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Monday, 31 October 2016

Looking, Listening, and Learning: Cycling the Baltic States - Page 4

Written by Dale Fehringer
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Our bus ride to Tallin was short and scenic through fields of wheat and rye. We enjoyed watching grain being harvested on one side of the road and bales of hay being put up for winter cattle feed on the other side.


Tallinn is a beautiful, medieval walled city with castles, cobblestone streets, and Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, and Catholic churches. We toured the city on foot and appreciated the history, variety of architectural styles, and cleanliness. It was Saturday and the public squares were packed with tourists, mostly Russian, who were buying souvenirs and drinking shots of vodka and beer in enormous steins. Local shopkeepers, dressed in peasant costumes, encouraged us to buy almonds, carved wooden souvenirs, or to eat in their restaurants. We peeked into hidden courtyards, wound down narrow cobblestone streets, and climbed stone staircases to enjoy sweeping views of rivers, castles, and red-roofed buildings, hundreds of years old.


Our group had a farewell dinner at an ancient restaurant called the Pepper Sack, once owned by a spice trader in the 1500's. During our meal some of the waiters dressed in medieval costumes and staged a mock swordfight that was kitschy, but hilarious. We exchanged hugs and said good-bye to each other and to Egle, who had diligently shepherded us around the Baltic states, sharing her knowledge of this part of the world and relating stories of growing up here during Soviet times.



Like Us

Whenever we travel to a part of the world that is new to us, especially if it is a place we know little about, we realize how alike people are throughout the world. Like us, the people of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have homes, and jobs, and bills. And, like us, they have hopes and dreams, which really aren’t so different from ours. Egle is a good example. She is a mother, a physical therapist, and a tour leader. She has a house, a garden, and a car that she makes payments on. She loves to travel, to learn, and to meet people from other countries. She became a tour leader so she can tell people from other countries what it’s like to live in the Baltic states, and what it was like to live under Soviet rule -- so we won't forget. Like us, she wants to help future generations learn from the past, so they can make better decisions in the future.


This has been a delightful trip! We learned a lot about a surprising and wonderful part of the world. We are looking forward to being home, but we will have terrific memories to take with us.



© Dale Fehringer


Photos © Patty McCrary

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016

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