teisipäev, juuli 25, 2006

Tartu Rules, and Tallinn ...

When we lived in Estonia, we used to be awakened every morning by TV hosts Marko and Anu of Eesti Terevision telling us about all the amazing things happening in Estonia, like car accidents and Juhan Parts' pet kitten. They'd also play music videos, some of which were totally NOT appropriate for morning television, like Missy Elliot's "One Minute Man" (break me off/show me what you got/cos I don't want/no one minute man). Good thing I only understood that one. Now I liked waking up to Marko and Anu, but what I really hated was when the Tartu crew took over on Fridays. From a misty tower somewhere in South Estonia two not so nice looking kids that looked like they'd both just smoked a fat spliff, yawned out the morning news in their flat south Estonian accents.

"How boring," I thought. "Glad I'm up here in Tallinn where everyone is so rich and beautiful, and I can go to Stockmann whenever I want, and I can go peruse the cake section at Kaubamaja and get some meekook, and maybe I'll see someone famous, like Alex Lepaja at the Söörikukohvik on Kentmanni Street or Meelis Atonen getting out of his shiny, black car." To me, at that time, Tallinn was where everything was happening. Tartu was just some college town. But these days I am not so sure. Things have been changing in me. My tastes have grown. I no longer want sweet lemonade. I want iced tea. And maybe, if we returned, I wouldn't want to live in the city of Kroonika, where all the girls get their nails done and then shimmy straight over to the tanning salon for the Scandinavian golden brown. Maybe I'd prefer that college town with its dreadlocked kids and snoozy mornings.

I'm an ocean boy. I've always lived near it, and most of my ancestors lived near it too. As far as I know, only one of my ancestors came from a place that was not near an ocean or sea (Sebnitz, on the German-Czech border). But everybody else comes from the water, and I've got it in my veins. I can't stand being away from the sea. My mind needs mental barriers. It NEEDS to know that just out there, a few kilometers down the road, is a big salty continent-defining mass of sogginess. So I would expect that Tartu, with it's meandering little river would not cut it. But somehow, it does.

For one, Tartu has some nasty Soviet leftovers, but it's not like Tallinn, where parts of the city still look like Beirut circa 2006. But actually, in some ways it's prettier than most of Tallinn, aside from the Old Town. And Vanalinn is filled with girls selling nuts and postcards, and Italian tourists with babies crying for gelato, and 24-hour prõnkssodur watches. Not so in Tartu. Tartu is like a confectioners paradise compared to Tallinn. It's colorful buildings look so good, you could strip them of their sugary icicles and snack on their creamy moldings. Plus in Tartu they have Tsink Pekk Pang - or however you spell it. The food there is GOOD.

Another good thing about Tartu is the fact that all the major heads make it a point to stop there. When famous DJs like LTJ Bukem come to Estonia, they stop in Tartu. And in a way, I feel they are appreciated more. It's not the biggest city (about 100,000 people) but you can do things there. Even if you read poetry by Michael McClure, it's possible you could generate a sizeable crowd. You've got to appreciate an Estonian city with two reputable Chinese restaurants within 300 yards of one another.

Plus Tartlased, for whatever reason, seem more genuinely international than Tallinnlased. In my mind this is distinguished between the people from Tartu looking 'normal' while the kids from Tallinn look like they are going to a party 24-7. You know exactly what I am talking about. The untrustworthy group posturing. The bleached out hair. The suave earring. The fondness for A. Le Coq. The anxious text messaging thumb. Tallinn teens are so trendy, I even feel intimidated. And I am a 26-year-old geezer.

Now, I'm not totally dissing Tallinn. I'm just saying that as I move from lemonade to iced tea, and from chocolate cookies to bowls of fruit, and from rock to the boss nova, maybe my heart is setting a bit on Tallinn and moving on to Tartu.

And maybe those hungover kids with the dreadlocks weren't so bad afterall.

13 kommentaari:

Luarvik ütles ...

Hey, youre so right about the Fri morning Terevisioon from Tartu. But... you forgot to mention Tartu Ülikool which sees no competition in any of the universities in Tallinn.

And A.Le.Coq is the drink of proud choice for the southerners (me included) and Saku for the northerners. So one could safely state that a person consuming A.Le.Coq is from Tartu or the south in general. As for Saku, I just dont see what the big deal is, and am glad so tee their market share in decline:)

Giustino ütles ...

a le coq always seemed like the 'party beer' to me, but maybe I'm a total moron.

I liked Saku because it tasted good, it came in a normal bottle, and it had a lot of alcohol in it.

Anonüümne ütles ...

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Eppppp ütles ...

to Luarvik. No, he did not forget Tartu Ülikool.
What Justin is actually doing. He tries to get used to the idea that if he wants to take some "Baltic studies", its in Tartu Ülikool... and thus he has to get used to an idea... moving to Tartu, far away from sea.

As for me, I love Tartu! For its people, and for my old memories.
Tallinn is cool but I would prefer Tartu.

Sky ütles ...

I like Tallinn very much also, but my heart too is in Tartu for many of the reasons you mentioned. I love the Chinese Rrestaurants there, not to mention all the native places to eat. I love the beautiful river running through the middle of town so peaceful (as it somewhat reminds me of my own town here in America). I love "Soup Town" and it's living museum look and feel. The one thing I do find odd (but probably good for the tourists) is the markings on some buildings in the square that still sport the old hammer and sickle decoration repeated along the facades. I took photos (as tourists probably do that notice them) as a reminder of the past. Yes, Tallinn is very nice, but Tartu is very special.

luize ütles ...

welcome, petrone family!

kati ütles ...

I think Tallinn is nice but Tartu is so special. I just love it. Supilinn and Toomemägi, Inglisild and Kuradisild...good memories. But Pärnu, where I live, is cool too.

Anonüümne ütles ...

You wrote: "In my mind this is distinguished between the people from Tartu looking 'normal' while the kids from Tallinn look like they are going to a party 24-7."
I'm from Tallinn, but I have lived in Tartu for about 3 years and i can't remember a single sober day from that period...:)

Eppppp ütles ...

to anonymous: maybe you have been so busy drinking that you have not had time to focus on your looks? Do you LOOK like you are going to a party?

Giustino ütles ...

maybe you have been so busy drinking that you have not had time to focus on your looks? Do you LOOK like you are going to a party?

That's what I meant to say. There sure is a lot of alcohol being consumed in Tartu, but the kids there look less image obsessed. It's like the difference between New York and Boston. New York is the city of business and style in the US. Boston is the city of education - and its perfectly sized for it too.

Anonüümne ütles ...

The girl was a genuine northern Estonian, from Rakvere AFAIK. But yeah, the Tallinn crew was way better. I wonder what they can do with new hosts in the new season. Hope it won't suck. And I'm from the north and drink A le Coq too because it tastes better for me, so generalisations don't always work ;)

Mike ütles ...

Ma armastan Tartu. Minu s6branna elab Tartus. I'm Australian, living in Scotland but I'm in Tartu every couple of months. It's been growing on me steadily over the last couple of years. And it has Pang and Suudlevad and Pyssir6hu kelder...

I tend to drink A.Le.Coq in Tartu (I like the English Ale too, and the chocolate porter at christmastime) and Saku in Tallinn...

Anonüümne ütles ...

Tartu is fine if you're white. If you're not, then expect staring, glares (if you're with an Estonian girl), mumbling, and in the night, taunting/mocking.