We were not expected to get off the ship until 11:30, so we leisurely got up and found breakfast before meeting our tour group. Today’s objective: exploring Tallinn, the capital of Estonia situated 540 nautical miles from Warnemunde. The whole country has a population of 1.2 million, so Tallinn is a small, quaint, charming, low to the ground capital city. The buildings in the old areas of town are painted dark pastels and are well maintained. Estonia used to be part of Russia back in the days of Peter the Great, so some of the beautiful buildings and gardens are remnants of his enthusiasm for lavish construction projects.
The tour guide explained that Estonia, formerly behind the Iron Curtain, has had its struggles finding its way in the years since 1991 but is holding its own. Public transportation is free for all citizens; there is a minimum monthly wage of 470€, although most citizens earn around 1,000€. This does not support a lavish lifestyle but being out from under communism has lots of advantages, so no complaints. The guide went on to talk about the 1980’s Olympics and the fact that some water events took place in Tallinn. Funny turn of events: some countries boycotted the games that year, the U.S. included, due to political unrest, but this was all last minute and Tallinn had already made all sorts of infrastructure improvements in preparation to host large groups of athletes and spectators. The large numbers did not show but the citizens of Tallinn continue to enjoy all the improvements. Two interesting water facts: the salinity of the sea water in Tallinn is so low it is actually drinkable, and there is no tide. All water level fluctuations are due to wind. Who knew?
The temperature was in the mid-40s with a nice breeze and intermittent sun. In a word I was cold whenever we left the bus and I had a hat, light weight gloves, and four layers under my medium weight jacket. Imagine our surprise when we saw not one but two guys in speedos sunning themselves. Brrrrrrrr!
We had the chance to light two candles for Aunt Jerry, one at Saint Mary’s Cathedral and one at Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral. We took it upon ourselves to bend the rules a bit for the second one since photos were not allowed and we chronicle all of our good deeds. It’s interesting how brave we get when we do not speak the language and say, when pressed, that a) we are sorry and b) we are Canadian.
Once we toured the historical side of town, heard about all the reconstruction necessary after the devastation of World War II, and learned about Saint Brigitta, we drove through a single family residential district where a minority of the residents live and then by not-too-attractive high rises the majority call home. We drove passed a beautiful cemetery built, per custom, in the forest. The headstones are dwarfed by the tall trees. Fun fact: the guide explained that the forest cemeteries have inadvertently become bird sanctuaries.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the interesting things we saw. Our day was topped off with a fabulous lobster dinner with the rest of our group and entertainment in the theater. Hettie surprised Cleone and me with beautiful scarves she had knit. Let’s recap: we brought her Hungarian paprika, Cleone brought her Kleenex packs from the U.K., and she knit us each a scarf. Sounds fair to me.
4 thoughts on “Estonia (May 11, 2017)”
Great blog Schele…sweet about the scarfs!
What another great day momma
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What an interesting day! Thank you for all the facts and the fun parts too!
A bit bittersweet about all the work for the olympics, but in the end the citizens benefited so that was the big plus.