A few photos from Estonia- old country, new nation.

I have just spent four days in Estonia, my first time in this country.I went there as part of a school exchange and I had little free time and no choice over where I went. So this snapshot is just that- a few views of and on what I saw and heard.

My first glimpse of the coast followed by my first glimpse of Tallinn, old and new…

I had no real idea of what to expect when I landed. The only person I know who has been there was on a stag party and his recollections were, shall I say, vague…. Arriving at Tallinn airport I quickly realised that one particular myth- that every one speaks English- is just that. A myth. Not surprising of course; for many Estonians, Russian has been their second language. A reminder that this country has only been an independent nation for just over 20 years. I suspect that those who believe that everyone speaks English have only ever been in the tourist areas. I made my own way from Ulemiste (the area round the airport); some modernisation has taken place

some work in progress:

and some areas which might need to wait a bit….

The old town is well preserved however and capitalises on its medieval charm. A Baltic Brugge?

There are plenty of fine buildings..

plus the inevitable signs of globalisation…

A Japo-Irish pub? There is much more to Tallinn and I would like to go back to visit the port, the beach and the arts area. It is worth getting hold of the city guide- I got my copy as I was leaving…. but I only had a short time there anyway..

Took the slow train to Tamsalu, about 100km from Tallinn. As in Poland , the train was old as well as slow but at 3.20 euros you can’t really complain. The weather got bleaker, the houses further and further apart and sites of abandoned factories.

Tamsalu would be described in England as a village; here it is a town.

The town is surrounded by forests used by walkers, cyclists and cross country skiers.

This is the start of a marathon circuit right next to the sports centre/hostel where we were staying. Also next to what appears to be the municipal depot.

Don’t let this put you off though. There is a lot of potential here and, apart from alcohol, it is pretty cheap and beautiful..

This is one of the Porkuni lakes. It is wet and overcast but you can’t really complain as this is the rain that maintains the lakes… In the sun though, the lakes are stunning.

There are walks and cycle tracks around the lakes and some mystic stuff I didn’t quite get about energy lines. Such is the atmosphere of the place I could almost believe it…

Walk round these stones slowly and you can increase your positive energy apparently… I didn’t try it..

This is next to the limestone museum, housed in an old tower, the only remains of a fortress..

limestone is apparently the national rock, and it certainly plays an important part in this region- great place for geologists and fossil seekers…

Onto the town of

This town is modernising itself

though there are some older, empty buildings around just next to this square

A couple of streets, at the bottom of the castle, have been renovated/preserved and constitutes the handicraft section of town…

Ah yes, the castle… not surprising there are lots of castles around given the battles that have taken place and the number of times this country has been occupied. The original castle here was raised to the ground when the Poles attacked the Swedes who inhabited it….

At the time we visited the castle was closed for renovation but they opened it specially for our party. It still falls short in my opinion of being a tourist attraction, though it is trying hard:

This is where the “camera torture” photo at the head of this post comes from.They could do with an English consultant here… yep, open to offers…. It is a beautiful country with huge potential.  It could become an international postcard tourist trap but I don’t think it will. It could become a great place to visit for those who like lakes, walking, skiing, cycling, birdwatching….worth looking outside of  a weekend in Tallinn.

I tell you what impressed me most and says a lot about Estonia…it has nothing to do with lakes or forests or castles but this.

In England, where there are flats and houses we often see this sign:

In Rakvere I saw this instead:

Basically a sign saying, people live and play here so watch out!  Along with this, it became clear that even if you just look as though you want to cross the road, cars will slow down and stop to let you cross- at any point along the road.

However much Estonia develops, I hope they don’t forget these values….

PS. Not happy with this post. A bit superficial. Perhaps I should have stuck to showing a few photos. Your comments welcome



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8 responses to “A few photos from Estonia- old country, new nation.”

  1. Tim Whitemore (@TimWhitemore) says :

    Nice insight into places we wouldn’t otherwise see. The road sign is a nice touch – perhaps it is saying that football is mandatory?

    • overhere1 says :

      Thanks for your comments. I would be keen to go back to explore more. On the sports news on TV, football news came way behind volleyball, basketball and ice hockey by the way!

  2. Richard Mackney says :

    Great pictures, lovely post. I got to see it through your eyes – thank you.

  3. Kavey says :

    I’ve only ever been to Tallinn, not seen the rest of Estonia. We went for a long weekend about 10 years ago, maybe 11 or 12, I forget. We really loved the mix of the old town, alive with tourists both local and from farther afield (and some from Helsinki, just across the water) and the old, Stalinist suburbs, stark and slightly forboding. We certainly didn’t find many English speakers outside the old town tourist areas, though more so with younger members of the population than older, which is only natural. I would love to go back and see more of the rest of the country.

  4. overhere1 says :

    Thanks for your comments. Definitely worth a revisit.

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