Monday, 26 December 2011

Estonian Song Book

When I was in Tallinn a few weeks ago I was in search of a Christmas carols book with the lyrics written in Estonian. Unfortunately I was unable to find one but a helpful woman working in the book section of the Kaubamaja recommended to me  "Meie Lapse Lauluraamat". I followed her advice and purchased the book online and when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does the book contain some Christmas songs but it also has many children's nursery rhymes, all with the accompanying sheet music. Very cute indeed.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Estonian DVD Recommendations

In this year's Melbourne International Film Festival I was surprised to discover that two Estonian films featured in the program. "Sky Song" directed by Mati Butt and "Escape / Põgenemine" directed by Kristjan Holm were both well received.

One of the best places to buy Estonian DVDs is in the media section of the Kaubamaja department store in Tallinn. Here they have a whole section dedicated to Estonia films, both new releases and classics.

According to a poll that was conducted in 2002 by Estonian film critics and journalists, the top ten Estonian feature films are as follows:

1. Kevade (1969) directed by Arvo Kruusement

2. Hullumeelsus (1968) directed by Kaljo Kask

3. Ideaalmaastik (1980) directed by Peeter Simm

4. Vimne Reliikvia (1969) directed by Grigori Kromanov

5. Georgica (1998) directed by Sulev Keedus

6. Nipernaadi (1993) directed by Kaljo Kiisk

7. Hukkumud Alpinisti Hotell (1979) directed by Grigori Kromanov

8. Naerata Ometi (1985) directed by Leida Laius & Arvo Iho

9. Põrgupõhja uus Vanapagan (1964) directed by Grigori Kromanov & Juri Muur

10. Tuulte Pesa (1979) directed by Olav Neuland


Viimne Reliikvia (The Last Relic) has become a cult classic in Estonia. It is famed for its unique soundtrack, comedy elements and medieval battle scenes.  I must admit that the song Põgene, vaba laps! is a catchy little tune which I often find myself singing at home from time to time.
Other Estonian films I have in my DVD collection I feel are worth mentioning are:

Nimed Marmortahvlil (2002) directed by Elmo Nüganen. It is a film about Estonian freedom fighters. How a group of schoolboys fought Soviet soldiers and won freedom in 1918.

Georg (2007) directed by Peeter Simm. It is a film about the life of legendary Estonian singer Georg Ots.

Where to Find Accommodation in Estonia

I was recently emailed a link to a new website which makes it quick and easy to find accommodation in Estonia. You can check it out here -

Map of Estonia

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tallinn Christmas Markets

Since 1991 Tallinn has hosted the annual Christmas Markets in the Raekoja Plats (Town Square). Here you can find an abundance of handmade crafts, food and wine. The markets open during the last week in November and close after Orthodox Christmas which is 7th January.   

Thursday, 8 December 2011

How to Sing "Silent Night" in Estonian

Püha öö
Püha öö, õnnistud öö
Kõik on maas, rahu sees
Joosep valvab ja Marial seal
Hingab lapsuke põlvede peal
Maga patuste rõõm!
Maga patuste rõõm!

Püha öö, õnnistud öö
Ingli hääl välja peal
Laulab rõõmsasti Halleluuja!
Annab teade ka kajastele
Kristus sündinud teil
Kristus sündinud teil!

Püha öö, õnnistud öö
Kes sa meil ilmutand
Isa armu, mis önnistust toob,
Rahupõlve maailmale loob
Laulgem Halleluuja!
Laulgem Halleuuja!

Silent Night
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly host sing Alleluia!
Christ, the saviour is born
Christ, the saviour is born!

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How to Sing "Oh Christmas Tree" in Estonian

During my recent trip to Tallinn the only item I was unable to buy on my shopping list was an Estonian Christmas carols book. I really wanted to get my hands on a copy because the only carol we sing in Estonian in my family is "Oh Christmas Tree" and I want to learn more. I made a few enquiries but unfortunately they were all sold out. I was told there was a copy available in Viljandi but I wasn't in a position to travel there. Maybe I could find a copy online.

"Oh kuusepuu"
"O Christmas Tree"
Oh kuusepuu, oh kuusepuu
     O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Kui haljad on su oksad!
     How are thy leaves so verdant!
Ei mitte üksi suisel a’al.
     Not only in the summertime,
Vaid talvel ka siin külmal maal
     But even in winter is thy prime.
Oh kuusepuu, oh kuusepuu
     O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Kui haljad on su oksad!
     How are thy leaves so verdant!


Christmas Shopping in Tallinn

Now that I'm living back in Europe I thought to myself where do I want to do my Christmas shopping this year? Tallinn of course! When I told my sisters I was going they made me laugh because I was expecting them to say to just buy them a little surprise but they actually gave me a list of all the thing they wanted! I wasn't planning on that. So all weekend I was running around Tallinn in search of these items and luckily I found them.

Winter has come late to Europe this year. I was hoping for snow in Tallinn so I could take a few good photographs but it wasn't to be on this occasion. Maybe I will return for the Independence Day celebrations in February.

I usually stay at the Old House apartments whenever I'm in Tallinn but unfortunately they were fully booked. Looking elsewhere I was surprised how difficult it was to find a hotel room, even for one person but I managed to find one at the Meriton Grand Conference and Spa Hotel. It's located on the other side of the Old Town near the Parliament building. The room cost only 70 Euros a night including breakfast and is only a 7 euro taxi fare from the airport.

Tallinn was buzzing last weekend. Walking down the streets I heard a whole range of accents but the majority of them were Russian. I discovered there were several Russian tour groups in town and some of them were staying at the same hotel as me. I found it amusing when I spoke to market sellers in Estonian but they all said goodbye to me in Russian. I know I do look Russian, I have Russian heritage but I didn't say one single word in Russian so they shouldn't say it to me. I think once I gave in and replied "paka" as I left the stall.

The Christmas markets in Tallinn are located in the town square and there are also some outside the Viru Keskus (shopping centre) too. The Old Town is full of souvenir and craft shops with Estonian wares and if you can't find what you are after in one of those shops, you can always visit the Kaubamaja. I had a really good look around the Kaubamaja during this trip because I was travelling alone and I didn't have anyone telling me to hurry up. Sometimes it is hard travelling with family because everyone wants to do different things. I know my father hates walking around shops all day but women love it.

I think I got a bit carried away with my Christmas shopping because when the time came to check in at the airport  I discovered I was 6kg over with my luggage. It was the first time in my life I had to pay an excess luggage fee. I couldn't leave anything behind so I had to pay. It's all worth it in the end though.