Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eesti Tuur

Traditionally Rotary's Eesti Tuur (Estonia Tour) has been for all of District 1420, meaning even the exchange students from the Finnish side of 1420 went, but this year they decided to change that. A few weeks ago, the five other exchange students in Estonia and I started our three-day tour.
Since we live all over Estonia, we gathered and started the trip in Tallinn. Our first official stop was at a medieval castle in Rakvere.

Inside the castle we had a guided tour. Our tour guide was dressed in period attire, meaning lots of leather, a black powder pistol, and other medieval things. Fortunately, they also had clothing available for us to wear: crusader-style smocks. So mainstream.
We had a few different medieval events in the castle too, like sword-fighting, jousting, archery, an alchemy show, and a "dungeon" tour.

Battle Royale
Those things around their waists are horses, by the way.
Soon after this I simply walked into Mordor.

The enemy horde!
Homemade gunpowder!
They had all the classic medieval animals too.

Just look at the smile on that goat.

These geese were jerks. And the one in the back hates the world.
After the castle, we went to our hotel. Coincidentally (actually, purposefully) it was also a giant spa, so we spent most of the night swimming and jacuzzi-ing. The next day we went to Viru to explore an old oil shale mine. Oil shale is one of Estonia's most important and unique resources, so there are quite a lot of mines in the northeastern part of the country. We were given the tour in broken English, so it was a bit difficult to follow, but we did get to ride on an underground train thing, which was cool.

Later that day we visited a very special community near Põlva called Maarja Küla (http://www.maarjakyla.ee/en/). It's a place for the mentally disabled to be cared for and taught in a communal setting. The village is partially funded by Rotary, so we visited and talked with the volunteers and residents. It is a very nice place... All of the residential houses are named after the country that donated the money to help build that particular house. So there's a Sweden House, Estonia House, Germany House... Sadly, no US House... yet!

And in order to break up that wall of text, here is a mushroom.

After the visit we drove to Tartu, where we stayed for the night. In the morning we attended a lunch meeting with one of the Rotary clubs in Tartu. We were able to watch a presentation given by an exchange student who had just gotten back from Colombia. Finally, we drove back to Tallinn, where we spent the night and caught a ferry the next day to Finland.

In Finland, District 1420 had it's District Conference. It was nice to spend the weekend with some friends who are staying in Finland and it was also nice to go to the conference, though all we did was stand up and introduce ourselves in our "native" languages (Estonian and Finnish). There are about 30 exchange students in my district, so it was a lot of fun.

All in all it was a good five days!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tartu (Pildid)

I fear that I'm becoming lazy with blogging... I have four draft posts started, but I just can't seem to finish them. I have Blogger's Block.

Anyway I'll try and get back on track with this post. Conveniently, I just realized that I never even made a post with pictures of my host city! I had all the pictures ready and everything... Sheesh.

Botanical Gardens

Tartu University building

My "extremely ferocious" dog