Having some time I decided to visit north eastern Europe in February 2013. Don’t ask me why, since I could have visited every place on this planet. Probably it was just because I could not imagine at all how it is there.
So I flew to Helsinki on February 1. I spent three days there for rediscovering the city. The last time I have been there was in 1993 and many things have changed since then, in the city and with me. This time I loved it to run over the frozen lakes and was very impressed by an ice sculpting event at the zoo.
On my birthday, February 4th I took the ferry to Tallin, a wonderful medieval city. There I was doing a city tour to get an understanding of the amazing history and recent developments. The old town has a very medieval character with knights standing around everywhere inviting you to the various restaurants. Old Hansa is probably the most famous one, remembering of the early traders.
At the town hall square there is the oldest pharmacy of Europe. I strolled along the nice alleys and the winterly seaside. The way along the beach is leading to Pirita, the place where the sailing events of the Moscow Olympics 1980 took place. Today Estonia is one of the most digitalized countries in the world and is also offering digital residency with many benefits. As a souvenir I bought a fur pilot hat in one of the many second hand stores and went on to Riga three days later.
First I was astonished by the many british and russian tourists, and the german students. Then I was doing different city tours to find out about history and culture. Every morning I first went to the huge Central Market to have an extensive breakfast.
In the evenings I often went to the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs, an authentic latvian tavern, where they combine local food with folk music events with artists from around the world. Also loved the air hockey at Rokcafe. Did not know I was good in that. At the russian market I found a trader who lent me a bike, so I was exploring the way to the seeside. There I met sculpturers and ice fishers. One week later I continued my way with the wonderful luxury Lux Express to Vilius.
In Vilnius I especially enjoyed sitting in the old library with a view onto the writing desk of the president in the palace next door. I was dealing with the methods of analyzing literature. The musical highlight for me was manoMUZIKA. An event at Studio9, a club within a shopping center at the main street, with various experimental artists. For the usual outgoing the clubs at Traku gatve are very recommendable. Additionally I liked the traditional food at Forto Dvaras and Forum Fitness. Historically I was amazed by the many wonderful legends. If you are in the mood for talking, go to Tappo D’Oro Baras. To relax there is a wonderful park on a hill next to the riverside.
Hardly to imagine, but the three capital cities are not easy to compare. Regardless managing the independence from Germany and Russia together, of course baltic people also use regional stereotypes to position themselves and others. The estonians are the busy better germans, the latvians the criminal half russians, and the lithuanians the mental psychopaths. And of course within the countries they are applying different clusters. The estonians I met rather perceive the finish as influencers, the latvians the russians, and the lithuanians the polish. And of course they are attributing whatever traits to them. Another view from the perspective of social groups. Loving it.
One week later I went on to Warsaw. Warsaw was not new for me, since I have already been there in 2009. There I enjoyed the manifold characters of the city, from medieval, to royal, national socialist, socialist and capitalist within a few meters. I spent two weeks there and went on to Poznan. There I was surprised by the nice landscape around the city and the educational infrastructure.
Spending another week there I went on to Berlin. Having been there dozens of times before, this time I dealt with societal trends, political ideologies and their consequences on city development.
Today is October 24th 2016 and I was trying to explain a woman the problems I have with travel reviews. How do I navigate, what do I see, how do I store that and what do I remember? And maybe many things have changed since then. So she suddenly was in a hurry. Not that easy.
To be continued.