Friday, November 10, 2017

Halloween 2017

 Halloween is our kids favorite holiday.  They love spooky things and they love candy, so it is tough combo to beat!  Our smallest was Spider-man this year and our oldest was a fairy.  Estonian's don't really celebrate Halloween, but we have great neighbors so we set up trick or treating before hand and then they got to go to 4 of our neighbors.

For just 4 doors they got a lot of candy.  The eyeball candy creeps me out but tastes pretty good. 

We got the last orange pumpkin at Grossi pood!  The others were pretty green.  Most Estonians eat pumpkins.  The idea that someone would buy a pumpkin and not eat it is probably one of the weirdest concepts for Estonians. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Fall in London

Last week (3rd week in October) I went to London to visit my sister Kadi. I got plane tickets a little late so they were 200 euros back and forth, a little too much. If you get them early you can get from Tallinn to London for much less. The flight was 2 hours and 15 minutes. It is pretty amazing every time to realize how small Europe is. Just hop on the plane and you are in these magnificent cities.
The first thing I saw in London was this double-decker bus. 

While my sis was at work I just strolled around her neighborhood Hammersmith in stores and streets. London in very multicultural. The streets just buzz with cultures of all sorts. I went to a big store and got tons of Halloween candy.
Then later I took the tube to downtown and walked past the Monument for 1666 big fire.

Then I walked down the river. I was a cloudy yet warm. The same day tons of snow came down in Estonia and I felt I had escaped it.

 Shard building:

At the Tower Bridge. Last time in London we also went into the bridge museum. This time I just walked around. I took a stroll around the Tower of London fort, this time did not go in because I have already done it.  

 On my sister´s day off we went to Hampton Court palace - the Tudor palace (Henry the VIII, Elizabeth I etc). It was glamorous.
Here we are on the train to Hampton Court - my sister Kadi.

The palace is next to a river. The leaves were all on the trees and at home they had just come off. 

 Some shots of the palace. This is a stairway up to the royal rooms. The royals had to be on the upper floor so that the poor peasants would feel like they are ascending to a level they do not belong to. Also, the stairs were not steep so that the walk up would take more time - also to remind them of who they are not.

King´s bed. They had going to sleep and waking up ceremonies with all sorts of people attending just like the French royals. The French set the standard. But the royals actually had real (bed)rooms were they actually preferred to sleep and hang out. So over time kings just hid and skipped the ceremonial stuff - privacy was something rare and desirable. 

Orangery where they kept orange trees in the winter. 

The most famous room is the Great Hall. This was built between 1532 and 1535. They have awesome huge tapestries on the walls that take about 10 years each to restore. 

At king´s table.

There is an art museum in the palace. 

The courtyard. 

The gardens with mushroom trees. 

One side of the palace, the newer side that was added later. 

London vs Estonia on the same day

Me and my sister in the gardens. Thank you, Kadi, for taking me in and giving me your mattress and 1,5 square metres on your floor (that is all the spare room that you have) and leftover pistachios. Thank you for being an awesome sister and such a good caring worker for all the dementia patients that enjoy your company almost every day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

First snow

Last week we got hit with our first snow, the kids had a great time.  It has now mostly melted but it will be back soon.  It made things seem so Christmassy that we even put up the Christmas tree early! Christmas decorations before Halloween is weird but I really love Christmas! They don't have Thanksgiving here so there is no shame in jumping right into the Christmas season.  Christmas candy is already out in the stores.  (they don't have Halloween or Halloween candy either). 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

San Francisco

The blog is back!  The new school year has meant a busier tempo for us but hopefully we'll be getting blog posts up more regularly. Maris is enjoying teaching and the kids are enjoying preschool. 

Before the start of the school year I had a chance to go to the American Political Science Association's general meeting in San Francisco. 

 The book display room is always the best and worst part of a conference.  An incredible library of great reads but not enough time or money to take advantage of them.  Academic books usually are pretty pricey. 

 It was fun to see the most famous IR scholars and to hear some good discussions on US foreign policy.  This is Stephen Walt at a panel discussion

 This was my panel, it wasn't well attended but it was a great group!

It was a quick trip but fortunately there was time to see the sights of San Francisco.  The last time I was in San Francisco was in 2008 before I moved to Estonia for graduate school.  

 This store had very expensive candy but very much worth it.  

 Alcatraz in the background, I've never actually been.

 Sea lions never get old.

The best part was getting to see family.  The trip turned out to be a last minute family reunion.

 All five Crandall siblings together!  Special thanks to Jeff for coming all the way from New York!
Thanks to Jill for the picture (ripped off her blog).

