16 September 2010

In true Estonian fashion

"I'm alive, I'm alive!" That's what I kept shouting after I survived a very traditional Estonian ritual - the suitsu saun (smoker sauna). I promised myself that I would through caution into the wind while in Europe and was able to do just that. It took a lot of courage for me to strip down to nothing and sit in a hot sauna full of women I'd just met  but I did it. On top of that, I was urged to quickly run and jump into the lake then run back into the sauna. Did I mention it was raining? And that all the men were standing around drinking, eating, and watching? So yeah, I survived and can now say that I'm a true Estonian! Big gold star for me!

I'm loving being in Estonia. My family here is truly amazing and has planned out so many details of our trip! At the airport, Scott and I were greeted by our cousin Jane, her mother Tiina, our Papa's sister Aino, and our other cousin Margo. They took us to Toompark, where we climbed the stairs to see a great view of the city and also to a spot along the water where we could look out at the city of Tallinn. It's beautiful here! So many old buildings with lots of local history! Scott and I were both starving, since eating had been delayed by stressful events in our respective trips into Tallinn. 
Margo, Aino, Me, Tiina, Jane, Scott
Me and Aino 
For dinner, we stopped at this viking restaurant, Viikingite Küla, for a true viking feast. It was delicious and the restaurant was really cool. Then we had a two-hour ride out to Tartu to Jane's apartment. Yesterday morning we woke up and explored around Tartu, which is a big university town in southern Estonia. We met up with Signe, our cousin, and explored the ruins of an old cathedral. We climbed to the top of the building and enjoyed another beautiful view. It's really an amazing country! 
Nimetu Viikingi Ohtusook
The Kissing Students Statue and the Mayor's office in Tartu
Dome Cathedral in Tartu
We spent the evening out in at Margo's parent's house in Kooreste for another feast, drinking, and the sauna! We ate lihapirukad (singular is lihapirukas), delicious meat-filled, fried dumplings and saslõkk, a type of barbecued pork with onions and a special marinade, and Kilu-Lehttaigna Pirukas, which is like a pastry filled with fish (not my favorite thing). Scott got a lot of practice in his Russian. Jane and Signe got a lot of practice in English, because I needed a lot of translation because not everyone spoke English! Everyone here was so friendly and genuinely excited to have Scott and I to visit. They're seriously pulling out all the stops for us! I learned a few words which came in handy many times throughout the course of the night! Aitah! and Terviseks! 
The suitsu saun - the scene of the crime!

We all had a great time together, sharing a lot of laughs, vodka, and Papa's favorite Grapefruit Long Drink. Terviseks! 

Suitsu saun - smoker sauna

Aitah! - Thank you! 
Terviseks! - To your health! 

P.S. I think we need a list of the completely normal things I've tried that I normally won't eat: a banana, tomato, pickles, an unsliced apple... This can be added to the list of things I wouldn't try at home that I'm willing myself to try here. I'm very proud. 


  1. Kelsey the streaker..lol. never woulda thought :) U are gonna have so many adventures and memories!!!

  2. I know, right? I brought my swimsuit just in case I chickened out!