Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Daily Show with Estonian Prime Minster Taavi Rõivas

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas won over American audiences yesterday on the Daily Show. Host Trevor Noah was so impressed with the digital success of the Nordic country that he said   "We've got to go to Estonia".

You can watch the interview here.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Video: Nostalgic look at Tallinn during the 1930s

I like these old videos of Tallinn. They remind me of the wonderful era my grandparents lived in before the war. I've heard it been said many times, that life in Estonia during the 1930s was absolutely blissful. Estonians were wealthier back then and enjoyed a higher standard of living compared to today. Estonia has come a long way since regaining its independence and I have no doubt the country will continue going from strength to strength.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lonely Planet Names Estonia as the Best Value Destination for 2016

I couldn't agree with them more!

To read the complete list of the best value destinations for 2016, please click here:
Best value destinations for 2016

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Ten Foods Estonians Love to Eat

One of the things I always wanted to do when I first visited Estonia in 2003 was take a trip to an Estonian supermarket. I was eager to see what local Estonians ate and what products lined the shelves. The Rimi in Aia Street was the first supermarket I visited in Tallinn and I remember walking in there with my family, in awe of all the wonderful Estonian products on display. It may seem like a trifling thing, a trip to a supermarket, but for an Estonian who grew up in Australia who only ate food with English labels, it was a real treat to see everything written in Estonian!  

It was a real heart-warming experience browsing the aisles that day and deciding what to consume now and what to save and take home for later. Even now, some 13 years later I still get a buzz from supermarket shopping in Estonia, my only dilemma is how do I squeeze it all into my suitcase?

Growing up in Australia I was exposed to only a few Estonian foods but in the years since I have come to love many more. Here are ten foods that Estonians love to eat and everyone else should try at least once.

1. Black bread (leib)

Considered sacred to all Estonians, black rye bread has been a staple part of the Estonian diet since the dawn of agriculture. It is absolutely delicious too!

2. Sprat sandwiches (Kiluvõileib)

Whenever there is a gathering, sprat sandwiches can be found. Usually topped with dill, eggs, cucumbers, herrings or other meats, sprats make a healthy snack. 

3. Rosolje salad

This popular salad made form beetroot, potatoes and herrings is a family favourite and can be purchased practically everywhere in Estonia. To try making it yourself, click here: Vana kooli rosolje

4. Sour cream

Estonians love sour cream and put it on virtually everything. You can find it on top of soups, salads, meat dishes, potatoes etc... the list goes on. Here's a fact you might not be aware of - in Estonia sour cream and milk are packaged in plastic, not cartons.   

5. Lemon pepper 

Estonians love to season their food. Lemon pepper is very popular in Estonia and tastes great too!

6. Kohuke - curd snacks

Invented around 70 years ago, kohuke is basically freshly pressed sweet curd covered in chocolate or caramel. There are plain as well as flavoured varieties containing fillings such as berries, chocolate, coconut and kiwi fruit. They're extremely popular with both adults and kids.

7. Garlic bread (küüslauguleib)

If you are used to the white fluffy garlic bread you get in Italian restaurants then you will receive a bit of a shock when you order garlic bread in Estonia for the first time. Deep fried, smeared with garlic and butter and served with a white sauce, Estonian garlic bread is different yet packed with flavour!   

8.  Cinnamon rolls (Kaneelirullid)

Delicious to eat any time of the day, cinnamon rolls can be found in all supermarkets and bakeries across Estonia. They're easy to make as well, here's a recipe: Kaneelirullid aka Estonian cinnamon rolls

9. Cheese

Estonians are some of the biggest cheese consumers in the world per capita. Local supermarkets offer a great selection.

10. Gingerbread (piparkoogid)

A family favourite at Christmas time, no home is complete without the traditional piparkoogid on the table. Most Estonians make their own gingerbread but Kalev, the major confectioner in Estonia, offers a tasty option too.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Head emakeelepäeva! Happy Mother Tongue Day!

The 14th of March is Mother Tongue Day in Estonia. To mark the occasion the University of Tartu have put together a list of ten tongue twisters for language enthusiasts.  Enjoy!

Click here for more tongue twisters!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Documentary: The Story of the Baltic University to Screen in Tallinn on 14th March 2016

If you are in Tallinn on Monday then here's an event not to be missed. Documentary filmmaker Helga Merits will be screening her new film The Story of the Baltic University at the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn. The documentary tells the story of how 170 Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian academics built the Baltic University under very difficult conditions in a German displaced persons camp after WWII. 14th March 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Baltic University in Hamburg. Despite the difficulties and challenges faced by the refugees in Germany after the war, the Baltic University managed to operate for three and a half years, giving many young Baltic people the opportunity to pursue their academic careers.

