Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I was retelling the story of getting lost with Alanas in Tallinn to someone the other day... Was it JC? Can't remember. Anyways, what a day. I must post photos. We were in Tallinn for maybe 2 days and visited some kind of ethnographic museum. Alanas saw a huge old map of Tallinn that showed a large lake just outside the centre. "Wow, a lake, let's check it out!" he enthused. We three joined him and started walking. And kept walking. For hours. Through the back blocks, the boondocks, the shitty outer reaches of Tallinn. We stopped on a corner, consulted the map........ Turns out the map scale was all outta whack. It was FOUR TIMES further than the scale indicated. We kept walking. Eventually, we got to massive freeway with 10 or so lanes, had to sprint across to a wooded area that looked promising. Got across and stared balefully at the sinister 'Keep Out' signs in Russian - obviously still hanging there from the USSR daze. Goddamn it was a disappointing day. We experimented with a different route on the way back - along a train track then cutting through a series of vacant lots featuring smouldering rubbish, partially demolished houses, small piles of fetid meat and bus drivers beating their carpets. Eventually we found ourselves in the back of an old Jewish cemetery. Walked through thousands of graves, getting newer and more tidy as we walked. Tallinn proper was a sight for sore eyes when we made it back. Anyways, I thought of this because of the treks I've been going on lately around my area, and also because I found a site with some urban wasteland shots from Estonia.


Alanas said...

Ah, you render the story evocatively, and bring a smile to my face.

The question remains, however, as to where the tragedy was seeded...With Alanas for misreading the map's scale? With the other three for agreeing to set off with him in the first place? Maybe the Museum should be litigated for misrepresenting a potential tourist attraction, and be forced to add fine-print to their display indicating that since the times when the mythological lake-lady conducted her annual walk to the town, it has become a militarized zone offbounds to the public. Or maybe it was that nobody was adept enough at Russian to realise the sign on the fence said not "trespassers will be executed" but that the entrance to the picnic area was 200 metres to the left.

I wasn't disappointed. Cities that have undergone such a radical transition as Tallinn warrant intimate encounters with their non-tourists precincts...but, granted, there are probably easier ways to achieve this, like...looking at those photos you found...for instance.


rachy said...

did you ever see Kiek in de Kok when you were there? That made me giggle like a schoolgirl...!!