Sunday, October 30, 2005

some family experience from Estonia

When I first announced to my parents that I was planning to come to study to Estonia, they were pretty thrilled: "and how do you imagine to communicate with them?" was one of the most frequently asked questions.

- Dace, darling, let me tell you how your grandpa did when he visited Estonia even before you were born, - my dad started. - He had to go and see some kind of get-together of collective farm leaders, as far as I remember. Once, when he was running out of petrol, he stopped in a gas station to fill the gas cistern up. As he couldn't speak Estonian, he asked for this favour in Russian. They said they had run out of petrol. Alrighty... Sh*t used to happen in Soviet times. He drove to another gas station just across the street, and guess what - as he was waiting for his gas cistern to be full, he saw that in the other gas station, the one he had just left because of the "gas inaccessibility", the Estonian cars kept on filling up..."

- Yes, honey, I'll always remember how scared I was when I couldn't find your dad when he was doing his military service in Keila - my mummy went on. - It was terrible! I had come all this distance all alone from Riga to Keila to visit your father, and when asking the local inhabitants the further directions, they almost sent me to nowhere land! Thanks god, I came across other people who were looking for the same place, otherwise I probably would have been eaten by some forest creature..."

oh, yeah... now I see what they meant... oh, yeah, I do!

Estonia vs Portugal

Just for your own contemplation: two short opinions on *South versus North*

Once a very interesting conversation broke out between me and a woman in her thirties who have spent 4 years of her life in Portugal. Though she is a Latvian and said the following about Latvian men, I dare to assign the same qualities also for Estonians, for we come from the same region despite all what they say. She said she didn't like Latvian men - they are shy, they always complain about their hard life, and they are afraid to get cloaser to woman to get to know her.
On the contrary, Southern men are ready to work wonders only to get the woman they desire. The bad side of this argument, though, is the fact that as soon as they have captured the woman, they lose any interest in her. Moreover, in Portugal men do not pursue young girls, but appraise experienced women whom to build relationship with.

On the other hand, just recently I talked to a young Portuguese guy, and here is what he said: "I'm lucky to be back here, in Tallinn! Here I feel special and have undivided attention from girls, it's nowhere the same as here. I don't know what is that thing which works in my favour exactly here and in no other couintry in the world, but I'm really glad of possessing it! Estonia just kicks ass!"

yours sincerely, Urmas

"A human body consists of 90 percent of water.
An Estonian body consists of 90 percent of brake liquid."
...or a little bit on experience of dating with an Estonian (not to be taken seriously) ;)

She met this guy in a club. A handsome guy - this type of guys usually have no problems with making new female acquaintances. They danced for the whole evening, exchanged their phone numbers. She was waiting for him to call or send a message for 1 day... 2 days... and gave up all the hopes ("Damn guys, if you don't kiss them in the first evening, they'll never let you know about their existance again!").
Nay... she was wrong: after two and a half weeks (!) she finally received a message with an invitation to cinema. She decided to accept it. They spent a great time together... apart from the fact that he even didn't touch her... (!)
...and when in the very evening he saw her off and invited to another date, she refused (guess why, doah!)...

what are the rest 10 percent? :)

*you are the genius of beauty

... a sweet compliment isn't it? Actually one of the sweetest I've ever heard - it was said to one of my best friends. No doubt that she's an absolute beauty, but somehow I do dare to question the context of it.
It's a well-known fact that if the easiest way to a man's heart is through his stomach then the easiest way to a woman's heart is through her ears: the more sophisticated is the way a man can say "you are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen", the more likely is that she'll... let's put it as respond you (to not to be too cheesy). But nowadays girls have to be really critical about what they hear: at least if you're in Tallinn, you're beautiful, and the man who says it to you is a foreign.

Sad but true: Tallinn and Riga are the cities of sex tourism. Both in Riga and in Tallinn the foreigners arrive already knowing the names of the clubs in which it is easy to get acquainted with local girls. No doubt, the Baltic girls ARE beautiful, and this is the main reason why foreigners come here in crowds to have fun. In Latvia the problem is that we don't have unified politics for tourism development, while Estonia with its "Welcome to Estonia" have paved the way to the fame of a sex tourism country. The best advertisements for Estonia have become those stories told by tourists at their own countries about the easily and cheaply available beautiful girls.
Of course, I DO NOT assert that the whole Estonian/ Latvian female population can be regarded as... girls with ligh-minded behaviour... but if you have been out in the city on a Friday or Saturday evening, you know how it works: a foreign guy comes up to a lovely girl, says something like "you're the genius of beauty", offers some drinks (and as far as I know the girls usually order something not too expensive - if the Baltic prices for foreigners can be termed as high), and the afterparty goes on to continue in a hotel room...

