For an Italian like me, living at a latitude of 59.4 could feel like living on the top of the world. During my almost 3 year adventure living and working in Estonia, I have mixed feelings. The biggest downside was the lack of light in winter, but despite that, I recommend a visit.
Tallinn is a charming medieval city. Walking in the city centre you feel like you are in a history book. It’s worth a visit for its beauty, but not just for that. I have never seen a cleaner city. Each building has a house manager who regularly cleans the side-walk, even from the snow and leaves. And everyone uses waste bags when walking out their dogs. I don’t know in your country, but in other European cities, believe me, it’s not like that. Brussels, just to name one, is very dirty, in spite of the fact that they clean it everyday.
Seasons in Estonia
I am from Bologna, winters are quite cold there, but living on the top of the world has meant facing even colder winters. My family and I waited with anxiety for the arrival of our first November in town. Estonians had described it as the “frightening” month of the year. In fact, in almost every European country, November brings shorter days and rain, but in Estonia it was as if the light was switched off!
Then December arrived bringing the first cold. My son and I tried bravely to use the public transport – very efficient despite extreme weather conditions and free if you are a resident there – but waiting for the tram in the cold, snow and wind was too much for us. After a while, we stopped and always used the car. That’s one of the challenges of living at the top of the world.
In summer, when the sun shines, it’s pleasant, because it’s never too hot. This is one of the advantages of living at the top of the world. The average temperature is 20° C. Tallinn’s main beach, Pirita, is beautiful and you can go sailing and swimming, although I didn’t dare to put a foot in the sea. It was too cold for me. I sailed though.
Estonians way of life
Estonians love singing: more than a hobby, it’s an obsession! Every town has its own choir. I remember once I was stuck in a long procession with thousands of Estonians dressed in regional costumes, carrying flags and playing brass instruments, all off to gather for their Song Party.
The country’s unspoilt forests and beaches are beautiful. Nature is respected, being actually considered a divinity. To cut down a tree, public consultations are organized if not true petitions. Some of the most serious public censure has been for crime against trees. This leads to peculiar situations like one in the island of Saaremaa where there is a tree right in the middle of a football field. They won the award Tree of the Year 2015. Some friends have seen bears and elks; I was not so lucky.
No Estonian could imagine life without a sauna; some even build them in their apartments or houses. Anything less than a weekly session is unthinkable. This is what I miss the most. Here in Belgium, the quality of swimming pools, Turkish baths, saunas and all related to body care is not even comparable. I have not yet found in Brussels a place that offers those services all together on the same site. In Tallinn, however, it is the norm.
Have you ever experienced anything like living under extreme conditions? Of course, the definition of extreme conditions is very personal!
There is something new on Wise & Shine. Our newsletter! Please sign it up here to get regular updates on posts and news from our community.
In addition, if you have a book or another work being published by the traditional press in the next month, please email us including name, publication date and link so we can consider it for the next newsletter: email@example.com (volume is high so please don’t expect a response)
And please connect with us on social media: Instagram account: @wise_and.shine Twitter account @wise_nd_shine, Facebook Wise and Shine Zine and Pinterest as Wise & Shine.