Published: April 30th 2008April 30th 2008
(Day 26 on the road)
Three Baltic capitals, three UNESCO-protected Old Towns. So what does this actually mean, acquiring UNESCO-recognition? In short, any country can suggest a place it wants to have included in UNESCO's list of word heritage sites, and if accepted, the place is recognized as being of outstanding natural or cultural importance, being seen as "our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations" (UNESCO website). In other words, each site is thus seen as being in the interest of the international community to preserve for future generations. Currently, there are about 850 World Heritage Sites in 141 countries. If you feel like wanting to know more, have a look at this website.
After this short excursion, I think the right word to describe Tallinn is charming. However, with plenty of no-frills airlines flying into the city, it gets pretty ugly at weekends. I did unfortunately make the mistake of arriving on a Friday, and I haven't seen so many loud, drunk and ill-behaving people in one place since my student days. They all seemed to come from the UK (sorry guys, its true), and it took some
effort not to cross their paths, as the city-center is rather compact. The days after the weekend however were perfect: Sunny, relaxed, and me just wandering through the city and its surroundings. And to answer one of the comments made on my sauna-experience in Latvia: I did try the sauna here in Tallinn, and I am happy to report that Estonians do take their clothes off in the sauna! As I am going to Finland next, the undisputed origin of the dry sauna, I will keep you posted on the customs there - but I guess there will not be many surprises there.
A nice touch was meeting the head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation in Riga again here in Tallinn (the one that organized the conference on Soviet occupation in Latvia). He was here to see off Dr. Knabe - but what were the chances of seeing him here, after we parted about two days ago in Riga?? Small world...
Next stop: Helsinki (Finland). Also have a look at my pictures at http://pictures.beiske.com
There are more photos below