Thursday, 16 July 2009

A good Tallinn off

The school term is finishing, meetings are slowing down and it's time to start thinking of holidays. Two weeks tomorrow, after a few days with my brother and sister-in-law, I'll hopefully be on my way to Eastern Europe, to the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I've been reading up a bit on the history etc. Basically lots of other countries and peoples have ruled them at different times, most notably and recently, of course, the Nazis and then the Soviet Union. The Russian influence still seems to show itself in different ways. In Latvia the large Russian minority do not have the vote. In Christian terms Lithuania is the most Catholic of the three, while the other two are more secularised, but more Lutheran and Orthodox. I'll be part of a tour group, staying in "westernised" hotels I suppose, but some of them are former Soviet Intourist hotels, that is official government run establishments where visitors were compelled to stay in Soviet days... I'm really looking forward to getting away - no phones, meetings or, if I'm honest -parishioners!! We priests are very public and very available people, so to be anonymous and private is a great change. I know a few people who have made a day trip to Tallinn in Estonia from Helsinki, or called in on a Baltic cruise, and a colleague went to a conference in Kaunas in Lithuania. Otherwise, I guess I'm breaking new ground among my acquaintances. So roll on Tallinn on the 31st. I just hope it's a bit warmer than it looks in this lovely photo!

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