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Europe » Estonia » Tartu
June 30th 2017
Published: July 14th 2017
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Hello my fellow travellers!

I said some quick goodbyes to Katrina this morning before I left for the bus station. It was early enough that she wasn't really awake so it was a very short farewell. The bus trip went well and I arrived in Tartu after roughly four hours and I was greeted at the bus station by my new host Kristiina.

Just like with some of my previous hosts she speaks Swedish and actually works for a Swedish company helping with the time management for our regional service travels so I said that she has probably talked to my father at some point though because he used to work in service travels before his retirement.

Even though she spoke Swedish we actually stuck to speaking English the whole time, probably just felt more naturally I guess.First off we went to Kristiina's apartment which is really centrally located and I dropped of my bag and ate some soup to gain some strength for our walk through Tartu.

Kristiina is a really magnificent host and came prepared with an umbrella which was really great because it was raining the whole time! So basically she covered us with the umbrella as she was telling me about the various sites that we visited and I was photographing any and all thing that struck my fancy. We joked that she was like my bodyguard standing there covering me!

They have a lot of beautiful statues and public monuments to great writers and thinkers throughout Estonian history and I was especially impressed by the story of a young man, Kristjan Jaak Peterson, whom at 21 years of age had mastered several languages, broken the literary barrier and started writing real poetry in Estonian rather than the ruling tongue and who also walked back and forth to Riga to study. Unfortunately he also died at that low age because of tuberculosis which is a real shame because I believe such a genius could have done great things for the world. His birthday is celebrated as emakeelepäev, Estonian mother tongue day, and he is considered the father of modern Estonian poetry.

Another impressive man, Karl Ernst von Baer, stood statue upon the hill and he basically discovered a plethora of things, including the mammal egg embryo and large parts of Russia and Scandinavia. He wrote several books and studied and lectured within several fields such as nature, biology, geology, meteorology, geography and he was a founding father of embryology.

There was also a statue of a fictional hero, that was less of a genius, who basically killed and raped people standing on top of a memorial dedicated to Estonian independence. We both thought he is a a strange role model to have standing on top of such a monument, the monument is called Tartu Vabadussammas and the hero's name is Kalevipoeg.

Oh, and not to forget, they also have a statue of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. He stands at the university and Kristiina told me that he had been pestered into signing of on the construction order of the university before he left to fight in Lützen in 1632 where he met his end. He wanted to wait until after the battle to issue the order but his adviser fortunately enough managed to persuade him to do it right away.

Tartu is a really wonderful city to walk through, we visited Jaani Kirik, the church of saint John, from the 14th century which had these beautiful small statues embedded in the walls both on the inside and outside of the church. Kristiina told me that a theory is that they are made in the image of the townsfolk who lived here before. We of course also visited the university which is housed in a gorgeous building and we passed over both Kuradisild, a bridge named after the devil, dedicated to the House of Romanov, and Inglisild, a bridge named after angels, dedicated to one of the principals of the university. It was kind of weird that Inglisild is a lot more beautiful and well kept so we joked that it was a final boot in the arse to the House of Romanov that a principal get a nicer bridge than the tsar's family.

We also went up the hill to the ruins of Tartu Toomkirik, an old cathedral, but we couldn't go inside because there was a music performance being prepared there but even from the outside it strikes a really imposing figure and despite the preparations for the music performance I could see the ruined archways and it looked awesome. Right next to it is Tartu Ülikooli Muuseum, a museum that belongs to the university, inside the museum is a fully operational elevator from 1928 which we of course rode.

She also showed me a house that is cracking in the middle because it was built on a spot where two two hills was artificially turned into a single hill.

All the time while we were walking around we were joking and laughing and just having a blast, Kristiina was one of those hosts who immediate felt like an old friend! My experience of Tartu would have been pretty average without her but with her it was simply just amazing!

Once we had climbed up to the top of the hill and then gone back down we went into the oldest cafe in Tartu and ate some really delicious cake and I drank such a good herbal tea! I could see myself living in this town (if it wasn't for the constant rain).

With some cake and tea filling our bellies we checked out Tartu Linnavalitsus, the Town Hall, and I took a couple of mandatory photos at the fountain there and then we went to a really bizarre statue called Isa ja Poeg, which means father and son. It has two statues, of equal size, depicting a baby boy and a fully grown man (both naked), if I understood correctly the statues are of the artist and his son. It looks really weird so of course I took a mandatory photo with me leaning in between them, but as we walked away from I got the brilliantly terrible idea that maybe I should do a photo with me groping them, so yeah, that happened.

Along the way Kristiina also started playing a bit of Pokemon which made me pull out mine as well after a long hiatus. After our little sidestep into groping paedophilia land we went to a cool looking market building that looks like an art museum and I checked out a statue of a pig with all the parts of meat drawn into it, most likely one of the weirdest statues ever. We also went into another, ugly, marketplace and bought some marzipan tea to boil up once we came back to Kristiina's home.

With that completed we felt quite satisfied with the city tour and we went back to Kristiina's apartment where we made the marzipan tea and played the board game Dominion for a few hours as well as cuddling with Kristiina's cat which is the most chill hippy cat ever born. You simply can not phase that cat. Ever chill, ever calm, ever present. Really wonderful little ball of fluff! We basically stayed there until we got hungry and then we went to this great pub nearby where I ate a delicious chicken burger and Kristiina had some pulled pork and we had a beer each. Great meal in a great spot!

To wrap things up we went back and kept playing dominion and cuddling with the ball of fluff (and also saying hello to some of the non official pet spiders living in her bathroom) until midnight.

Tomorrow I will take a bus to Narva, leaving at 12.00 and arriving at 14.30. I really look forward to visiting Narva as it was the site of one of the most important military victories in Swedish history and I also heard that the castle there is well preserved.

Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!


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