reede, veebruar 02, 2007

Five Observations About Tartu (and Estonia)

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.

19 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

Tartu has magic that is hard to describe. I've heard of it being called as 'fluidum' whatever that means. I lived in Tartu in the late eighties and I have the best memories. I can even find myself wondering why did I ever leave? So I envy you guys moving to Tartu.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I moved from Tallinn to Tartu 6 years ago, and your observations 1, 2 and 5 are the ones I made back then. This week I walked past second hand shop "Hot" on Kuperjanovi street when it was opening, and there was a queue of 10 people outside (10 am, really cold!). Tartu still surprises me.

keelek6rv ütles ...

tere tulemast! :)
kui sa nägid tartu lippu täna, siis tõenäoliselt sellepärast, et 2.02 on tartu rahu aastapäev ja tihti on koos väljas nii sinimustvalge kui tartu lipp.

head kohanemist ja ehk isegi kohtume ülikoolis :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Hillar Palamets noted in his lecture that time flows slower in Tartu, there is no hurry and rush.

AndresS ütles ...

I've never lived in Tartu but did enjoy my time there. The only problem being a "big city" boy for North America I always found the pace of life a little slow, even Tallinn was a bit slow sometimes.

Does that bother you at all or you like the slower pace?

Anonüümne ütles ...

Tere tulemast Eestisse.

antyx ütles ...

1) Tartlased are indeed proud of their town, but the flag thing isn't characteristic. As someone mentioned, it's probably the Tartu Peace Accord anniversary.

2) Not in the streets maybe, but you'll hear a lot of English in pubs; and if you go to the right place, you may even hear some authentic Italian.

3) Tartu (county) actually has its own radio station as well. I think in pubs it may have something to do with the copyright agency - they'd have to pay a fee to play CDs over the house system, but not radio.

4) It's not as much of a controversy in Tartu, since as you said it's homogenous, and people here are somewhat less excitable.

5) Oh God yes. Where else would you see a Cambridge-educated Brit sail a small yacht in nothing but hotpants, a sheepskin and a Viking hornhat... and his friend, a public-school Brit sailing a little Laser boat in a pink hat and a cactus suit. (I have pictures.)

Anyway, welcome to Tartu, and my offer of a pint still stands. ;)

Giustino ütles ...

Anyway, welcome to Tartu, and my offer of a pint still stands. ;)

That sounds good to me, once we get settled in. I like the Tartu-fashion thing, reminds me of the East Village.

As for the pace, it's welcome after taking mass transit to Manhattan five days a week for two years.

Wv Sky ütles ...

How about sometime when you get settled, you give us a time, and then let us see you on the Tartu Square web cam?

antyx ütles ...

That sounds good to me, once we get settled in.

Well, my email is on my blog. :)

Ray D. Noper ütles ...

Giustino, have you been to the fabulous almost-but-not-entirely-underground place called Zavood ? Beerdrinkers of Tartu, we should take Giustino there ? :) On a quiet evening, if he's a first-timer :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

I am literally GREEN with envy, Justin! Be nice to my hometown and the most favorite place in the whole world! Also, good luck to you and family with settling in and building your own home in Estonia.

antyx ütles ...

Hmm, I don't know if he's quite ready for Zavood... then again, only one way to find out!

(Though in actuality there's nothing all that scary about Zavood. It's seedy, but that's the theme. Its special status is basically only due to the fact that it stays open far later than any other place.)

Ray D. Noper ütles ...

AFAIK Zavood is special because no "normal person" would go there more than once. At least I have always found opposition while inviting "normal" people with me :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

I've always found Zavood quite cozy, although a bit boring and quiet place.. compared to Levikas, at least

Marek ütles ...

Aah... Tartu. Seven years ago, freshly out of the army, I suddenly found there was not much to do (read: not much work to do). So I headed for Tallinn.

And here I am now. Crying for Tartu. Desperately wanting back to Tartu.

You are one lucky bastard, to be able to live in the Best Town fo Estonia. Remember that.

Anonüümne ütles ...

About second hand shops - i like those, cause i hate that if i try to by clothes from real shops they are all the same - boring and shapeless(and i have to mention that people who manage boutiques think that all women are in size 10 to 12)(i can't afford going shopping in london or paris). so the only way not to look like those girls you wrote about is to buy from second hand. there is really "hot" second hand clothing shop in vahi street, the clientele of it... well you should see the cars parked there (upper-middle class´s favourite place)

Anonüümne ütles ...

There really is some posh stuff in Hot second hand... once I found Max Mara trousers there and have spotted several other designer pieces as well, for a price of 20-50 crowns (2-4 dollars).
Farsar "chain" is another good one.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Don't forget the skinheads of Tartu.