Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog!
First of all, after multiple requests I have decided to continue my blog in English. I hope the Dutch people amongst you don’t mind. For the English speaking audience just catching on: Since June 1st
I have been living in Riga, where I am studying the Russian language and working part-time. I am intending to stay here for a minimum of three months and have an amazing apartment in the city center of Riga (for pictures please see my first blog)
I have been attempting to add photos to this blog for the past few days, however there are problems for people trying to upload pictures on the website from Macs so I am afraid I will have to save those for you till my next blog. Nonetheless, I felt it was time to get out my new blog J
So: Tallinn. The day after I posted my last blog we (being Valeri, Julia, Sasha and me) left for Tallinn early in the morning. Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) is just less than 400 kilometers away from Riga, so about 4 hours drive. The trip, over the Via Baltica (the highway that connects the Baltic capitals), was amazing. In particular the nature is wonderful, the entire route is basically through one large forest. Upon arrival, we checked in to the amazing apartment that had been arranged in the city center. That afternoon we had a business meeting and after that we explored the city for a few hours. In the evening we ate in an amazing restaurant, a medieval restaurant in fact! The restaurant, Olde Hansa, has been built in mediaeval style and principally only serves food and drinks invented in medieval times. Thus a diet coke is out of the question. The restaurant is merely lit by candles and one sits and eats from wooden chairs and tables. As men did not use cutlery during medieval times, forks and knives are presented as weapons. At the end of the dinner I ate some Rose pudding and the legend says that if one eats this pudding one will remain young and beautiful forever. So yes, that’s taken care of now.
On Thursday, we were able to go to the Estonian coast for some sun and swimming. It was amazing and the sea was actually warm enough to swim in. After an hour or so, we continued to a business meeting after which we went to a massive shopping mall for some good Japanese food. At the beginning of the evening we then returned to Riga.
On Saturday (June 23rd) it was time for the national holiday of Ligua (Midsummer night/Midzomer nacht). On this occasion one celebrates the shortest night of the year and I was invited to celebrate this with the parents and further family of Julia. Coincidently the 22nd
of June had also been the birthday of the mother of Julia and thus it was a combined celebration. Both celebrations mainly consisted of a lot of eating, drinking and staying up as late as possible. We arrived around 14:00 and I helped cook the first meal that consisted of various meats, sausages, vegetables, fruits, juice, champagne, beer and, of course, vodka. Just before starting the first meal, Julia’s brother, his girlfriend, and Julia’s aunt and uncle also arrived. Apparently, at a birthday dinner, every individual sitting at the table is expected to speech, but fortunately my English wishes were translated for me. After that it was again time for some relaxing (and playing darts) and basically a lot of eating and drinking for the whole night. Towards midnight a group of us went for a walk outside (the sun was just beginning to set then) and after returning we made a campfire in the street. At 2 o’ clock I eventually almost fell asleep on the spot. The next day it was ‘ breakfast’ at noon and swimming in a nearby lake in the afternoon. All but all, it was a great weekend, with so much food and drink and great hospitality.
With regard to the more official business of my trip: This Monday I had my first Russian lesson. I will be taking Russian lessons for at least two months, 5 days a week, three hours a day from 09:00 till 12:15 (but the school is a five minute walk from my apartment) Till now I have been lucky as I am apparently the only student at beginners level and thus I have private lessons. I have started learning the alphabet and am now able to read the most basic Russian words. As most of you will know, the Russian language has a different alphabet, so I really I have to restart that. Nonetheless, I really enjoy the lessons and have good hope that I will be able to understand the basics of the language very soon. Monday afternoon Valeri, Julia, Sasha and I went rowing at the local park here. Very amusing. However, generally in the afternoons I work for a few hours and I have to spend about one to two hours on my Russian homework. Furthermore I have been spending my time exploring the city, swimming and going out.
Till so far, my report on the latest developments here in the Baltics. Again an amazing two weeks have passed. I hope to hear your comments and I hereby promise that I will get the photos up as soon as the application works again.
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