Discovering Estonia and Tallinn
Not so many people around the world, including in Brazil (my home country) know about Estonia, don’t even have a clue where it’s located. A small country among Russia, Latvia and the Baltic Sea, totally plan and possible to cross from north to south in 4h by road. It’s where the Skype was developed, only for curiosity!
The official language is the Estonian, from the same family of Finnish and Hungarian languages. As Estonia was part of the former Soviet Union and there’s a considerable Russian community in the country, Russian is also spoken, although not as official language. I was lucky that many Estonians speak English, especially the youngest, which makes possible to travel without any language barrier, and much easier than learn Estonian, right?
Estonians see themselves much closer to Finnish people than to Latvians and Lithuanians, so, they feel as being more Scandinavians than Baltics. I haven’t been in Finland yet to verify such comparison, but I could notice many similarities of Estonians to Germans: in the punctuality, the sense of organization, the serious way, the balance between life and work. They usually have a calm temper, do the things carefully each one at a time, which yields jokes from Latvians and Lithuanians associating Estonians to slowness.
As Estonia is a small country without any natural resource like petrol and gas, I could see a great focus on invest in education, create knowledge and develop technologies. Skype is only an example! Tallinn, the capital of the country, has a growing start up movement and it’s pointed as the Silicon Valley of the Baltics.
As the capital and the biggest Estonian city, Tallinn has about 400.000 inhabitants, it’s a safe city, very easy to walk by with an excellent public transportation. It’s worth visiting its Old Town, with numerous buildings dating from Medieval times, recognized as UNESCO Patrimony.
Another point to visit in Tallinn is the Pirita Beach, located about 10 km from downtown. It’s the place where the marine sports were hosted during the Moscow Olympic Games in 1989. Nowadays, it’s utilized as a marina, to practice sports and hangount, in addition to the beach.
From Tallinn, it’s possible to take ferry boats to Helsink (Finland), Saint Petersburg (Russia) and Stockolm (Sweden). By road, it’s easily accesible by E-67 road, which links the 3 Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) to Russia and to the rest of Europe via Poland and Belarus.
For those who appreciate drinks, I recommed the local beers Saku, A. Le Coq and Alexander. Another drink to try is the Vanna Tallinn!
What surprised me most, however, was how Estonians become fascinated with the sun. Coming from Brazil, I’m familiar to see sunny days along the year. As a local friend told me: in the winter, it’s 6 months under -30ºC, dark, some sunlight between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. And on summers, the sunrise is at 3 a.m. and the sunset is around midnight, really crazy! So crazy that many Estonians enjoy the chance to appreciate the sun as much as they can, like staying up all night long on a weekend, as a celebration. Such experiences contributed for me to change my perceptions towards weather, taught me to appreciate every day regardless the weather.
I hope you enjoyed and to have encouraged you to travel to Estonia! See you there!