Monday, 27 March 2023

Marie Under was born 139 years ago today

Marie Under was one of Estonia's greatest poets. She produced numerous works that have been translated into over 26 languages and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 12 separate years. Marie Under died in Sweden in 1980 at age 97.

Marie Under 1883–1980.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Viimane Vahipost soon to be released in cinemas

A new Estonian film will be released in cinemas across Estonia on March 17. Viimane Vahipost / The Last Sentinel is a futuristic si-fi thriller that was filmed in and around Tallinn and was directed by Tanel Toom.
After serving two years on a military outpost in the middle of an ocean – four soldiers are waiting for a new crew to replace them. When the long-awaited boat finally appears, it’s empty with no relief on board. When trying to find out what happened to the boat and the missing crew, they realise they’ve lost all communications with home. Cut off from the rest of the world and no one coming to get them, Baines, Sullivan, Cassidy and Hendrichs must fight with suspicions about each other and find a new way to get home. If home still exists.

Friday, 3 March 2023

How a high school in Estonia has almost achieved carbon neutrality

Põlva in south-eastern Estonia is proud of its flagship public high school the first in the country with a near-zero carbon footprint. Polva Gümnaasium is a European project that offers sustainable energy solutions ranging from the choice of building materials, such as wood, to the way this smart building is run. The project is being taken as a model, not only in Estonia but also abroad.


Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Northern Lights adorn the sky in Estonia

These stunning photographs were recently taken by Estonian meteorologist Kairo Kiitsak in Vääna-Jõesuu. Nature can be so beautiful!


Monday, 27 February 2023

Estonia ranks 4th in the World for Press Freedom

Once again Estonia has scored highly in global rankings, this time in the category of freedom of the press. It's great to see Estonia performing well along side its Nordic neighbours. Sadly, to the east of Estonia, freedom of the press simply doesn't exist.

Sunday, 26 February 2023

Eesti hümn / Estonian National Anthem

As our weekend of Independence Day celebrations are about to come to an end, I thought I might share this video. It's always nice to listen to different renditions of the Estonian National anthem.

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Ukrainian hearts with Estonia on Independence Day

As a sign of gratitude to the Estonian people for all their help and support, Ukrainians sang 'Ta lendab mesipuu poole' on Independence Day. Juhan Liiv's beloved poem Ta lendab mesipuu poole (He Flies Toward the Beehive) has much meaning for Estonians as they lived in exile or under the Soviet occupation. Like the bee that leaves the beehive and later returns, a human being can also go away and come back home. Ukrainians can also relate to this and one day they will return home, once the occupiers are defeated.

Friday, 24 February 2023

Happy Independence Day! Head Vabariigi Aastapäeva!

The Republic of Estonia was born one hundred and five years ago. Today Estonians around the world celebrate this joyous day by displaying our beloved blue, black and white flag with pride.

The Estonian Declaration of Independence / The Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia.
A beautifully written document stating that Estonians want a home 
of their own and to join the family of civilised nations.

First Estonian Independence Day celebration on 24th February 1919.

Elagu Eesti! Long live Estonia!

Sunday, 19 February 2023

Estonia's Guinness World Record Facts

If you have ever wondered how many times Estonia is mentioned in The Guinness Book of Records, the answer is currently 94. Since 1955 The Guinness Book of Records has been educating readers about mankind's achievements in a multitude of fields. Some of these achievements are quite impressive, some surprising whilst others are a bit on the quirky side. The record book contains a treasure trove of information for anyone who loves facts. Here are five Guinness World Records about Estonia you might find interesting.

1. First FIFA World Cup qualifying match. Estonia vs. Sweden.

On 11 June 1933, Sweden beat Estonia 6–2 in the first ever qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup. Later in the tournament Estonia made it through to the quarter-finals.

