Monday, 27 August 2018

A look at Tartu railway station

One of the things I enjoy doing the most when in Estonia is visiting the places my family used to frequent when they lived there. Much has changed in the country since the 1940s but many things have remained the same or improved in some way. I love visiting places like Maiasmokk Cafe, The Raeapteek and St.Olaf Church. Places I have a connection to which still stand today. 

I love old railway stations with their timber interiors and old world charms. For me they represent the Golden Age of the railways. Unfortunately, too many stations throughout the world have become too modernised or get demolished and replaced with ugly glass structures. They lose their character. However, this is not the case in Tartu station. It has been refurbished and maintains many of its original features.

Tartu railway station was established in 1876 when the Tapa–Tartu route was created. The station building was opened in 1877.

The station consists of  two platforms with lengths of 260m and 330m.

The station has received a complete overhaul and was re-opened to passengers in 2012.

High ceilings with beautiful timber interiors.

Services from Tallinn to Tartu are operated by Elron. The journey takes approximately two hours. 

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Victims of Communism Memorial opened in Tallinn

On 23 August, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, a new Communism memorial was opened in Tallinn.  The memorial lists the names of more than 22,000 people who lost their lives under the communist regime, the majority of them perished far from home, and are buried in unmarked graves. The memorial is located in the Tallinn's Maarjamäe area.

In the summer of 1940, Estonia's military elite and the heroes of the War of Independence were the first to fall victim to Soviet terror. The Red Army then systematically destroyed the fabric of the Republic of Estonia by robbing it of its statehood and defenders.

The Victims of Communism Memorial was built to coincide with Estonia's centenary. It consists of two parts: "The Journey" and "Home Garden." The first consists of a memorial corridor inscribed with the names of more than 22,000 victims. This corridor represents the mercilessness and brutality of the totalitarian regime. The "Home Garden" represents peace and safety, it includes a park with apple trees and bees along the parkside wall.

The wall is inscribed with famous lines from the Juhan Liiv poem "Ta lendab mesipuu poole," (He flies towards the beehive) likening Estonians to bees returning to their hive:

"Ja langevad teele tuhanded
veel koju jõuavad tuhanded
ja viivad vaeva ja hoole
ja lendavad mesipuu poole."

Every family in Estonia lost someone due to the Soviet occupation. Mine was no exception. Lest we forget.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

ERSP - The Estonian National Independence Party

As the Soviet Union was a single-party state ruled by the Communist Party, the mere idea that there could be other parties was inconceivable. Yet in August 1988, the first alternative party in the USSR was founded – the Estonian National Independence Party. Watch this short film to learn more about this historic event that took place 30 years ago!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Estonia is the most united nation in the world

Last night Estonians from around the world sang together to celebrate 100 years of independence. More than 52,000 people joined the choir online via a special app and thousands gathered at the Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn. It was truly a remarkable events that united all Estonians.

Today we celebrate the Day of Restoration of Independence. 27 years ago Estonia restored its independence. It is a day cherished by all. I only wish my grandparents lived long enough to see their beloved Estonia free again. I will celebrate this day in their honour. Long live Estonia! Elagu Eesti!  

Friday, 17 August 2018

Three books to add to your collection in honour of EV100

Now that Estonia's Grand Celebration Week is underway, it's a good time to take a look at some quality keepsakes to mark the occasion. During my last trip to Estonia in May I purchased all three of these books. They make an excellent addition to any Estonian's home.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, TEA Publishers has produced the ultimate Estonian reference book. Republic of Estonia 100 is a comprehensive encyclopaedia containing everything that defines and characterises Estonia. The book is divided into 6 chapters with a general introductory chapter followed by History, Population, Nature, Economy and Culture. The 160-page hardcover volume provides an overview of how the Republic of Estonia was created, how it lost its independence, what life was like in exile and in occupied Estonia, as well as how independence was restored. 

Republic of Estonia 100 is illustrated with more than 1,000 new and historic photographs and numerous maps, charts and tables. Over 250 authors, compilers, editors, consultants and illustrators contributed to the production of this book. Copies of Republic of Estonia 100 are available in both Estonian and English.

If you take pride in your parish colours then you are sure to find this book interesting. Eesti Kihelkondade Värvid was written by Reet Piiri from the Estonian National Museum. The book is a great reference tool for sourcing parish colours and makes it easy to get the tones right by providing all the colour codes.  Great for all craft projects!

Estonians have a deep connection to nature and the forest which is why it has a strong presence in Estonian folklore. Tales of  supernatural beings, crafty animals and people living in the forest have entertained Estonians for generations. In honour of the Republic of Estonia's 100th birthday, Deep in the Forest has been published in English and features a collection of 100 fairytales relating to the forest. Many of the fairytales that appear in the book were written in the mid to late 1800s and are an enjoyable read.  I highly recommend!

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Special Event - Estonia 100 Grand Celebration Week - August 20

Põlvest põlve - from generation to generation.

Open-air performance ‘Saja-aastane öö’.

Time: 20 August at 10 p.m.
Place: Pärnu Vallikäär
Entrance: Free

The performance features folk dancers, musicians, acrobats, fire-swallowers, and members of the Defence League to celebrate the restoration of Estonia's independence.

For more information:

Monday, 13 August 2018

Video: Kihnu culture

Home to a community of 600 people, Kihnu is an island rich in history and culture.

August 13 is Left Handers' Day!

Happy Left Handers' Day! I only recently discovered that there is actually a special day for this and since I am left handed myself, I thought I might mention it. I quite like the fact that I am left handed as I have no problem being a little bit different from everyone else. I enjoy the fact that I am creative, someone who thinks outside of the box and can multi-task with ease. It comes naturally.