 Mom always knows how to make a trip memorable.  She had little surprise bags for everyone. 

We took a go cart tour through the city, better than I thought it was going to be.  It was a heat wave during our stay, one day broke the record at 41 celcius (if I remember correctly).  The lady sun tanning behind me was probably wondering what the heck I was doing with a long sleave shirt on.  

 I had no idea that there were buffalo in Golden Gate park. 

 We went to Sausalito, very beautiful place. 

Submarine museum.  Nice to be alive at a time and in a region where there is no war.

 I had the chance to go to the museum of art with Jeff and his friend Lexy (taking the picture), it was a great time.  Jeff lived in San Fran for 5 years (was it more?).  Very cool place to live. 

I had a chance to go to Target and it was pure heaven.  Seriously best shopping experience ever!  I was pretty limited in terms of suitcase space and in budget but it was wonderful.  The goods didn't last long.  The Disney Store comes in a close 2nd and some Christmas surprises are still tucked away.  It's the suitcase that keeps on giving!

It will be another year for all those experiences (America, family, target, academic conference).  Until next year then!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2 days in Vienna

This week I went to Vienna, Austria, with my friend Jevgenia. Here are some photos of our trip.
We met with Jevgenia´s friend who is an opera singer, who drove us up on the hill to look over the city of Vienna. We drank hot chocolate and tried to get rid of wasps flying around our drinks. 

The view from the cafe - Danube river or Doonau in Estonian.

Here is the view. Lots of heurigers on the hill sides - wine restaurants/ taverns where locals love to spend their time. 

Then after our breakfast drinks we went to the famous Schönbrunn castle, the summer residence of the Austrian royals. We had to wait an hour or so in line (but you can get the tickets online if you are a smart traveler). Because our entrance time was later and we had to wait 3 hours (every person gets a personal entrance time so that the palace would not get too crowded) we just headed to the gardens and spent all of the time there... it is just huge. They even have a zoo in there. We ran out of time to visit the zoo. And it cost extra. 

This is the side of the castle, even though it looks like the front of some castles. No, just the side.

This is the back of the castle.

The back of the castle with all the flower and grass areas.

 Here is a photo that shows the the gardens of the castle - all the way up on the hill. (photo:

Two little girls were dancing around and it was adorable. This is the view of the castle and the city from up the hill.

The orangery: 

Also I went in and payed extra to see the royal carriages. Here is one of their rides:

My favorite was this kid carriage. Yep. Awesome.

They had some royal outfits on display and here is a dress that queen Elisabeth (Sissy) wore. Her waist was very tiny. She was obsessed with her looks, worked out a ton every day. A very interesting woman. She supposedly dieted all the time. But it is a little eerie to look at that dress from every angle and think it was actually a person.

Here is Sissy, Elisabeth of Bavaria, the woman with the famous tiny waist:

The main hall of the palace (frenchbuzzblog).

This is Hofburg, the regular in-city palace of the royals:

There was an exhibition of the royal silver etc. It was huge. So much of it. Here is one room:

One room for candlesticks and plates for sweets:

The royals liked Japanese stuff, like the plates. These photos are for Jill.

Hofburg palace seen from the shopping street. That street has all the expensive brand clothing stores.

On Monday evening we also did some walking after dinner.
Evening in Vienna:

The national library in the evening:

A famous church in the old town. They park tons of horse carriages there and therefore it is very stinky. But you can get a ride.

Our second day started with an excursion to Vienna woods. It cost about 55 euros or so.
First we went to Meyerling monastery. This where Sissy´s son killed himself and his 17-year-old girlfriend (although he was married). He had been looking someone to do that together for some time and finally find a girl who was willing. He was the only son, an heir, and that probably had an effect too, what ever was expected of him. So they built a monastery on the same spot where it happened. And tried to cover everything up.

Our next stop was another monastery from medieval times (parts of it). It is 880 years old and has been an active monastery all that time. These are choir seats here. The monks sing in Latin from huge song books.

A prayer room. What better to make you feel close to God than kneeling on cold, hard floors.

Here is an actual monk who lives there: 

Our third stop was Seegrotte or a sea cave. It used to be a mine, then it filled up with water. Water does not get out, it has to be pumped out to maintain a normal level. During II WW the Nazis used it as a plane making factory. They used war prisoners and concentration camp prisoners to build them. A Disney 1993 movie 3 Musketeers was filmed there. That boat is part of the film set.  

 I had been to Vienna before and also Linz and Salzburg but that was years ago when I was a teenager. I had a trip with my choir all around Austria. This time it was quick but sweet. I love Austria.