Friday, January 30, 2009


Kindly click on "BOOKS REVIEW" amongst my LINKS down to the Right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not so Crazy Ivan

One thing I don’t care for in Estonia is the Russians. The only good thing about the Russians is the amount of ranting material they provides me with.
I didn’t used to dislike them, for that matter I didn’t even give them a second thought.
My knowledge of them consisted of WWII and Cold War Stories, oh yes and those wannabe Lesbian school girls from a few years back who sang
` All the things she said, all the things she said,wishing I was dead, running through my head,this..... is.... not..... enough.......`
Of course you remember that one.

But now I’m in a former colony of a former colonial super-power, who still likes to think that it’s an empire. Mmmmm that sounds oddly familiar.

OK I appreciate that the Russians who make up 30% of Estonia’s population were simply dumped here by Stalin and those cuddly folks, in Reagan’s so called Evil Empire.
BUT COME ON, the tanks and Soviet bureaucracy pulled out in 1991, so why did these crazy Ivans stay behind when all they do is litter the place, expect others to learn their language and refuse to do the same for the land they now reside and complain about all things Estonian?

Well let me tell you why.
It’s because some of their not so bright relatives went back to mother Russia, realized how not so great their socialist utopia was and sent word back here. Oh yes my Red neighbour, the grass is most certainly greener on the other side of the fence and didn’t that hurt to find out?
Yes it did..

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You've just got to love this

Playing at an Estonian Theatre near you soon

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So far so good

With the exception of tourists, Tallinn appears to be void of foreigners, the population is made up of Estonians and Russian-Estonians. Neither of whom like each other, for that matter even Russians living in Russia don’t care for their transposed brothers and sisters.
Everyone that I’ve met has been friendly and speaks sufficenient to perfect English, along with two other languages. Customer service leaves a bit to be desired, but then again they are paid so little in most service type jobs.
Unlike in Ireland where you re advised to shop around to fund the best prices, Estonians take a more patriotic approach and will buy an item produced in their own country over that of a cheaper import. Such sentiments may be down to the fact that they have only been a free country since 1991, everything Estonian is cherished while everything Russian is distrusted and despised, although not always publicly.
Estonians have a habit of staring at you when you are out, it’s not because they immediately like or dislike you (which was my initial suspicion), but they simply stare at you. I haven’t quite figured out if I preferred to be ignored in Dublin or stared at in Tallinn. So lads should you ever find yourself on a stag night in Tallinn and some long legged lovely gives you the look, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your sleeping arrangements are sorted.
This nicely leads me to pubs and clubs. The very obvious difference is that a pint of beer costs 2.40 Euro and 4.00 at a nightclub. Although there aren’t as many clubs or pubs, you will still find Irish bars, such as Molly Malone’s, Saint Patrick’s and O’Malley’s dotted across Tallinn city centre, all serving great food, in plentiful amounts for half the price you would expect to pay in Dublin.Shopping centers differ primarily by the absence of familiar outlets such as HMV and Game, but you can buy phone credits and bus ticket via your cell phone.
Surprisingly you can purchase alcohol in the Cinema, where unlike cinemas in Dublin, after every show the auditorium is perfectly clean as nearly everyone takes away their rubbish. Everyone that is, except for those Russians.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Snow Snow everywhere

Unless you were living in Dublin during the winter 82 or travel to places where snow sticking to the ground, isnt a cause to close schools and airports, you cant quite appreciate how perfect the world looked this morning.

Only when temperatures drops to below minus 25, are schools for the under tens permitted to close, but everyone else has to get in and life most certainly goes on over here.

The snow fell continously throughout the night again, leaving perhaps just 15cm of the stuff on the ground and yes, I did say "just 15 cm", because 15 cm is no big deal here.
At 2:00 am the local council workers throw sand and salt onto the pavement, thats followed by the snow ploughs a couple of hours later and finally large open top lorries pour into the city to scoop up the snow and dump it in nearby forests . On Monday's the ploughs clear the right hand side and the centre of the road, then on Tuesdays the left and centre are taken care of.
So the day of the week will dictate what side of the road you park on..

