Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Weekend on an Ex-Soviet-Occupied Island

This past Sunday my host family and I went to Naissaar -- an island just north of Tallinn -- for my host father's company's "summer days" (basically a gathering of all of the company's employees where they party and do group activities).
The remains of one of the guns.
As hinted at in the title, Naissaar was once occupied by the Soviets. It's in a prime location, especially if you are trying to set up a line of defense in a country squished between communists and capitalists.... There were a few very large guns set up by the Russians on the island, plus a (very secret) naval mine factory. On Monday we were given a tour of the ruins of the guns and some old concrete buildings as well.

Old concrete ruins. Complete with scary military guy.

Old and rusty naval mines.

Perfectly harmless. Just don't touch them too hard.

By the way, apparently the only way to move around the island is to use giant military trucks or Land Rovers.

I should have chosen the Land Rovers.
The island is only about an hour's ferry ride away from the city and the weather was quite nice on the way there (though it poured on the way back...). Once on the island we walked about 3 km to the "hotel" since the trucks were already full of people and suitcases.

The first group activity that we did was orienteering. We were divided into groups of four and then given an hour and a half to find certain points in a small area of the island. Luckily, my teammates spoke English and because of me our team name was "Ameerika". Let's just say Ameerika didn't do so well this weekend.

Our first challenge was to try and match the shapes of Estonian counties with their names... I was no help. Then we were given a map and compass, and we tried to find the checkpoints. At some of the checkpoints we had to do certain tasks... The only one I was good at was skipping stones. In the end everyone's points were tallied and Team Ameerika ended up coming in 13th! Unfortunately there were 13 teams. 

I had a lot of free time to roam around the compound -- I mean hotel -- so I just took my camera and walked...

Good taste in paint jobs. Bad taste in ideologies.

Google Translate tells me that this says "Flammable!" I thought it said "OreoNacho!" I'm disappointed.
Here are some nice pictures to make up for all that boring text and concrete:


  1. Dear Chris: OreoNacho, indeed. Also I am always amazed by your photographic awesomeness. There is a frog eye! (Now this is just random weird commenting...) When do you start school?

  2. I love the Estonian grasshopper. Trés exotic.
    That looks so neat! I enjoy your writing and all of your pictures. I'm sorry Team Ameerika failed. Good job on skipping stones, though.

    Anastasia S.