Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everybody! They don't really celebrate it in Estonia, but we had a special Halloween family night. I dressed up as Spock. We carved a pumpkin and opened up a surprise Halloween present! The Simpson's tree house of horror collection! It was funny but really bloody and inappropriate. When I was 15 it only seemed funny. Actually Maris did all the carving, she did a good job.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

London calling

This last week we went to London! My parents and brother came from the states and my sister and Maris' sister were already living in London. It was the perfect family reunion. I thought about doing 10 different blogs about the trip because usually I don't have anything to blog about, but I decided to do this all in one big blog! Here is a nice happy family picture of us all at Windsor castle. It was big and beautiful and the Queen of England still lives there! I would have thrown her out years ago, but I guess the Brits are ok with letting their royalty spend their tax dollars on extravagant living. There are worse things a country could do with their tax money.

We were glad to see Kadi and Tommoso, we went with them to Kew gardens, it was awesome. Maris had a great time with Kadi.

Since space is limited, this picture gives you a shot of the tower bridge and a double decker bus!

We did a lot of stuff and saw a lot of interesting places. One place was the Churchill war rooms museum. England is a great place to learn about WWII, it was a pretty crazy war.

I only had one pair of shoes on the trip, so I didn't recycle mine, but otherwise a good idea, why throw away a pair of old shoes when you can recycle them!

This is in Hyde park, Maris took a great picture of a guy and a lot of birds!

The BYU-London center! three of the five kids have gone here for a study abroad, this was my first time visiting the center. It is a nice place.

This is at Windsor castle, beautiful tree, the castle isn't bad either :)

One of the best parts of any trip is the Estonian airport. I know that sounds weird, but it is true. It is really small and really nice. There is free Wifi and nice seats everywhere. This time we got to sit in these really comfortable chairs looking out a big window.

My favorite part of the trip was spending time with family and going to church. Lynne gave a great talk and the primary kids were super cute. With all the royal graves, castles and crown jewels it was easy to remember what is important in life and the point of life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nice car, what about the house?

In Estonia everybody loves cars. You can see a lot of nice cars driving around, which is amazing considering how poor Estonia is. In addition to the small salaries, it is also very expensive to drive cars here. Parking always costs money and gas is about $6.50 a gallon (1.25 euros a liter). Also tires, changing oil and fixing a broken car all cost more here. Part of that is the 20% VAT tax they have, but part is because Estonia is a small market far away from the middle of Europe. I am very happy to pay 7 euros a month for my city bus pass. How do others pay for their cars? By living in small Soviet apartments. This picture above is of two nice SUVs in front of our building. In the US if someone had the money to buy a nice new Mercedes SUV, they would also have the money to buy a house and a garage. Here, people can't afford both so they go with the car. I still haven't figured out why though. I kind of like never having to worry about a break down, a wreck, or having my car get stolen or broken into.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The half remont

Things are great in Estonia. It is fall and things are nice. Today I went to Tartu, it was nice to see the branch and a lot friends. Maris went to Tõrva yesterday, and then came to Tartu this morning. On the way back home I took a picture of the building next door. This is what we call a half remont. They renovate the sides of the apartment building, but not the middle. I guess it is too expensive to renovate the entire building, but by renovating the sides you can save a lot of money on heating. I guess the most heat leaves through the ends of the building. Most sides are a lot prettier than this building, but you can still see the difference. Sometimes if there is a building with a business on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors only the first floor will be renovated. I prefer the full remont, but you get what you get and you don't get upset.

Here is a path that leads from our building to the road, except that they only built half of it. I'm not sure if they ran out of asphalt, or if it was Soviet planning. In the summer it is ok, we just walk on the grass but in the winter you end up walking into a huge snow bank.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Little Estonia

One of the awesome things about living in Estonia is running into famous people. This is one of the things I like about living in a small country. One example was at a concert when I used the urinal next to the former president. A recent example was in June when I sat next to a really famous Estonian. I kept thinking to myself "This looks a lot like the famous Estonian musician" It turns out that it was. His name is Arvo Pärt. I would say that he is the most successful Estonian ever. I realize that I look weird in the picture, but I am lucky to get it! The picture was taken at a Catholic worship service organized by Tunne and Mari-Ann Kelam. Mari-Ann was nice enough to send me the picture!

Thursday, October 6, 2011