Armed with my sled, yesterday I tore down the slopes of one of these forests. Losing control almost everytime sending a shower of snow throughout the air and ended up with enough snow on me to turn my black winter clothes white. Hurtling down the hillside is akin to going on a roller coaster, except that you cant crash into trees on the roller coaster. Yet after parting company with my sled and landing not so delicately into a wall of snow I always managed to get to my feet and slowly back up the hill for "just one more go".
YES. I love the snow, the sledging, the snowball fights and even the snowman.
After way to few snow filled winters, this is one belated white Christmas I really enjoyed.


With Russia for a neighbour it is imposible to avoid some of the news stories coming across the border.
Today there is a real belief in Russian govermental conspiracy in a double murder that took place on Tuesday 20th. Human Rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and a journalist Anastasia Barburova were both shot dead by a masked man in Moscow. Both were also colleagues of murdered reporter Anna Politkovskaja, whose own murder in 7th October 2006 was widely perceived as a contract killing after her criticism of President Putin and the Chechen war.

Opinions anyone?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

............ and Hitler was the Good guy?

If history is written by the victors, then it can be surmised by the tourist.

A local joke here is that Estonia’s greatest natural resource is it’s sarcism, with its populace shouting “Next”, as one military force leaves and another rolls in. At approximately half the size of Ireland, Estonia has seen its borders overrun and its people subjecated by invaders armies over the past seven hundred years.

The most astonishing fact that I’ve uncovered about this little country is that during World War II it allied itself to Germany. When confronted with the choice of Hitler or Stalin as its Protector in 1941, remarkably Hitler was seen as the lesser of these two evils.

Once the centuries of Russian control was shattered by the German push to the east, the Estonian people saw the German army as one of liberators and enlisted to make sure that the attrocities that befell their nation in the past would not happen again.

Yet amongst the celebration of the eventual Allied victory were the forgotten people of Estonia, whose brief existence as an Independent nation between the wars was extinguished. Estoniadidn’t fight for Hitler’s Germany, but rather they fought against the Red Army and horrors they knew, quite rightly would befall them should their shadowy allie fall.

From what I have discovered WWII is viewed here, as a fight for liberation pure and simple. Estonians fought not just alomgside the Germans, but also the Finnish Army and when the war was lost they fought guerilla action against the occupying Red Army .

Fears of Soviet reprisals unfortunately manifested and decades would pass before the latest and hopefully the last of these foreign invaders would depart. And thus ends the lesson.

Estonia is now a free country, a part of the European union, NATO and currently my home.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finding my way before the snow sets in

Equipped with my eighteen words in Estonian, I returned to this, the most eastern part of western Europe with my Girlfriend and our dreams of adventure and if all should go as planned, happiness and wealth.

With less than forty eight hours on the clock since my plane touched in Tallinn International airport and with one hell of wind pushing it along, I have quickly fitted into the rhythm of life over here.

With two briefs trip under my belt in the in the last two years I had seen enough to persuade me travel and chase those dreams.

Unlike my earlier visits, both of which were in the summer, Tallinn ( Estonia´s capital city) appears to be void of tourists and a half empty in the daytime. As a wonderful woman recently told me "Estonia is small and the population is shrinking by the hour" and you know what she isnt wrong.

Unlike the crowded streets of most capital cities you can actually feel as though you have space to move through this clean medieval city, rather than being pushed, bumped and generally ignored as life is back in the Dublin.

Taking of my rose tinted glasses I should allow for a reality check or two. There is traffic congestion here, “the credit crunch” has had an impact upon the economy and there is some social disqueit between the Estonian population and Russian immigrants who were stuck in trains and sent here by “uncle Joe Stalin” back in the day. This realationship is a little like Northern Ireland with the Cs and Ps.

That having been said none of the above would impact upon anyone planning a trip here. In a latter installment i´ll do my tourist guide bit, but not tonight my friends. Tonight is about is about this Queens Park Ranger who has sort a foreign shore that will be forever England……. or Ireland (my apologies to the Bard for the complete mis-use of his efforts).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Greetings from Estonia

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