Whimsical (adj.): playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way
When I think of our trip to Tallinn last weekend as a Study Abroad group, whimsical is the word that comes to mind. Tallinn felt like stepping into a storybook, with its charm, beauty, and lively atmosphere that made me feel at home in a way. Tourists abound in Tallinn, but here are some unexpected facts I learned about Tallinn that you may not know:
- Some of them dating back to the 17th century, Tallinn has a network of underground tunnels connecting parts of the city. During WWII, these were used as hiding places for soldiers, citizens, and weapons during WWII bomb raids by the Germans and later the Soviets. Now, after being opened up to the public, they serve as a lingering reminder of Tallinn’s deep history.
- Skype, one of the most well-known international video calling services in the world, was invented and developed in Estonia.
- During the independence movement in the 80’s and 90’s, Estonians hosted singing festivals in which hundreds of thousands of people gathered together to sing in public defiance of the Soviet’s oppressive control. This is now known as the singing revolution and is commemorated as one of the most peaceful independence movements in history.
- Although churches are prevalent, most Estonians aren’t very religious. However, they are many old superstitions that are passed down from generation to generation–for instance, it has been said that shaking hands in the doorway of a home brings bad luck.
- In medieval times, Tallinn was a center for the Hanseatic League, a powerful network of European cities that dominated trade in the region for hundreds of years.
- A traditional Estonian meal consists of a variety of meat–don’t be surprised if you see elk, boar, bear, or reindeer appear on your plate. (Really good, by the way. 🙂 )