I'm thinking of vacationing there. Estonia has an interesting history, right there between Finland and the old USSR. Anyone been there?
Went to all three Baltics last summer. It was a good vacation.
English-language skills are okay and improving rapidly; there's plenty to see and the people are very Western-friendly.
Estonia has the Euro and is the most expensive of the three Baltic countries, but all of them are worth seeing. They're not very large, and you can easily do the highlights of all three in two weeks - Soviet-era underground bunkers, renaissance towns, medieval fortresses and imperial chateaux (Rundale, near the Latvian-Lituanian border is worth seeing).
Tallinn has a cruise ship port, and is overrun with tourists during the day all summer long.
Latvia has good beer.
Small country, four larger cities, the capital Tallinn is beautiful, Pärnu has many spas (not gay thing), Tartu is smaller and not much to see, Narva has major (over 90%) Russian population, next to Russian border, from Narva there is a road to St. Petersburg. Also nice tourist island Saaremaa. Also easy to travel to Helsinki in Finland with ferries, takes 90 mins.
Lithuania and Latvia have banned gay marriage in their constitutions, and have had numerous violent attacks at their gay pride parades (when they allow them at all).
Estonia is good, though, OP.
The architecture in the villages reminds me of Switzerland. But I'm just looking at the photos online, deciding if I can afford to go there.
I ordered a record from a collector there. The post office there opened a sealed registered letter and stole the $40 US dollars. Everywhere else it was scanned, forwarded and postmarked fine. I had to resend another $40 to get my item and never got a response from their Post Office. I told our PO about the experience, but the reply was all eastern Europe/former Soviet republic POs were suspect, and send at your own risk...
I have, both under the Soviet regime and after the fall of the USSR. During the Soviet era there was a palpable anti-Russian sentiment. I had shop clerks in Tallinn and Vilnius (Lithuania) refuse to speak to me because I spoke to them in Russian. They simply ignored me, looked right past me. When I switched to English, they lightened up and tried to respond. However, in both cases their English was pretty bad, so we begrudgingly switched back to Russian.
There's still an anti-Russian sentiment in the three Baltic countries, but English is much more widely spoken nowadays. Of all the countries that became independent after the collapse of the USSR, the Baltic countries have probably fared the best.
I find the people very friendly, well-educated, and curious about the world. If you show even the slightest interest in the local cultures, they will just love you. There is not much of a gay "scene" in any of the three countries. However, I have to admit that I haven't sought out anything.
The architecture is more Scandinavian than Swiss. I remember coming into Vilnius on a train from Leningrad back in the Soviet era and being flabbergasted at how clean and pretty the city was compared to Leningrad. Even the people were more attractive and better dressed.
To me, Tallinn is what I imagine Prague was like in the early 90s before it got completely overrun by bachelor parties and drunk college students.
Fun city, very walkable.
[quote] To me, Tallinn is what I imagine Prague was like in the early 90s before it got completely overrun by bachelor parties and drunk college students.
I was there a couple of summers ago, on a day trip from Helsinki. A beautiful city, lovely and friendly people, but Tallinn is already suffering from tourist overcrowding and abundance of tacky souvenir shops. That said, I'd love to go back outside the main tourist season.
R1 here - have to agree with R8. Tallinn is a destination for several low-cost airlines, and the place has long been overrun with stag/ hen parties.
In the four nights we spent there, I think we saw 8 or 10 of them. And that's besides the middle-aged sneaker-clad cruise ship hordes.
The problem with going outside the tourist season is that it's freezing cold and dark most of the time. Remember, it's basically Finland.
R9 Basically Finland? Finland is very beautiful, not that dark, peaceful country, excellent to stay.
Aren't all the Baltic countries heavily religious and homophobic like Russia and Poland are? Why would you want to give money to those people?