Teemants Left Behind

For my family out there that doesn't know already, Karl and Berta (Bertha on family search) were Vanaisa's parents. Bertha, especially, is talked about very fondly--if called strict--by Vanaisa. Almost appropriately, there are a few forget-me-not stems growing right next to their grave.



I suppose the mosquitoes attacking me while I was trying to get this shot put me in a dark place...


Window Art

I've been on this kick lately of photographing the scenes playing out in the windows of the buildings.



Kunst is the Estonian word for Art. This is the walkway to get to the Kumu art museum in Tallinn.


Out to Dry

Fishing is one of the main industries here in Estonia. These were hanging on a line at the Open Air Museum in Tallinn.


Week Two

Well, there's not much new to share since week one. More of the same, basically. I can find my way around a little better and had the chance to go with a new friend from church to the Open Air Museum just on the outskirts of the city. The Open Air Museum is a place where they've preserved much of the tradition, culture, and old way of life in Estonia. There are young groups that perform the traditional dances, which I only saw briefly. The old houses are more like little huts and all of their tools, furniture, and houses are crafted entirely from wood.

I have a feeling I'll be going back at least once more for photographing. (Or maybe just go for Midsummer's Eve... something that is a much bigger deal in these places where it actually stays light all night.)

One thing I have figured out is that the morning air here gives me the sniffles. That said, sunrises are out... unless there's a must have picture that can only be captured in these early hours. I have enjoyed how late it stays light and continue to find the buildings nearby interesting and fun to explore.

This next week I'll venture further out, so if pictures stop... I'm lost somewhere in the countryside!


Estonian Gorp

Seeing so much around here that's been left to deteriorate is making me realize why so many photographers are drawn to these elements: there is something beautifully authentic about them. We can build, paint, fix, and perfect, but in the end, nature does something to these man made efforts in a way that can't be replicated.



With a law that the buildings, even when restored, must look like their original counterpart there are a lot of beautiful details in the houses, particularly with wrought iron on the awnings, stone walls, and details in the wood work. Here are just a few examples.


House on Tööstuse

It has been a week since I arrived in Tallinn and it's certainly been an amazing week! I was thinking about how to best share some of the highlights and thought I could lay it out in a few things that you may not have known about Estonia.

1) Summer doesn't exist here.

So I kind of knew this before coming. I even told people it's comparable to Alaska summers, which I've been through before. Somehow, though, the full extent of this doesn't always seem to register. Especially since it was raining my first few days here I could have used more sweaters. On nice days, however, it is actually quite nice. Even rainy ones aren't so bad that you can't go out and wander the streets. (Then again, my idea of real rain comes from Florida. I'll be the first to tell you it may be skewed.)

This did lead to a rather unproductive day on Thursday, after catching cold when I went out at 3 am to take pictures at sunrise. Which leads to...

2) You could photograph 24/7 here.

I guess that's a little misleading since you can technically photograph 24/7 anywhere. It's just light enough here the whole day around. Again, having summers like Alaska, the days are longer than most places.

(Warning, this next part may only interest photo friends/fellow photo geeks.) The actual times for sunset are around 10:30pm and sunrise is at 4:00 am. The phases of light with both of these seem to last a lot longer. Especially that nice glow that happens after the sun goes down. In fact, it's 1:30 in the morning now and I can still see light along the horizon line. It makes for interesting hours and sleeping patterns. I'm hoping I can get to the point where I'm going out for sunrises and sunsets, but thus far have at least managed one or the other each day.

3) Tallinn is a good city for walking.

I didn't know this in planning, but I'm at the perfect place to be right in the middle of everything I could want to get to on a regular basis. Walking 10 miles in a day hasn't been out of reach, but that's a pretty full day of going to museums, wandering the streets, walking through the park, and going to the beach. The first couple days there was a lot of getting lost, but I think I deserve kudos for always finding my dorm again. And now that I have a map, there's no stopping me!

4) Estonians are the friendliest people you will ever meet.

There are two examples I have of this. First is my cousin Marii (thanks for her info Tiiu!). Within 24 hours of my email we were able to meet up and she took me through Old Town--the medieval area of Tallinn. She is encouraging me to at least try out my Estonian, though I have admitted to her it's shabby at best. I'm excited to get to know her better and am glad others in my family have kept in touch with relatives here so I'll have the opportunity to meet them.

The other one happened Friday evening. I had one major goal for the day: find and photograph the house Vanaisa grew up in. Again, because of aunts and uncles who have been vigilant about writing information down, I knew where it was and made my way. Just being there was exciting enough. As I photographed, though, a couple in their car started to pull into the drive that goes to the back of the house. They stopped, looking at me. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

They rolled down their window and I introduced myself and told them that Vanaisa had lived there. Without hesitation, they invited me into their apartment, allowed me to photograph the interior and the back yard, and told me a little about the building in recent years. Apparently Tallinn has a law that any renovations that are done must still look how the house looked before. (This explains a lot of run down houses that have yet to be updated due to costs.) So even though the house had a fresh coat of paint, the architecture was essentially the same. Even the added third floor could not be allowed to show on the front. 

And on that note, here is a more snapshot-ish image of Vanaisa's house. Until next week!


Old Town

I had the opportunity to meet a cousin who lives here in Tallinn named Marii. (In case you were wondering that is pronounced the same as Marie... so I knew we'd get along just fine!) She took me to some of the best overlooks in Old Town.

(To see it larger, click on the image)



One thing that's interesting about Estonia is the mixing of old and new. There are so many eras represented in the architecture, not to mention other cultures and styles.

I felt the view outside my window perfectly depicted this idea: Angry Birds on a concrete wall with an archaic stone tower on the other side.

Stockholm Airport

The story is far too long for me to even want to rehash yet. Let's just say that I missed my connecting flight in Oslo to Tallinn and had about an hour of freaking out and trying to figure things out with the nicest security lady taking me to the right people and a (mostly nice) ticket agent getting me to Tallinn around 5:00 by rerouting me to Stockholm airport and then Tallinn... instead of waiting until the next flight around 7pm.

Also, luckily, the lady in charge at the dormitories I was staying at kindly came back to check me in. Otherwise I would have been sleeping on a park bench somewhere in the city.

I'm still adjusting to the area where I live and have found the old part of the city, which I'm excited to explore. Until then, a couple pictures from Stockholm airport.

There was a little play area with a theme based on some popular children's books in Sweden. (I'm thinking we need to have a Fancy Nancy or Dr. Suess play spaces in airports now.)

And for the parents, there's exactly what THEY need not too far away.