Saturday October 18th 2008
I went to Estonia for a weekend. I got a ridiculously early flight, and had got up at 4am so I arrived feeling tired. And then I waited ages for an airport bus to come, but none did. My guide book said it was only 3km from the airport into the city, which I wasn't sure I quite believed, but I decided to set off anyway. I could always get a bus from another stop. In fact the guidebook was right. It was a beautiful autumn day and I enjoyed the walk through the suburbs.
In town, I headed for Toompea. I was enjoying the views from the hill when a giant Estonian accosted me. He must have been 6'8", and was wide with it. He looked extremely eccentric, with wild hair blowing in the wind from the sides of his otherwise towering bald head. He turned out to be selling CDs, and in grammatically perfect but heavily accented English he began to show me his wares. The few other people who had been at the viewpoint quickly slipped away. After ten minutes I managed to stop him, and made my escape as well.
Sunday October 19th 2008
I met up with an Estonian friend in the evening. We went to a restaurant in the old town with a mediaeval theme, and one of the things on the menu was bear. I've been a vegetarian since I came back from South America, but I like to make the odd exception for cultural experiences. I hadn't had any culinary cultural experiences since I'd eaten shark's stomach in China in April 2007, so I decided it was about time. I really enjoyed it, the only problem being that not having eaten meat for so long, I didn't have any reference point to compare the taste to.
The next day it was warmer, cloudier and calmer than it had been. I decided to go to the KUMU art gallery, and followed signs from the city centre. It took me about an hour, and was quite a nice walk at first, with views through the woods to the Baltic, but later the route went through a muddy car park onto a back road. I worked out later that I'd walked four times as far as I needed to - there was a short cut I could have taken that would have got me there from town in about 15 minutes.
The gallery was a good place to spend a rainy afternoon. There was a lot of art from the early 20th century that wasn't particularly inspiring, but also a lot of more contemporary stuff. There was an interesting exhibition about art in the Soviet times, with propaganda posters and quotes from Soviet authorities decrying abstract art - "works that do not do credit to the author's understanding of the principles of social realism" and "freakish shapes, which have no utilitarian or decorative value".
As darkness fell I walked the short way back into town.
Sunday October 19th 2008
It was just about dark when I got back into town. I headed back up Toompea again, hoping that the CD-selling giant would not be there this time so that I could enjoy the views at my leisure. Luckily he wasn't. With clouds breaking up to reveal a deep blue sky, it was perfect photography weather.
Monday October 20th 2008
It was sunny again the next day. I got up early and got a colossal espresso in a coffee shop on Raekoja Plats. I'd enjoyed my walk into town from the airport, so I walked back out again. Surely by getting to and from the airport under my own steam I had offset the CO2 emissions from the flight.