Wednesday, December 26, 2007

BAAAH Humbug!


Well, as Christmas winds down here in Tallinn, Estonia, we must admit it has been a very enjoyable, yet slightly disappointing Christmas. Slightly disappointing for the sole reason that it DID NOT SNOW! Baaaah, humbug!! However, finally being reunited with Blue and Bec has been a truly magical experience, and surprisingly short on head pats.

On the first day we wandered through Raekoja Plats (Town Hall square) that was filled with yet another Christmas market; we saw funny hats, mulled wine, a large Christmas tree and Father Christmas. In the market Dave and Jarratt did a fantastic job at looking like big tourists consulting every map and book to decide on our next location. We ended up deciding on heading onwards and upwards to Toompea Hill where we visited the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Toompea Castel, Pikk Hermann and a number of the viewing platforms that look over the lower town of Tallinn. We then headed back to the market where we all got a warm wiener into us and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city museum. We ended the night in a traditional Austrian beer hall trying a variety of the local ales and being ignored by the wenches.

The following day we explored the remaining sites in the lower town of Tallinn. Jarratt and his fantastic navigational skills managed to walk us straight past the Puhavaimu kirik clock.... twice. We also visited Fat Margaret’s, the Maritime Museum, and the broken line memorial which Blue originally mistook for a skate jump. We then had lunch at Honky Tonk Texas pub as Bec was desperately craving a burger. Afterwards we wandered past the former KGB Headquarters and headed home for a fantastic dinner a-la Jarratt.

The next day had a lazy start, but soon we were skating on thin ice. Well, three of us were... Blue was there to document the occasion. With two out of three skating with no previous experience and the third not being in skates for over 5 years, falls were running at high odds. But we are chuffed to report not one person fell.... although there were a few close calls that caused great amusement for all. Afterwards we all felt very 'Christmas-y' and rewarded ourselves with dinner at Estonia's first pub. Which turned a little messy... but what happens on tour stays on tour ;) Because of our drinking efforts Christmas eve was spent catching up and when we eventually headed out, we didnt venture too far. We wandered the Town Hall Square and had our first cup of mulled wine and.... YUK! Dont EVER do it! YUK! Later in the night, Jarratt and I headed out to midnight mass that was entirely in latin! Bec was very impressed to here all the ladies behind her in the pews singing the hymns and reciting the lamb of god in LATIN, joke was on her when she saw they were all nuns!

Today was Christmas (!), we woke late, opened our presents, spoke to you all at home and headed out to the pepper sack for a medieval dinner. Tomorrow we are off to Riga by bus and are looking forward to more cheap eats, drinking and relaxing with friends. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas! Lots of love, Bec

Seriously... who would buy it? One of the funny hats in the Town Hall Square.

Us at the viewing platform on Toompea Hill.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Jarratt at the Ice Rink.

Us at the Pepper Sack for Christmas Dinner.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What a Shakespearenice!

As the famous William Shakespeare once wrote in his play Julius Caesar.... Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! (Act 3, scene 2, 74). After our trip to Stratford-upon-avon it is fair to say we were injected with the Shakespeare bug. It's everywhere up there!!! With 3 theatres dedicated to putting on Shakespeare performances and every shop, cafe and even stationary (!) having some reference to him, or his plays it felt like the whole world had gone Shakespeare mad.

After checking into our delightful B&B we were greeted by our warm, however overwhelming hostess, who henceforth referred to us as Jarratt and Beckie, and we all know how much I love that!! After we dumped our bags we headed into the market square where we saw ANOTHER Christmas market and bought the best lunch ever! A pork roll, complete with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling! Afterwards we headed to 3 of the 5 Shakespeare houses that are located in and around Stratford. The first we visited was Shakespeares birthplace, then Nash House and the site of New Place, finishing in Halls Croft. Each house visited had a guide member done up in traditional victorian dress who gave information about the room they were assigned to. At Halls Croft the gentleman assigned to give a brief overview of the house was a particular highlight. He was full of idioms, irony and sarcastic quips that managed to really amuse him, but not many others.

We then headed to Shakespeares burial site, Holy Trinity Church, where we entered through the wrong entrance and managed to avoid paying the viewing fee. Whoops! Anne Hathaway, Thomas Nash, Suzannah Shakespeare and John Hall are also buried there. There is also a copy of the register showing the baptism and burial dates of Shakespeare himself. After leaving the church we wander down the Avon, past the Courtyard and Swan Theatres. We then spent time strolling the Christmas-lit streets, before having dinner and heading to the Civic Hall. At the Civic Hall we had front row, centre seats to a performance entitled "Noughts and Crosses", a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Our final day in Stratford was spent trying to hurdle our MASSIVE B&B breakfast, seeing Anne Hathaways Cottage and maze garden, as well as having a private viewing of "Shakespearenice". We then headed to the train station and onwards to Peter Garcia and Suzies for an orphan's Christmas dinner we will never forget!!!

Bec and the best lunch ever!

Us at Shakespeare's birthplace.

Shakespeare's burial site.