Hello everyone, I’ve been traveling quite a bit and haven’t been able to post as much as I wanted but I thought I would do a quick check in.
Final thoughts about Estonia
I had a blast in Estonia. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. One of the more interesting experiences was eating bear meat. Check out the picture:
This is not legal in most parts of the world, so I could not pass up the opportunity to at least give it a try. The meat was very good and well prepared. It had a very rich taste and was not like anything else I have tasted before.
At about $70 a plate, it was not cheap, but I have not been spending much on this trip because we have been staying with friends and family, so I figured I would give it a try.
Like I mentioned about Estonia before, almost everyone we came into contact with spoke excellent English. Evelin said that this is primarily because since there are only 1 million people in the country, they have to learn another language because no other country will speak Estonian.
It was awesome to see the city with a local because we got to see the real Tallinn, not just the touristy crap. Many thanks to our friend Evelin for the great tour of the city.
An interesting cultural fact about the country is that they are one of, if not the least religious country in the world. If people are religious, they are Lutheran. This religion is very simple and pragmatic and according to our friend, is a reflection of the Estonian people as a whole.
There are two downsides to living in Tallinn, in my opinion. One is that they recently converted to the Euro, so everything is more expensive than in Poland or the US for that matter.
The other disadvantage is that since they are so far north, they have large swings in daylight. On the last night of our stay, we stayed out at a club until about 4 am. The sun went down at about 11 pm and came up before we left. Awesome during the summer, but it would suck in the winter.
On the whole, everyone was friendly and Tallinn had a good vibe. It is somewhere that I could live for a period of time…in the summer of course.
Back to Poland
After landing in Warsaw, we stayed with a couple of friends and toured the ‘old town’ of Warsaw. The reason that it is not really an old town is because it was leveled during a World War II uprising.
Of course this pissed Hitler off something fierce and he ordered the city of Warsaw completely destroyed. We went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum and saw how the people of Warsaw stood up to Hitler in a battle that lasted 62 days.
They were successful in defending the city, which led to the bombings. From a city of about 1.4 million, there were about 900,000 left alive. Of those people, only 1,000 stayed in the city due to the extensive damage.
We actually got very lucky and were there on Art Night. It is a once a year event and almost all of the museums and galleries in the city are free and open to the public.
The streets were super crowded and there was a lot going on. I saw some old communist era buses still operating in the streets and ate at a traditional Jewish restaurant.
Overall, it was a cool experience but the feel was a little touristy. It’s cool for a visit but I wouldn’t want to live there for an extended period of time.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines
From there, we went to the world famous Polish salt mines in Wieliczka. It is one of the only salt mine to be continuously operating since Medieval times. I saw some pictures on the internet of the mines beforehand but you cannot really understand the immensity of the mines until you are actually there.
There are a total of nine different levels, only three of which visitors are allowed to see. But those three levels are very impressive. My favorite part of the tour was the largest cathedral in the mines.
It had very high ceilings and everything from the sculptures to the ‘crystal’ chandelier to the floor tiles was carved from salt. The level of detail and scale were just breathtaking.
Apparently, there are about 30 shrines and cathedrals in the mines. Being that it is such a dangerous job, I could understand the need for places to pray.
I have always thought of a mine as a place that you worked at and got out as soon as possible. But this mine is so deep and so developed that they had time to build other structures and stay down there for extended periods of time. They even had stables for horses that were used to operate the salt rock elevators in the Middle Ages.
The trip continues
In the next post, I continue on to Krakow, the former capital of Poland. I have not been checking the markets as much as I would like because I have been enjoying the new experiences and because of a lack of readily available internet service.
When I am home, I have my Verizon USB card and my Clear Home modem and can get internet almost anywhere. If I was trading for a living and traveling, I would definitely have make internet arrangements.