Singing Revolution

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Ben’s work schedule is still crammed full, so we made a quick outing for some breakfast this morning before Ben headed back to his computer, programming the day away.

When I finally realized that I was on my own for the day, I packed myself a day bag and hopped on my bike. I was going to visit the beach! It was a pretty quick ride over curbs, on sidewalks, down a particularly busy road, and onto the beautifully paved cycle path before I reached a sandy stretch speckled with scraps of weeds. It wasn’t exactly Greece or anything, but the sand was soft and the water plenty clear. Locals buzzed around the beach and splashed in the waves under the beautiful sunny skies.

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I was apparently less interested in swimming than I’d thought because I didn’t even put my feet in. I wandered the sand still in my cycling shoes, taking pictures and eventually finding my own spot in the shade from which to watch the world go by for a little while.

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I wished I’d brought a book or a notebook or something to entertain myself, but instead, I packed up too soon and got back on my bike and rolled over to the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, the site of Estonia’s singing revolution. Estonia apparently has a national love of singing and have held singing festivals at this site for more than a century. Then, during the Soviet occupation in the 80’s, singing of national songs was strictly forbidden. In 1987, in protest against the failing Soviet regime, more than 300,000 Estonians spontaneously gathered at the festival grounds to sing their national songs, not knowing whether the act of protest would end in violent retaliation from the Soviets. No violence incident occurred, and the event was the first of many acts of protest and disobedience that eventually helped Estonia to peacefully gain independence.

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I sat at the top of the amphitheater a while, thinking about the privileged existence I’ve led in which I’ve always enjoyed the ability to assemble, to protest, or to speak openly without any fear of punishment. I imagined the courage of the 300,000 people gathered here, literally 1/4 of the country’s population, risking their own personal safety to defy the law in hopes of being liberated. What a cool story.

Soon, I headed back into town. I had some shopping to do in Tallinn before we catch the ferry to Helsinki tomorrow. Then, with my purchases in hand, I came back and collected Ben so that we could go grab some dinner.

We ended up at a local pub where we ordered a smattering of their “snacks” for dinner: salmon pasta, mushrooms in cream sauce, salad topped with melted goat cheese and walnuts, and fried Russian dumplings. It was an impressive amount of amazing food and we polished it off in a hurry and then followed the whole thing with ice cream bars from the grocery store on the way home. Eating anything that wasn’t assembled all in one pot on top of a camp stove is always such a treat.

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Ben: Post dinner we wandered around the city, finding a small concert and some of the most amazing light we have seen in a long time.  Everything was beginning to close up, so we quit while we were ahead.  Tomorrow, we sail to Finland!

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