Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Learning about Estonia at the quirky national museum, city life through the ages and seeing Hanseatic masterpieces in the Town Hall
Had a day in Tallinn and it was good not to have to move on again. I enjoyed walking around the city; it has a medieval centre with old brightly coloured houses. Many important houses are labelled with plaques so I admired these bakers areas and many different guild houses which had now been restored. There were also a few traces of art nouveau. This is one of the most complete old cities I have visited.
I went to the city museum which had excellent displays about the different aspects of the town, the port and especially all the different mediaeval trades. There were about seven different types of smith depending on whether they were producing locks or chains or nails. Upstairs was an excellent video about the singing revolution here in 1989 which started with a demand for having Estonian as an official language and how they put this to the soviet rulers and how it then then lead to independence. They had good timing because of perestroika and it seems that they lead the way for Latvia and Lithuania. The museum of Estonian history is the funkiest national museum I have been in and explored what it meant to be an Estonian through interactive displays and cartoons on Estonia geography, religion, culture. It was a humorous display and I was surprised to see them described as the least happy people in Europe, I'm surprised, it does not feel like that here, maybe it is different in winter, I also wonder when that survey was done. It contrasts with the Danes who are the world’s happiest and live in the same part of the world.
In the afternoon I went to the Town Hall to see a magnificent exhibition of 15- 18c masterpieces in private collections in the Hanseatic region ( Bruges, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Lubbock, Gdansk,) There were beautiful works by Breughel, Durbruegels, Durer, Cranch, the Tower of Babel by Marten van Valkenborch, all beautifully hung and it was a fine way to see the town hall. I also wandered around the market, lots of wooden items, boards, butter knives, toys and winter mitts. There were interesting ceramics for sale in the designer shops. Many with blue themes.
Had Estonian food for supper in the main square with Maureen and David, I have enjoyed their company.
At the dockside hotel I am very aware of all the ferries coming to and fro with lots of people passing through, 1 million people and 30 million tons of goods passing through each.