August, 2007 Archives

My time in Estonia is sadly at an end for now. My personal circumstances have changed since moving to Tallinn last December, and for a variety of reasons I want to avoid triggering residency, which, allowing for all my travels over the year, would happen at the end of August. And so, after my trip to Vienna, I’m moving to Скопје, rather than returning to Tallinn.

It’s interesting how quickly I acclimatised to Estonian life – when I travel now I’m spending much more of my time comparing things Tallinn, rather than Belfast. Hopefully I can make it back soon…



For the whole time I’ve been here, Tallinn has been a city undergoing rapid change. The most noticeable version of this, of course, is a skyline full of cranes with new buildings going up everywhere. Over the last few months there’s also been the dramatic change of tourists pouring into the city, and the Old Town, in particular, adapting to their presence with a burst of outdoor terraces (no doubt even more popular this year due to the new indoor smoking ban). Even the steady climb of inflation, high enough to keep Estonia out of the eurozone for another few years, has been noticeable, as items that I buy in the supermarket week by week slowly creep up an EEK or two here and there.

But even so far this week I’ve noticed three dramatic changes. Firstly, my local Rimi has rearranged where everything is. Tesco used to do this quite regularly, so it shouldn’t be that much of a shock to me, but it was quite disconcerting to walk through the door of a shop I’ve been in two or three times a week for 8 months, and hardly recognise it. The biggest change was to move all the light drinks (Coke, water, alcopops, and “long drinks” etc. that dominated the entire right hand side of the store), over to the other side where the more hardcore alcohol is (Vodka, wine, Vodka, spirits, Vodka, etc). This is presumably to make it easier to close off that entire section during the times that Tallinn County have declared that alcohol sales should be banned (currently after 8pm every day). Previously they had to section off various areas with security tape, like a CSI zone, so I guess they got fed up with having to jump through so many hoops every time the county changed its mind again (for a while they seemed to go through this madness several times a week).

Then, today, whilst out for a stroll at lunchtime, I was passed by a number 6 tram. This was very surprising, as there are only four trams/lines, from Kopli and Tondi respectively to Kadriorg and Ülemiste. But today I saw a Kopli-Tondi tram. I’m assuming that there’s also a new number 5 tram, which I guess must be Kadriorg-Ülemiste, but I haven’t spotted that yet, and I can’t find any information at all online about this. (Wikipedia informs me that there used to be a #5 tram between Kopli and Vana-Lõuna, but it was shut down a couple of years ago. It still knows nothing of these new ones.) This new tram could prove useful if I need to go visit my bank’s central offices again, as previously I would have needed to get two rams for that, changing at Viru Keskus (although, like everything in central Tallinn, they’re well within plausible walking distance).

But the biggest shock this week has been the light. Over the past few months I’ve become a huge fan of the fact that it wasn’t getting dark until nearly midnight. I didn’t realise how much I liked this until I visited Košice at the end of June, and it was dark by 9:30pm. But unfortunately the days are quickly starting to shorten again, and last night I was stunned by how dark it was by 10pm. Although lots of people commented on how insane it was to relocate Tallinn in the winter, they all meant the -23°C temperatures, which turned out to not overly bother me. No-one mentioned the 20 hours of darkness, and now that I’ve experienced the joys of nearly 24 hours of light, I think I’ll find the short days unbearable. It’s enough to make me want to fly south for the winter, but it turns out that there’s nowhere habitable in the Southern Hemisphere that’s even as far south as Tallinn is north. But I still expect that I’ll want to spend December somewhere on the underside of the world.

All change