Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tallinn, Estonia

Our tour guide’s name was Aino, pronounced I-know. Well, had a giddy group we were doing the old routine of “What’s the tour guide’s name”, answer, “I know.” “I know YOU know but I want to know. What’s the tour guide’s name?” I’m telling you, we were a wild and crazy bunch!

Estonia was a surprise to us because it turned out to be one of our favorite places. The people seemed happy and the scenery was beautiful. There were so many green parks, trees, flowers, lush green grass. Things I expected from a place that has so much rain.One of the strangest and ugliest trees was the horse chestnut. The fruit is poison and the tree looks like it has cancerous growths all over it. There was a beauty in that ugly tree though. I know Mom has talked about horse chestnut trees before and we have them (at least in Tennessee), but I had never seen anything like these trees.
There are 22 churches and 22 libraries in Tallinn.
We were told that they were spiritual readers.  Our guide took us to her church (Lutheran) and it has the largest display of coat of arms carved in wood in the world.
In town if there is a green and yellow flag on a building, which means it’s a meeting building. So, if you are alone or just want to talk or hang out you go to that building with a flag. She said that older people often take advantage of it because it provides them with company and conversation and just a place to go to get out of the house a while. I just love that whole concept and think we could all use meeting buildings in our cities.

Estonia used to be a part of Russia but now they are proud of the fact that they are a member of NATO and they are free. Russian KGB processing building was in Estonia where Russia’s prisoners were processed and sent to Siberia. 60,000 Estonians were deported and that left only 1/3 of the population.

We saw remnants of the wall of defense and a moat around the city of Tallinn. The moat freezes in winter and the children of Tallinn ice skate there now.

There were Russian style buildings all around and not so attractive Russian houses built but most of the houses and places we saw were quaint and charming looking. I felt like I was in a medieval set.

Soccer is huge there and they are proud of their team. Their arch rival is Sweden and they say that Estonia is the BEST team but Sweden has the most LUCK. LOL

Every five years they have a huge singing festival. This tradition sprang from their Song Revolution. In 1988 the Estonians amassed 300,000 people to a singing revolution there in Tallinn. They sang national songs and sang the songs they were not permitted to sing under Soviet Rule. That revolution was called “The Song of Estonia”. Every five years they have that huge singing festival and they were gearing up for it while we were there. The guide said that you can hear a hum over all of Estonia when the song festival begins. Aino said “we are a singing nation, going along the roads singing whatever we want to sing. We weren’t permitted to sing for so long and that is our independence celebration.” She also said they are a nation of off key singers because everyone likes to sing. When the Song Festival begins, they carry a torch on horseback and carry it to the town hall and brought to a stage for the beginning of the festival. She said when famous people loose their voices, they come to Estonia. LOL I felt honored to be at the Tallinn Song Festival Arena where that revolution took place.
Estonians retire at 63 and they want to change it to 65 or 67 but she said these people were brought up in the war and revolutions and their health is not good like the children growing up now. Sixty five is a long life when you are brought up in war and the poverty and restrictions.


Bill said...

Great post. Enjoyed the repeat

Janet said...

Hi Judy, Looks like a wonderful trip! You look great, relaxed, and I can tell you were thoroughly enjoying all your sight seeing. Welcome Home!