Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summertime in Tallinn

The sun is high in the sky and unusually for Tallinn it is actually hot. The Baltic sea turns white, to match the sky of the long twilight. The sun barely dips below the horizon at sunset, leaving the sky pink until the dawn. The white nights are when Estonians celebrate the northern summer.

The past few days have shown the medieval city of Tallinn it its finest colours, and though the tourists conspire to block the main streets of the old city, there remain quiet corners where the shadows cool the heat. The cats of the old town doze on the granite cobbles.

The sky is clearest blue with a few clouds dangling on the edge of the horizon.

I spent the St. John's Day holiday away from Tallinn in the deepest Estonian countryside. A friend who got married on Monday invited us to his Talu- farm- and the traditional features of the holiday went ahead. The Bonfire was lit as the twilight gathered and the dawn, Koit, and Dusk, Hammarik, were said to kiss for the only day of the year. As the flames died down, in keeping with tradition, I jumped over the fire for good luck. A sauna, a barbecue and beer comprised the bulk of the evening. It is practically proverbial that it rains on Jaanipaev, but this year the weather remained warm and dry, with only a breeze to disturb the silence.

The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force that came to help the Estonians celebrate the holiday have left- the RAF with a low level and very loud fly past over the Old City before they return to Scotland. The point, I suppose is that the RAF can still get to Tallinn in less than an hour- a point that would not be lost on the Russian Embassy here.

With a snort of satisfaction I turn to the weather on the BBC and see lower temperatures and even rain forecast in the UK. Meanwhile in the blazing sunshine, I prepare for my trip to Vilnius next week. Exhausted from lack of sleep due to the constant daylight, I remember the cold and dark of winter as though it belongs to a different country.


Julian H said...

Great post. I'm planning a Czech Round-Trip II at some point this year, but equally should make it up to the Baltic before long.

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