Tallinn – Folklore, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

[…Tallinn, Estonia July 2011…]

The sun slowly dipping into the horizon can send one into a momentary trance here at Toompea Hill. Just off to the righthand side, not shown in this frame, is the historical old town of Tallinn.

 

According to Estonian folklore, Toompea Hill was created when Linda, bereaved wife of King Kalev, gathered and piled stones on top of her husband Kalev’s grave until it formed a mound. Grief-stricken as she sat on top of this, she cried tears that formed the Lake Ulemiste. Whether or not there’s scientific truth to this, I’m sure the history books won’t keep telling this story if it did not appeal to Estonian culture. There must be a more reasonable geological explanation as to how the limestone hill of Toompea was formed, but the old folklore that tells of the undying love between Linda and Kalev seems, to me, better suited as a story behind this romantic city. For what better words to associate the city of Tallinn with but by these three: folklore, fantasy, fairy tale.
[…Read more about Tallinn…]

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Riga – Day 2 – A Walk Around Vecriga, The Old Town

[…Riga, Latvia May 19, 2011…]

The spire of Riga Dom Cathedral, with Vansu Tilts spanning the Daugava river. Seen from the tower of St. Peter's.

 

When I first looked at Riga’s map, it seemed to me like a huge city, so at first I was concerned about having to get to one place to another in a short span of time. But arriving here, I quickly found out for myself that it’s compact, walkable, and as an added plus – has easy orientation with well-planned street layout. The landmarks are distinguishable, and when you’re walking around old town, all you need to to do in case you lose your bearing is to look up at the church spires – sort of like the North Star guiding your way.

The skyline of Riga is dominated by church spires. I lost count of how many churches there are but the famous ones are the Riga Dom, St. Peter’s and St. Jacob’s Church. Not only the churches have the pointy tops, even the town hall and the Latvian Academy of Sciences bear it. Of course, they look great across the river at sunset or twilight when their silhouettes stand out against the blue sky.
[…Read more about Riga…]

Riga – Day 1 – Sunny Smiles Bring Sunny Skies

[…Riga, Latvia May 18, 2011…]

Zvirbulu Peteris

 

Arriving in Riga very late last night under a drizzly and heavily-clouded sky, I could only hope for a better day today. It was hard to predict how today was going to fare weather-wise. Every few minutes, the skies would change its palette from fierce grays one minute to bright blues peeking through clouds the next. If there was anything constant and unpretentious today, it was this man’s – Zbirbulu Peteris – sunny smile and disposition. Although it was the least of things I had expected coming to Riga, a smile from a stranger was what made my trip memorable.

The city of Riga sure has taken a bad rap from travelers’ forum and reviews on the web, from being dubbed as the drunk capital of Europe to having the most rude and unfriendly people in the Baltics. Although I don’t want to arrive at my destination on a clean slate as far as impression goes, I also try take these bad reviews with a grain of salt and find things out myself. After all, this city had endured quite a beating from its turbulent history of occupations, and has not too long ago just broken free from a confused and oppressed rule. Difficult times, they say, build character and perhaps that’s what it’s just all about.
[…Read more about Peter…]

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