Sunday Special – Estonia


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Cliffs at Saaremaa Island, Estonia – Photo credit: Margus6Varahommik ja Panga pankCC BY-SA 3.0

This small Baltic country of Estonia has history that goes back for centuries and centuries with a Finno-Ugric language ancestry.  Throughout these times the Estonian’s faced German, Danish, Swedish and Russian control. In 1918 they became an independent nation but were forced into the Soviet Union in 1940. 1989 they demanded independence and gained it officially in 1991, with much credit going to their peaceful Singing Revolution of the 1980s. In 2004 they joined the European Union and switched to the euro in 2011. Today it is a tourism hot spot with plenty to offer. 

  • Capital city of Tallinn boasts an outstanding Old Town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Sight
  • Experience “White Nights” from May through July when the sun barely sets
  • Take in the Suur and Väike Taevaskoda (Small and Large Heaven’s Hall) along the Ahja River for some hiking and seeing some caves
  • The Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast is filled with beautiful landscape and perhaps you will see moose, foxes and other animals
  • The south’s Soomaa National Park showcases a primeval forest and quiet nature
  • Get your adrenaline flowing with activities such as repelling, rafting, ATV rentals, go-karting and even a precarious walk along the ledge of Tallinn’s TV Tower 
  • Visit any of Estonia’s plentiful islands, many just a quick ferry ride away
  • Take in all forms of popular music at any number of clubs offering rock, jazz, alternative, electronic and more. Music festivals are popular as well.
  • Admire the architecture of old in the many lighthouses, manor houses, churches, castles, and forts throughout the country
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Katariina Passage in Tallinn’s Old Town – Photo credit: -jkb-Tallinn Katariina KäikCC BY-SA 3.0

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Panorama of Tallinn’s walled Old Town – Photo credit: Ivar LeidusTallinn Toompea Upper Old Town 2013CC BY-SA 3.0 EE

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Sunday Special – Prince Edward Island, Canada


Summer here in Canada is not that bad. It can actually get very very warm and right now our dollar is somewhat weak so it could be an option for some of you to come visit. Of course I love to see all manner of cool things around this big blue marble of ours but there are places I want to see within my own “backyard”, so to speak. Canada’s smallest province is one of them. Prince Edward Island (PEI) is second only to the Yukon on my Canadian bucket list. Located in Atlantic Canada (east coast), this province may be small in size and population but is still historically significant as it is the birthplace of Confederation.

When I think of PEI two things come to mind: potatoes and Anne of Green Gables. Growing up it seemed most potatoes in grocery stores were from PEI. Today, agriculture is still a main industry along with tourism and fishing. As for Anne of Green Gables, well author Lucy Maud Montgomery (1884 – 1942) brought PEI to life with her story of a feisty ginger orphan named Anne. As many Canadians, I grew up reading some or all of the Green Gables series and then watching the TV mini-series staring Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst and Jonathan Crombie. I really enjoyed that series. Though there is more to PEI than those two. Beaches, golfing, water sports, food (seafood at its finest), history, theatre and good music beckon. It seems to have something for just about everyone. With a small population of under 150,000 people in the whole of the province it speaks to me of a laid-back and chill vibe. Perhaps that is why it is referred to as “The Gentle Isle”. I hope you visit it one day just as I plan to do.

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View of downtown Charlottetown, capital of PEI – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Martin Cathrae

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Cavendish Beach, PEI – Photo is Public Domain

Sunday Special – Brooklyn (NYC), USA


Today, a dear friend of mine is starting a grand adventure. She will head off to New York City and then fly across the Atlantic to South Africa for a couple weeks. I am so very excited for T and wish her best of times. In honour of her trip, today’s spotlight will be on The Big Apple.

Where to start when focusing on such an iconic city? New York has such variety and many well-known places, activities and areas. A city made up of five boroughs with each one having more than enough to offer. These boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Since T will be staying in Brooklyn we’ll look there (though she is planning on visiting Manhattan and Staten Island as well).

Brooklyn is probably best known for its bridge, which at the time it was built was a significant engineering accomplishment. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and is a suspension/hybrid cable bridge that has 6 lanes that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. Another area famous in this borough is Coney Island. This neighbourhood has arts, amusement parks, beaches and even a minor league baseball team: The Brooklyn Cyclones. Other neighbourhoods in Brooklyn to check out include trendy Williamsburg, historic Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), artsy DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and old-world Brighton Beach.

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Keith Pomakis

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View of Brooklyn – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Kenneth Lu

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL SPOT – WIELICZKA SALT MINES (POLAND)


Outside of Krakow, Poland you will find a small town named Wieliczka. Wieliczka is home to one of the oldest salt mines in European history. Starting back in the 13th century, the Wieliczka Salt Mine evolved into one of Poland’s greatest industries. The mine was in operation for almost seven centuries – up until the late 20th century. Although the site is now defunct for mining, it is a spot for tourists to experience. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Polish National Historic Monument it is retained for its historical significance.

Wielickza Salt Mine

Wielickza Salt Mine

Travelers can visit the mines with an option of taking the “Miner’s Route“; the “Tourist Route“; or the “Pilgrim’s Route”  to learn more of this historical spot. One can see how the miner’s did their jobs, see chambers and underground lakes or marvel at the chapels and carvings in the salt. Additionally there is a museum and a health resort on site. There is certainly much to see and learn from this unique piece of history. A friend of mine visited this salt mine and said it was amazing. In fact, she said that she did not see it all as it was so large. A very cool place indeed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsAkumiszcza