The X most interesting things I’ve found about living in Estonia so far (Number Y might shock you so much that you’ll… I dunno. You do you.)
Jacqui already wrote her version of this type of post, but naturally I’m going to have to do my own.
For the record, I agree with everything she said, with the exception of #4 – that it can be hard to find some things, including reflectors… Well, nope 😀 She just wasn’t looking in the right places. They are everywhere, and there are lots of different types!
1. Flashy cars
Getting around in Tallinn, you will see no shortage of expensive cars. Word on the street is that the locals are prone to getting cars that they can’t necessarily afford, in order to make a big deal of themselves.
The reason why this is interesting is that we’ve been told surrounding countries don’t appear to be the same. On our jolly jaunt to Helsinki last weekend, there was a marked absence of Jaguar F-types, Porsche Cayenne Turbos and the like. Maybe there’s some truth to it?
Or, perhaps it’s the Estonian Mafia getting in while the getting’s good.
2. Second hand stuff, first hand prices
Naturally, relocating to a different country means starting over with one’s possessions, to a certain extent. Wherever possible, I, and I’m sure most people, would be looking to the second hand market in order to save a little bit of money, and/or reduce the amount of crap we buy (read: huge wastage, carbon footprint, etc.).
So of course, I’ve scoped out all of the local online options similar to ScumTree and Fleabay. And what I found were not the bargains I had expected…
Not hugely interested in watching TV, but I did bring the Chromecast with me, and I had been eyeing off a PS4 for amusement in the dead of winter. But as a guide, your average 32″ HD TV sells for around €200 (AUD$320; let’s go with a stable 1:1.6 exchange rate). Back home, the same thing sells from JB Hifi for AUD$200 (€130)! Maybe Australia doesn’t have it as bad as some others when it comes to getting reamed on prices of things?
Anywho, the point is that the second hand market isn’t very good. Either the second hand market is just naturally priced higher for some reason, or sellers are waaaaay over-valuing their stuff. Perhaps negotiation comes into it – but watching the movement of stuff – it does seem to sell.
My point being, back home you would almost have to pay someone to take your crappy 5 year old 32″ HD TV off your hands. And don’t get me started on the premium applied to full HD TVs…
I use a Surface Pro, which is good and all, but once doing any sort of work, I really need a decent quality monitor to preserve my sanity.
The market for privately-sold second hand monitors is largely non-existent; at least, for the type of monitor I would want to buy. But there are a fair few second hand IT stores around, which source their stock from ex-lease equipment from local business and startups.
A Dell U2412M is a good workhorse IPS panel with decent accuracy, and the extra it of vertical resolution is always welcome. Back home I’d get on for AUD$100-120. Here, I had to pay double that.
I know, I know, an odd thing to list. But if I’m going to make a decent flat white at home, I need one. My go-to back home was easily Aldi, where you can buy their one for AUD$27.
I went into Prisma, which is the local supermarket-cum-homewares store. They had an extensive array of home appliances, including coffee machines and the like, but alas, no milk frother. No biggie, I’ll order one online. The logical choice was Amazon.de (or Amazon.co.uk while they’re still part of the Union – feeling stupid yet, Poms?). The cheapest I could find was €32 – or AUD$50 – for the exact same one that Aldi sells! Ouch!
Given the size of Tallinn, I really felt it’d be a good idea to get a bike in order to get around, and also keep the fitness up to a degree. However, bikes appear to suffer the same fate as TVs when it comes to the second hand market. So strange. Actually, that leads me to the next thing…
3. Cycling?! Pffft!
It’s been really surprising to see so few cyclists around! And I mean all types of cyclists; be they
MAMILs , or regular humans. There are bike lanes on some roads, but generally speaking you’d be lucky to spot somebody getting around via pedal power.
4. Kitchen basics
I’d like to point out that I am basing this one on a sample size of one – but – the Prisma, which is a run-of-the-mill supermarket that you’d find in any city almost anywhere, and is absolutely not small, does not sell regular human-style wooden spoons, nor do they sell standard earth-tongs.
Yes, I would be able to find them somewhere else. Maybe even in another Prisma?! But they aren’t in my one, so I’m going to be petulant about it.
How am I supposed to smack my non-existent kids, or turn snags on Australia Day?! 😀
5. Forgetting we’re no longer in Asia
I had to add at least one food-related thing.
It’s easy to underestimate how spoiled for choice we are back home. For example, every shopping strip in suburbia will have a Thai place (if not more than one!), and everyone will have their favourite. Get a bad one? Not to worry; there are another 10 of them within spitting distance.
Suffice it to say, we don’t have that kind of amenity anymore. Which is fine! There are options. There are some Thai restaurants (again, as the example cuisine). But only a handful. Far away. In Tallinn terms.
There is a local chain called Chopsticks (how original), which tries to be all things to all asian cuisines. They fail. We’ve tried them once, because we had that familiar hankering. My Singapore noodles… were not even close to being Singapore noodles 😀 They didn’t even use the right noodles!
6. Built for winter, not summer
OK, admittedly this one is not specific to Estonia. This one stems more from transplanting someone from a predominantly hot place (Australia), to a predominantly cold one.
I’m not sure exactly how old our apartment building is. Looking at the design details, and the fixtures and finishes, I’d guess it’d be from 2000 at the oldest.
As I write this, it’s -5°C outside, with a bit of wind to go with it. It’s about to hit December. But I’m sitting here in shorts and a t-shirt. I sleep with the window open, otherwise it gets too warm overnight.
We haven’t even come close to the thinking about turning on our apartment’s heating; don’t me wrong, we will do it, but we’re just happy that to date, we’ve had no need to!