My Estonian grandfather Alexander was an economics student at the Baltic University and last year Helga very kindly allowed me to view an advance screening of the film. For anyone interested in Estonian history and the plight of refugees after the war, this film will provide some insight.

Entry is free. To attend the screening you need to register here. The film and discussion afterwards will be in English.

Event information:
Date: 14th March 2016. Time: 5pm.
Location: Museum of Occupations, Toompea 8, Tallinn.
Language: English
Contact details: +372 680 5500 or

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Film: Estonia in the 1930s

A rare Estonian film has emerged from Canada showing life in Estonia during 1938-1939.  This bittersweet film reminds us of the former glory days of Estonia before it endured a horrendous fate. 

I remember a few years ago a distant relative now living in Brazil told me that this era in Estonian history was absolutely blissful. People worked hard, prospered and the era was characterised by a spirit of relentless optimism. 'Rich or poor, people were happy' she said. I think most Estonians would agree.   

Otepää celebrating 900th anniversary of first historical written mention of fortress I ERR News

Otepää fortress was first mentioned in a Russian historical chronicle called a “letopis” 900 years ago yesterday. Arrowheads found on an archaeological dig in the area also date back to a battle in 1116 as well.

To read the full ERR News story, please click here:
Otepää celebrating 900th anniversary of first historical written mention of fortress:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

9th March 1944 - the Soviet Bombing of Tallinn

Today marks the anniversary of the March Bombing of Tallinn. On 9th March 1944, the Soviet Air Force dropped 3068 bombs on the city killing 750 people and leaving another 10,000 homeless.
The local fire brigades’ pumping stations were deliberately sabotaged to ensure as much destruction as possible.

This video was filmed in April and May of 1944 and shows the scale of the damage to Tallinn. 

A Look Back at Estonian Independence Day Celebrations from 1919-1940

Last month the Estonian newspaper Postimees published a good overview of Estonian Independence Day celebrations between the years 1919-1940. The article features many old photographs and videos.  I enjoy looking through these old artefacts as this is the period in which my Estonian grandparents grew up in Estonia before they were forced to flee.

You can view the article by clicking here:
Eesti Vabariigi sünnipäevad enne sõda: Võidueufooriast kaotuseängini

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Head Naistepäeva! Happy International Women's Day!

May the beautiful gift of flowers bring joy and happiness to every woman today. On this day it's nice to be reminded that we women are appreciated and valued. We are all unique in our own special way. Head Naistepäeva!

The first International Women's Day was held on Sunday 8th March 1914 and it has been celebrate on this date ever since.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Jüri Pootsmann to represent Estonia at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest

Estonia has voted and we have a winner! The next performer to represent Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest will be Jüri Pootsmann with his song ''Play'. Congratulations!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves meets with Martin Schulz & addresses the European Parliament

President Ilves is highly respected by his peers and the Estonian people. His recent speech to the European Parliament once again makes Estonians proud.

Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand Gives Interview in Australia

This week the Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand visited Australia to open the new Estonian embassy in Canberra.  Ms Kaljurand later travelled to Sydney to address Estonian Australians at Estonia House in Surry Hills. 

SBS Radio was there to interview the Foreign Minister and you can listen to the podcast (in Estonian) here: Välisminister Marina Kaljuranna sõnum Austraalia eestlastele

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Estonian Superstitions

The website 'Europe's not dead' has compiled an excellent collection of European superstitions. A few Estonian ones feature among the list, some of which I have never heard of before. It's interesting reading.

'A bride dropping ribbons or money into each room of her house brings good luck while whistling indoors brings bad luck…'

Estonians share most of their superstitions with Latvians and Lithuanians. Then a knife dropped on the floor heralds also in Estonia a visit by a male person, and a bag laid on the floor is also an omen for loss of money. It is in Estonia also really not recommended to shake hands at the doorsteps or whistle indoors. It is said that a baby born on the last day of the week will marry late in life or never marry at all. If you eat a cake and a piece of it falls down then you won’t get married. As the bride enters her new home, she should be led through every part of the house while she drops ribbons or money into each room; doing this will guarantee happiness to the newlyweds. Another common custom occurs when two people say the same thing at the same time. Both parties must instantly make a wish, lock pinky fingers and count to three out loud. After ‘three,’ each person says either ‘Adomas’ or ‘Iewa’ (Adam or Eve); if you both say the same thing – your wishes come true.

To read more, click here: European Superstitions