Tuesday, 20 April 2010

There are worse places to be stuck

I am currently in Helsinki and stuck here until the airport opens again (I have flight bookings for Thursday and Friday this week just in case). I am very very lucky that I was here for work, my accommodation is being paid for and my travel arranged by the lovely Lisa from CWT travel (I talk to her every day- she is an angel)

The weather here has been pretty kind given that it was -28 the last time I visited. We made the most of our impromptu weekend.

This is the one of the views on my walk on Sunday.

There is also an interesting knitting shop near here, Sypressi which I visited. I also managed to get to Hobbooks to buy a book on Estonian mittens (in Estonian) and the gorgeously photographed book Jamalangasta! I had seen this book on Jane Brockets blog and knew I wanted to buy it.

I am planning on visiting another yarn shop after work today, Menita and perhaps a longer look around Hobbooks - a lovely owner of Sypressi showed me an amazing Estonian knitting book on Haapsalu shawls that I think I spotted in there. I should also add that she gave me a lace shawl pattern with the yarn I bought, it is charted and in Finnish but looks beautiful so I will give it a go- such a lovely lady and so generous.

Saturday we decided to take the ferry to Tallinn and explore the old city - expect to pay 40 euros for a return trip, it takes 2 hours on the slow boat. The amount and quality of all kinds of crafting was stunning. The old city was a little touristy but not overwhelming.

We visited a couple of yarn shops where I bought some spinning fibre and some loppi like unspun yarn in amazing colours.

I did purchase a pair of mittens for 150EE which is around 10 Euros, I was shocked that these were clearly hand knit by somebody with great skill for such a minimal amount.

Then we found this place

Market stalls selling hand knits, the little old ladies who were minding the stalls were wrapped up against the cold but knitting furiously. The pieces were heartbreakingly cheap and I could not buy anything, some things were clearly hand knit again with great skill and others machine made.

The market experience made me quite sad but further into the city was a craft area near St Catherines Passage with many crafts represented, leather work, millinery, patchwork and quilting, stained glass, pottery and many more.

The makers all sold their work and made it in these spaces, it was fascinating to see the skills in use. The glass blowing was done with bright and vivid colours by a short round Russian man in his sixties, alternately smoking a skimpy hand rolled cigarette and drinking water from one of his beautiful creations.

The prices were much more representational of the skill and time needed to produce them, but still low compared to the UK. I felt more comfortable to buy a things here.

Picture of the medieval city walls, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is possibly named after taani linnus, which means Danish castle. The Castle in question was built by King Waldemar of Denmark in the 13th century. There are other thoughts on the name of the city but this was my favorite.

The old city is unspoiled but overlooked by a more modern one. The buildings are beautiful with interesting colour and texture everywhere.

We finished off our day in the very kitch and touristy Olde Hansa, which to my surprised I really enjoyed. The food was excellent and the beer was delicious (try the cinnamon) - it also comes served in pot mugs. We shared a starter of pate, cured meats, quails eggs and herb cheese with hazelnut bread and then a main of hunters sausages (mix of bear, wild boar and elk meat) with smoked sauerkraut, lingonberry sauce, ginger swede, onion marmalade and horseradish cream - delicious.

We didn't get to see everything Tallin has to offer but I plan to return.

No comments: