Monday 29 August 2011

The Baltics 2011: Tallinn, part 2

Back to Tallinn!

I've seen a house with a hook/pulley like this before, in Riga. Both Tallinn and Riga used to be Hanseatic cities. I assume it has something to do with that, with trade.

This one's from 1627.

And it's actually the town hall!

Some houses on the town square...

The town square and the surrounding streets reminded me a lot of the Old Town in Prague - with its amount of tourists and tourist-oriented shops and venues. It's certainly beautiful, but you cannot really enjoy it. It somehow feels a bit fake already. Fortunately, that's really just a small number of streets in Tallinn. There are tourists everywhere in the old town, but most of it is still more or less real, which is also evidenced in the number of shops that are still designated mostly in Estonian.

One of the museums I had no time for.

So at least I photographed it, and took the Edwardian lady out of the photo for you to enjoy.

It was sunny. Not exactly hot, but I was hot - it was cold in Latvia that morning, and I was wearing black corduroy trousers: not exactly an item of clothing known for its suitability for sunny weather.
So when I found this little courtyard with a church inside (the St. Peter and Paul church), I was glad. I went in, and there were benches, so I sat down, and drank and ate, and rested a bit.
There was a wedding in the church, so I did not go inside the church (although other tourists did). I just sat there and photographed in the courtyard.

There was a walkway running along the old city walls. I din't figure out how to get there, and didn't exactly mind.

Next: Just more of Tallinn. Perhaps some flowers?

Saturday 27 August 2011

Grande ASSIETTE in modern designer wear

First, let me apologise for using the wrong word in the term until now. I'm going to correct it retroactively. Apparently, aissette means adze. That's not what we're talking about here. Sorry. I really don't speak any French and my linguistic common sense did not steer me in the right way here.

So this is grande ASSIETTE.

It's one of the main reasons why I'm talking about it now that all of you want to see more of Tallinn... right? If you don't like having the series interrupted, you can always just click on the "The Baltics 2011" label and see only them. Otherwise, I'm going to assume that if you visit a blog designated "dress diaries", you like seeing dresses. :-)

Second, I'm not featuring designer clothes prominently. Other people and their blogs are shaped out for doing exactly that; I'm not. Not too long ago, I didn't know many designers. Almost none. Now that I'm part of the online sewing community, I know of more designers than I ever thought possible, but I'm still not following fashion; I think it's a waste of time. I'm just stumbling upon it every now and then.

But when I see a designer's work very obviously and out-spokenly inspired by historical fashions, and not by their extremes (many designers do that, it seems), but rather by their subtle beauty, I cannot stay quiet.
That designer in question is Thierry Colson. I don't know much about him (just what I've discovered yesterday while browsing his site), and I do not desire to buy his clothes - if nothing else, a lot of them are too indecent for my liking (so if you don't like that, proceed to his site with caution). But the construction... ah, that's pure joy!

In particular, the Antoinette dress. That's just... wow. Everything I love about Regency turned into a modern dress.

Skirt gathered/pleated in the back? Check. Bodice shorter in the back, with a cute and statuesque curve? Check. Grande assiette? CHECK.

Grecian influences: Check.

Fun fabrics: Check.

All photos except the last one come from Thierry Colson's website. The last one is from Al, an Arab site that sells designer clothing. Their zoom is priceless for a poking hobby seamstress.

This really must be the best reinterpretation of Regency I've seen so far. True to the original, yet making it work in today's setting. That's what I would love to do myself.

Thursday 25 August 2011

The Baltics 2011: Tallinn, part 1

Did I say one or two posts on Tallinn? What was I thinking?! I practically filled a memory card with photos in one afternoon in Tallinn! (Albeit it was only a 1 GB card. But still.)

Tallinn is a place I had wanted to visit for a long time; ever since my sister first went there, which might have been ten years ago, I don’t remember anymore.
Well, now the dream has come true. Enriched by my new knowledge of the basics of Estonian, so I was able to buy myself a glass of apple juice. For buying something to eat, I still had to employ some English... :P But I could understand the signs quite well, which was nice.

I arrived to Tallinn some time after noon; in the evening I was to meet more of the people from the camp. So I had an afternoon by myself in the city I've long wanted to visit. I only had time for the Old Town, and not all of it - no time for museums or anything like that. Still, I saw a lot and took loads of photos. So, no, it won't be two posts. It will be much more.

This is still outside the Old Town, on the way from the bus station. This church is, if I remember correctly, on Liivalaia. The house below is in a small street next to Liivalaia. I think. It's standing next to a huge, modern hotel.

This is the Opera. Or theatre, or both. It's impossible to get a nice photo of it, because there's a rather busy street, with trams and buses, in front of it. And a parking lot, and street lamps. I think it's a law of the universe that if there's a landmark in a city centre with lots of room in front of it, there will be a busy street. See the National Museum in Prague, or, for that matter, Louvre.

A house designed by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, conveniently designated as Saarineni maja.

Entering the Old Town.

This could be quite romantic in the evening...

Niguliste kirik. (Kirik is church. I have no idea what Niguliste is, other than it's also a street running next to it.)

There's a sort of park underneath the church, with benches and sunbeds. Estonian summer may only come on Friday (that comes from a joke my sister told me ;-), but when it comes, the Estonians certainly know how to make the best of it. When I was in Estonia, it happened to be really summer. Even too hot at times (while there was 12 degrees Celsius in Prague when father was leaving. Speak of travelling to the North!)

Still Niguliste kirik...

One of the ways the Baltic nations enjoy their summer is through flowers.

And first hints of what was to become my photographic obsession in Estonia: colourful panel doors.

Next: the town square with the town hall and a nice quiet corner.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

The Baltics 2011: How it all began; the travel adventure

(I apparently invented a new English word for my convenience. The Word spell check does not know any Baltics. Whatever.)

It began with my cousin telling my sister there was a man looking for people to go to Christian events in Estonia. In the end, it was me who applied for a position of a workshop leader in a day camp in Karitsa, a small village near Rakvere, on the grounds of me a) learning Estonian, b) being a creative person, c) wanting to go to Estonia. It was all a bit different in the end, but I’ll come to that later.
In the meantime, father also decided to make use of my sister’s having let a room in a parsonage in Latvia, and to go on holiday to the Baltic countries and see some places he hasn’t seen yet. So we combined it.
I went there a week earlier, by bus (it’s cheaper), father flew by plane (he needed to save time). We would meet in Estonia after the camp was over.

OK, so that was the idea. It seems impossible to buy a ticket from Prague straight to Riga (although, weird thing, there actually is a connection), so I bought a return ticket to Vilnius, with the intention of going from Vilnius with a different company (or, rather, a sub-company of the one I went with).
That proved complicated. The bus I went from Prague with had a monumental delay: An hour and a half, and the drivers seemed totally unfazed by it. They did not tell a word, as far as I could understand. We stood in Kaunas for about 45 minutes, so clearly at that time we already had a delay, yet that did not bother them at all. They had all the time in the world. I did not. (Standing next to us in Kaunas was a bus going straight to Riga, but I did not have a ticket for it. You can imagine how frustrating that was...)

In Vilnius I did not realise I still had Czech time on my watch and thought we only had a 30 minute delay, so I happily went to buy a ticket to Riga. The lady in the box office told me to go QUICK if I wanted to catch my bus, which was where I realised there was actually an hour more in the Baltics and my bus was leaving NOW.
So I ran, and caught my bus, and got involved in a complicated, four-way four-language discussion with the driver and some customers. I tried English first; English did not work. The driver spoke Russian, so I used for a minor part the poor remnants of my Russian and for the major part my natural Czech. And injected an Estonian or German word into the mix. The driver did not accept euros. I only had euros, because, alas, you can’t get Lithuanian lits in the Czech Republic. I intended to get some in Vilnius, which I now had no time for.
Thankfully, a lady in the bus exchanged for me. It was a rather inconvenient exchange rate, because she had a limited supply of money and I only had banknotes (which, with euros, is quite a lot of money), but at that moment, I only wanted to be on the bus, and that worked. Thank you, unknown lady! I still paid less than I would if I were to go by a later bus, and there would be lots of other inconvenience in that case, like coming to Riga really late.

For the record, Lithuania is a beautiful country in its own right. I’ve already been there three times, though, so this time around I left it out. But here’s at least a snapshot of a typical Lithuanian landscape:

I slept through the Lithuanian/Latvian border and woke up somewhere before Bauska. The first photo I took in Latvia was a grazing horse. In Riga. We were standing in a line of cars, so I took the opportunity to take a photo of it. Of course, just then the bus finally moved.

On the bus station in Riga my sister met me, we went to the railway station, I had a cold beetroot soup with sour cream (nom), and then we went to the smaller town she lives in when in Latvia.
I intended to go to sleep as soon as possible. However, there just was a small celebration downstairs in the parsonage, and my sister wanted to introduce me to her Latvian friends, the pastor, his wife and other people who live in the parsonage. So we dropped by, and there were immediately lots of food forced on us. Since I was rather hungry, I did not mind. And we actually stayed a bit over midnight.
My sister told me it was a typical Latvian celebration: lots of food and lots of chaos. People just coming in and out, and talking without a pattern, listening to music and stopping the music... Actually, not too different from private Czech celebrations as I know them. :-) The forcing on of food is also a common factor.
During my whole time in the Baltics (nearly three weeks!), I did not take a single photo of food. Shame on me. Still, there’s a post on food coming, because the food in the Baltic countries is so great.

My sister’s (new) room in the parsonage is cheerfully yellow and really hard to photograph.

The next day we woke up early, went back to Riga and from there I went by bus to Tallinn. But Tallinn’s already a subject for another post. Or two.

Monday 22 August 2011

Strawberry ice cream and chocolate

I'm back from the Baltic countries. I've been back for over a week, actually, and catching my breath. Sort of. There will be lots of posts about it, starting tomorrow. I followed Lisa's advice and took lots and lots of photos; so much so that we had to buy a new memory card. It was already needed anyway.

Today it was hot. I went downtown to buy some food and get something for school, and it was H*O*T. Good thing I had a hat. I bought strawberry ice cream with chocolate coating, and while I was eating it, I thought my outfit sort of matched it; hence the title.

Surprisingly, this outfit contains no thrifted pieces. Something weird happened. It still contains thrifty pieces, though.

Belt and necklace - the same, plus my chalice necklace
Skirt - Yessica/C&A, years ago. My legs are clearly too short for it. I still like it.
T-shirt - Easy Wear by Rimi, made and bought in Latvia
And the cheap, cheap hat, a purely practical item

As you can see on the photo, I got back from the Baltic countries tanned. Unevenly tanned, but tanned. That's something that rarely happens to me.

And it was hot, and I did not feel like spending more time outdoors, trying to take that perfect photo. Instead, I headed home and took a quick cold shower.