We arrived in Tallinn yesterday afternoon, after about a 3 hour drive from Riga. We made contact with a former colleague of mine,Carl Orav, last night and after a delightful dinner he led us through the old town of Tallinn.
In the years I worked with him, I didn’t realize it, but he had an amazing story which is probably typical of many Estonian families. Born in Tallinn in 1943. His father had graduated from the Estonian equivalent of West Point in 1940 and was an officer in the Estonian army. The Russians swept through the area first and commissioned him as an officer in the Russian army and he went off to fight Germans. When he realized it was a losing cause with the Russians, he deserted, and came back to Tallinn about the time the Germans were coming through, so the Germans commissioned him as an officer in the German army and eventually he became an officer in the SS. When the Russians were headed back, he commandeered a German army truck, drove to Tallinn, picked up the family and drove to Germany, where they stayed until the war ended. After the war his family lived in several refugee camps until they could get passage to Sweden. His father took a job as an engineer in a factory for several years, then since many other members of the family,grandparents, aunts and uncles, had immigrated to the US, they were able to do so as well.
Carl also gave us the insight that most of young, slender, attractive blonde women we have been seeing dressed in stylish, flamboyant and provocative clothing were young Russians who had grown up in places like Riga and Tallinn and they or their families chose to stay when the Soviets pulled out. Today, Michele checked it out in many of the shops we were in, asking each attractive, slender, blonde woman if they were Russian. Some responded reluctantly, but she hit 100%. So much for the mythology that Russian women all weigh 250# and wear kerchiefs and potato sacks.
On to Helsinki tomorrow,
The following views have some historical tidbits and then a collage of shop signs follow.
Along with sightseeing, dinner and tour with Carl, we also had my November election filing papers notariized by the American consul and shipped them off via DHL to California. I guess it is because of our age but what an amazing experience it is to track the package which will arrive in just two days!