Monday, November 24, 2008

To Tallinn!

Another early morning because we had to be on the ferry to Tallinn by 7 AM. The ferry was nice. I think it was bigger than some small cruise ships. Not even kidding. I was expecting a little ferry thing where people drive cars on, and a few people walk on, but this was a nine story ship that the bottom three or four layers were car parks, and the rest were shopping centers, restaurants, bars/cafes, and look out points. Four of us made it to the back of the ship and got a table overlooking the water. Which is where we stayed the entire time.

When we got to Tallinn, we walked to meet our tour guide for our walking tour of the old city. It was starting to rain, and my umbrella decided to break completely with two of the little spoke things snapping in half (and when you only have like six, this is not good). So the umbrella was trash and I just pulled my hood up and wrapped my scarf tighter.

We went our guide who was an Australian, who had come to Estonia to study abroad and fell in love and moved back later. He has lived there for 3 years. We was really good, telling us some of the key points, pointing out cool stuff, and telling us little jokes. He pointed out the former KGB headquarters, where the bottom windows were blocked up (scary)! And he told us the legend behind a church: there are two stories, and he let us decide which one was true.

The city of Tallinn was going to build a new tallest church in the world, and they drew up some plans, and then began searching for a builder. But when they started asking around, all the prices were too high.
Then this guy showed up and quoted them a really high price that was 3 times more than they had saved. They were about to turn him away, when he said “But- if you can guess my name before I finish building the church, then you get it for free.” The planning committee was like “Cool. It will take him at least 20 years to build the church and if we don’t guess it by then, we will have at least saved up the money by then.”
So they agreed.
They came back in a few days to see if the guy had at least started surveying the ground and found a wall knee high. So they asked him all the names they could think of off the top of their heads and he answered “NO!” to all of them. So they went home to think and came back in another week and found the wall a little over their heads. Now they started to get really worried, because there was no way they could pay the man anytime soon. So they got a meeting together and wrote down all of the names they had ever heard of both foreign and domestic, biblical and fairy tales. They went back the next day and the wall was even higher than before. They read all of the names out of their list and the answer was still no.
The committee didn’t know what to do. That was all the names they had ever heard of. So they just anxiously watched this man single handedly build the tallest church they had even seen in the shortest amount of time. Finally, someone had the brilliant idea to have him followed. And they sent and errand boy to follow him home one night. The next day when the man left to go to work (the church was almost finished) the boy peeked in and saw the mans wife holding a crying baby and heard her say “Its okay, sweets. Alfanaso (or some other weird combination of alfanso sounding name) will soon finish and we will have food.” Since the boy had never heard this word before he ran back and told the committee, who raced over to the church and saw him about to put the steeple on. Therefore, they yelled up to him “Hey Alfanaso! It needs to go to the right a little!”
The man was so shocked that they had found out his name when he was so close to finishing that he fell off the church and landed at their feet. He died, but something strange had happened- (it was either that he burst into bats or some other “dark” creature).
It was then that they knew that hey had made a deal with the devil.

The other story is:

They wanted to also have a lookout over the harbor as well as a church, but only had enough money for one building.


After we finished the tour, Kristin and I went to the Occupational museum that cover the time since the Soviets, Nazis, and Soviets again occupied their country. And boy do they hate the Russians. That museum, while was probably based in fact at some point was basically propaganda against those Godless, awful, killing machines that happen to be called Russian. I mean in three years that Hitler was there, he killed about the same amount that the Soviets had in their first occupation, but they still worshiped Hitler and some even joined the army. It was interesting to see their view of the occupation, but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little theatrical.

Finished the museum and walked back to continue souvenir shopping but on the way ducked into the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Lutheran Church nearby. The cathedral was beautiful as always, and had some neat icon mosaics. The Lutheran church was just amazing. They had this old tradition that when the wealthy would die, they would make a death shield to carry in the procession and then hang in the church. They were AWESOME! I mean I jus stood in the middle of the church and twirled a few times trying to take it all in. There was also a lady practicing a musical program and there was only me (and Kathryn) in there, so it was like a private concert.

Kathryn and then wandered around and saw some other people, and got a few good shots of the city at night. We stopped in “Olde Hangas” restraint where we got yummy tea. I asked for hot chocolate, but the lady said “Oh sorry, but back in the day we ere a very unhappy people and we didn’t have chocolate.” That is literally the coolest way anyone has ever told me that they don’t carry something. After leaving we went “fake shopping” which involved Katherine trying on these weird hats fostered on her by the shop owner because she tried on one hat. One of them was red with three little pom-poms on it that she said made her look like a court jester. Then the owner tried to get her to buy a hat/scarf combo that you wear as a hat and it wraps around like a scarf because it is so long. We then wandered around the lower city for a while and stopped in a little cafĂ© for hot chocolate because we were freezing again and had about an hour to kill. We met up with Anna (a girl in my class). Then Kathryn got a call from one of the boys that had missed the bus and decided to stay in Helsinki, that he had just got kicked in the face and wanted to go to a hospital to make sure that his nose wasn’t broken. (He ended up being okay, it was just some random act of violence. He tried to get around a fight that was breaking out, but someone got caught in the middle of it).

The ferry home was still big, but not as nice as the one there. But it did have a supermarket for alcohol, candy, and small food stuffs. Anna found a cool bottle in a shape of a horse!

Went out to a karaoke bar when we got back and let me tell you Finnish is not a pretty language to listen to in songs.

See y’all around the globe!

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