purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
[personal profile] purplecat
At the end of march I went to a conference in Tallinn, Estonia. It was actually a really good conference and I came away with lots of thoughts though I'm not really intending to blog about them since they are along the lines of "more efficient ways to generate Büchi Automata" which I suspect won't mean much to my flist. Though there was an interesting and more generally accessible talk about load balancing in the German national grid with a side order on getting more trains onto a single European train track which I may give an overview of at some point (*stares dubiously at list of "things it might be interesting to blog about" which has grow scarily long of late*)

Anyway, I actually think my boss was a little bemused by my sudden enthusiasm for foreign travel when this came up. Our group was approached by one of the attached workshops and asked if anyone would like to give a talk and he rather dubiously passed the question on and asked if anyone was interested in going. Normally I'm not terribly excited at the prospect of spending a week away from home, but I'd seen pictures of Tallinn and it looked terribly pretty.

The view from my hotel window of the baltic sea ferry terminus. OK, this is not the prettiest shot I took of Tallinn.

I indulge my obsession with photographing hotel bedrooms. Nothing as exciting as my Japanese toilet, alas.

The opening reception was held in the "Brotherhood of the Blackheads", so named because their patron saint was Saint Mauritius:

This is him. His image is all over their meeting house.

The brotherhood appears to have been a drinking club for unmarried merchants founded in the mid 14th century. I get the impression that most of the time they took the business of drinking very seriously, however on occasion they were known to defend the city. They also have the distinction of erecting the first public Christmas tree (in 1441 according to wikipedia). The brotherhood was finally liquidated in 1940 by the occupying soviet forces.

The house of the blackheads is an interesting mixture of what I think of a Georgian architecture and medieval features.

The exterior in daylight.

I got snowed on, on my way back from the reception. This is Tallinn's medieval town hall at night in the snow.

There follow mix pictures I took on an early morning walk around Tallinn's old town when I skipped one of the conference's invited talks to go snooping.

You can see an almond stall in the last of these. There were lots of these about, all manned by people in costume.

A garlic restaurant

Medieval roadworks!!! OK, roadworks with medieval almond sellers in the background.

These were everywhere, advertising knitwear.

Next to the old town is a hill, Tompea which, among other things, has the advantage of views

And interesting gutters/drainpipes.

This is the Orthodox Cathedral. I gather there was talk of demolishing it in 1928 since it was symbol of Russian oppression (Estonia was governed by Russia prior to its independence in 1918 - and again, of course, between 1940 and 1991)

There has been talk before (on [livejournal.com profile] ladyofastolat's LJ, I think, of the disturbing habit primary schools have of planting flowers in wellington boots, leading to forlorn and series displays of boots in school playgrounds. Estonians, it would seem, do this with slippers.

OK, views

This is what you see from Tompea if you look away from the Old Town.

The road down from Toompea.

On the final night we had a medieval banquet in the "Old Hansa" medieval restaurant. Complete with cinnamon beer which is interesting, but had grown old by the time I finished my tankard.

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