Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kaunim linn Eestis

I guess I'm lucky that Tartu is not so well known a place with my Estonia travelling compatriots. The crawling distance from Tallinn harbour to the Old Town is thankfully good enough for most. (You don't actually need to leave the harbour nowadays at all for your cheap booze and grub, very practical.) But the hectic rough and tumble of Tallinn is nothing compared with the friendly cerebral Tartu - the first place in Estonia I ever visited, and the best. Estonia is such a lovely country for a Scandinavian traveller. Ideologically I absolutely prefer my native Nordic society with its idiosyncratic Finno-Ugric variations to the very hard and tough, often ice cold Estonian structures, but culturally Estonia feels much more cosmopolitan, both more connected to Central Europe and Russia than our culturally isolated, perennially towards Stockholm turned Finland. You can see this in shops, restaurants and cafés whose quality and variety far exceed our monotonous Scandinavian style industrialized fare. To lazily spend time in summery Tartu is such a luxurious experience, much missed, as these days chances for that don't come very often. Such a lovely place.

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