|Location: Märjamaa, Estonia|
|Local time: Friday, 10:42am|
And that pretty much concludes my sight-seeing overview of Estonia. Narva (pop. 74,000) is a city sitting beside the Narva River, which forms part of the Estonia-Russia border in the extreme northeast of the country. It was a strange feeling, standing on Estonian soil and looking across the river to Russia. I might as well have been in Russia, however, as 98% of the city's population is Russian-speaking.
The weather here has finally improved, sitting on about 27-degrees for the last few days. Now THAT'S more like it!
On Monday we're off to Latvia and Lithuania for a couple of days, visiting their capital cities (Riga and Vilnius, respectively). And I think I've finally managed to organise my trip to Russia. What a bloody mission. So much bureaucratic red tape to deal with. I've had to push back the date to the 22nd, to give me time to wait for the 'tourist invitation' to be sent from the hostel in St. Petersburg where I'm staying. I need this to apply for an entry visa into Russia (the useless embassy here won't accept a faxed copy, so I have to wait for the Russian mail system to do its thing). I'm taking an overnight train into and back out of Russia. I've planned for two days in St. Petersburg, and two days in Moscow. If I organise myself properly, I reckon this should be enough time to undertake a whirlwind sightseeing visit of these two amazing cities. I'm not so interested in visiting the multitude of art galleries or museums - I'm more about the architecture and ambience/feel of the place. My old faithful Lonely Planet Europe guidebook is a handy tool in this case.
I downloaded and watched Michael Moore's new movie Fahrenheit 911 the other day. Another enlightening eye-opener*, just like his previous doco-movie Bowling for Columbine. There's gotta be something wrong if Bush gets re-elected for another US presidential term. I hope a lot of Americans manage to see it, coz I heard on the news today something about it getting banned in the States, after being in cinemas there for about a month.
*One part shows footage of Bush sitting in on a class at an elementary school on September 11 2001. I just could NOT BELIEVE his response to the news whispered into his ear that the US was under attack. Nothing. Not a glimmer of emotion passed across his dull beady-eyes. For more than 10 minutes! He just picked up a book for 8-year-olds and flipped through the pages (of course, only looking at the pictures!), while his countrymen fell to their deaths. Absolutely shocking.
Update: I just read this page about a new book opposing many of Michael Moore's views and research. Interesting. I guess one should take what Michael says with a pinch of salt.
Narva River and the Russian border checkpoint. Estonian soil is at the bottom of the picture,
while Russia lies along the river bank opposite.
Ivangorod (1492), the large and impressive Russian fortress built by Grand Prince Ivan the 3rd as a counter/challenge
to the then-Livonian city of Narva's fortress, sitting directly opposite across the river (see picture below).
Narva Kindlus (Narva Castle) (1294) and the 'High Herman' tower. The tower's walls are 3.5m thick. It was built by the Danes
(who had conquered Estonia) to defend against Russia. The town wasn't built until 100 years later.
Poor little Lenin. Once standing proud in the middle
of Narva city while under Soviet Rule, he's now been
demoted to a little corner of the Narva castle grounds.
He happens to be pointing across the river to Russia.
Kuremäe Klooster - a working convent housing about a hundred nuns.
The architecture is fairly typical of Russian orthodoxy.
A small building now housing a cafe, on the very large grounds of another Estonian manor house.
The country is dotted with many grand old mansions, built to house wealthy land-owning families.
Jägala Juga, Estonia's largest waterfall.
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