2. Estonia has the oldest Viking boats

Two ships found on the island of Saaremaa are the oldest Viking boats in the world. The first boat was discovered in 2008, and a second in 2010. The boats contained the bodies of over 30 warriors and four dogs, they were covered with their shields and buried with their bent swords. Radio carbon dating has dated them to between 700-750 AD.

3. Largest matchstick

In 2004 Jaanus Ruuben created the world's largest matchstick. It measured 6.235 metres (20 ft 5 in) long with a cross section of 27.5 cm (10.8 in). It was lit at the Ugala Theatre in Viljandi.

4. Farthest swim with a monofin

On her 30th birthday, Merle Liivand swam 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) off Miami Beach, Florida, achieving the world record for the farthest swim with a monofin. She swam without using her arms, propelling herself with just her mermaid-like fin, for a total of 9 hours and 19 minutes.

5. Most X Games medals won by a teenager

Freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru has won the most X Games medals (10) between 29 January 2016 and 21 January 2022. She has won a total of six golds, three silvers and a bronze before her 20th birthday. Kelly is an Estonian sporting superstar!

Saturday, 18 February 2023

The beauty of Tallinn in winter

There is something magical about walking around Tallinn in the middle of the night when there's no-one around. The streets are quiet and peaceful and the gentle glow of lights against the white snow really makes the city look amazing. Tallinn is truly beautiful in winter. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Head Sõbrapäev! Happy Valentine's Day!

In Estonia, Valentine's Day (Sõbrapäev) is not just about romantic love. The day also provides an opportunity for Estonians to celebrate friendship as well as their love for family members. Today, I will probably buy myself a few treats (a bit of self love)  as I love candles and the practice of hygge.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Singer Alika to represent Estonia at Eurovision

Twenty-year-old Alika Milova from Narva won Eesti Laul last night with her song 'Bridges'. Alika will now go on to represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Liverpool, England, in May. She is scheduled to perform in the second semi-final on May 11. Good luck!

Saturday, 11 February 2023

February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls In Science

Today we celebrate the 8th International Women In Science Day. A woman to be remembered on this day is Alma Tomingas, who, in 1940 became the first Estonian female professor at the University of Tartu. She was a pharmacologist and dedicated her life to the study and cultivation of medicinal herbs.

Dr pharm Alma Tomingas

In 2022 a building in Ülemiste City was named after her.

Today in Estonia, 53% of women have higher education, ranking then third in Europe. 42% of Estonian researchers and 26% of professors are women.

Friday, 10 February 2023

Archaeologists excited about new find at Kalamaja

Archaeologists working on an excavation site along Vana-Kalamaja tänav in Tallinn recently unearthed pavement from the medieval Nunne tänav as well as several other items dating back to the same period. As little is known about the Kalamaja of that era, this find has an important place in the area's history.

To read the full ERR News story, please click here.

In 2018 a treasure trove of 20,000 artifacts were also discovered in the Kalamaja area dating back to the 14th century.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Estonia second best in EU for renewable energy

In the European Union, the share of renewable energy in gross final consumption for heating and cooling was 22.9% in 2021. In Estonia that figure was much higher at 61.3% making it the second best performer behind Sweden. Most of the renewable energy comes from biomass and heat pumps and the current trend is gradually increasing.

The EU countries with the highest level of renewal energy are: Sweden (68.6%), Estonia (61.3%) Latvia (57.4%). The lowest are Ireland (5.2%), The Netherlands (7.7%) and Belgium (9.2%).

Well done Estonia!

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Jaan Kross' ''A Book of Falsehoods'' now available in English

If you are like me and have been eagerly awaiting the release of the final installment in the Between Three Plagues trilogy by Jaan Kross, then you'll be pleased to know it's finally available in English. After a few delays with the translation release date (it was originally scheduled for last year) readers can now continue the journey of Balthasar Russow in this epic historic novel.

Jaan Kross' A Book of Falsehoods : Between Three Plagues Volume 3 can be purchased from all good book sellers. I purchased my copy at the Book Depository.

