Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monday June 7 to Thurs. June 10

On Monday, I woke up at 6am and met my friend Molly early in the morning to go with her to work. Molly teaches English at an elementary school in Paris. I went to two classes with her and helped her teach a 2nd and 3rd grade class about numbers. In the first class, the teacher was absent so they were very roudy and difficult to work with. The second class was really great and more cooperative. At the end they sang me songs like "if youre happy and you know it" and "Jingle bells" it was really adorable! I wanted to go because I am interested in doing that too, but I have no teaching experience and often you need teaching experience to do these things.
One really interesting thing about elementary schools is that all the children get picked up by their moms to go to lunch at home.
Then I went to the airport and flew to Helsinki. I arrived at Helsinki and there was a ship i needed to take at 9:30 to Talliin, Estonia. I had to take a bus to the city center and then power walk to the ferry. I didnt get to take any pictures of Helsinki, but from what I saw, it was really beautiful.
The ferry was also really nice. It wasnt really a ferry at all, but really a cruise ship. There were restaurants and bars and gambling, but everything was pretty expensive, so I had a small meal and just watched tv. When we left the port, it was also very beautiful and the sun was still out. In fact, the sun doesnt set here until 10:30 and when I got off the ship at midnight, there was still bright red on the horizon.
Tuesday I just hung out with Triin and her beautiful 8 month old baby girl Stiina. We woke up at about 9am and then had breakfast and got dress and around 11:30 Stiina was ready for her nap which meant we had to go for a walk with her in the stroller. Near where Triin lives, maybe about a 7min walk away, there is a beach! There is a paved walkway that follows the shore from about 50 feet away. The path can go for many many miles along the shore. Unfortunately, its been too cold to go swimming and its definitely not as nice as Tobay!
On the way back, we went to the supermarket, which is just like the supermarkets in the US, I didnt really notice any difference.
Then we came back for lunch. In Estonia, normally people have sandwiches for breakfast, a big meal for lunch, and then salad for dinner.
When Stiina was ready for her next nap we went on a walk to a park that is near by. Triins neighborhood is nice, just a 15 min bus ride to the center of Tallinn or a 7 min car ride. She lives in a one bedroom appartment with her husband Timo and her dog Tommy. My favorite part about their appartment is that they have a small balcony with 2 chairs on it that over looks a forest. It is very picturesque.
When Timo came home from work, Triin and I went in the car to go to see Tallinn. Tallinn is a really cool city that has the "old town" in the center which is basically the original medieval town. Its actually really amazing and beautiful, but it is very touristy. Outside of the old town is "city center" which is much more modern and not as beautiful. Triin and I wandered the streets just so I could see what it looks like and get a feel of it. There is a cool square in the center of it and right now there is a stage because they are having a festival called "old town days" lucky me! They have all kinds of performances and special things going on around the city. Good timing!
After wandering around for a while, Triin and I became hungry again so we ate at Hesburger. Hesburger is this really great fast food place. They have amazing burgers, better than McDonalds I would say. Then we just went home and had a nice quiet evening.
The next day, Triins husband Timo stayed home with Stiina so that Triin could take me to see more of the site in the Old Town. Like I said, this week is the week of Old Town Days, so this day was Museum day (other days are Classical music day, Jazz Day, etc). This meant that a lot of museums were free. Triin took me through the town, starting by walking up a steep hill to a really great look out point over the city. Then we walked through the back part of this city to pass a Russian church. We also saw some people dressed up as medieval archers trying to advertise archery games to tourists. There was a courtyard called the Danish Kings Garden, which is supposedly where the Danish flag was invented. Old Town has a lot of old cobble streets that are narrow and winding and it is easy to get lost there, though it is small so you dont have too much to worry about. We also saw Kiek in de Kok (say it out loud). It is this old tower that also has a great look out and was free because it was the museum day. Apparently there are underground passages beneath the city that have just recently been opened up and you can access them through this museum, but this wasnt free so we didnt do it. Eventually, Triin had to go home because Timo had to stop in his office for some work. So I stayed in the Old Town to look around and enjoy some alone time. I went into the Tallinn museum, again free. They were giving tours in Estonian on their treasury, so I signed up for one and then walked around the museum. They actually had a quite nice museum, which lots of old relics and the history of Tallinn, and a cool area with different old maps of Tallinn and a 3d interactive light up map where you press a button and it lights up on the map. The treasury was kind of boring, just a lot of old stuff they didnt know what to do with, but to me it was kind of neat, since ive always wonder what one would look like. They had a lot of old pots and ceramics and tiles. In the back room there were the remains of a very old well, and some rocks from the foundations of old buildings that were uncovered.
After I walked to the Nigulist Museum which is in a 13th century church. I really wanted to go here because there is a Danse Macabre painting by Bernt Notke that I had studied in my Black Death class.
