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BH in Tallinn: 2

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Jun 26th, 2002, 10:54 AM
  #1
Ben Haines
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BH in Tallinn: 2

I want to throw in the comment that tourists abound in Tallinn, including many Americans, and not just backpackers, either. Many, many people speak English, and the posh hotels are as smooth as you could desire.

Next day was Sunday, so I did a little walking in the old town, and at three turned up for an Anglican Eucharist celebrated by a Lutheran pastor in a gothic church. It was here that I knelt in direct line with a fifteenth century donor. The sermon said how sad it was that Christianity was in decline in Estonia, and that most people in Tallinn saw that Sunday, St John’s Day, as the Grill-Fest, the great barbecue day. Quite right, I’m sure, but in fact almost my next move (after coffee and cake) was to take a bus straight to the grillfest. I did pause to see the Swedish embassy, where in September 1991 the Svenska Dagblat newspaper had a photo of the new Swedish Ambassador to the newly free Estronia up on a ladder, with a hammer, nailing his Embassy sign to the wall. By now the weather had broken (as is traditional for Midsummer in Estonia), so at the grillfest I gladly bought a 2 dollar plastic mackintosh, and in the best British tradition ignored the rain. The information desk people explained that each of the five tents had a different style of music, so I went to the folk dancing tent. There was just one group all evening, dancing every hour on the hour for thirty minutes. They were amateurs from Tallinn, but knew dances from all over Estonia (and Cossack). Both sexes, all ages, including three boys aged around 12, three very pretty girls in their teens, hair braided or in plaits, and a young woman built on lines that Rubens would have liked, all dressed in old costume, showed every sign of high enjoyment, smiling at each other as they danced, laughing as they got steps wrong (seldom), and using dances that brought in members of the audience (all of whom seemed to know the steps). All evening there were more dancers than audience, and we all fitted inside the tent, except for a wild moment of mild rain when three couples danced the galop right out into the field and back again. The dancers even invited me, and I was tempted, but my ankle wouldn’t have approved, and I waved my stick at them. But they knew I was with them in spirit. I saw the shows at six, seven, and eight, and at 7.30 supped on grilled pork, saute potatoes, sauerkraut, and beer, at a table within easy earshot of a tent where a band was playing Rock Around the Clock as if it had just been written. I told some young Estonians at my table that this music was fifty years old: I don’t think they believed me.

Bus back, up to bed, next miorning a taxi to the bus station, and so to Riga.

Ben Haines, in Riga
 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 11:06 AM
  #2
stacy
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I've always remembered Tallinn as being one of the wettest cities I've ever been in - but now that I think of it, it was just around Midsummer! Glad to hear that it's just part of the tradition!
 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 12:26 PM
  #3
bobbie
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Almost missed this thread! A very descriptive account of one afternoon, but nothing like one I've had. You really have a way of making the reader see what you've enjoyed. Looking forward to the next chapter!
 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 02:01 PM
  #4
Judy
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For Ben: Thank you again for such a vivid picture of Tallinn.

How did you like the Estonia folk music?Is it closer to nordic or others? I would have like to know a little more.

Did you visit Alexandr Nevsky Cathedral? There are quite a lot of controversies about how it is located. What's your impression?

Any interesing exhibition? Estonian Art Museum?

I would have loved to join the dancing as I did with Uighur people in Turpan last month.

Is the Festival of Organ Music on in Riga now?

Looking forward to hearing more about Vilnius and Riga.

 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 02:41 PM
  #5
Judy
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Sorry I have missed the part one before the last post.
 
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Jun 27th, 2002, 02:49 AM
  #6
elina
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Thank you very much. I printed both Tallinn and Vilnius stories out and enjoyed them with a good cup of coffee.

And to Judy or anyone interested in exhibitions in Tallinn, there is a Museum and Exhibition of Crafts on Pikk street. The door is on a courtyard, so not many people find it, but it is a great place. Really shows how Estonians still know how to use their hands and artistic sense.

But again, thank you Ben Haines.
 
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Jun 27th, 2002, 10:24 AM
  #7
Ben Haines
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For Judy:
As dance music, led by an accordion, Estonian folk music is much like that elsewhere in the North. But in each set one dance was set to two women singing, with great use of the nose and back of throat, a sound that till this week I had heard only in the music of Val Tormis, which I like a lot.

