tall buildings...most cities in Europe are built so that you can't really get far enough back to take a picture with the entire tall building in a single frame because the neighboring buildings are too close to it.  But this was tall.


More city walls.  They didn't help much; Estonia has been conquered and subjugated for much more of its history than it's been an independent nation.


Just a cool-looking building we passed.


And a clock on the side of another super-tall church.  I took pictures of the church but they weren't like superfantastic or anything, but I do like the clock.


I like truth in advertising.  How about a "decent bowl of elk soup"?


The other sign for this restaurant...tavern...eatery.  We didn't go in.  It's in the 13th-century Town Hall building.  Imagine, that building is over 600 years old!


Here's a glimpse of some blue sky!  It clouded back over and sprinkled on us in the course of the tour but it was nice to get even a few minutes of blue.


This is a monument to commemorate those who died in the Estonian war of independence, and our hysterically funny tour guide Heli had a lot to say about it.  It was built by a Czech company for the low, low price (haha) of just under 7 million euros, and it's made out of materials that are supposedly built to withstand a nuclear blast.  Except that with Tallinn's humid climate and cold winters, the glass plates occasionally fall off.  It lights up at night from the inside, but that doesn't work so great either and is constantly being repaired and it's only 5 years old.  Heli said that it was so expensive partly because of corruption, and has the nuclear-grade materials because the guys on the planning committee just thought it sounded cool ("It'll withstand a nuclear blast?  Let's do THAT!").  The sad thing is that they recently had a giant celebration because this is the longest time period that Estonia has been an independent nation since, like, the dawn of time...23 years.  They've spent a lot more time under the rule of Russia, Germany, Denmark I think, Sweden, Poland...I mean, it's a little sad that you got beat by Poland, who was like the weakest link in Europe before either World War.  I think there was one more conqueror in there too but I can't remember the sixth one.


There's Heli, our trusty tour guide.  She's a student at the university in Tallinn, and her English is very, very good.  She had us all try to say the words inscribed there behind her, and then explained about the O with the squiggle over it...there's only a handful of languages with that character, and they all pronounce it differently.  So in Estonian, an O with a squiggle sounds like the noise Jafar and Iago make when they're talking about the possibility of getting executed for their crimes.

So anyway, Estonia declared independence in 1918 and were able to get away with it for a while because Russia was busy with their own revolution and civil war and then there was that whole World War I thing happening.  They were independent for 22 years before Hitler and Stalin decided to take over again, which is why the big celebration last year when they passed that 22-year mark of independence.  Heli told us very briefly about all the wars and different overlords and such and then commented, "I'm not really sure what kept people going during all of that.  I think it's sarcasm."  She told us up front that Estonian humor is very, very dark, so if she jokes about stealing your liver and selling it on the black market, it's all okay!

Dude, I kind of loved her.  I want a Heli clone for every tour we ever go on for the rest of our lives.  More from Tallinn next time, peeps.  Peace out!

1 comment:

CCsMom said...

So glad you had a great time. Looks amazing!