The Baltic

In March 2004 I found myself in Tallinn, Estonia presenting at a pre-accession IT conference. Nearly spring at home, the temperatures remained determinedly below zero throughout as the streets rattled to the sound of studded tyres on tarmac. On one of the short days we escaped to Kadrioru Park by the shores of the Baltic and walked upon the water – the sea was deeply frozen as ferries navigated in and out of the port through roughly carved channels.

The return flight banked over the Baltic and some years later we returned by a defrosted sea on our return from St Petersburg. Thus I have floated on the Baltic, walked on its waters and flown over its deep seas. A couple of weeks back I even went inside:

The Baltic

Actually, I have been inside the Baltic Mill, Gateshead on many occasions. It is a wonderful building but the content rarely lives up to its fine exterior.

(this is another image courtesy of the smartphone).

Travel theme: Dance

Travel theme: Dance:  These photographs were taken thirty years ago in Battery Park, New York.  The first is a little fussy with too much going on but with the passage of time perhaps it gains interest.  As I remember, the lone pom pom dancer had no connection with the street musician sat on the bench who was taking a rest between playing the accordion and the trumpet – a uniquely challenging feat for a one man band; the passers-by in their 1980s fashions seem too wrapped up in their own worlds.  Watching over them all is the Norman Millet Thomas Coast Guard Memorial established in honour of those from the US Coast Guard who served their country during World War II; nothing heals their wounds, nothing brings them back, nothing is learned – the world dances on.

Battery Park DancerBattery Park Dancer

On a lighter note, I was born with two left feet so I don’t generally take much interest in dance; consequently I found this theme choice quite difficult.  I have once again mined the Tallinn TREFF archive for these two images of clowns dancing:

Tallinn street theatre - danceTallinn street theatre - dance

(click on images to enlarge)

Baltic Gallery – now online

I have finally finished ‘tarting up’ the Baltic pictures.  They can all be seen at the original northumbrian : light gallery site.  There has been much mucking about in Photoshop so nothing appears quite as it should be.  The camera always lies.  For those easily bored or of a nervous disposition, be warned that there are 87 pictures – with a six second autoplay loop this is going to take nine minutes out of your life.


Tallinn : brief impressions

It is eight years since we were here last.  Then snow tyres rattled along the roads, the streets were snowy and empty and we walked along the shore of the frozen Baltic.  Things have changed; certainly it is warmer and I am told the shops have improved whilst the streets, far from being empty, were swarming – there were four cruise ships in the purpose built harbour.

Tallinn is a mini Prague, more compact and less wearing; everything is accessible and a short up and down hill hike.  The old town is in stark contrast to the suburbs which are haunted with crumbling Soviet housing schemes and overly wide road systems designed to give easy access to tanks entering the city from the East.  Outside the old town in the shadows, pressed between architecture of the old regime and the new regime, are the remnants of an entirely different history.

The churches, castle and museums are unchanged and predictable.  It is the unexpected which sticks in the memory – on this occasion the Tallinn TREFF Festival – Different Cultures, one language!