A visit to Tallinn as we move on to Sweden

Trip Start Jul 16, 2008
Trip End Jul 29, 2008

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our last day in Tartu.  Our job is done and we have done everything we planned to do. We were able to show our guests Britt Taylor and Jim Franks where we go, what we do and who the people are in this part of the world. 
At 11 am we caught the Tallinn bus for the two and a half ride up and took the taxi to the Uniquestay hotel in Tallinn.  Toomas Schvaak helps us get a good discount for this convenient location.  The rooms are very warm.  I tried to get other rooms, but it was "not possible."  But, the hotel clerk suggested that we put "propellers" in each room.  That meant fans.  So, we got propellers.   
It was still about two hours before Toomas would show up.  We wanted to walk around Old Town with him and go out dinner at the Old Hansa Restaurant that conveyed the ambiance of Old Tallinn.   
We went on our own walkaround and saw a large Russian Orthodox Church and the Houses of Parliament with views of the Baltic Sea.   
Then we walked back to the hotel.  Toomas arrived and we went out again for the evening for an extended walk.   
First, we went to the café that our friend Lauri Beekman started more than a year ago in Tallinn.  It is a drug and alcohol-free gathering place for teenagers.  Estonia still has a disproportionate problem with teen alcoholism that dwarfs any other country in Europe.  Lauri is a well-known radio personality who has a well listened to daily national radio program on Pere Raadio that discusses various social issues.  He is publishes a national newspaper called OK twice a year distributed to all teens in Estonia about the dangers of alchohol.  He is able to enlist national sports champions to endorse his continual campaigning.  OK in Estonian stands for "Ole Kaine" which means "Be Sober."  A nice play on words. LifeNets sponsors the publication of OK and you can see more about our association on our Web site at www.lifenets.org/ok
A new program that Lauri has spearheaded is for FAS - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  They have put YouTube videos up that proclaim the theme, "Mommy, don't drink!"  They recently placed huge banners up at an Estonian beer festival for FAS.  We have sponsored some of their work here, as well.   
Lauri Beekman is also head of Estonia's Temperance Union and travels to Europe regularly to meet with Temperance Union leaders.   
Lauri also publishes a national Seventh Day Adventist newsletter.  I had spoken to Lauri before and unfortunately he was not able to be in Tallinn when we were.  On this trip, I regret that our traveling guests were not able to see Paavo Pihlak at Pere Raadio and Lauri Beekman in Tallinn.   
Back in 1991 Lauri was an enthusiastic participant in the famous Singing Revolution that led to the independence of Estonia from the USSR.  A 600 mile long human chain was strung across the Baltic Republics.  While the Russian Army was intimidating the Baltic peoples, not a shot was fired and the Soviet Union fell apart as everh single one of its 15 republics proclaimed their independence.  
Back to our visit.  We stayed at the cafe only a short time and went on Toomas' tour.  He knows all the history and background about the Old Town that makes for a very interesting excursion. He showed us the various picturesque church buildings and their histories.  Also, the grim headquarters of the Estonian KGB.  More than 250,000 Estonians disappeard from after World War II until the death of Stalin.  Many of them were incarcerated, executed and disposed of in this area.  It was an age of unthinkable horror. 
After dinner at the Hansa we walked back to the Uniquestay and to bed.  Rising will be early the next morning for our flight and continuing journey to Sweden. 
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