Monday, 30 January 2023

January 30 is Estonian Literature Day

Today, for the first time in Estonia, we celebrate a new national holiday - the Day of Estonian Literature. On this day we commemorate the birthday of acclaimed Estonian writer Anton Hansen Tammsaare who has contributed so much to Estonia's literary culture.

Statue of Anton Hansen in Tallinn's Tammsaare Park.

Anton Hansen Tammsaare's most classic work is Truth and Justice and it is interesting to note that over the generations,  many people have named their children after characters from his books. I once met a woman who lived in Albu who named her son Pearu. She seemed quite proud to have given him that name!

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Estonian roast pork recipe

Roast pork is a family favourite in Estonia. I last made one on Christmas Eve then realised it's been a while, so I did another one last night. The combination of flavours - pork, cabbage and potatoes is classic Estonian.  It's absolutely delicious!

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Natural wonder: rare ice eggs found on the west coast of Estonia

On the shore of Kabli beach in Pärnumaa a very rare phenomenon can be seen when conditions are just right. Ice eggs, or ice balls as they are known, form when the temperature falls slightly below freezing along the shallow and slightly sloping sandy beach. A slight swell in the water then creates a gentle back and forth rocking motion that results in small pieces of sea ice collecting into smooth and round egg like shapes. Estonian nature is so beautiful!

Ice eggs at sunset

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

How tennis began in Estonia

With the Australian Open currently taking place in Melbourne it made me wonder about the history of tennis in Estonia. The first tennis club in Estonia was formed in Narva-Jõesuu (formerly known by the German name Hungerburg) in 1909. The sport was initally played by the Baltic Germans then became increasingly popular with Estonians. By 1913 the Kalev tournament had all Estonian participants including the multi talented Eduard Hiiop who was an accomplished skater, gymnast, athlete and cyclist. 

Estonia has produced many fine tennis players over the years including Anett Kontaveit, Jürgen Zopp, Kaia Kanepi, Kristian Lasn and Maret Ani who are considered some of Estonia's best.

More information about the history of tennis in Estonia can be found here Eesti Tennis 100

Saturday, 21 January 2023

Saturday is sauna day in Estonia!

When it's cold and miserable outside the sauna is the perfect place to be to warm up and revitalise. I have a sauna at home and haven't been using it enough lately but I will set time aside today. It has so many health benefits. Sauna design has really come along in recent years and I'm curious to experience them firsthand during my future trips to Estonia.

Interesting fact: Lammasmäe Holiday Centre now has a new sauna that is believed to be the world's first peat sauna. You can learn more about it here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Who were the Baltic Germans?

If you know anything about Estonian history, then you will have heard about the Baltic Germans who used to have a major influence in the region. Where did they come from? How long did they stay? Why did they leave and what did they leave behind? The Estonian TV program "Uudishimu tippkeskus" (Center for Curiosity) recently explored this topic and you can watch a short video about it here.

Monday, 16 January 2023

Tallinn's PROTO Invention Factory

If you are looking for something interesting to do during your next trip to Tallinn then take a look at the Proto Invention Factory. This unique family-friendly attraction opened its doors in October 2019 and offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in an interactive fantasy world using cutting-edge technology. The world that opens up through virtual reality goggles creates a direct sensory experience for the visitor. Visitors are taken back to a time where they can drive the world’s first car and steam locomotive, walk on the bottom of the ocean, and fly over the clouds in the world’s first hot air balloon. All the games and activities take place in the historic Noblessner Foundry building located in north Tallinn. More information can be found here.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Tickets for the XIII Youth Song and Dance Festival are now on sale!

The 13th Youth Dance Celebration will take place in Tallinn this year from Friday 30th June 2023 until Sunday 2nd July 2023. Tickets can now be purchased online from the Laulupidu website.

The 13th Youth Dance Celebration “Bridges” will take place on 30 June and 1 July of 2023. A total of three Dance Celebration performances will take place. During the two days of the Dance Celebration, a total of three identical performances will take place at Kalev Central Stadium in Tallinn. The approximate length of each performance is 1½ to 2 hours.

