Christmas time is always exciting... winter finally came and people all around can breath icy baltic air. Yeah, even though I was never a huge fan of snow (probably because in my home we had more than enough of it every single year), it gives me goosebumps, how beautiful can snowy Estonian forests be. Probably most of us have this childish joy and warmness when christmas is coming and the first of December is in the front door. You can start tasting it slowly, like wine..
Great music, that gives me such feelings, and I’m listening to right now, Mozart - piano sonata n.11 Andante grazioso. It starts slowly and tenderly, it gives that feeling of first fluffy snow falling.
But this is written in variation style, so basically you have all emotional spectrum. December in Estonia was so emotionally rich that it became in some way my andante graziose.
The first of December in Valga starts with the lighting of the christmas tree, in the main square. Everybody is in a busy and cheerful mood. People are smiling, drinking hot wine, kids are running around, snow is falling and it’s pretty cold but enjoyable. Estonians love to dance their national dances and they do it here today as well. Even though the stage is full of snow, it doesn’t stop them, they perform their national dances with faces full of joy.
The last month of the year goes pretty well. Meeting with cool people, listening to classical and christmas estonian music and adventures across estonia and abroad. It was really nice to listen to christmas music live, performed by the local music school (in which Flora, a volunteer from our organization, plays the cello). Some estonian songs, I enjoyed them a lot. Sunday couldn't be better.
With Laura & Flora were watching "Moonrise Kingdom" by W.Anderson.
With Flora during Christmas concert.
View on snowy Valga with amazing refreshing air.
In youth center life was pretty fun during this month: a lot of table tennis and billiard, photoshooting and warm tea & conversations with Dea, Vallo, Marja and others. We finally cooked something with Vallo. He cooks liver really, really tasty.
Youth center life..
There was a Christmas workshops event in Valga main square. There, kids and their parents had the opportunity to make their own gingerbread cookies and christmas postcards and decorations. I made a postcard, too, freezing half of my fingers in the process.
The beginning of the month was snowy and beautiful. For a moment, our city became a cozy fairytale town. Everything was white and sparkly under the sunlight, trees were frosted. I allowed myself to believe, for a little while, that snow would last like this whole december… but nope.
One day, I had a chance to work in Hargla youth center, as a playstation dance instructor. It was Christmas celebration at the youth center, so three volunteers, including me, were trying to create christmas spirit for kids and their parents: matching different cookie scents, making gingerbread biscuits and dancing together with kids was quite fun...it turned out that I don’t dance that bad (at least while using playstation dancing). I must say, that it was truly enjoyable day in lovely decorated and cozy Hargla youth center.
Yeah, I also brought a fir tree home. We decorated it and it gave us a greater feeling of Christmas spirit.
Photostudio shooting took also part of my life in december. I tried to spend as much quality time in the studio as as possible, taking photos of teenagers from the youth center.
In the end, more and more youngsters wanted to model, so we had a bit of work, and later, even Santa Claus visited us for a bit.
Studio results.. pretty satisfying.
Closer to the middle of the month, the time of real adventure came: a trip from Tallinn to Stockholm by overnight cruise, spending a day in the capital of Sweden and in the evening going back to Estonia.
Time we spent on the ship was fun..
Song that fits great to this wavy adventure: V.Morrison - Bright Side of the Road.
Yeah, of course Stockholm has much more to show and 5 hours to visit were not enough. But for 26 euros both ways ticket, we had no doubts whether it was worth it or not.
It was a wonderful trip, where we walked a lot, met cheerful volunteers, and saw beautiful city and nature landscapes, stormy sea and even royal couches and clothes at the Armoury museum, including the ones that the Swedish royal family still uses for the coronations.
Stockholm old town. Stockholm city hall.
As this is my last blog, I want to write that I met cool people during my volunteering. We had a really nice time together, even if it was brief. Vallo, Carlos, Markus, Flora, Gabriel, Pavel, Quentin, Binghan, Martha, Ronja, Octavian, Peter, Kirim, Dea: you’re cool guys, thanks for being in my life in the last half year.
Chrstmas it’s always exciting, cause it brings joy in our hearts. It really did this year. Laura and I decided to spend Christmas closer to a beautiful nature reserve in Estonia.
It was an unusual christmas, especially for Laura, who got used to spend this jolly time in warm and sunny Spain. We were pretty active, backpacking, camping and hiking 52 kms.
Almost three days in astonishing Estonian nature left a mark on us.
Kakerdaja & Viru bogs!!
Crossing the longest boardwalk bog, in Kakerdaja, was not that easy, but it took our breath away with its amazing beauty. We almost lost a shoe in a dangerous wetland (on nightlight) that could have been the end of our trip. We saw at least 5 or 6 lakes that deserved to have much more time and attention from us, instead of the few minutes we managed to spend there.
We walked one of the most beautiful and famous bogs in Estonia (Viru bog) and even though it was -1°C outside, I jumped into the freezing bog’s lake, hoping to become 7 years younger, as the estonian myth tells.
Alas, we couldn’t reach the sea because we lacked time, but the beauty of the Lahemaa park amazed me.
However, that was not the end of our Christmas journey. After the amazing forests, we took a bus to Tallinn, and the bus driver (the most smiley and cheerful bus driver I’ve ever met) gave us some candies. How many bus drivers have you met who greet you with a smile and a candy?
In Tallinn, we spent a couple hours, having a walk in the famous christmas market, placed near the dragon tower (I’m calling it that way) and all around the old city, which has different colorful houses, medieval towers and wide panoramic views on the old part of the city. But it was not the last city of that day...
Tartu is a university city with stunning Christmas decoration lights, that, if you are on the way through the city, you’re obliged to visit. Yeah, Tartu Christmas square was brightfull, creative and warm. Thousands of lights warmed up our eyes, creative stalls warmed up our hearts and small bonfires all around the square warmed up our bodies. Our visit to Tartu was short but enjoyable. That’s how I and Laura spent Christmas.
Bright and creative Tartu.
The rest of the month I was getting ready for my next adventure...
Riga in the last days of the year... what a beautiful city! To some extent, Riga became a city very close to me, probably because I visited it more times than Tallinn, even though I have been living all this time in Estonia.
The first Baltic city that greet me was Riga, and it is the last one I will see this year in Baltics. The last hours in Riga, before the flight, were pretty fun: glass elevator with panoramic views on the old town, Art Nouveau district with impressive houses, and cozy Christmas market decorated in a fun, cute, nordic way.
Latvian symbols were everywhere, along with tempting homemade food cooked outdoors. There was a pretty Christmas tree and even a real viking throne, where Laura took a cool photo of me.
It was a great time in one of the most beautiful and warm cities in the Baltics.
Bye bye, Riga...
Plane Riga - Istanbul - … and rest, it’s already a completely new story… I am finishing this one with an amazing song that boosts adventure and Christmas mood. Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me.
Have a great flight in 2020 :)