Some public transportation peculiarities

While Latvian Television News Agency on 31st March writes that Estonia has bought 62 km of Latvia's railroad for approximately 1 million lats (almost 1,5 million Euros), I keep on wondering why they do not do something about their public transportation system?!

Yes, I admit - I do steal my rides in Tallinn's public transport as frequently as my conscience allows me to. But what calms me down is the awareness and observations that 70-80 percent of Estonians do the same. For in Tallinn the "buy-a-ticket-in-a-stall-and-punch-it-voluntary" system is still around from the dim and distant past (well I remember being a small girl when my mom in Riga did this for both of us, as I was too short to reach the ticket puncher). They have some control environment, and the fine for moving around without a ticket is quite high, still... during this period of almost one and a half year that I've spent in Tallinn, they have caught me only once. But even then I didn't have to part with 600 krones (38 Euros), which is the fine: a bit of acting and naive blue eyes, and the kind ticket inspector would let me go...

blink, blink...

Viva la Vabadus! :)

The portal states that on 14th July, 2005, an Estonian tourist was arrested in Riga. The reason for doing this: he climbed up the Freedom Monument... to make a photo of the broader city surroundings...

"He must have climbed pretty slow if even the lazy Latvian policemen saw him," says man liekas in his comment.
"He must have mistaken the monument for Suur Munam (Great Egg Hill)," ridicules keizarins.
Letins claims for "WAR!:)"

What can I say? - maybe it's worth climbing up their Raekoja? A nice view it is... isn't it? ;)

Time cures

What's the slogan for the Estonian emergency ambulance? - Time cures!
Some time ago I experienced that this was not a joke as people in Latvia usually take it...

I was out in the town with some friends of mine having fun in a Friday evening. As we are heading towards our final destination, we came across a Latvian stag party. There is no need to say that both they and us were happy to meet people of the same nationality. The guys were so happy that one of them spontaneously lifted up one of the girls - a bit clumsy, though, as he curled up on the ground having dislocated his knee :(
Without any doubt we took or cell phones and rang up 112 - the ambulance.
Some 5 minutes passed while they found somebody who spoke English or Russian... alright...
Some 10 minutes passed while the ambulance car arrived...
Some 5 minutes passed while they understood what has happened (as if that was of too great importance - after all they saw the dislocated knee, isn't that enough?!)
But even that was not the end of the drama: some 15-20 more minutes passed while they filled in the documents (and what if somebody had stabbed the guy?!)...

Finally the guy was taken to the hospital. But afterwards I was told that all this scenary repeated for the 2nd time... only in the hospital... Pardon - what was the slogan of Estonian ambulance?...

Welcome to Estonia?

This is the first thing one sees when entering this country. It is found everywhere, I even got this sign on my reflector - a very successful campaign, I'd say. Moreover, I remember that HOSPITALITY was the thing that Estonia advertised in Eurovision Song Festival - the little clip before Estonia's representing song in this festival showed a long queue of people wanting to visit this country (while Latvia used such thing as pickled mushrooms for representing out national course, and, for example, Switzerland made use of their Swatch clocks)...
But how is it in reality? What's the authentic level of Estonian hospitality?

A couple of weeks ago I was waiting for my friends to arrive in the central square of Tallinn. A very usual Saturday evening it was. I was standing just next to the city's town hall, listening to how beautifully the bell-tower announced it was 10pm. On its last ding-dong I saw a really drunk man heading accross the square (nothing too unusual for Tallinn's weekend scenery, to boot). However, he caught my eye, for it was apparent he was not local, as his skin and hair was rather darkish. So, there I was - in the heart of Tallinn, looking a smashed foreign guy trying to remember what walking straight means.
He didn't succeed :( Instead, he fell on the ground. As I was standing and wondering what to do, namely, whether to try helping him out or not, these two guys run over him. "Alrighty," I thought. "Won't have to strain myself, he must be heavy, after all. "
I presume he seemed too heavy also for those two guys as instead of lifting him up they grabbed his wallet and run away. In the central square of Tallinn! On Saturday evening, when the streets are full of people! And noone even emoted or showed some king of interest... apart from the reflector hanging loosely by my side, swinging in the wind, and saying "Welcome to Estonia"!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What it all is about...

Estonia... fair landscapes, blue sea, lots of dolomite and, on top of all, Tallinn: the city most representing this country. It welcomes thousands of tourists every year - some are enticed by the amazing architecture, some by the cheap goods (in comparison to the rest highly-developed countries), and some by the stories about the lovely girls... A true fairy tail, it seems to me. Moreover, Estonian beer is pretty good... Thus, the majority of tourists leave Estonia (Tallinn) with a deceitful opinion of having got to know the country. However, life in here does NOT consist of inexpensive goods, tasty beer, gothic, and foxy chicks...
I have been living in Tallinn for more than a year already, the incrutable roads of acquiring knowledge have lead me here. During this period I have learnt things that usually slip by to tourists. About them - in this blog!