Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Tallinn's forgotten Härjapea River

Few people might remember it now, but once upon a time a river ran through Tallinn. The 4.5 km Härjapea Jõgi flowed from Lake Ülemiste into the Tallinn Bay and was one of the most exploited rivers in Estonia during the Middle Ages. 


The first watermill was constructed by the river in the 13th century and by the 17th century, there were eight watermills along the river. With the emergence of industry, the Härjapea River became increasingly polluted and for health reasons it was covered. In 1923 it was first covered with planks, then in 1938 it was completed sealed. 

Today,, photos remind us of our forgotten past.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Documentary series: Estonian Footprints in the United Kingdom

'Estonian Footprints in the United Kingdom' is a four part series of short documentaries presented by George Fletcher. The documentaries provide an insight into the Estonian community in the UK and their contribution to society.

The three other episodes of the series are:

Interesting viewing!

Monday, 21 June 2021

My funny Estonian experiences

A level of optimism is sweeping across Europe at the moment. As more and more people are being vaccinated against coronavirus and infection rates continue to fall, the restrictions imposed upon our lives have begun to ease. Now that the weather is warming up, thoughts of a summer holiday frequently cross my mind. It has been a while since I last visited Estonia, over two years and I am eager to return. When I last spoke to my brother, he too expressed his desire to visit Estonia again so a family trip in August might be on the cards.

Over the years I have experienced many interesting things during my time in Estonia. I've also encountered other amusing things whilst being an Estonian travelling abroad. It's great to travel and come home with interesting tales to tell. Here are some of mine.

Estonian kroons

The drunk Russian

In 2005 I was holidaying with my family in Estonia. It was mid-morning and we walking back from the supermarket to our apartment in Tallinn. We were aware of a young man walking behind us but we ignored him until he approached us. He was thin, aged in his early 20s, staggering abit and obviously intoxicated. I noticed he had dried blood on his forehead and it was clear he had been awake all night. He spoke English with a Russian accent and told us he was out of money. He wanted to buy another drink. As we walked he tried to engage us in conversation, we were polite but not willing to keep his "party for one" going. He couldn't tell where we were from, only knew we spoke English and really tried to get us to feel sorry for him. Not getting the result he wanted, he became frustrated and began rambling off different currencies, hoping we might give him some. He first asked for kroons, then euros, dollars, poinds and rubles. He was willing to accept anything. When he said yen, we just had to laugh, obviously we're not from Japan. In the end, we told him it was best for him to just go home but he kept saying 'Why you not give?' Why you not give?' He really expected us to give him some money. In hindsight, we probably should have given him something, just for the comedy. He was quite amusing. When he eventually walked away from us we heard him cursing, saying to himself  'Fuck you, motherfuckers!'. We couldn't help but laugh. Years later, this guy still comes up in our conversations. We like to impersonate him  - he was a real character!

The French flight attendants

Around twelve years ago I boarded an Air France flight in London. I did the usual thing, entered the plane with my boarding pass and passport in hand and approached the flight attendants who would then direct me to my seat. Standing at the entrance were two male stewards, I presented my boarding pass to one of them who then skimmed his finger over to look at my passport. 'Estonie?' he exclaimed excitedly. 'You are Estonian?' he asked. 'Yes, well my father is', I replied. His colleague then pricked up his ears and looked over rather excitedly too. They told me they had never met an Estonian before - I was the first one. They were very happy to meet me. They wanted to take a look at my passport and I let them,. They marvelled at it.with big smiles on their faces. They made such a fuss that I was actually taken back.  I didn't expect that when I boarded the plane, my mind was on other things. The French stewards wanted to engage in conversation but wasn't sure what I should add. I think I eventually said 'you should go to Estonia, it's a beautiful country.' They nodded their heads enthusiastically and said 'yes, yes.' A queue was forming behind me so I bid I them farewell. I then sat down in my seat and thought to myself - that was a first.

Meeting fellow Estonians abroad

I enjoy travelling and like to hear the sound of different accents when I walk through foreign cities. One thing I don't expect to hear during my travels is the Estonian language yet I have come across it several times now. In 2005 I was on holiday with my father in San Francisco, we were in a gift shop when we heard two men speaking what sounded like Estonian. Our ears pricked up instantly when we heard it, but I was a bit further away and unsure, so I whispered to my father 'as you sure they are Estonian? Maybe they're Finnish? 'No, no, they're definitely Estonian' my father replied, smiling. We were chuffed. The thing is when you encounter a fellow Estonian abroad, you feel compelled to say something to them. Acknowledge the shared kinship.  We walked over to them and my father said something like 'you are a long way from home' (in Estonian). They looked up in surprise. One of them said 'seems like you are too'. We then had a little chat and my father explained we are Estonians from Australia.  They said they would like to visit Australia one day. It was a nice encounter.

