Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Taste of Travel- Estonia

11 months after coming back from Estonia, I decided to post my photos about the 9 months experience in Estonia in the 2014-2015.

Estonia, Tallinn, was and is my second home-country. Sometimes, when you know you'll be living for a longer period, you fail to visit all you could. But no regrets now, only best memories are in my head.
Estonia is a fascinating Baltic and Nording country. It is the Sillicon-Valley of Europe, mother of Skype, mother of first start-up ideas, owner of the most highly-developed national ID card system in the world.
Yes, E-Estonia is a separate subject. The national Estonian ID card includes all-in-one a national health insurance card, proof of identification when logging into bank accounts from a home computer, instrument of digital signatures, instrument of i-voting, instrument of accessing government databases to check one’s medical records, file taxes, etc. Life presumes to be so easy, ha? Literally, this means less bureaucracy, while adding more transparency and efficiency in some vital sectors such as healthcare and education.
One of the least religious countries in the world and least densitly populated country in Europe (with a population of just 1.3 million but a territory larger than Denmark and Holland). That means you will not meet hundreds of people walking along the same streets you do. Nevertheless, it is homeland of most literate people per capital. Estonians tend to be at least bilingual and according to recent studies, are among the best English speakers in Europe. The list of the cool facts can continue, including the specific sense of humour.

„Which of nations are the richest in the world?
-Because they are not fast enough to spend their salaries!”

When in the Old City and if you have kids, pay a visit to the NUKU Puppet Museum or catch a theatre performance (but only in Estonian). The museum offers a good overview of puppetry starting from props and costumes up to exciting technological solutions. There are also different types of puppets from all around the world that can be manipulated via touch screens. Check their website for more information when in Tallinn.

Another interesting museum is the KUMU Art Museum. This giant museum resembles a supervillain's lair. If there's ever a nuclear apocalypse we know where we're heading! Simply exploring the building is an experience in itself. The museum also hosts the annual “KUMU ÖÖ” – a mini festival of sorts where the building stays open all night as guests inside dance until sunrise. They have large scale great exhibitions. I was impressed to visit the death and beauty exhibition/ The Contemporary Gothic in Art and Visiual Culture in March 2015. Take a virtual tour and be sure to go visit KUMU to enlarge your creative and visual thinking.

If you are still curious to know more about estonian inventions consider the Estonian Museum Of Applied Art and Design, also located in the Old City. In the Estonian yearbook I discovered the orange estonian ticket validtor created in 2010. By the way, public transportation in Tallinn is free for Tallinn residents. This measure was undertaked by the Government to release the city of cars. They also, raised the parching prices, but offered a very comfortable alternative instead.
Kadriorg Park in Tallinn is a must. If you plan your visit during September, be sure not to miss the Lights Festival. The aim of this annual festival in Kadriorg Park is to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Thousands of candles are lit all over the park and light installations installed. Traditionally, the festival goes hand in hand with a programme of concerts by local artists and a light show to end the evening.

If your trip to Tallinn is in May, inform yourself about the Kalamaja Neiboorhood Annual Street Festival. During one day locals of the Telliskivi creative quarter open their gardens to strangers and organize workshops, open-air fairs, various self organized cafes or bike tours. Don't miss it.
And finally organize yourself a half-day walk to the Pirita beach and go for lunch at the St.Patrick's.

Waterfalls. Jagala is a waterfall in the lower course of the Jägala River, approximately 4 km before the river flows into the Gulf of Finland. The waterfall is approx. 8 metres in height and more than 50 metres in width. It is the widest natural waterfall in Estonia. The waterfall is a peculiar sight to see in winter, when the water mass frozen in cold weather becomes a glistening ice wall with large icicles. A tunnel surrounded in both sides by ice may be formed in between the ice hanging down from the edge of the waterfall and the wall of waterfall. Interesting to know: - In terms of fishery the lower course of the Jägala River from the waterfall to the river mouth is one of the most valuable ones in Estonia – large trout and salmon resources can be found here.

Manors. Estonia boasts more than 1000 castles and manors dating back as far as the 13th century. Once a home to German and Russian landlords, many of these estates now serve as galleries, luxurious spa hotels and gourmet restaurants. Whilst touring Estonian countryside, visitors encounter elegant and historical architecture in all styles with dominant motifs featuring renaissance, baroque and art nouveau. While many castles and manors have crumbled in time, some have been beautifully restored and remain open to the public. Check the Palmse and the Sagadi Manors in photos.

Viru Bog/Viru Raba is one of the most accessible bogs in Estonia. Marked and signposted, the 3.5-km trail passes through the forest and marsh landscapes typical of Lahemaa National Park. Very impressive and photogenic landscapes can be captured. While on the go, you can learn about the flora, former sand dunes, ridges and heath woodland. A boardwalk winds its way through the bog passing a viewing tower proving a scenic overview of the bog landscape.

The Islands. Another cool fact is that Estonia has over 2000 islands!!
The wild Estonia is outside Tallinn, in the islands and forests. If you want to find peace, breathtaking landscapes go to one of Estonia's islands, rent a perfect cuntry-style house and prepare yourself with a bio lamb meat, exactly how we did. I visited Hiiumaa, but unfortunately didn`t suceed to visit Saarema.
If you have aprox, 1 week in Tallink I recommend going for a cruise to Stockholm. It will take aprox. 2 days, but the experience is unforgettable. The ferry is enourmous and holds various entertaining places. Buy a cabin and go for the dinner on bord (preferably on the way from Stockholm).

Thanks to the Estonian School of Diplomacy for the experience!

Read, Dress & Travel recommends: go for a luch or dinner at the Kohalik cafe (Tallinn). You would feel like being at an Estonian's home with gramma's spoons and plates. The menu is not big, but everything you will order will be original and delicious. 

Links that might help you in organizing your trip: