Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I made it to Europe!
...to the far northeast corner of Europe, at that! And yes, Estonia is in Europe, since it is in the EU (even if they don't use the Euro yet; they still have their own currency, the "kroon").
I arrived in Tallinn around 3 pm local time after connecting in Amsterdam. I didn't go through passport control, customs, or anything here in Estonia, maybe because I had to do this in Amsterdam (?). I was mildly disappointed about this since I wanted a little Estonia passport stamp on my freshly renewed passport - oh well! I quickly found the bus that runs from the airport to the historical city center (where I am staying) and got off at the correct stop without even asking because I actually understood when the driver called out the very Estonian-sounding street name! (I had heard one other person pronounce it, which helped.) I was - and am - pretty groggy, but I've managed to stay awake this afternoon/evening to walk around town in daylight (which there are 17+ hours of this time of year).
The town is a bit quiet as far as I can tell, but it was also drizzling this afternoon so maybe people stayed inside. I've found it interesting how many Russians and/or Russian-speakers there are here. I spoke with the desk clerk at my hostel in English, but then ordered coffee in Russian an hour later. And there are people walking around speaking Russian all over town. I never cease to be amazed at cultures like the one here that speak the national language (Estonian), the language of an old dominating power (Russian) AND the language of a new dominating power (English). And most speak all three quite fluently!
I took some random pictures around the Old Town today - just to give an idea of what it looks like. I'll only be here for another day, then I'm headed to Tartu in southern Estonia for a conference.