Wednesday, 30 November 2022

A look at Uralic languages

Today, almost 25 million people belong to the Uralic language family. These languages can be heard spoken in areas that extends from Norway (Sami) Estonia and Finland in the West to the Ob River region (Russia) in the East, to the lower reaches of the Danube (Hungary) in the South. This video takes a look at the Uralic language family.

Friday, 25 November 2022

The Tallinn Christmas Market Opens Today!

Tallinn is a very special place when it comes to Christmas. Not only does it have one of the best Christmas markets in the world but it is also the place where the very first public Christmas tree was erected. The tradition began in the year 1441, when the Brotherhood of the Blackheads (local merchants) put up a Christmas tree on Tallinn's Town Hall Square and decorated it with fruits, nuts and small objects. Decades later the tradition was adopted by Latvia then spread to the rest of the world. Each year a tree is specially chosen to be the centrepiece of the Christmas market. This year the spruce tree comes from Anija.

Monday, 21 November 2022

Tallinn artworks

Tallinn's cityscape has long provided inspiration for painters. Throughout the centuries artists from foreign lands have visited or lived in Tallinn, capturing moments in time in their artworks. Most of these paintings are now housed in various museums, for us and future generations to enjoy. Here are a few of my favourites.

Theodor Albert Sprengel (1875)

Theodor Gelhaar (1835)

Julius Friedrich Tempeltey (1850)

Aleksei Bogoljubov (1853)

Johannes Hau (1830)

Pjotr Vereštšagin (1864)

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Estonia tops PISA for Reading Performance

Estonia once again tops the PISA list, this time in reading. Perhaps snuggling up with good books during the long cold winter months have something to do with this? Well done Estonia!

Friday, 18 November 2022

Estonia's oldest known human settlement

If you have ever wondered where the first Estonians lived then the answer is Pulli. The Pulli settlement is the oldest known human settlement in Estonia, located on the right bank of the Pärnu River. According to carbon dating, Pulli was settled over 11,000 years ago and people would have arrived there from the south after the ice had melted. 

Archaeologists have unearthed over 1175 items from area including tools made mainly from flint, used for hunting and fishing. 

A dog tooth found at the Pulli settlement is the first evidence for the existence of the domesticated dog in Estonia. In October this year a new memorial sculpture was erected in Pulli to mark the significance of the finding. Dogs have long been man's best friends.

The new Pulli statue

Monday, 14 November 2022

Tallinn Named Most Desirable European City

Tallinn recently took home the Silver Award for Most Desirable European City at the Wanderlust Magazine Travel Awards. Wanderlust is the UK’s longest running travel magazine. Congratulations Tallinn -  you are amazing!

At the end of the month, the Tallinn Christmas Market will open. It's one of the best Christmas markets in the world!

Sunday, 13 November 2022

Head Isadepäeva! Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day in Estonia. On this day we give thanks to our fathers who have given us endless love and support. I have a wonderful father who is a very noble, honest and down-to-earth man. He has taught me so much over the years, including learning to tie my shoelaces, riding a bike and to never give up on something just because it appears difficult. Perseverance usually pays off. I can never win an argument with my father when he speaks common sense!

Here I am with my father outside the Sydney Opera House in 1978. Happy Father's Day Dad!

Thursday, 10 November 2022

The beauty of Estonia in winter

It won't be long now until winter is upon us and even though people travel less during winter, Estonia should not be forgotten, it is a splendid place to visit all year round. All you need to do is rug up and stay warm. As the Germans say - Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, nur die falsche Kleidung (there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing). Estonia is simply stunning during the winter months and these photos will show you why.

A true paradise of the north!

Monday, 7 November 2022

An Estonian in Crete

Last week I did something I rarely do, I went on an autumn holiday. I wanted to go some place warm, somewhere to enjoy a last bit of sunshine before winter arrives. To do this I had to head south and after consulting the map I decided upon Crete, one of the most southern points in Europe and also Europe's oldest civilization. I've never been to Greece before so everyday was an adventure.

I flew into Chania, Crete's second largest city and stayed in a villa not far from Kissamos. To my surprise, autumn had not even begun here yet, flowers were still in full bloom and the weather was lovely and warm, everyday the temperature was 22-24 degrees celsius. 

Elafonisi Beach

Crete is very mountainous and often you have to drive through narrow winding roads in the mountains to reach the best beaches. Elafonisi is famous for its pink sand on some of its shore. It's a bit of a trek to get there but absolutely wonderful once you arrive. 

One of the best things about travelling to Crete in late October - great weather and no crowds. 

Another beach I visited was Falassarna, it had beautiful crystal clear water.

Greece's second most popular tourist site is The Palace of Knossos. It is located near Heraklion, Crete's capital city. 

The Palace of Knossos was built by the Minoans and is approximately 4000 years old. It covers an area of 20,000 square metres and contained more than 1000 rooms.

One of the throne rooms remains fairly intact.

Artwork from the Bronze Age. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes to explore the palace ruins.

One thing I enjoyed about Crete was the landscape. It was very different from home with its abundance of  olive trees, cactuses and even gum trees.

Every church I saw in Crete looked immaculate.

Stavros Beach

The 1964 film Zorba the Greek was filmed in Crete and the theme song is still popular to this day. A famous scene from the movie was filmed at Stavros Beach so I went there to take a look at the area.

Many things impressed me about Crete but two things that really stood out were the reasonable prices and the quality of the gift shops. Unlike souvenir shops elsewhere that often sell cheap tacky items made in China, I found most souvenirs in Crete were locally produced and good quality. Shop owners took pride in what they sold. There were so many delightful things to choose from.

It was really good to get away for a week and explore Crete. I really loved the fact that there is less light population on the island of Crete and so you can see the stars clearer in the sky at night. Simply wonderful!.