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Trip Report Gertie in Eastern Europe

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Well, here we are as threatened. I'll start this and see how I go. If you suddenly stop hearing anything it's because I've got tired of the sound of my own voice, found something more interesting to do or gone over the edge.

Easyjet was easy; easier than getting to STN on a Sunday morning. I got myself ensconced in a little apartment in the Old Town steps away from all the action, in a medieval cobbled courtyard full of arty-farty workshops and craft shops. So far so good. Found a supermarket for essentials like tea and red wine, smelly blue cheese and fresh bread. A good start.

But it's COLD, around 10C, not like 30C when I left TX or even 15C in London. (Some Aussies I got tangled up with on the airport bus said they had had 2C in Bath with sideways sleet last week). None of that here: bright and sunny and clear Baltic light, eggshell blue sky, pastel coloured houses, a very pretty city. By 2pm I decided it was warm enough to risk having lunch outside in the sun, but most tourists seem to have been eating and drinking al fresco all day....

Have spent the day tramping around with my trusty Lonely Planet, climbing on bits of the city wall, admiring the bright green trees and early spring flowers, goggling at the Baltic to the north and avoiding large groups of day-trippers from the cruise ships. But Monday the museums are closed: this I found out when some cruisers stopped me and asked why the museums were closed. I must look like a local....? Plenty of churches open though and towers to climb for views. And an organ recital to listen to this evening in a wood-panelled Lutheran church built originally around 1350.

I think there is a lot more to this city, but much of it is Soviet era construction which I can pass on. I gather the Old Town has been tarted up only since 1990. Some of the old pictures are grey and miserable. But they have done a great job in the past 22 years and it's well worth seeing. People have been wonderful, a bus driver even stopped his bus and got out with me to show me the way. Can you imagine that in London? And they all speak English! There is a lot of Russian around though, not only in the architecture and the Orthodox churches, but also in the signs and voices in the street. Outside the Old Town it's all straight wide avenues going on forever like St P along the coast. And of course the old KGB headquarters makes you realise how under the thumb they were.


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