Posted by: distributorcap | July 25, 2008

Estonia

Estonia is one of the nations bourne out of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is located along the Baltic Sea, just west of Russia, north of Latvia and south of Finland. Estonia has had a rocky history of invasions, annexations, and brutal rule. The Estonian language is closely related to Finnish. The country has proven to be an political and economic wunderkind in its 17 short years of liberation from the USSR, with GDP growth rates in double digits.

The skyline of Old Tallinn from the harbor is quite striking.

A short history shows the Estonians were subjected to Danish, Swedish, German, Finnish and Russian rule as far back as 1227. The country was constantly being swapped, as one neighboring kingdom defeated another and traded Estonia for wool or pork or saltpeter. In 1721, Sweden ceded Estonia to Russia, remaining under rule of the Czar for nearly 200 years. Following World War I and the Russian Revolutions of 1917, Estonia finally saw a chance to declare independence. In 1918 for the first time in its history, Estonia was an independent nation.

That freedom was short-lived. Under the Hitler-Stalin secret pact to divide Europe, Estonia was “given” to Russia, and re-occupied in 1940. The Germans invaded in 1941, killing almost 25% of the Estonia population by 1944. The Russians regained control, where Estonia was illegally incoporated into the Soviet Union and made an SSR. The Western powers never formally recognized the incorporation of Estonia (nor Latvia or Lithuania) into the USSR.

47 years of Soviet oppression finally led to independence again in August 1991, when the USSR began to crumble. Estonia has since embarked on a rapid program of social and economic reform. Today, the country is recognized for its economic freedom, its adaptation of new technologies, and having one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Estonia switches to the Euro in 2011, which most natives are completely against.

Of all the former Soviet Republics, Estonia has been the shining star of reform and growth — and Tallinn, the capital is one of the best preserved medieval walled cities. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sight.

What is interesting is that the Estonians do NOT have a lot of nice things to say about the Russians or the Germans. And that is NO surprise. The country is about 1/3 Russian, and the Estonians and Russians attend separate schools (by choice) and speak separate languages.

This is the Old Town of Tallinn which has been completely restored. The Russians left most of Tallinn intact but did let it deteriorate. Estonia was treated as a military province by the Soviets, so a lot of the city was off limits to the natives.

Standing in the Old Town of Tallinn. It is really quite charming. It reminded me a lot of Brugge in Belgium. Lots of artisans and cafes.

A farm house. They loved thatched roofs.

Tacky tourism exists even in Eastern Europe, as the farm house has a blownup picture of a cow being milked.

I could while away the hours, consulting with the flowers. Not a very scary scarecrow.

Definitely not a place to miss

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Responses

  1. Hmm… not my favorite venue of your amazing adventure.The scarecrow scared me, and I miss the grocery store pics.Can’t wait to see where you went next.:)

  2. It must be difficult to paraphrase a trip like that in a few blog posts. But you are doing a great job.If you have not read it, ‘Peter the Great:his Life and Times’ by Robert Massie is an extremely good read of the area you traveled. His detailing of the building of St. Petersburg is stunning. If you haven’t all ready read it.

  3. They should put a picture of Bush on that scarecrow. He frightens the hell of the animal kingdom as well.What’s with the cow? Leftover prop from a Three Stooges sketch? ;-)Great pics once again. I love the old style of all those buildings.

