[personal profile] cycleboy1957
Day 1, Sat 15 Aug 2015

At 8.10am we were at out local bus stop, when I looked for my wallet and couldn't find it in its usual pocket in my rucksack. Mild panic and a dash back to the house to check. I know I'd had it beside the computer last night, so it couldn't have been far. In the end, I found it in the rucksack, but in the main section. Serves me right for not following habit.

8.55 train to Manchester Airport. Having time to spare (foolish) we had a drink in the outside cafe before braving the security check. I ended up in a huge, slow moving queue that was feeding one, yes ONE machine. There were about 8 folks milling around it, so I'm sure they could easily have monitored 2 lines. After all, the bags cannot go any faster than the mchines will scan them, so to have staff standing between 2 feeder lines making sure passengers put the correct items in the trays, couldn't really make the staff's job that much heavier, and it would double the through-put. In the end, folk on my flight got called through to the front of the queue as it became clear that we'd never make it otherwise. And the people that organise these services are supposed to be reasonably intelligent.

The flight was fine. We dozed most of the time. Caming in over the Baltic Sea was fabulous. The sky was crystal clear and we could see beautiful patterns in the sea; algae or plankton, I don't know, but it was spectacular.

Got the No.2 bus from the airport into the city. I had the rather odd experience of standing next to 2 Brits, Scots actually, discussing the merit of brothels. Odd and a little depressing.

We'd received an email telling us the manager of our apartments would be waiting for us at 6.45pm, so I gave him a phone call. Got through and he said, no problem, he'd be here. And he was. He sp-otted us from afar, walking across the square. Mind you, I had told him to look for a Brit and a Japanese, so perhaps we weren't that hard to spot.

Out room is clean and modern,though with the kitchen and bed together, compact. It's also hot. The aircon exhaust pipe is simply fed through an open window, so the outside noice comes in. Also, the aircon is noisy itself, so it might not get used. We seem to be in an area where young folk gather to make merry, though it's quiet enough now, 11.30 on a Saturday night, so fingers crossed. I spoke too soon, I've just heard some shouting and screaming. I dare not shut the window for fear of being boiled alive.

Day 2, Sun, 16 Aug

I slept above the bedclothes, only pulling the thin cover over my naked body just before dawn. Oddly, though the outside temperature is short-sleeve weather it isn't that hot. Indeed, by the time we returned to the hotel, it was decidedly cool, though I was still in short sleeves. However, the room is still very hot.

Last night, the noise outside was such I had to resort to ear plugs to get to sleep. They were very effective. The noise was not continuous, and that was half the problem. I'd be nicely dropping off when the noise from a bunch of revellers would slice through the quiet like a screeching knife.

We spent the whole day wandering the streets of the old city. The town hall was built in 1406, during the time of the Hanseatic League, which included King's Lynn. It is nice to see the buildings are still in one piece, given that the Nazis were here and knowing what wanton devastation they wreaked on Warsaw. Warsaw did a fabulous job of restooring their old town, but I didn't see any signs stating Estonia had to do so wholesale. Yes, they mention restoration, but often that was before WW2. In fact, a video outside Niguliste Church states that the Germans did little damage, but 'wanton' bombing by the Soviets in 1944 destroyed about 50% of the old town. In retribution, it was claimed, for the many Estonians who fought alongside the Germans against them.

One telling quote was on a flag stone marking notable dates in their history. 1941-1991 Period of occupation. Estonia does not differentiate between the Soviets and Nazi Germany.

Day 3, Mon, 17 Aug

What did we do today? Lots of wandering around, but little of consequence. I got up at what I thought was 7.40, only to be informed that I'd forgotten to change the clock on my phone and it was 9.40. We returned to St Olav's Church tower, which we'd climbed yesterday, to buy some of their postcards, as they were the best value we'd seen. Later on, we sat in a cafe and wrote some out while sipping coffee and tea and feeding our faces with some rather tasty cakes.

The morning's visit was to the market behind the railway station. This was definitely not a tourist spot. There were the usual fruit and veg. stalls and some clothing, shoes etc. However, on some spare stalls were some elderly Babushkas selling a few tomatoes or cucumbers, presumably from their own gardens. There were also kiosks selling second hand stuff; old Soviet radios or electrical test gear (at least, that's what I spotted) and vintage Zenit cameras. A Zenit B was the first SLR camera I owned back in about 1976 and I'm not sure that wasn't second hand then.

Tues, 18 Aug

Walked over to the Museum of Occupations. I started listening to the video commentaries, so Junko left and wandered the town while I indulged myself. I still find it hard to get into the mentality of those who want to conquer. I simply cannot understand what they want or what they hope to achieve. A grudging respect out of fear and loathing doesn't seem like much reward for the killing of others and death of your own people. Of course, I guess most conquerors are psychopaths who wouldn't care two hoots about being liked anyway.

One item impinged on my memory by its sheer mundanity; an odd contraption with an oblong plate with holes in it making a sort of wide 'V'. It's obvious when they tell you, but I simply wasn't on the wavelength of the designers. It was a steamer for the KGB to open letters.

The Soviets invaded in 1940, just before the Germans. When the Germans left in '44, many Estonians fled; 25,000 to Sweden, some to Finland (where they have a common language root), but 42,000 fled to Germany. During the war, some Estonians fought with the Germans. Whether or not they were convinced Nazis is debatable, but the one year they'd endured under Soviet rule before the Germans invaded had clearly had its effect.

During the transition to independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union, one commentator claimed that the Soviets were agitating with their satelite soviets. The implication was that blood would be spilled by those demanding independence and the soviets would appear as saviours. "Blood was spilled in Latvia and Lithuania and repression and recrimination is still going on. We managed to avoid all that and won our independence without spilling a drop of blood."

During her wanderings, Junko spotted a concert this evening, though she didn't know what sort it was. It was in Niguliste Church and featured the vocal group, 'Maneo'. Three men and three women and the sound was sublime. The church has a tremendous reverb, almost amounting to an echo. The result was that much of what the leader said was lost. However, they cleverly chose mostly slow songs and the effect was magical. "I am in heaven." Junko said, and I did not disagree.

We had a phone call from Aya and Kohe, who arrived this afternoon. We will meet up tomorrow morning.



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