I Come From A Land Down Under

The last few weeks in Tallinn have been great, the spring is well and truly here and it changes the place so much, the birds sing and sometimes, just occasionally, I even see Estonian people smile! Yes, its hard to believe but it happens. They weren’t even drunk either! Ive been out on my bike exploring Tallinn, from the lovely forests around Pirita, to the large ugly soviet style apartments of Lasnamäe, the weird lake side views of the oddly round Vaike-Öismäe and even Estonias biggest waterfall at Keila-Joa which falls a massive… 5 or 6 metres. its been good days.

I am really starting to call this city home, Ive got a great apartment, a stunning flatmate, some nice Kiisu and I meeting stacks of great people, from Estonians, to foreign students to new business partners. I like Tallinn, its small enough I can easily get outside of the city, I feel like I can get a grasp on the place. As for Estonia itself, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. Its the sort of place you need to take the time for, if you rush through, you will miss all the really good parts.

Ive even been taking Estonian lessons and we have found out how terrible I really am at language. I think Im too much in love with English for all its rule-less structures but still, my teacher is lovely and extremely patient, which I am sure you will agree, is a necessary skill when dealing with me. I am making progress also, its a very rewarding experience. Just dont ask me to say something to you.

Still the road beckons me and by road I mean Malayasian Airlines because tonight Im on the ferry to Stockholm so tomorrow I can fly to Australia for 4 weeks! Woohoo! Im mixing business with pleasure and I cant wait to see everyone again. Its been a while and I need a new pair of Volleys.

So next update from abroad. Long time readers will know I love the ferry in warm weather, its a Monday night so probably no crazy parties but its good to sit out on the deck and watch the Baltic Sea go by and remember how three crazy Australians and 1 big white Volvo first made this trip 2 years ago and how little they knew what they were in for. Its still surreal to me to think about how we drove off the boat into Tallinn that day and now, all this time later, I live just down the road with a blondie and 2 cats.

Speaking of driving, I need a car when I get back too. Its not so professional to ride your bike to the Lawyers office you know.

Heres one for you, young lovers in the Estonian spring time!

Tallinn Riots, One Year Later

This last weekend past was the one year anniversary of the riots in Tallinn, remember the ones where they moved the old Soviet statue and the young male Russian population of Tallinn went bezerk and trashed the joint?

Its kind of funny because before the event, there wasnt much happening in Tallinn, I mean big and international, if two old guys got together for a farting contest, it would have been on the front of the newspaper. Since then, its all about the "Russian problem" here and whos to blame, what to do about it and most importantly, will the Russian guys try and get their hands on the season 2008 lines from the Gucci store again this year.

I am happy to say that no shit went down over the weekend, the town was peaceful but the police were very obviously out in force, Im pretty sure all coppers had their holidays cancelled for the weekend and you couldnt sneeze without some law enforcement noticaing. They even had the municipal police force out… shit no one even knows what they do, they just ride around all day in bright green cars eating hotdogs from Statoil.

I did see this however, some Russians protesting the governments reaction to the riots, this was down near the harbour, outside Linnahall.

click for larger image

They think the Police acted a bit too harshly, the guys you can see in the larger image are two german dudes who hung around the police line and then got the crap kicked out of them by the cops. I have to say, I dont have a lot of sympathy for the people protesting here. Cop the first photo here, it was a full on riot and when the shit goes down, the police have to do something. If you are innocent and just hanging around when theres a riot going on, dont be surprised when you get caught up in the mix and the cops give you a belting.

At the end of the day, I cant see how the statue situation can be anything else than a political beatup. Ill repeat my comments of one year ago. THE STATUE WAS MOVED, NOT DESTROYED. As I have posted before, its now in a very nice setting inside of the war cemetary, which I think is a fitting place to commerate fallen soldiers, of any nationality. Before the statue was moved it was sitting NEXT TO A BUS STOP. Unless our 10 foot tall bronzed russian friend wanted to get the number 4 tram down to Karidrog park to enjoy the Estonian spring weather we are having here, I think hes better off where he is now.

Travel Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Reading over this blog, I remembered that I once had an apartment in Tallinn… Estonia… I remember that place… I moved there right? What do you mean I have an apartment there? Plus a flatmate? Now you are kidding me!

Its been about 4 weeks since Ive been home, Ive been giving training courses, doing the hard slog. Im off to Prague for 4 days this week and then finally, I get to go back to my apartment. Sad news is we lost or current kitty too, we had been looking after a cat for a local service in Tallinn which places homeless animals with new families and our Kiisu is now living in a nice home in Tartu. Its tough but thats part of the deal, we can now bring in another little guy off the street and help him too.

Anna and I had a lovely time in Sardinia, check out all the Italy photos here.

Ive been in Stockholm for the past week, giving more training and catching up with old friends. The weather has turned up here and it really feels like spring, the days are much longer and its giving me heaps of energy. I cant wait to get back to Tallinn and have a break, ride the bike and see all my friends, hopefully I am not forgotten!

You Know You Are In Sweden When…

As seen on a Swedish letterbox…

"No Advertising Thank You… But Gladly The IKEA Catalogue"

What is missed here is that this sign isnt even needed at all. The IKEA catalogue is not advertising here, its more of an annual cultural bible. An Swede without their IKEA catalogue is like a Swede without salvation.

Greatest Travel Book EVER

Many of you know, of all the things I have done in my travels, language is one of the things ive struggled with the most. I can speak some Estonia, some Swedish, some German but its not enough to have a conversation and despite my want I can always find something else to do beside sit down and study a text book.

However it doesnt matter now because I discovered the greatest book you will ever need, now I dont need to learn anything else!

Its a picture book for travellers and instead of having to point that things or shout extra loudly when the french cant understand you, just point at it in the book. Its easy. Want chicken? You dont even need to open the book!

What the hell is "over 1 3/4 Million"? 1.75 million what? combination of pictures? chinese people confused? Also "Graf Editions"? What the hell does that mean? Is the authors name "Graf Editions"? Boy, hard parents. If not then what does "Graf" mean? Did Steffi Graf put down the old tennis racquet and have a go at taking some of the photos?

Just point at this photo and chose your meal! Id like the baby foal please!

Lost for a mode of transport? Dont know the word for "travel in the back of a shithouse unroadworthy pre 1960s vechicle"? Dont speak it, point it!

Genius! You know you want one!