Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Medieval Meets Modernity

Happy Canada Day from Tallinn Estonia!

I must admit that when I first saw Tallinn on the itinerary for this trip, I viewed it as an intermediate locale that seemed perfectly situated on the Baltic Sea in order to break up the voyage to St. Petersburg. To say that I was entirely wrong is an understatement. Tallinn is truly a great surprise. The oldest capital city in Northern Europe, Talłinn has managed to straddle the line between old and new, combining its gothic medieval architecture in Old Town, with a vibrant twenty-first century culture complete with vibrant cafes, boutiques, and a thriving high tech industry. Estonia has been kicked around throughout history, including being annexed by the former Soviet Union, but these are a proud people and when the Soviet Union crumbled, Estonia was the first country to declare its independence in 1991. Walking through the narrow paths and cobblestone streets, untouched for centuries, you get a real sense of how Tallinn has remained true to itself since its founding in 1154.

Let's play some Tallinn Trivia and see how much you all know about this beautiful country of Estonia.

Ok, Alex. I'll take Tallinn industry for $500

What major online communication phenomenon was developed in Estonia?

If you answered Skype, then give yourself the money. And if you said that one of the chief developers was named Jean Tallinn, then proceed to the Daily Double. Tallinn is also a completely free WiFi city. How freaking civilized is that?

How about Religuous Symbols for $200, Alex?

What Christmas symbol had its first public showing in Tallinn?

If you answered the Christmas tree, then Alex is very proud of you. The very first public Christmas tree was displayed in the Tallinn Old Town Hall Square in 1441. Apparently the locals danced around the foliage and then promptly burned it to the ground.

Let's go with Botany for $100.

What gin making berry is native to the region?

If you didn't get juniper berry then smack yourself upside the head. Shame on you!! Juniper berries were thought to cure a variety of diseases in medieval times. When we visited the world's oldest apothecary in Old Town, we saw dried berries still on display in what is still a working pharmacy. If you look very carefully, you will notice that each one grows with a tiny cross on top. Healers in the Middle Ages were convinced that they kept the devil at bay. The Husband just wanted to sample the local spirit.

One more...

Food and drink for $300.

What confection had its beginnings in Estonia?

Marzipan! Although I loathe the stuff, it is a favourite of Twin Son's Better Half and it was fascinating to look at the artistic designs in the sweet shop windows. 

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