Monday, July 23, 2012

A Visitor, Tallinn, Helsinki and Rauma

The Wine  Library in Old Town Tallinn
I was very excited this past week, because one of my good friends, Kim Bost, visited me from the U.S.! I know it is very expensive to travel here, and that most people can't afford to visit, but luckily, Kim's husband is a United Airlines pilot, so she got here practically for free! Of course, she was flying standby, and she almost didn't get on a flight, but fortunately, she did, and we had a great visit.

My friends Sara, Allison and Marion, and I picked up Kim at the Helsinki airport, then took a quick drive through the city and boarded the ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. This was my second trip to Tallinn, which is a beautiful place with so much history, from its medieval beginnings to its struggles under Communist rule. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we walked our legs off.

Crazy tourists
We saw the huge Old Town Square, took a tour of the KGB museum on top of the Hotel Viru, toured the Bastion Tunnels under Old Town, and went out to Kadriorg, the summer palace Peter the Great built for his wife, Catherine. One funny bit about that last place: We took the old-fashioned tram back into town, and there was no place to buy a ticket, so we just rode, hoping we wouldn't get fined. Needless to say, at the first stop in town, we hopped right off and walked the rest of the way.

We also enjoyed just wandering around Old Town, climbing the tower walls (which was better exercise than any Thighmaster), poking around the shops, having terrific dinners for unbelievably low prices, and in general, just having a great time. I bought a beautiful hand-blown vase, Sara got a lovely painting, and we all stocked up at the duty-free store on the ship. As a matter of fact, many Finlanders take the ferry just to buy cheap beer and liquor. You always see people dragging cartloads of alcohol off the ferry. Since we had five peopel in one car, we couldn't bring back cartloads, but we bought back a fair amount!

Expat dinner at the Kellari Restaurant in Rauma
I am way too old to go out bar-hopping, but that's exactly what we did one night. You may know of the popular 80s band, Depeche Mode. Welll, there's a bar in Tallinn devoted to Depeche Mode. Very cool. And later, we went to a nightclub, where we enjoyed watching Marion dance. The rest of us were too chicken.

Lace-making demonstration in Rauma
Back in Finland, we toured a litte in Helsinki, then drove back to Rauma, where Kim got to see our own lovely Old Town and meet a group of expats at dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Kellari. It's Lace Week in Rauma. Yes, you read that correctly -- Lace Week. We actually got to see a woman making a lace masterpiece, which takes lots of time and patience. It was very interesting! This week, many of the residents in Old Town open up their back yards to visitors. It's mainly a chance for them to have yard sales, but some of the gardens are quite lovely, in particular, the garden of famous local sculptor Kerttu Horila.

Today, the weather is back to chilly, rainy and all around dreary. I told Kim this is the REAL Finland weather! But I much preferred the unusual warmth of the past few days!

Here are links to all the pictures: 

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