I just realized that I forgot to blog about one more museum in Tallinn – the Estonian Maritime Museum. The museum is relatively new, and its centerpiece is an old cog – a Medieval merchant ship.
It was built at the end of the 13th century, and it sailed for quite a long time until it sank in the mid-14th century. The ship was discovered and lifted from the sea in 2015. Now, the cog, along with hundreds of artifacts discovered on the wreck, occupy the museum’s first floor.
On Saturday, Igor, mom, and I went to the Pullman Open House to tour the homes. The weather was gorgeous; I do not remember ever being on that tour on such a perfect day. Also, that was the best open house we’ve attended from the organizational point of view; the route was planned perfectly, the sights were clearly marked.
Most of the houses which were this year were the new ones. And this time, no pictures were allowed inside, except for two places that contained exhibits.
Mom got tired of climbing the stairs in most houses, but overall, she liked this whole experience, and I am glad we took her out. Like one of the older volunteers commented: keep her moving!
The rain started shortly after 11 AM, as forecasted. At first, we could ignore the random drops, but later, the rain became more substantial, and we switched to numerous museums and cafes.
The first cafe we landed in was Maiasmokk, the oldest in Tallinn (in business from 1864). That was the first public space we entered in Tallinn, and there we learned that by city ordinance, proof of COVD vaccination is required to enter any place. Masks are still required.
Tallinn depends heavily on tourism, and I was very happy to observe that this requirement didn’t impact tourism negatively and that the business owners were happy to comply with the city ordinance.
I came home last night – a flight was a little bit delayed, but otherwise nice an comfortable, and there were very few people on the aircraft. I am on the CTA on my way to the office, and I have a detail appointment after work, and somehow I need to squizz in a conference call on a non-work-related topic.
I still want to post another hundred pictures from Tallinn, which I hope to accomplish in the next couple of days. Life goes on.
And here is… well, I had an “economy light” fare, which meant no luggage… but I know how to use my carry-on wisely 🙂
Until it started raining, we walked along the familiar streets, and each turn made me happier and happier. It’s not like I thought that pandemic is forever, but for a while, I was thinking – will we ever have this freedom again?! And Tallinn… I really love Tallinn – for many reasons, not only because it is Boris’ city.
Remember what I said earlier about going abroad in the time of the Soviet Union? To put it bluntly, we were not allowed to travel abroad, period. But the Baltic countries (no matter they were called “Soviet republics,” we knew better!) were our tiny windows to the Western World. We knew that “we” – Soviet Russia, were hated, and somehow that fact also reassured us that we were in real Zagranitza. An overnight trip to Tallinn by train on student discount cost 6 rubles – something we could afford, and going to Tallinn for a day was one easy way to stay in a fairy tale for a day. A night in the train car, a day there, and another night back.
When we entertained the German student delegation, one of the tours we offered them was a day trip to Tallinn. We even managed to book a tour in German! We endlessly walked around the city, and I can only imagine how our German visitors felt. During the day, we grabbed food here and there, but when it was time to have dinner, our German guests wanted to go to Vana Toomas.
Now, Vana Toomas was (and still is) the restaurant on the Townhall Square, and it was the only “real thing” back then. And it was guarded against “invaders.” I almost forgot about this story, but yesterday, Boris reminded me about it when we passed Vana Toomas (not about the story – he was not a part of it, but how I told him this story).
We told the Germans that we could try, but they had to speak, and we would be silent. They agreed, and about fifteen minutes before the restaurant was to be open for dinner, we lined by its doors. In five minutes, several tall, muscle, and silent Estonians approached and asked one of the Germans in Russain what the hell they thought they were doing here. Following our instructions, the student replied Ich verstehe nicht. This answer created an instant miracle: we were cordially invited in, and the staff even moved the tables to accommodate our big company. We (three Russian female students) kept our mouths shut and whispered to the Germans when we needed something.
We loved Tallinn, loved its unique Medieval spirit, the walls and the gates, and the towers. We loved their independence. We loved that they hated us.
These times are gone. I had this feeling even in 2016, but even more now. We walked the streets of the city with Boris, and he told me that he felt this difference during multiple trips to the Baltic countries in the past several years. He told me: these countries parted their ways with Russia irreversibly and forever. And they do not hate anymore. They just not care. Pretty much like Finns.
