Since our ferry to Tallinn, Estonia departed in the afternoon, we took the morning to explore more of Helsinki. That started with shopping in the Kuuri District in an effort to replace a weary pair of shoes. I said goodbye to my Keen slip-ones and hello to a new pair of Skechers cushiony soft-soled sandals. I’m wearing them with socks and I don’t care what the world thinks as long as my feet are happy.
On the ferry to Tallinn we met an adventurous couple from the UK, who are at the start of a 12 month trek through Europe. She put me on to an app that measures the distance walked in a day. While the rest of you may already know about this, the concept of measuring steps is new to us. Over dinner we calculated the total kilometres walked in our 17 days here. Ready? Nearly 150 kilometres! No wonder my feet are weary!
Mike and Cassie, if you’re reading this, we wish you all the best on your travels!
Now for a bit of history, if you’re up for it.
Tallinn gained independence in 1991 and has become westernized in a hurry. The draw here is the Old Town where the miraculously intact walled city draws visitors from around the world. Goods are inexpensive and the streets outside the tourist centre feel third world but the locals are lively, eager to speak English and wonder why on earth we would come to Estonia. We want to meet the people who brought about their own revolution not by force but by singing.”In 1988, 300,000 Estonians — a full one third of the population — gathered at the Song Festival Grounds outside Tallinn to sing patriotic songs at the risk of their very lives. On August 23, 1989…the people of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia held hands to make the Baltic Chain, a human chain stretching 360 miles from Tallinn to Vilnus in Lithunia.” (Rick Steves, Scandinavia, 681)
It took 2 more years for Estonians to gain freedom but they did and the memory remains very near to the hearts of the people. We came to Estonia to meet the singing revolutionaries. Speaking of revolutionaries, tonight at dinner, we got chatting with a couple from Berlin and they recalled to us their memories of the night the Berlin Wall came down. They were right there and we could taste their experience of it. Throughout the day, we found ourselves in the company of the courageous — young adventurers, singing revolutionaries, history-changers. And they engaged with ordinary people like us who are attempting to understand the world and its people a little better.