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Friday, June 16, 2006

Visiting Estonia (2006)

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia. Its Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997. The Old Town has a medieval feel to it, complete with its cobblestone roads and courtyards tucked away behind the passageways. Walking through thte old town feels like walking into a movie set!

This year, we stayed at Villa Hortensia. It is right inside the Old Town and is a refurbished suite of rooms around the "Master's Courtyard". It is a charming little place, and Jan did a wonderful job of renovating the rooms, fully utilising the space inside the buildings.

On the ground floor around the courtyard are artisan shops selling various crafts - woodwork, jewellery, fabrics, pottery... And of course, the fabulous Chocolate Café. One drink we absolutely had to try was the hot chocolate with Gorgonzola cheese. I was initially sceptical about how good it would taste, but yumm... it is very rich, and fortunately I do like moldy cheese.

When I arrived in Tallinn, it was pouring. The taxi driver had no idea where Villa Hortensia was, and I didn't think to tell him about the Master's Courtyard or the Chocolate Café. Besides, he said, we cannot drive into the Old Town anyway. So, I got off at Viru Gate (where the flower shops are) and waited for the rain to stop before setting off to find the place. I must have been really lucky, for I stumbled upon the sign for the Chocolate Café soon after!

We spent Wednesday and Thursday skating, chatting and drinking lots of hot chocolate and fruit tea while the men had beer. We skated on public session, which was not too crowded. Peeter and I managed to get an hour of practise together on Wednesday (see blog entry Last-minute partner for Dance

Friday was practise ice. I skated the 10am session, and was supposed to meet Peeter at noon to work on dance again. However, we found that there was no more public ice and the other pad was taken by hockey (argh!). We had to re-schedule for 3pm, which was the afternoon session of practise ice.

Meanwhile, Raye and I decided to go back to the Old Town for lunch, before coming back for the afternoon sessions. We were being adventurous, and took a trolley back to the rink. Yes, there are buses, there are trams, and there are trolleys. It was fun, but we didn't know how to pay for the ride! eeks!

Saturday was competition. I spent the whole day at the rink, but did not get as nervous as at Villard. I write about the compeition in my next blog entry, Vana Tallinn 2006.

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