Day 23, Tallinn, February 1st 2012Posted: February 1, 2012
So today I totally forgot to get the name of the place where I got my tea! I blame it on the biting cold adn the aching fingers. The cold is also to blame for the steamed up image, the lens on my camera totally steamed up and I didn’t want to wait for it to clear up before taking the photo…..
So, yes, today I headed first for the Old Town. Wrapped up as warm as possible I left the apartment and soon discovered that as warm as possible was most definitely NOT warm enough! I think today’s high temperature was -10, but I am fairly certain this was optimistic. It was the coldest day so far I think, I had icicles all over my face! And leather / suede, thick lined gloves are totally ineffective it would seem! On positive factor was the sunshine though, and the, albeit psychological, warmth it brought was very welcome. There also seemed to be tiny bits of snow, which has now turned into proper snow, floating about in the sky glinting in the sunlight like glitter, despite a seemingly cloudless sky.
It took me around 10-15 minutes to walk into the old town, through the pretty little Tammsaare Park and you are there. The ancient medieval gate towers at this entrance are very impressive. Then it’s up hill towards one of the three main churches that stand atop of the the hill. Winding cobbled streets weave a rabbit warren of multicoloured houses, cafes, restaurants and millions of souvenir shops. Make it to the top of the hill and you will probably arrive at the orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian built impressive and imposing looking building. I wandered inside to be quite shocked at just how small the place is. The inside space is tiny, magnificently decorated, but how they ever hold services in there I do not know. There were about four people in the place and it felt full! I only stayed in there a short while before heading back outside. I turned right out of the entrance and up a small street (ok, they’re all small) past what seemed to be a ballet school and a drama and music school then past another church and onto a viewing platform that looked out over the west of the city. Views of modern buildings mixed with modernist buildings mixed with the old, whilst factories billowed out smoke from chimneys into the clear blue sky.
I was now starting to get really cold, so I went in search of food. There are quite a few nice looking restaurants around the old town, and you can eat from many different country’s cuisines. After spending much too much time procrastinating, again the cold not helping brain function, I went into a deli whose shelves were filled with lovely looking things. I went for a Goats Cheese and Spinach lattice type thing and a cup of the above-mentioned tea. I sat down, took my gloves of and tried to move my fingers. They were so cold I could hardly hold my tea it felt so hot. Eventually they warmed up and I drank it up, it was nice a mellow, not too acidic with the fruit and the right flavours to warm the cockles! By the time I had finished my Spinach thing and was thinking about leaving the girl from behind the counter came out and started putting discount stickers on some of the cakes… So clearly I took that as a sign I should stay and have one. I treated myself to a Sacher (or Sachertorte as research has now found out), a traditional Austrian cake which basically consists of chocolate cake, apricot jam and then a layer of chocolate to cover it all up. It was delicious!!! The perfect thing to get me back into the frame of mind to face the outside.
I was now heading back east to KUMU, the art museum, to hang around there until 6, when a documentary about Olaffur Eliasson’s New York City Waterfalls project was being screened. The gallery is an amazing building. Shaped and lit really well. It basically goes chronologically through time showcasing numerous works by Estonian artists. Many of the pieces are really great and for the first time in a long time I am once again enjoying looking at classical painting. I think it may be down to the fact that most of these artists, if not all, are completely unknown to me, and also just their subject matter, and their motivations are different from the more western European styles, although they do clearly have the same influences and come from similar schools. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it is nice to be able to enjoy looking at these things again. The top floor is currently showcasing works by various contemporary Danish artists, some of which is really very good, other’s not so good. A noteworthy has to be Jacob Kirkegaard, whose video and sound installation is excellently executed, completely enthralling. I also enjoyed the work of Rolf Notowny and Marie Kølbæk Iversen. After a few hours spent wandering around in there, and only just realising I had missed a large space, though I wasn’t too keen on the work, so it wasn’t so bad, it was time for the film. The auditorium was packed, but i guess that’s what happens when you show a film by an artist like Eliasson. The film entitled ‘Olafur Eliasson: Space is Process’ was good, charting the ups and downs of his planning, developing and eventual execution of his project to change the new york city environment and to create ‘one more story for the city’. It was intriguing to see into the world, and to some extent, the life of such a well respected and prolific artist.
Ingrid and I then visited Kom Pot, a lovely little restaurant serving traditional but modern fayre, in a lovely space, filled with jars of their own compote (I’m assured a traditional Estonian foodstuff and pastime), light fittings made from graters and colanders, clocks from spoons and forks, and a feature sofa area dolled up like a Soviet 50’s household. The food was really good, I had a traditional Estonian meatball dish with Beetroot salad and sea-buckwheat sauce, whilst Ingrid had another dish consisting mostly of pork crackling and mash-potato, but it was very tasty despite how it sounds. For dessert I had a great compote dish with Kama Mousse. Kama is basically the Estonian equivalent to porridge I think, but as a mousse it was very tasty and the mixture of fruits in the compote was delightful!