  4. Ha, nice Randal.

  5. The most remarkable aspect of Obama’s Berlin speech is the fact that it was written and presented as though the Nazis and WWII never happened. As though Europe were leveled by a big storm that devastated the continent like massive Katrina — and the US came to the rescue.He addressed a crowd of people whose forebears lived in a terrorist nation that was destroyed by the most violent and punishing military campaign the world has ever seen. He was speaking to the people who have the lives they have today because the US and its Allies smashed their forefathers and the government of their forefathers.He jabbered about the Marshall Plan, which was a plan to rebuild a former terrorist nation and convert it into a capitalistic democracy similar to the US. Allied Forces slaughtered not only Nazis, but hundreds of thousands of non-combatant German citizens in a quest to kill the Nazi dream. Millions and millions of Europeans died in the fight to destroy the Nazis. We did it. And it was brutal.If Obama had any sense of history he’d know the time and place for the speech he gave in Berlin was somewhere else on another day.That was a speech that a president should have given in Baghdad to a large crowd of muslims cheering for the leader of a country that saved them from tyrannical nuts as bad as the Nazis.Instead, he pretended that great change occurs through enlightenment. But behind his lightheaded idea that the most defiantly evil people in the world can be talked into loving democracy, capitalism, and beliefs unlike theirs, he suggested willingness to drop the big hammer on the bad guys.Hence, if he understands the concept he presented — and I do not think he does — he will have to unleash our ferocious military power on muslim fundamentalists, killing as many as possible if he believes that a world without muslim terrorists is possible.Nazi-ism is just a philosophy, but one that is as hated today as it was in WWII. The last Nazis are still hunted and when they are found in the US, they are thrown out.If Obama thinks he’s going to remove the philosophy of muslim terrorism from the world, then he must plan to kill muslim terrorists — wherever they are — until the appeal of muslim terrorism itself dies. That’s what beat the German Nazis. That’s what it will take to beat the muslim terrorists — wherever they are. But Obama seems more than willing to step back and let sleeping dogs lie.In addition to misunderstanding history, he must now deal with his naivete with respect to John Edwards, who is now political poison. It’s bad for a key-note Democratic Convention speaker to have a girlfriend, a love child and a wife dying of cancer.

  6. It’s almost like the picture of the cow is a how to guide for the lady milking. Great pics…

  7. Can someone please slap this off-topic, Fox News quoting, Limbaugh wannabe?

  8. Sorry DCap, looks like someone didn’t leave the screen down and a large annoying mosquito got in. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  9. Every blog I go to has this slappy assmunch. I hope I don’t have worms. Damn trolls…

  10. Kz – I am obsessed with supermarkets. Everywhere I go that is the first thing I want to seeOk- thanks, a few more to go. And thanks for the book suggestion. After hearing so much about peter the great I am gonna read itRandal – the architecture in some of these places is stunningAb – LOLSlappz – great response for a travelogue. – idiot. I am SO glad that I don’t see the world through your eyes, must be pretty sad — having to have to kill 1 billion muslims to make the world safe for slappz and people like you (tho I doubt there are many people like you – even die hard right wingnuts cant be as pathetic as you). Your hate of muslims is only matched by your hate of obama. I think you are the one who misunderstands history. Re-read your response, it really makes no sense, but that is what I would expect from youBradda – you should have seen the blown up goats, sheep and pigsKz – he has been trolling around again making a total ass of himself as usual. Usually I ignore him, this time his answer was so ridiculous…Piny – let him respond, it just reinforces what the right wing is all about – insanityBradda – see above responses

  11. Dcap-another great post! I did not know much at all about this part of the world, and again-you enlightened me!I don’t think you should block slappy-others have but he provides amusement, doesn’t he? I know that some don’t think so though.

  12. very cool thank you for sharing this and educating us….really amazing how it has changed yet has all of the old history woven in still…thatched roofs????

  13. I’m responding to your travelogues in reverse order. Sorry for that. But again, it sounds like you had a great time in Estonia and you’ve done a great job of filling us in details about the places you’ve visited. Thanks.

  14. I love your travelogue DCap..just wanted to say that. 😉

  15. d-cap, as your suggestion I reread what I wrote. Since I don’t edit my stuff corrections are always needed. I wrote:”But Obama seems more than willing to step back and let sleeping dogs lie.”The preceding should read:Obama is more than willing to naively pretend that it’s possible there are sleeping dogs that might remain asleep in muslim nations. He may, in fact, not know that negotiation, carrots and sticks and other incentives are meaningless when dealing with muslim countries. Even a military pounding like the one Saddam received in the first Gulf War was not enough to change his approach to the world or the US. On another topic, as you probably know, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were once well known for their anti-Semitism. As far as I know, things are much better these days. What accounts for the change, in your opinion?

  16. I believe I am part Estonian actually.

  17. Oh gosh, I sorta liked the cow pic, duh me, no great art person.heehee.What’s with the troll, freakin loonie.Please take me with you next time, I’ll just sort of be the maid. Thanks.


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