Another time, I was visiting Eagles Nest in Germany.with my father when we heard Estonian spoken by a family. They were discussing what tickets to buy. Once again, we felt compelled to say something - there's so few of us in the world that it's great when we meet fellow Estonians by chance. We walked over to them and warmly greeted them in Estonian. I noticed their eyes widened in surprise when they realised we could speak Estonian.  We didn't talk long, just wished them well with their tour. It was nice.

Never seen a sign like this before

When I first visited Estonia in 2003, I was taken aback when I saw this sign outside the main train station in Tallinn. It obviously meant people were doing these acts in public and it had become a problem. Never in my life had I seen a sign like this before, I was truly shocked. Urinating is one thing, but the other, that's utterly disgusting. The sign is no longer there so hopefully this means the problem no longer exists.

In the future there will be more trips, more experiences, more things to enlighten and surprise me.  

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Bank of Estonia releases new Finno- Ugric coin

A new €2 coin went into circulation in Estonia today. The commemorative coin is dedicated to the Finno-Ugric people, honouring our roots. The coin features the stone age cave drawings from Äänisjärv showing the sun, the elk, the hunter and the water bird. One million coins featuring the Finno-Ugric design have been minted.

More information about the coin can be found here: Eesti Pank

Monday, 14 June 2021

80th Anniversary of the first mass deportations of people from the Baltic States

On the 14th of June 1941, Estonia experienced one of the darkest days in its history. During the early hours of the morning, innocent people were forcibly removed from their homes, packed into cattle trains and deported to remotes parts of Siberia.  Over 10,000 Estonians were taken - men, women, children, the elderly, babies, no-one was spared if their names appeared on the list. Most of these people perished, some in transit, some from hunger but many from being subjected to harsh conditions in rural Russia. This horrific event not only took place in Estonia, the occupying Soviet forces orchestrated this evil act in Latvia and Lithuania too. Ultimately over 100,000 people had their lives robbed from them in this manner.

We must never forget these crimes committed by the Soviet Union. Nearly every Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian family lost at least one person to the deportations and today we remember and honour them.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Estonia – making the impossible possible

Mini documentary about Estonia's event industry during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Friday, 11 June 2021

Estonia triumphs at the Baltic Cup

It's been a long 83 year wait for football fans in Estonia but last night Estonia finally achieved victory when they beat Lativa 2:1 to win the Baltic Cup. The event took place at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn and Estonian supporters were ecstatic when the final whistle blew. Estonia has not won the Baltic Cup since 1938.

2021 Baltic Cup winners.

Estonia's team from 1938.

The men's national football team is on a hot streak at the moment, they have won three consecutive games for the first time since 2017. Excellent!

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Tallinn's Oldest Museum: House of Peter the Great

The House of Peter the Great is the oldest museum in Tallinn, it was opened in 1806 on the orders of Russian Emperor Alexander I. Tsar Peter I of Russia acquired the 17th-century building in 1714 and used it as his residence during his visits to Tallinn. Both Peter The Great and his wife Catherine I stayed in this house and the Tzar particularly liked the view of the sea and the harbour from Lasnamägi Hill.  In 1718 Peter I acquired the surrounding land and built Kadriorg Palace in honour of his wife. 

Address: Mäekalda tn 2, Tallinn

The House of Peter the Great has a unique collection of paintings,
 including an original portrait of Michael I.

After the construction of Kadriorg Palace this building became
known as the "old palace".

It's well worth the visit!

More information can be found here: House of Peter the Great

Friday, 4 June 2021

Happy National Flag Day! Head Eesti lipu päeva!

Today we celebrate the 137th anniversary of the Estonian flag. The beloved blue, black and white (sinimustvalge) flag of Estonia was first created by a university students' society before being adopted as the national flag of Estonia in 1918. It is dear to us all!

It's the most beautiful flag in the world!

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Estonian names for other European countries

We are all aware that different countries are known by different names throughout the world. English speakers often refer to Deutschland as Germany and Polska as Poland. But what do Estonians call other European countries? This map will show you. It is interesting to note that Great Britain is sometimes called Ühendkuningriik - 'ühend' means 'united' and 'kuningriik' (kingdom) comes from the words 'kuningas' (king) and 'riik' (state).