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  • Jamie Shannon

Tallinn. I should really get going now. To Warsaw!

I’m finding it a little difficult to write this post after spending so long in the same place. I was supposed to stay here just ten days. This rolled over into two weeks which in turn rolled over into three weeks. Oops! I usually find myself in one place for two or perhaps three days where I might have to look back on what’s happened in the previous week to be able to gather my thoughts and produce something, legible, interesting and thoughtful to read. I'll give it a go anyway.

I’ve spent the past two weeks with an amazing girl and that’s about all I’m willing to say about that here. I’ve really enjoyed Estonia though. I've met many, many people, seen, a beautiful old town, been to parties, family gatherings and visited some beautiful places in nature too. It’s been pretty fantastic really and I couldn’t have wished for more.

I really had very little idea about what to expect with regards to Estonia (as would most people I assume), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We all have preconceptions about everything in life which I guess is just in our nature. The preconceptions about other cultures and countries though is something that can only be overcome by actually visiting them yourself. In this regard, my eyes have pretty well been blown wide open, in many ways.

In the two weeks I have been here, it’s been hovering around twenty degrees everyday with not a cloud in sight and with my coat firmly tucked away on a shelf. I expected a land of farms amidst low lying land reminiscent of much of Western Europe but what I actually found was far more exciting. It’s a land of verdant forest as far as the eye can see, studded with lakes, bogs and marshland that make it an interesting and rewarding place to explore. However, It’s also not the ultra cheap destination I had envisioned. The prices here are comparable with most of Western Europe thus my money hasn’t gone as far as I would have liked. In some instances like public transport though, this is certainly not the case. It fluctuates .When I heard about Estonia, my mind (and I can only speak for myself right?) would always think of The Baltic's, Eastern Europe, The Iron curtain and things like that but, in essence, this really isn’t the case. If you look at a map, Estonia is closer to Helsinki than It is to its neighbouring capitals further south thus the language is more akin to Finnish and other Scandinavian languages than to other Baltic or Eastern European languages. Estonia is also the most ‘switched’ on country in Europe too with regards to the internet and technology being the home of Skype among lots of other pioneering businesses.

It’s also strange too to realise just how many people speak English here thus the more I look, the more I feel this country is really part of Scandinavia in most regards. This is even topped off by the amount of Nordic walking I've seen; something I first encountered in Denmark but which I presumed to be just a kind of practice for the upcoming ski season. Apparently it’s simply a workout for the whole body. Go figure.

What I mean by all this is rather than judging a place on outdated textbooks, Chinese whispers or by other conventional means, it’s nice to visit the place and find out for yourself because really, your preconceptions will undoubtedly take a huge hit.

It's been really nice to live in a lovely apartment though, making mojito's, eating blood sausages and generally enjoying one's creature comforts with a wonderful girl but things do indeed move quickly and.....I have work to do!

I’m now about to head off south, through this wooded country and on through Latvia, Lithuania and Poland where I hope to reach Warsaw in around ten days’ time. I need to make haste now as I kind of have to be in Istanbul by the first of July; summer won't last forever and I still have some big ass mountains to cross before winter arrives.

Life is going very well and I’m excited about the challenges and adventures that lie ahead.

Cycle touring through Europe might seem a touch difficult but It really isn’t; you just need the right attitude and If I do make it to Istanbul by the beginning of July, then I’ll be an even happier man. This trip will finally become intercontinental and truly awesome and something which I can be truly proud of. If you could wish me well in this venture, I’d appreciate it as I’m sure it won’t be the easiest thing I have attempted.

Anyway, I’ll see you in Warsaw! I hope.

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