So we are finally here in our new home of Tartu, Estonia. I've been here many times before, but never to live. In the past my "home" in Estonia was in Tallinn. Now I will get used to living in Tartu, which is a university town, and largely devoid of the large crowds of wandering Brits in search of their next drink. Here are a few things that have stood out after my first 24 hours here:
1. Tartlased are really proud of their town.
I kept seeing this red and white flag everywhere and wondering why people here are so fond of Poland (having been just laid over in Warsaw for a day, I know what the Polish flag looks like). However, I discovered that Tartu has its own flag, which is prominently displayed alongside the Estonian flag. There are also lots of commemorative plaques and signs telling you that this year is, for example, the 375 anniversary of Tartu University.
2. Tartu is fairly homogenous.
Unlike Tallinn, where you hear lots of Russian, and Finnish, and English, and German, you usually only hear Estonian on the streets. Today we walked around for several hours and I heard Russian and English only one time apiece.
3. Estonians like to listen to the radio.
I think this is true everywhere. I remember waking up in Tallinn every morning to the news on the radio, and, like clockwork, I spent this morning waking up to the news. And not only here, but everywhere I go someone has the radio on in the background. It's almost like there aren't many different radios but one BIG RADIO broadcasting everywhere.
4. Pronksmees ei tähenda mitte midagi siin.
It's funny, if you read the Russian newswires you'd think that Estonia is locked in deep crisis over that bronze monument in Tallinn. But down here, that issue just seems like ... jama. I would not like to overgeneralize, but I can imagine that Juku Tamm, your typical Tartlane, is probably tired of reading about the Tallinnlased and their monumental problems.
5. Tartu is the place for second hand clothes.
Like neighborhoods in Tallinn, many neighborhoods in Tartu (Karlova, Supilinn) are mostly made up of wooden dwellings. And many of these dwellings are home to second hand clothing shops. It seemed like every neighborhood we went to had at least one. But my question is, I know there is supply, but is there really such a great demand for this stuff? I saw some other second hand shops are opening up. I guess competition must be fierce.