I then needed to kill some time before Triin was going to come back, so I went into a temporary exhibit on Medieval torture. It was so awesome, with real (copies i guess) devices you can see as well as copies of images (usually woodcuts) and great descriptions. Some things I saw were the rack, a chastity belt, and masks that people wore as a form of shame punishment. I definitly think this was one of the coolest museums Ive ever seen.
After, I had to wait for Triin to come back, so I sat in the square and people watched.
When Triin was able to get back, we went to St. Olafs church which is the highest point in Tallinn. We went to the top, and it was really crazy because you have to walk up these narrow winding stairs very very high up and then you get to the top and its super narrow, the width of 3 wooden planks (i know, bc that is what the ground actually was). The view was spectacular though. The city is on the Baltic Sea, so you can see the water from these high points. Tallinn is also a popular cruise destination, so there are often 3 or 4 large cruise ships in the harbor.
We then went down, there is an actual church but its pretty lame with white walls and no decorations. We sped over to the Estonian Maritime Museum, which was also free. There were a lot of old people in the museum, I think there must have been a show about to go on or something. So Triin and I beat our way through the crowd up the stairs to the top of another spectacular view on top of what is called Fat Margarets cannon tower. This view was much closer to the water than St. Olafs, but it was much lower. Then we sped down the stairs because we needed to be home before Stiina needed dinner. We stopped for our own dinner on the way back at an Italian restaurant that had really great pizzas, salada, and pastas. At this restaurant, you get a card and you order at different areas. They make the food right in front of you. Triin and I both had different types of raviolis that were superbe. Then they wave your card in front of the resgister and when youre ready to leave you go to the front desk and pay there and everything you ordered comes up on the card. I thought that was pretty cool and modern. Food is also very cheap here compared to Paris and Denmark. It was about 10 euro for one of our dinners at this place, and Triin said that was on the expensive side.
Today Triin had to stay home with Stiina, so I took a 15 min bus into the city by myself. It was really nice to have this day to myself, since it was such a beautiful day out and the Old Town is so charming to me. I ran to catch up to a free 2 hour tour that goes through the city. By the time I got there I was an hour late, but it was ok bc it was sooooo boring. The tourguide was a young girl, and it was in English, but her jokes were so bad. So I started talking to this girl from San Diego who went to Harvard (gasp!) and is now living in Berlin or something. We decided to ditch the tour, which had now gone past 2 hours long, and have some lunch. After searching for a good but reasonably priced place, we found a little bakery where I had some pastry with ham and cheese in it, a yogurt, and water. The whole thing came out to the equivalent of 3 euros!!! AMAZING!
After having lunch with the girl, I realized I wasnt really in the mood to make friends and wanted to be on my own again. We went to the oldest pharmacy in Tallinn together, which I thought would just be a modern pharmacy but just in the place of where the old one had been for centuries. Negative. It was so cool! It was a regular pharmacy, but it also had old jars and siringes, herbs, and cool remedies such as mummy parts and dried dog poop. Then I told the girl I was shipping off and just started to wander the streets. I really love this part of the city, and to be honest, I dont have too much interest in seeing the more modern part of the city. So I walked around. I hung out in Freedom Square, catching some rays and writing some postcards. Then I wandered behind the square to see the opera house, which really wasnt anything too special. So I stopped and had an ice cream and went back to Freedom Square to enjoy it. Then I went back through the city to look at the streets again. There is a tourist booth meant for young people subsidised by the state or something so I talked with a guy my age about different bars and travelling and stuff which was nice to finally talk to another person. Then I walked to the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin which has all the coats of arms of Tallinns old nobility which was really cool!
I also saw a group of people who do reinactments of Medieval times all day long! They were just hanging out in old looking clothes with a fire and a tee pee and sewing or chatting.
There is also a park that makes a cresent around the east side of the city that is very beautiful so I walked around there for a long while, then wandered back to the bus station and went to go home.
When I got back, Triin was walking the baby and the dog with her younger sister who is 17. When we got back, Timo was home so we played with the baby until dinner was ready. For dinner Triin made this amazing meal with carrots, potatoes, broccoli, califlower, and chicken with coconut oil. It was actually really amazing and I ate all the veggies!!!
After dinner and chores, Triin and I went to Pirita beach. Here there is a huge outdoor concert hall that looks like it would be so awesome for festivals. It has a really nice park around it that we walked in.
After we drove to the boardwalk that is along the beach. The sun was setting so it was really beautiful! We had the dog too so that fun too.
Im trying to upload pictures from Estonia, but facebook is being a pain, so it may take a while...
Also, if youre reading this, leave comments every now and then, because thats how I know people are actually reading this and Im not just writing to myself! haha