Since June 21st the nights are getting longer in the North again. But still in Tallinn ours were short and only very briefly around midnight to three in the morning, it fell dawn (not dark). Now is July and we spent a week in Estonia. Holidays, festivals, cultural events, eating out in the mild sun and being out with friends in the white nights of Tallinn - all this is concentrated in this month. When the wind turns North again, then the temperatures will drop sharply and another long, freezing and dark winter is ahead. That's pretty much true for every Scandinavian country. But here we felt it most. Now you might think, this sounds harsh. But somehow it isn't. We have met the most wonderful and kind people, experienced warm hospitality, and have seen a great and defiant culture.
Estonians generally don't talk much. But if they do, they know what they say. Reaching independence from Soviet occupation in 1991 by what is called the Singing Revolution (have a look at the trailer of a documentary), was a start for everybody with empty pockets. Now Estonia is a prosperous little country, member of the European Union and the Eurozone, and has one of the smartest governments when it comes to economic policy and public administration. From the beginning everything was set up paperless. And in 2011 Estonians even the first time has elections where you could vote by SMS.
Tallinn, Estonia's Capital, has a very pretty old town which shows traces of all the powers which came here and left again. Only the Soviet occupation luckily did not leave many traces in the old core of the city. But it did, in the suburbs where you find the kind of architecture which was left by the communist rule. However, the buildings are made good use of. And of course the housing capacity is needed. So Estonia made the best out of it. A few years ago, there was a discussion whether Tallinn would be flooded by Casinos and franchise and chain stores destroying the pretty atmosphere. But the main Casinos integrated quite well, and so did the CI of the stores. The centre, which is also UNESCO World Heritage is protected very well. Even after 10 a.m. cars are not allowed in.
By invitation to visit Silport, we also had a quick visit to Narva Castle, which was founded by Danes in 1256. In 1346 it was purchased by the German Livonian Teutonic knights order and converted into a stone castle. It stayed Teutonic German for most of the time. It is a very nice place to visit, around two and a half hours by train from Tallinn.
Just across the Narva River, which marks the border to Russia, there is Ivangorod Fortress which is a medieval castle established by Ivan III in 1492. Borders to Russia often look quite empty on the other side. But here you see the town of Ivangorod which is the partner city of Narva in many respects, when it comes to the well organized border crossing. However, this border is heavily observed and guarded, not just since the Ukrainian conflict. Similar to Easter Ukraine, there are Russian speakers living in Estonia. But unlike Ukraine, they have a much better economic conditions in Estonia, than they would have in Russia. So there are currently more Russians who would like to immigrate into Estonia, than those who have a radical urge to return to their motherland - luckily.