I was outside the cathedral, but did not visit. I agree that there vis controversy, and it does rather stick out strangely.

There’s no festival of organ music in Riga now, but through the summer the Lutheran Cathedral has weekly organ recitals, this morning I happened upon a practice (well played) in St Thomas Church, and yesterday at one I caught a lunchtime recital of organ and three other instruments in the Anglican church. They included a piece by Morley, which reminded me that on learning that I am English a busker in Tallinn played me Dowland. In the museum of the Occupation here in Riga part of the display to mark the approach of freedom is a handful of LP records in the series “Ìreat Organs of Latvia”. Nice to see, as I have some of those at home, bought here for thirty US cents each in September 1991.

I am sure there were interesting exhibitions in Tallinn, but I was there at the Midsummer holiday, or as the pastor told us with some emphasis, St John’s Day.

Ben Haines
 
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Jun 27th, 2002, 08:09 PM
  #8
Judy
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Many thanks for the replies. It is a great pleasure to be able to share your adventure.

I have come across that type of singing only once. Every Spring the minority people in Mt.Qilian gather on a wild flowers covered meadow for day long singing. Thousand of them walked or rode donkies for hours crossing mountains,dressing in their most colourful old costumes. Usually single singer stood still, one hand on his/her waist,the fingertips of other hand behind one ear,the sounds came out stark plain but clear as spring. Its simple and repeated lyrics full of love for nature and people.I could still remember the music floating in the wildness...

How was the bus ride from Tallinn to Riga? Did it go along the shore of Golf of Riga? It would be a very scenic route.

Compare your previous 1991 visit,could you talk a little about the differences and changes in between?
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 09:24 AM
  #9
ttt
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almost missed this one.

topping, for fans of Ben
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 11:43 AM
  #10
xxx
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ttt almost lost in the shuffle here but such a wonderful report ..need to find part 1
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 03:49 PM
  #11
Rex
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Posted on another thread - - here is where you can find all the parts:

Author: Rex ([email protected])
Date: 06/29/2002, 01:09 pm
Message: For those of you who might not have recognized the famous initials of “our” favorite world-beater, here are the URLs for the five posts Ben has made so far on his current trek through Poland, the Baltics and more.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1384851

BH in Warsaw

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1385525&numresponses=3&start=0

BH in Vilnius: 1

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1385526

BH in Vilnius: 2

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1385527

BH in Tallinn 1

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1385532

BH in Tallinn: 2

Curious, Ben - - from the times you posted these it’s pretty clear that you compose off-line and then post. Do you do this at a cyber café using their word processor? Or carry a laptop?
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 07:12 PM
  #12
Rusty
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Good report, Ben. I'll be in Tallinn around the 14 of July for a couple of days. Are there any places near the Bus Station to change money to EEK? I'll be arriving on a bus from St. Petersburg early evening on a Sunday and want to make sure I can get some money changed. Any problems with travelers checks(AMEX)? Thanks
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 07:56 PM
  #13
Joan
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Great reports Ben, keep them coming.
 
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Jun 29th, 2002, 10:55 PM
  #14
ttt
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ttt for this schtuff! Gracias a dios
 
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Jul 3rd, 2002, 08:42 AM
  #15
Ben Haines
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For Judy: I am afraid the bus took a direct line from Tallinn to Riga, and we never saw the sea. But both there and from Riga to Kaunas we rolled through a rich and productive arable landscape, dotted with small woods.

You say: Compare your previous 1991 visit, could you talk a little about the differences and changes in between? The answer is almost no. In all three countries the strides forward are huge, the result of long and hard work and effort by many people. Each city centre felt like somewhere I had never seen before. Not flashy, but solidly prosperous. The city edges often needed paint, or more serious attention, but even there the blooming window boxes and pavement (sidewalk) cafes gave colour and life to what had been three grey Soviet cities.

Ben Haines
 
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Jul 3rd, 2002, 09:17 AM
  #16
Judy
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Welcome back.

"The blooming window boxes and pavement cafes gave colour and life to what had been three grey Soviet cities"-Thank you for the reply.

It is said that Kaunus has Lithusnia's most important museums,anything interesting?

Looking forward to more notes from the rest of your trip.
 
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