28.09.2011 - 28.09.2011
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"Terre - Hello" from Estonia.
A city of 415,000 out of a total population of 1.500,000. Dating from the 13th Century it is heavily fortified having been passed from pillar to post for centuries. Old town, low town and new town with fortified walls and bastions - everyone who conquered made more fortifications. Had an Estonian guide Eero who spoke quietly of Russian oppression and proudly of how his people have stood to regain their independence.
While we talk of them being one of the Baltic states they do not as they are one of the Finobric nations more aligned to Finland and with a language which is related to only 4 other languages in the world. It is also economically advanced - after the break from Russia it moved straight into high tech and next year will vote in national elections using mobile phones. They have no national debt and pay a flat 20% tax. They are not dependent on any one Industry and only resource is shale oil. Every souvenir we have seen is made here - beautiful linen and pure wool clothing, crafts, amber jewelry Clothing in shops is very stylish and beautifully made. People are very helpful and again there is no problem with language as they speak excellent English. No monuments to Stalin and Lenin as they were removed very quickly when the Russians left. It has been a hard road for the Estonians and we have no idea what they have suffered under both Russian and German occupations.
It is a beautiful city and we feel very safe here. It does get busy in the summer but is very pleasant now although our warm sunny morning turned very quickly into cool light rain this afternoon. Eero said that weather is very unpredictable at this time of year, that October is cold with some snow, November is just terrible and he wishes it would disappear as it is very depressing and that December to April is snow when he does cross country skiing in the dark to stop getting depressed.
Tomorrow we are off to Riga in Latvia for one night. They do not use the euro so if we need to spend we will have to get Lats. Food prices are very reasonable but most of our meals are provided. Great breakfasts and very pleasant dinners start and finish each day.