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!