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Judith and Alan Stuckey

In May 2005, Alan and I set off for Switzerland to visit our Son, Daughter-in-law and new Grandson. We departed Australia from Brisbane International Airport and had a 3-day stopover in Singapore, then on to Geneva, Switzerland. We loved the low-density feel of Lutry, which is on the shores of Lake Geneva. Not so pleasant were the treks up the mountainside to Son's home. Once there, the view of the French Alps and the lake were well worth the effort of the (?) hill. Also the Brocante, held at Lutry brought forth a few items, which caught the eye of one telephone collector.

On the 19th June, we set off for a trip to one of the Baltic Countries, travelling via Copenhagen. Having a three night stopover in Copenhagen enabled us to visit the little Mermaid, Princess Mary's Palace, the Tivoli Gardens and most importantly the General Post Office.

The Post and Telegraph Museum was housed in several premises after Jens Willken Morch surrendered it to the postal authorities. It was at the old telecommunications building in Valkendorfsgate 7 - 9, when I first encountered the collection in 1995. On arriving in Copenhagen we learnt the collection was now housed in the General Post Office at:

Post and Telegraph Museum
Kobmagerade 37
1012 Kobenhavn K
Tel: 33 41 09 00

Our excursion to the museum was very interesting with some wonderful displays to peruse. To really fulfil the visit the rooftop Café Hovedtelegrafen enticed us with many delicacies to have with coffee, tea or wine. The café is a new extension on the top of the Post Office building. The menu is reasonably priced and the view of Copenhagen city is staggering. The next section of this trip took us via Estonian Air into Tallinn Airport.

As representatives of JN Travels, Jan, John (Nichols), John's brother, Les and their cousin were at the airport to meet us and this was the beginning of a wonderful stay in Tallinn

Estonia is situated on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, with a coastline more than 3700 Km long. Estonia has Latvia and Russia to the south and west and Finland across the Baltic to the north. There are many islands and the three largest are Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Muhu.

The Russian Emperors governed Estonia for 200 years (1710-1918). From February 24, 1918 Estonia was independent for 22years. As a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and eventually restored her independence on August 20, 1991. Estonia became a full member of North Atlantic Treaty organization and the European Union in 2004.

Interesting Information from Estonian Air Magazine (2005).....

* Estonian population 1.36 million
* Tallinn population 404,000, Capital of Estonia.
* 52% are Internet users.
* 30% of households have a computer at home.
* All Estonian schools are connected to the Internet.
* 68% of Estonian people conduct their everyday banking by Internet.
* Over 81% of the population are mobile phone subscribers.
* There are 460 WiFi covered areas for 45,000 km square, 210 of them are in Tallinn.

Estonian engineers have developed the extremely popular web phone application Skype. Together with partners from Sweden they have developed a user-friendly program for making high quality calls over the Internet, absolutely free. More than 65 million people have downloaded the software for Skype, the free Internet telephone service.

Our Tour Guides escorted us to lots of points of interest in Tallinn. Tallinn translates to Danish+Inn. Much building has taken shape in the past few years. Several high-rise buildings have sprung up in the centre and modern shopping malls and supermarkets are located in the city. Housing estates are going up in vacant allotments.

Our main interest was in the old Town Toompia in an 8-hectare elevation, which rises 45 meters above sea level. In this area is Toompea Castle, which houses the Parliament Halls and its offices. There's Pikk Hermann the tallest remaining corner tower, from which flies the blue, black, and white Estonian national tri-colour. St. Marys Cathedral and the Russian orthodox cathedral of Alexander Nevsky are opposite Toopmia Castle.

Beside Harju Hill is Kiek in de Kok (Peep into the Kitchen) a powerful cannon tower 45 meters tall and with walls 4 meters thick. Six cannon balls from the period of the Livonian War are embedded into the side of the Tower.

Two ways down from Toompia to the Lower town are a steep slope of steps called Luhike jalg (short leg) and a gentler slope called Pikk jalg (long leg). There was a simple gate at the bottom of Pikk jalg, which was replaced by a stone tower in 1389. Its present appearance dates from the mid 15th century and is John, our Tour Leader's favourite house.

The lower town surrounds the Raekoja plats (town hall square) formerly marketplace. Reportedly the first public Christmas tree in Europe was erected in Tallinn's Town Hall Square in 1441. The most important building in the square is the 15th-16th century Raekoda (Town Hall).

Our tour leader took us past and into many interesting shops and buildings in the old Town. The shops, of course, included antiques and souvenirs and a daily visit to a different café to sample the delights of the local cuisine. Especially there was a café that sold a delicious rolled sponge filled with fresh raspberries and cream.

Out of the old town our trips took us to Kadriorg Palace, tram rides through outer suburbs, down to the boat harbour, where the Baltic Sea liners dock and the ferries that come and go to Helsinki, Finland (1 hour away by jet ferry).

Also for Midsummer we were taken to Rocca al Mare, on the coast of the Bay of Kopli, to the Estonian Open Air Museum. The Museum occupies a territory of 79 hectares and comprises 71 buildings. The oldest building in the museum is the Sutlepa chapel, which was re-inaugurated as a church in 1989.

Midsummer eve is a Traditional celebration of the summer solstice with a big bonfire, refreshments, exhibitions, musicians, contests and dancing.

At the Aarte farm we were introduced to another of John's relatives, who was very informative about the farm and the old-time way of life of households in 18-20th century rural Estonia. Our tour came to an end after a most enjoyable time in a beautiful city with very congenial hosts.

Judith & Alan Stuckey

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