I decided to visit Tallinn this time all alone. I wanted to test whether it is possible to only visit art museum, eat and drink without any shopping.
The ship arrives at the port of Tallinn before noon. Because I skipped breakfast, I’m going to go straight to eat lunch. I walk in the direction of the residential area called Kalamaja (Fish House), which is nowadays well-known for good restaurants. Unfortunately, the weather is not suitable for a long walk. It’s raining and the wind is blowing cold drizzle. The first restaurant that I can find is called Diip (Address Soo 1/6), and it seems really nice.
The restaurant’s menu and all the small details tell that the restaurant uses high-quality traditional ingredients with modern touch. My smoked pork fillet with apple wine sauce is really wonderful. For a drink I choose tasty Estonian beer Saku. The price is reasonable compared to the quality of the food. I’ll be sure to visit Diip again.
The main destination of my visit is KUMU, the art museum. The museum is quite new and super modern building, which is located in the old picturesque Kadriorg Park. I take the tram there and walk past the swan pond where I see two black swans gliding by. The park is remarkably beautiful and I only hope that the weather would be nicer.
The museum’s permanent exhibition presents Estonian art from the early 1700’s to the present day. On the upper floor has changing exhibitions of contemporary art. In particular, I’m pleased to see the works of famous Estonian artists as Villu Jaanisoo and Paul Raud. The museum itself is a great experience and I spend three hours there.
I still have time for coffee and cakes. Reval Café coffee shop chain is my favorite in Tallinn. You will find a lovely coffee, a good selection of wonderful cakes and amazingly low prices there. Sometimes I wish that I could drop over the bay only for a morning cup of coffee.
Did I finally succeed not to buy anything? I did almost, if not taken into account the selection of cheeses and a couple of bottles of red wine. But I don’t count it for shopping because they are necessities.
My book club made a trip to the theater. Yes, my book club. I am always proud when I get to mention “My book club.” We have read books and discussed them online, but for a change we decided to break away from home, go to the theater and discuss about the play over dinner in the waterfront restaurant. Helsinki City Theatre presented a suitable play for us: Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. It was interesting to see how the lovely Dashwood ladies and gentlemen were presented on the stage. And first and foremost it was wonderful to meet all my co-reader ladies live.
I enjoyed the play from start to finish. Actor selection was appropriate. Elinor was responsible, but frisky in charming way and Marianne was absolutely full of emotion. Edward was sweet and shy while Colonel Brandon was patient and loyal. Wickham was fairly distant and snooty. The comic elements of the book were used with insight appropriately in the spirit of Austen. The modern side of the fitting was represented by a meager set design.
We went to dinner at the nearby restaurant, which is located beautifully by the sea. While sipping prosecco we talked about the play. The story is familiar to all of us, and we all agreed that the play was a success. We were in high spirits when we chose for dinner. Asparagus and salmon with morel sauce were much appreciated.
There’s no shortage of the readable books. Each of us in turn suggests a book to be read, and the choice seems always to be pre-thought-out. We have two books in line waiting for the following discussions. Miia Kankimäki’s Things that make the heart beat faster is a travel book from Japan. After that comes Fine just the way it is by Annie Proulx. Our book club clearly favors books by female writers.
Typical Finnish summer place is a small lakeside cottage and it will necessarily include a sauna, silence and closeness to the nature. The closeness to nature is a great thing but it has its own requirements, too. On our cabin there are no amenities, so all the practical work take up a lot of time. It sometimes feels like spending time at the cottage is an ongoing effort. Carrying the water, chopping the wood, cooking outdoor and sauna heating are everyday chores. At some point you should have time to take easy and relax. I’m trying now to make a list of things that will help you to achieve the status of idleness.
Hang hammocks and put lounge chairs at suitable locations and use them at every opportunity.
Light the fire. Sitting and staring into the fire is mankind’s ancient way to make meditation.
Pick up some book and take a rowing boat in the middle of the lake. Sound of the wave ripple calms the mind and gets ideas to flow.
Go for a walk in the woods. The American philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) recommends walking, aimless wandering in the wild. Walking is the order of the day and adventure, says Thoreau in his essay “Walking”. He walked daily for about four hours “strolling around through the woods and over the hills and fields completely free from worldly commitments”. Thoreau wanted to specifically go out of the way and path. In his essay he praises wild and free nature.
Go to the pier, lie down and watch the sky. Do you see any clouds in the sky? What shape are they? Will they change shape when they move? Is there a crocodile chasing sheep in the sky and on the other side there might be a yawning cat? If watching the clouds begins to seem as an interesting hobby, you’ve gotten rid of the requirement of performance. Now you can simply enjoy just being, and on the idle summer days to the fullest.
“In short, all good things are wild and free.” Henry David Thoreau: Walking
North Karelia is a region in Eastern Finland. Its regional center and largest town is my home town Joensuu. Although I no longer live there, it is always the best place to visit. In fact, it is the place you should also explore in. I’ll tell you why.
1. Art History
Romantic interest surrounding Karelia, the Kalevala, and Finland’s distant past is known as Karelianism. This era is also known as the Golden Age of Finnish art, and took place in the 1890s but continued into the 1920s. This national romantic art movement involved writers, painters, poets and sculptors. During that time the artists worked and spent holidays admiring the scenery of North Karelia. Forested hill Koli, which is the most impressive natural attraction there, was also a popular honeymoon destination. Jean Sibelius and his young bride among others spent their honeymoon there. One of Sibelius’ most memorable works is the Karelia Suite Intermezzo.
2. Greek Orthodox culture
Orthodox culture is Karelian culture and vice versa. Culture is not merged with the general Finnish tradition, but the Karelian culture heritage is maintained in North Karelian villages. The Orthodox Church did not favor forced deportation and armed crusades, but it spread among the people little by little over decades and centuries, the years 1000 to 1200. Christianity reversal did not change the Karelian folk culture. The old traditions began to be used in new contexts. Laments, the old tradition of singing poems were and still are used at weddings and funerals. Remembering the deceased with food gifts is also combining Christian and pagan traditions.
Karelian food is characterized but widely well-known around Finland. North Karelian culinary tradition is influenced of the Orthodox Church and Russia. The local nature provides a wealth of game, fish, mushrooms and berries. The continuous development of the culinary culture appears, for example, in cooperation between restaurants and organic farms.
Finnish summer include a variety of cultural events. In North Karelia, they focus on the music. There are classical music festivals, rock and folk music festivals and song festivals, so everyone can find their own way to spend a musical feast.