Another day in Tallinn, yet so much better than the rest. Some people think that summer is the season when eesti comes alive. But my favorite time to be in Tallinn is right around now -- jõuluaeg.
Tallinn in the off season is free of most of the hassles of Tallinn in suvi. The throngs of Yorkshiremen and Neapolitans thin out, and all that's left is silent Tallinnlased making their way through the heavy streets of Estonia's pealinn.
The air is usually clean and cool and it rolls right off the Gulf of Finland, blanketing every breathing soul in icy moisture. It is at times like these that I believe that the 'Talsinki' marketing scheme may have been correct. For the only other city where I have encountered the same emotional temperature has been Helsinki, just 80 kilometers away.
I brought my camera this time to record any monstrosities I could find in the city center. When I used to live in Tallinn five years ago, it seemed that every block housed a condemned building that was in dire need of being plowed under and turned into a trendy bar with Asian food, Brazilian music, blond hosts, and carpet on the ceiling.
But this time, nearly all the buildings in the center looked decent. And even that rotten wooden ship of a home at Sakala and Kentmanni has been gutted by fire and has a fence around it. It's time too has come to say head aega and to serve as the bedrock for a nordic sushi joint.
During the day, with half an hour to kill, I decided to head over the Jõuluturg on Raekoja Plats. I really didn't want to enter the Old Town just because I have been there so many times. But it was worth it. While I was trying to decide whether I should buy glögi from booth A or booth B, who should I spy but Rootsi Suursaadik Dag Hartelius, clad in informal sweater, gingerly making his way across the town hall square.
I wanted to ask him for an autograph and say that I had voted for him at least 10 times over the past few months, and that it was total crap that Koit Toome won because he was the best dancer -- but the New Yorker in me kicked in and I decided to leave Dag alone to the knitted wear and glögi, or glögg på svenska.
Instead I headed to the sõõrikukohvik for some pannkoogid meega and to enjoy the really terrible pakapikud in Eesti Ekspress' year-end edition. There's even one of Rene Van Der Linden. Häid Jõule!