Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ya gotta love the EU!


Well, here we are in Estonia... and more specifically Tallinn. After a 8 hour bus trip where we had to do the russian ~dance like the peasant you are~ dance just one more time for customs. We had to get off the bus, get all our luggage, wait in a line for a stupid amount of time and then get stared at by a unfriendly border guard who stamps everything a zillion times and then throws your passport back at you. You put all you luggage (which they didnt even bloody check in any way) back on the bus and pass across to the estonian side. Here everything is much more civilised. They take your passport while you stay in your comy bus seat and they are back 10 mins later with everything done.. huzzah for the European Union! I knew i was back in the West when i heard Franz Ferdinand on the local radio station.

I officially love Tallinn. If i was a city and Tallinn was a single i would marry it. If you have been to or heard about the old town in Prague then you have some idea of what Tallinn is like. But Tallinn is better.. much better. To start with things are cheap here and you can actually stay in the heart of the old town and it wont cost you your immortal soul. It is a maze of winding cobbled streets and medieval walls. You can wander lost through the closes and cloisters and come across the most fantastic hole in the wall shops lined with amber or linen or even ironmongery. If you like Prague then come to Tallinn. The Old town is much better, imo. The new town areas of Tallinn are like any european city. But you can go see a movie for as little as 2.50 AUD! They still use the Kroon here (1AUD - 9 Kroon also called the EEK.. which is funny to use when the price of something is really high... EEK! Though i am sure the locals dont find it quite as amusing as i did) When the Euro is introduced next year I am sure prices will go up but at the moment it is a sensibly priced part of europe. People speak english better than I do and SMILE! In fact i think estonians are one of the most attractive people i have ever seen. They were originally nordic people that came and bred with the local tribes. Over the years they have added many other ethnic strains to create a very easy on the eye people.

Poor bloody Estonia... They are one of those counties, like Hungary, that has been conquered by everyone and never really had a chance to go it alone. They have been controlled by Sweden, Finland, Germany and Russia. They finally gain their independence in 1918 but it lasts for a bout 6 seconds because the WW2 happens and estonia become the kicking ground for Germany V Russia. Then the russians take over and try to crush estonian culture by bulldozing cemetaries and inviting russians to coem live cheapily in the newly conquered territory and such like.. you know.. basic bastard behaviour. But now, since 1991, the Estonians finally are independent (after the wonderful Singing Revolution) and ready to enter the world. I have a soft spot for these people. They have free education (and this means that they have a huge percentage of very well educated citizens with useful skills that want to work and make money and therefore taxes... ARE YOU LISTENING JOHNNY?... FREE EDUCATION GOOD.. BEING A TWAT, BAD!) and most of the younger generations can speak many languages. They have joined the EU with gusto and want to promote themselves as the culture capital of europe in 2011 (and if Glasgow can win that title then anybody can.. sorry to all the weegies reading this!). Their economy is growing steadily and they are a bright optomistic people. Righto... enough of the suck~up~to~Estonia blog ;) We went aboard a 1930 Estonian submarine called Lembert. I used to work with a Latvian lady named Maija. Her husband is called Lembert and I do believe he is estonian.. maybe he is named after this submarine. If anyone from work can tell me the answer i would be interested.

You know you are back in Europe when you see walking and bike tours being advertised everywhere. Girlclumsy and i have done both already. We especially loved the bike tour with authentic (read crappy) soviet era bikes. We peddled hither and yon as our bikes slowly disintegrated beneath us. I lost a peddle and the handle bars nearly fell off! But we did see parts of Tallinn we would never have every found on our own.

This is one of those places you really can just wander. You always find something odd around each corner whether it is Kiek in the Kok (Kick in the what? how rude! oh.. it means Peek in the Kitchen) or Fat Margarets Tower. We have had dinner twice in a local Pub called Hell Hunt. Great Pub atmosphere and I have been reliably informed that picking up of attractive locals or fellow travellers is exceptionally easy.... but i might have to wait for girlclumsy to go to sleep before i test that theory.. all in the name of science... of course.

Tomorrow we are off in a hire car to whizz around Estonia and Latvia.

Peter Brock gone as well... i dont know.. you leave the country for a month and the whole bloody place goes to pot! Best of luck to you all in queensland.. voting is important! Girlclumsy and I tried our best to vote but without having a stable address it is bloody hard! We even visited the Honourary Consul in St Petersburg! Dont fine us Mr Voting~Leader~Guy!

Also, my dad has a travel blog as well ~ Travels of an Ancient Man ~ not much there yet but i am sure he will be adding his more vintage form of cyber-craziness in the future.

Head Aega!


Anonymous said...

Tere Greg,
Yes, Lembit is Estonian. It is a common name there. So is Liiv, it means 'sand'. I'm glad you like Tallinn. We stayed with family there and loved it. Also went to Viljandi (inland) and Haapsalu and Parnu (on the coast) on the way to and from Latvia.
I hope you get to hear about the Liv (Liiv-Livonian) people who, in the olden days, controlled the coastal area between Estonia and Latvia and even had their own language and customs. Nice to have your own people.
Hope the weather is being kind. Autumn there can get a bit chilly. I have only been there in spring and summer.
We last travelled there in 1993. not long after independence. I'm glad the peolple are learning to smile more after all the Russian years. Estonia has the advantage of a smaller leftover Russian population than Latvia.
Nagemiseni! (See you later!)
Drive carefully.

RowAl said...

My such anoutpouring of bile...
seems like you have been saving it up all across Mother Russia because the large hatted non smiling gentlemen(?) of customs persuasion have been hassling
Estonia sounds like another pplace to be added to the (ever growing) must see list
Anyway, enjoy but stay away from those pubs used for sientific research

Anonymous said...

scientific research apeals to me NOW will go to Tallinn one day
Nagemiseni silvy

Anonymous said...

Tallinn is so lovely, I am glad you liked it! One of my brightest memories of it is meandering along tiny cobblestone alleyways, and bumping into a film crew who were making a sequel to the Soviet "3 musketeers" movie. Imagine a medieval alleyway and a guy in full musketeer costume charging past on a magnificent stallion. (and nastily swearing because we spoiled the take :) ). And Matins at the old cathedral - Gothic soaring ceilings, faded standards on the walls, quiet monks and slow Latin chanting. Like a faerie tale. - Daria