A few years ago while I was in Tallinn I had a fascinating encounter with some of my relatives. I was sitting in a cafe with my third cousin Natalja and her daughter Katriin when we all simutaneously picked up our spoons and began stirring our coffee's at the same time. This in itself was no big deal until Natalja pointed out that we were all doing it with our left hands!  I had no idea they were both left handed. I was truly amazed! Not even in my immediate family is anyone left handed, apart from one uncle, so to realise this was truly amazing. Natalja is the grand-daughter of my grandfather's cousin Ralf which shows this gene is particularly strong in that side of the family.  I was delighted to discover this!

A few facts about left handed people:
1. Make up roughly 12% of the population.
2. Use the right side of the brain the most.
3. Better at 3D perception and thinking.
4. Better at multi-tasking.
5. Have good leadership qualities.
6. Left-handed people are often quite athletic, roughly 40% of the top tennis players are lefties.

Left-handed people tend to make more use of the right side of their brains.

Famous left handed people:
Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart,  
Albert Einstein, Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, 
Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt and Tom  Cruise. 
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William are all left handed too..

For more information, please refer to the official website Happy Left Handers Day!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Estonia ranks 2nd for cleanest food in Europe

Pure food comes from a clean environment. Our nature inspires our food industry to produce clean and nutritious products. This is the slogan for Estonian food industry: fresh air, clean water, pure food. Now the claim is backed up by a recent EU study.

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 2017 study which looked into residual pesticides, Estonia has the second cleanest food in Europe.

The percentage of residual pesticides in Estonian food is over two times less than the EU average (18% vs 42,1%), only bettered by our good Nordic neighbours Finland.

Pure food comes from a clean environment. According to World Health Organisation Estonia is ranked fourth by urban air quality. Over half of our territory is covered with forests of which 45 percent are organic collection areas. Our nature inspires our food industry to produce clean and nutritious products.

Our climatic location also gives us an advantage. Most plant pests do not survive sub-zero winter temperatures, so in a way cold is our best pesticide. It means, we do not have to use strong insecticides common in tropical climates.

Source: Estonia has 2nd cleanest food in Europe. For more information, please click on the EFSA website:

Monday, 6 August 2018

Learn Estonian with "Viimne Reliikvia"

The Estonian film Viimne Reliikvia (The Last Relic) is a cult classic. The film was produced in 1969 and in 2000 the Estonian Film Foundation declared Viimne Reliikvia to be an important part of Estonian cultural heritage. In 2002 the film was digitalised and once again became a bestseller and usually appears on Estonian television at least once a year. 

For those seeking to learn Estonian, these clips from the film may help you with your meeting and greetings.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Estonia 100 Grand Celebration Week 17 - 25 August 2018

During the 100th anniversary year of the Republic of Estonia, the country will celebrate re-independence day with a week of summer celebrations from August 17 to 25.

The Grand Celebration Week will start on August 17 with the first poetry festival in Rakvere and will conclude on August 25 with a night of ancient bonfires.

One of the highlights of the week will be the global sing-along on August 19, that will bring together people from various parts of the world to sing the songs they love. Tour d'ÖÖ (“Tour of the Night”) is also holding a cycling tour during the centenary year, which will encircle all of Estonia during the Grand Celebration Week. For more information, please refer to the official web site:

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Inaugural Ironman Tallinn to bring thousands of foreigners to Estonia - ERR News

On Saturday Tallinn will become the second European capital after Copenhagen to host a full-distance Ironman triathlon event, attracting thousands of foreigners to the Estonian capital for a five-day sporting event programme.

"At least 3,000 foreigners will be coming to Tallinn for the week to either compete or cheer on [the triathletes], taking part in the inaugural Ironman Tallinn triathlon and other events," chief event organiser Ain-Alar Juhanson said at an event press conference on Monday according to a press release. "Everyone is welcome to come cheer on [the participants]! Tallinn and Estonia will become konwn as an Ironman competition location, and in addition to international recognition as a capital of sports, the Ironman taking place here will have a huge economic impact."

"Hosting the Ironman Tallinn competition is an incredible opportunity for a variety of reasons — a new and huge international sporting event is coming to Tallinn which will introduce the city of Tallinn and Estonia to the entire world," said Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev. "Organising a triathlon is likewise a new experience, but all obstacles thus far have been resolved in cooperation with various organisations and partners."

Juhanson said that the triathlon competition routes were planned so as to impact locals' everyday lives as little as possible. He noted that not a single public transport route would be suspended, but that ten stops in the city would be temporarily relocated.

Locals have also been ensured that they will be guaranteed access to and from their homes even along the race route, but organisers are asking visitors and residents alike to take into account when planning that movement through and around route areas may be slow or delayed due to changes in traffic patterns as well as passing competitors.

One Ironman competition, days of events

On Saturday, 4 August, more than 1,400 athletes from over 50 countries will compete in the full-length Ironman Tallinn triathlon, swimming a single loop of 3.8 km in Tallinn Bay, biking two loops west of the capital city and back totalling 180 km and running four loops totalling 42.2 km through Tallinn's medieval Old Town before finishing in Freedom Square.

The main event will be preceded on Wednesday, 1 August by Pom'bel Ironkids children's competitions and Friday, 3 August by the Seve Ehitus 4.2 km charity run and followed on Sunday, 5 August by the Telia 4:18:4 triathlon.

From 1-5 August, a competition centre and sports market will be open to athletes and visitors in Tallinn's Freedom Square.