Here is to our love and adoration for this unique place …
While in Helsinki, I try to combine work and doing something interesting together. Until today, the weather was great, sunny, and not as cold as everybody told me it was going to be, so we went on long bike rides every day, including the very first day I came.
Boris discovered several new bike routes, and each day, our ride was different and very scenic. Boris often reminds me the story which happened to me on one of my early visits, when I thought that if I needed to get from one point on the shore to another point on the shore, I could do so by walking along the shoreline:)
I am not making this mistake anymore, but all three of our rides were along the shoreline (for my love of it :)).
Nobody bothered to tell me that the pictures in the previous post were not visible (and I know that many people saw that post). I just realized it and fixed the pictures, so if you are curious about what you’ve missed, you can check it out :).
Now – more pictures! This morning, my friend Natasha gave us a tour of the famous Oodi library. Boris and I visited it shortly after it was opened, but even then, we realized that we needed a tour with a Finnish-speaking person :). Then, it was COVID, and finally, it happened!
I think everybody heard about the Oodi library in Helsinki. One might say that none of the features is unique, but being brought together under one roof of the building designed to host the best library you can imagine makes it one of a kind.
Except for everybody wearing masks, I do not see any material difference between traveling now and pre-pandemic. There are not that many people traveling, but close to that. First time in a year and a half, I didn’t need to present a copy of my marriage certificate, just the passport, and the vaccination card. That’s all that was required for boarding, and the same thing in Helsinki – my passport and vaccination card. The border control office even joked like in old times about me visiting “for just a couple of days” and about being torn between two countries.
The food was close to normal (almost), and the new cameras on the aircraft are just OMG!!!
I am going to Helsinki. Yes, after Boris and I decided that we are not making these super-short trips anymore, first he came for three days, and now I am going there for three and a half days. A perfect illustration of all these discussions about “whether there can be love after 40.” Or 50. Or whatever 🙂
As it always happens when I travel in the fall, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I need to dress warmly. When Boris said that I needed gloves, I was like “what gloves? why gloves? what are gloves? and anyway, I still wear sandals!” I can’t get a feeling of how it is going to be when it is 45F outside.
And actually, I just checked, and now the weather forecast says it’s going to be 56F, not 45F. I think I can leave gloves at home 🙂
Mom went to Saint-Petersburg. Her flight was on Thursday evening. I did not want her to go, but there were some things which she had to do in person, and I found too late that there were ways to avoid the trip. I think that I won’t be able to stop her in any case, and if she decided she needed to go, she would still insist on going there.
I already told all my friends why I worried so much about this trip. In Russia, the vaccination rate is very low (twenty-something percent), and we do not know how many vaccinations are fake. The transmission rate is high; people do not wear masks unless they are forced to do so. For example, they would put the mask on when they enter the subway but take it off immediately after they are in. Or they would be without a mask in the store and pull it on during checkout.
Mom does not wear a mask properly. When I am together with her, I fix it all the time. It is not so important here: she is vaccinated; our vaccination rate is close to 70%; the transmission rate is less than one, and the overwhelming majority of people wear masks and wear them properly. If she goes to Morse Market, I am not overly concerned with her not wearing the mask properly, but it is a different story in Russia.
In addition, there is a lot of paperwork associated with the trips to and from Russia these days. I had to sign her up for two COVID tests, on entrance and on exist, register her at the government website to fill in the form for returning citizens, and fill in several other paper forms, some in Russian, some in English. I requested a wheelchair for her for the whole trip, but I only managed to get her in it in O’Hare. As she reported, she “didn’t find” it in Helsinki. Having that they wait right on exit from the plane, I agree with Boris that you have to try very hard not to find them… but what can I do?
My friend met her at the airport in Saint -Petersburg, and they went home. For three weeks prior to the trip, I tried to explain to mom that it is dangerous to take public transportation in Saint-Petersburg and that I wanted her to take a cab all the time. Boris gave us a number of a very reliable cab company and asked her to use their services. She resisted for a very long time. I asked my friends in Saint-Petersburg to make sure that she called the cab (she has been doing it for a day and a half now :))
When they came home, they found out that the heating in her apartment was still not turned on. Also, one of the water pipes was leaking (the plumber will only come on Monday), and she could not turn on her electric stove.
And she refused to stay with my friend for the next couple of days… Also, although she is supposed to wait for the test result in Saint -Petersburg, she is going everywhere because nobody is checking. I want these two weeks to be over (and actually, there are only twelve days left)