Monday, April 9, 2012


First - the few photos I took when it wasn't snowing.

I love everything that looks like this.

Tallinn does have that Russian feel, and you do find Russian cafés with all your typical tarts and cakes. You also find these kinds of café's, which to me feel extremely "hip-Scandinavian". Everything is 10 times as expensive in these kinds of cafés. Of course.

English-inspired pub. I love the straightforward wine menu, and the clock to the left. I had at least two raspberry beers and one cherry beer here. Stuff you don't find in Norway! Here we also met some people who took us to local bars, the kind that doesn't close (and that doesn't have any signs signalling they are actually there), until five in the morning।

View over Tallinn.

Every time I go on a holiday, I always end up with feet that hurt. You aren't that very sure about the public transport system, so you end up walking a lot more than you usually do, and you usually do this for several days in a row. You can however visit Tallinn without any excessive strain on your feet, because the city is tiny! Well, I'm sure it isn't actually that small, but when it's constantly snowing or raining, you don't necessarily go that far outside of the city center.

I like Tallinn. In the old city you get that medieval feeling, very similar to the Old Town in Stockholm, just bigger and better, and outside of it, you get that same feeling as in Russia. Perfect. There's even a Russian market, Russian book stores and lots of Russian food! If there's something to say about Tallinn, it's that in this city they can brew coffee and cook absolutely delicious food! I don't think I've ever visited any place where the coffee has been as good (the worst place for coffee EVER is Paris, Oslo is half decent, St. Petersburg is expensive and not very good and Kiev is just fine, just to mention a couple of cities).

Things that you have to visit if you go to Tallinn: the Nevsky Cathedral, the Russian market, Boheem café, Town Hall medieval pub (very good food and beer!) and Kompressor (best pancakes ever).

Funny thing about my trip to Tallinn is that it has rekindled my interest for Hungarian. In a Russian bookstore (or rather, the Russian part of a big Estonian bookstore) I found a series of Ilya Frank reading method books, and not in the typical, boring languages, but in Arabic, Turkish and Hungarian! Even though they were somewhat costly, I had to get the Hungarian one, and I can't wait to start reading it! The method more or less consists in a text, where you first have a sentence in Hungarian, then in Russian within brackets, with some small comments when necessary, and then the same passage again entirely in Hungarian. It helps you read things without the use of a dictionary, and you can just read the all Hungarian text and check if you got it right by then consulting the interlaced text. Quite handy.

I also managed to read some books during my trip, and I thought I'd give them short reviews here.

Embers by Sándor Márai.

This book starts off a bit weak, but then it gains something with every page. It's like a mini mystery, where you know that something has happened, that someone is perhaps dead and that this has had an immense impact on the main character, but you have no idea what actually happened, and the story unfolds mainly through a monologue. This book should be read rather quickly I think, so that you more or less stay in real time with the dialogue/monologue that unfolds the mystery.

Джаз-банд на Карловом мосту by Дина Рубина.

I kind of liked На солнечной стороне улицы, even though it had its faults. This book mostly has faults. There is one brief passage in the beginning, dealing with Kafka and letters written to and from Kafka (i.e. not written by the author) which are interesting. Anything she has written herself is just crap. This book is supposed to be a recollection of journeys to different countries, something about the atmosphere or soul of each place. I think that was supposed to be the point. Instead, it's the arrogant bragging of a mediocre Russian author (who has published 40 books! Who is invited to hold lectures! Who understands people in any language without actually knowing the language, just through her superior ability to communicate! Who loves to bring up the martyrdom of the Jews every chance she gets and who has absolutely no idea how to use punctuation!). I hate this book so much that I actually didn't read the last 15 pages and left it on the bed in the hostel in Tallinn.

Monsieur Vénus by Rachilde.

This could have been quite good. I had never heard of Rachilde before, and I kind of suspected that was because she wasn't actually a good writer. Kind of like Marquis de Sade; she can't write, but she writes about scandalous things, so she gets famous anyway. This book (from 1884) about a woman, who is perhaps more like a man, who meets a man, who is perhaps more like a woman, does have some interesting things in it, and it wasn't boring to read, but sometimes it just embarrassingly melodramatic and weird.