So for my long study tour with DIS I went to Tallinn, Estonia and Stockholm, Sweden. We flew out of Copenhagen on Sunday afternoon and kicked the trip off in Tallinn. When I told people where my class was going for the study tour the first question was always "why are you going to Tallinn?" I didn't really have an answer for them and I wasn't particularly excited about going to Tallinn because I had never heard of it and it didn't sound like a fun place to go. I am happy to say that I was wrong.
Tallinn is a beautiful place and I would actually go back there one day. We stayed really close to the old medieval town, so this is where I am most familiar with. Sunday night we didn't really do much, but we went to a restaurant called Olde Hansa. It was a medieval restaurant where everything was set as if it were back in the day. People dressed in costume, there was old pottery, and everything looked amazing!
We went in and hung up our coats and we had to "wash" our hands...aka there was a big vat of water and a lady poured water over our hands and then we dried them on a towel. We had to do this because we had to "break the bread with our hands." For dinner we had: two different kinds of fresh baked bread with different sauces and things to put on it, and assortment for the main course (lentils, ham, chicken, sauerkraut, and others that I don't remember), "cheesecake", cinnamon beer, water, and black tea...mind you this dinner was like four hours long. It was fun, but way to long and when it was over we kinda just split ourselves into groups and went and walked around the old town to get a feel for and to get to see it, since we only had a day and a half there. The moon was beautiful and we took gorgeous pictures of churches and steeples and saw monuments that we have no clue what they were for, but the wasn't the point, the point was that we we're seeing a country that we would have never thought to see.
The next morning we went and saw a Jewish school, a synagogue, and the Jewish community building. All were very interesting but none of them really applied to children with special needs (which is what my class is studying). We went to lunch at the African Kitchen (too adorable) and it was very cozy, pillows everywhere and beautiful art covered the walls. We ate a lot and drank wine as we relaxed and took a break from the snow before our tour with Mee-Na (the way she stressed her name) began. Mee-Na took us on a walking tour of the old town and showed us places such as the parliament building, the Russian Cathedral, the Russia Embassy, and where Marzipan was invented (by a guy names Marts!) I also learned that any building that is pink (yes, pink) is an important building (such as parliament or an embassy.) Oh, and at the Russian Cathedral they had a "symbolic grave of Jesus Christ" take what you want from that...
Another place we went to see while we were there was a boarding school that was originally for children with tuberculosis and asthma. Now the students have diabetes, asthma, or something along those lines. During WWII it was turned into a hospital for the Soviets and the room our lecture was in was a horse stable...quite interesting if you ask me. I thought these people were crazy when they told me that children with diabetes and asthma go there instead of go to a normal school, but then they explained to us that if these children went to school near home and they had a diabetic or asthma attack, they would be dead before they ever reached a hospital I realized how lucky I was to grow up in a country where things like this didn't even cross our minds.
One thing that I thought was pretty interesting in Tallinn, was that they took ANY currency you had...and if you gave them "American money" it was like they struck gold.
Tallinn was beautiful and when I found out that I was going there I must say I was disappointed...I mean, people were going to Istanbul, Prague, London, and Paris...I was going to Estonia which most people have never heard of. Now I'm really glad that I was able to go here, because now I have seen an amazing country that is tying to form its own nation and has just gotten out of Russian control.