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Report 1962: Poland and the Baltics--Finding Roots

By Sharonov from Illinois, Summer 2011

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Page 7 of 9: Estonia

photo by Me

Tallinn after the Rain

Tallin is right on the Baltic, which gives the city a different flavor from Riga or Vilnius. We're staying right outside the beautiful Old Town, which is very nice indeed. I think I like Tallin's Old Town the best of the three Baltics. There's a market in the middle, of course, and umpteen restaurants surrounding the main square (all very overpriced.) Our guide did show us a fun place, which is a medieval-style restaurant where one can buy a bowl of watery soup, a beer or a meat pie very cheaply, from a costumed waitress, and sit in a rather dark room on a bench. It was tasty and fun.

One night I walked to the Old Town in the rain, and it was truly beautiful. Almost empty, with the wet stones reflecting light, the atmosphere and ambiance were totally different from during the day.

We visited a amphitheater where Estonians gather every five years to sing. Yes, sing. There's a movie, "The Singing Revolution," describing how Estonians, in defiance of the Soviets, gathered in the hundreds of thousands here to sing forbidden Estonian-pride songs shortly before they were made independent.

We, of course, had a lecture by an Estonian politician who told us about the country's struggles. But the surprise was our Estonian guide, who was Russian (like 40% of Estonia.) He defended Stalin, saying that when he died his grandfather was in deep mourning, not knowing what would happen to him. He said that Russians loved him. Go figure.

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