Day 27, Tartu, February 5th 2012Posted: February 5, 2012
Tea 27: Grenadine Tea, Cafe Truffe, Tartu
Today was my first official day in Tartu. After a great breakfast of way too many delicious pancakes with ice-cream, nutella, and homemade apple jam, and a long time trying to prepare my mind to venture out into the cold, my host and I went for it and headed for town. She lives just a short walk away from the ‘city centre’, or the town square. The sun was shining down, but I now know to associate this ominously with the cold, as it means a clear sky, and a clear sky in winter means COLD! Today, initially, felt a bit warmer than yesterday, but after a few minutes walking the inside of my nose began to freeze and I soon came to the conclusion it had all been an illusion. And, yes, your nose freezing is reasonably painful. We escaped into a shopping mall, where we both went simply to warm up a little, and also for me to buy myself some more toothpaste.
That task achieved we headed back out. We walked around, through a little park area, with the most bizarre, and I must say slightly worrying sculpture by artist Ülo Õuna, called ‘Father and Son’. It is kind of bizarre, reading more about it reveals its, fairly obvious intentions, but still, it is a little strange. We continued onwards, past the pretty, pastel coloured buildings, some of which are really old, including the university building, which was built around 1804. But the university itself was established in 1632, making Tartu University one of the oldest in Northern Europe. We went up Toome hill, towards the observatory, beneath ‘Angels Bridge’ (Inglisild), and then up and across the bridge, getting some nice views out across the city. We then circled around the little bit of parkland, outside the old Hospital, past an ancient looking church that is made up of various functioning and ruined parts. The great exposed red-brick built arches reaching high up over our heads, the sun shining and turning them an even richer shade of red. We walked back around and down into the centre again and I got a few ideas of little cafes to pop into. The city is pretty sleepy feeling, whether this is because of the weather, the winter or just because of the fact that today is a Sunday I do not know. Tomorrow should help me find out.
We then decided it was far too cold again, and headed to Heli’s (my host) favourite cafe, Cafe Truffe, right on the main square. This is a nice contemporary cafe, with loads of cushions and a lovely menu, though their cheesey ambient jazz music selection was questionable. I ordered a lovely sweet and sour Grenadine Tea, lemony, bright pink and a good hit of all things citrus. Heli went for a Cinnamon Coffee that looked pretty good. We also both ordered soup, Heli a Creamy Cheese Soup, whilst I had a Vietnamese Style cream soup with mushrooms, shrimp and fish. It was very tasty, the mushrooms are flavoursome and dense, whilst the spices were perfect, and the first proper bit of spice I have had for a while. They don’t tend to do spicy in Estonia, or Helsinki really.
After a nice long time chatting and getting fed and warm we left and more or less immediately went into the Tartu Art Museum. This is in a small building that seems to be contending with the Leaning Tower of Pisa for worlds most falling over building. The work on show was of good quality, much like the work in KUMU, kind of chronologically, but from the 60’s to 2010. There is a lot of interesting and rather amusing stuff in there. It seems as though they must be having a constant battle with the building and gravity, the leaning of the building making some of the works hang one way and on the other side they hang the other. On the ground floor is a solo retrospective show of work by Enn Tegova, some of the paintings here must have been in storage or the dark for a long time, as the colours are still so rich they could have been painted yesterday. Some have even been victim to a little bit of warping too, which is kind of a shame, but also quite nice that they are still being shown. They kind of fit with the involuntary theme of the tilting building.
The sun had begun to set, the nearly full moon was shining brightly in the gently darkening blue sky and we headed home, my nose freezing once more.