The 13th Youth Song Celebration "Holy is maa" (Holy is the Land) will take place on 2 July 2023. The Song Celebration concert will take place at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. The approximate length of the concert will be six hours. The performers will include young children’s choirs, children’s choirs, boys’ choirs, mixed choirs, girls’ choirs, male youth choirs, wind orchestras and symphony orchestras. The concert will begin and end with performances by the combined choir. The programme includes works by Estonian composers through the ages. The concert will be preceded by the ceremonial procession of the participants through the centre of Tallinn. The procession can be watched along the five-kilometre route for free.

The song and dance festival tradition has been included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. It's a wonderful sight to behold!

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

13 Inspirational quotes

A new year brings with it an opportunity to start afresh and pursue new dreams and plans or to explore different ways to achieve long-held goals. Sometimes words of wisdom encourage us to take that bold step to pursue those dreams. Here are thirteen quotes written in Estonian with English translations.

1. Miski pole aja raiskamine, kui kasutate kogemust arukalt (nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely) - Julius Caesar

2. Edasijõudmise saladus on alustamine (the secret of getting ahead is getting started) - Mark Twain

3. Enamik inimesi otsib rõõmu nii kärsitult kiirustades, et nad tormavad sellest mööda (most people seek happiness in such a hurry that they rush past it) - Soren Kierkegaard

4. Tulevik kuulub neile, kes usuvad oma unistuste ilu (the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams) - Eleanor Roosevelt

5. Rikkus ei seisne aarete omamises, vaid nendest kasu saamises (wealth is not the possession of treasures, but the benefit of them) - Napoleon I

6. Sa ei pääse homse vastutuse eest, vältides seda täna (you cannot escape tomorrow's responsibility by avoiding it today) - Abraham Lincoln

7. Õnnetus on iseloomude proovikiv (misfortune is a test of character) - Honore de Balzac

8. Kogemus on kõigi asjade õpetaja (experience is the teacher of all things) - Julius Caesar

9. Kui kaev on tühi, siis tunneme vee väärtust (when the well is empty, we know the value of water)  - Benjamin Franklin.

10. Kui sa lähed läbi põrgu, astu aga muudkui edasi (if you're going through hell, keep going) - Winston Churchill

11. Teada, mõelda, unistada. Selles on kõik (to know, to think, to dream. That's all there is to it) - Victor Hugo

12. Tarvitage, kuid ärge kuritarvitage - selline on tarkuse reegel. Õnne ei too ei kasinus ega liigsus (use, but do not abuse - this is the rule of wisdom. Neither austerity nor excess brings happiness) - Voltaire

13. Inimesed, kes saavutavad maailmas edu, on need, kes tõusevad ja otsivad endale vajalikku juhust (the people who succeed in the world are those who rise and seek the opportunity they need) - George Bernard Shaw

Monday, 2 January 2023

A great read for the holiday season - Sailing to Freedom

If you are like me and always on the lookout for a good Estonian themed book to read, I recommend 'Sailing to Freedom.' I was recently introduced to this book to by Sirje at the Estonian consulate in Salzburg who told me it's a great real life escape story that took place in 1945. I'm halfway through the book at the moment and found it to be a real page turner. I can well imagine the fear and uncertainty these people experienced because my Estonian grandparents would have felt similar emotions during this time. Thank goodness they all made it to safety!


If you are interested in other Estonian stories that have been translated into English, ERR News recently published a list of the Best Estonian books in translation in 2022

Sunday, 1 January 2023

Happy New Year! Head uut aastat!

Happy New Year everyone! Looking forward to a bigger, brighter and more optimistic 2023! This year I intend to read more, travel more and indulge in simple pleasures that bring happiness. I have been writing this blog since 2011 and have nearly 700,000 pageviews from readers all over the world. What began as a humble hobby has grown into an enduring labour of love. Thanks for reading!