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Random Jottings:Tallinn: the capital of Estonia and the European Capital of Culture for 2011. The fantastic medieval Old Town is very well preserved and is located in the centre of town of course. It’s absolutely unmissable. Gothic spires, medieval markets, cobblestone streets. We stopped in a few of the cafes to have the usual cappucino and Selyanka soup. It’s just a magic place to walk around. Luckily it was perfect weather though pretty hot (over 30) so people were wilting. I wasn’t as I’m used to that sort of weather being Australian. It was a nice change from the mid 20’s summer up here. I discovered some of the best medieval art I’ve ever seen at St Nicholas Church. Bernt Notke’s Danse Macabre, the only danse macabre painting in the world. And the very beautiful altar painting by the Master of the St Lucy Legend. Cameras were banned inside so no photos alas.
Tartu: University town. We all went swimming in a freshwater lake outside Tartu. We were only in the water for 10 minutes when this thunderstorm suddenly appeared and we all had to run for the cars. My skin was tingling afterwards. I think it must have been the quality of the water. Something magical was there that’s for sure. Tartu is a really chilled out little town of 100,000 people half of which had disappeared for summer. Hardly any tourists either. The bookshops are fantastic and I found another great one called www.rahvaraamat.ee Lots of books in English as well as French and German. The unique Estonian Song Festival in Tallinn was on tv which we watched. It’s a huge event that people from all over Estonia participate in and went for 3 days. More than 30,000 singers participated. Here’s a good you tube video which shows the atmosphere of the event. It’s incredibly moving to see so many people singing and dancing together.
Pärnu: The UK newspaper ‘The Independent’ said it’s one of Europe’s 50 best vacation beaches. It is. Fantastic white sandy beaches. Space. Well the water’s not meant to be that clean in the Baltic Sea but it seemed like it to me. Nothing to be afraid of in the water too, which I still can’t get over. It was calm and relaxing sun worshipping. They don’t overdo the commercial aspects either. Just enough. A few cafés scattered about, places to drink, play volleyball etc. We sunbaked at the nude section of the beach though we weren’t but plenty of other women old and young were. I got sunburnt legs which are now peeling. I didn’t think the sun would be as strong up here for some stupid reason. www.visitparnu.com
Pokuland: is a wooden farmstead and arts centre in the middle of the forest in Southern Estonia near Vöru. The buildings are inspired by a children’s story by Edgar Valter who lived here. Hiie’s mum and daughter were performing in a play about Pokuland for a couple of weeks. It was a hike getting there. Dirt tracks through the woods and we got lost and ended up in this beautiful idlyllic farm. Before we knew it we were surrounded on both sides by a German Shepherd and a Newfoundland slathering over the windows. We didn’t get out of course and then the owner in her bikini kindly came and gave us directions. I suppose if you’re a single woman living in the woods in a bikini all alone you’d want two big dogs for company too. People came from Finland to go to the play which is a long way. It was good but I couldn’t really understand it as it was in Estonian but you could vaguely make out what was happening.