Thursday, September 08, 2005
I know my Baltics from my Balkans ...
A few weeks ago I was admiring the Balkan coast of Europe but right now the Baltics have caught me again, with Estonia's capital, Tallinn, welcoming me back yesterday with the same genuinely friendly hospitality and brilliant English-speaking skills I remember from 2003.
The language factor is important here. Of course, I'm a great advocate of travellers trying to use as much of the local language as possible, but I have to admit that Estonian stumps me. As I understand it - linguists, help me out here - Estonian belongs to a special group of languages, along with the somewhat related Finnish and (curiously, given the distances) Hungarian, which have some special label, which should translate to 'extremely difficult'. While in any other country of Europe the roots of a language provide enough common ground for my English, German or basic Slovak skills to help me decipher the odd useful word, here in Estonia a street sign looks like spilt alphabet soup - but I love it.
Brought to you by Amanda Kendle at 12:55 pm