Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What Trump means for Estonia

The other week I had the opportunity to participate on a panel called "US-EU relations in the Trump era". Sven Mikser the minister of foreign affairs and Siim Kalls a former prime minister and EU commissioner.  It was a little intimidating sitting next to them but it was a great experience. 

Overall people were cautious but concerned at Trump's protectionist tendencies and his lack of interest in being the leader of the free world.  It was mentioned that it is early and so it's hard to say what will happen.  I'm not overly optimistic.  I wrote a piece on what Trump means for the Baltic states, you can read it here. As long as Steve Bannon is on the national security council I don't think any policy maker in the Baltic states should be sleeping well at nights.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Temple trip to Finland with the girls

Last Saturday was my temple trip with the young women, 4 of them, to be specific.

I woke at 6 in the morning and drove to a mall parking lot in Tallinn to pick up a girl. I left my car there in the parking lot and took a taxi from there to the harbor. All-day parking was about 5 euros.

In the harbor we met up with the other girls and there was a pleasant surprise too - another person from the branch was going with the same ferry - Piret. We love Piret. She served her church mission in Finland and is a big fan of the country.

Our ferry was a new one called MegaStar. Yes, it was mega nice.

We sat around the table there:

Here is a wall of herbs and other plants on the boat:

Just a regular table with seats by the window:

There is a Burger King on the ferry (no Burger King restaurants in Estonia, though):

Our favorite was the store on the ferry, a tax free store (there are Riesens there that are only found on the ferry - just discovered it this time!):

We were stuck on the ferry for an extra 45 minutes or so because they could not set up the platform to get off the ferry. We were also led through a car deck because of some remodeling work going on.

Once in Helsinki and off the ferry we took a tram to the center of the city, then took a bus to the temple. The temple is actually in Espoo outside of Helsinki, although they still call it Helsinki Finland temple. We were late but all the people there were supportive. Very nice atmosphere and it felt just great. After the temple visit the girls ate home made lasagna that they shared.

Here are the fridges in the temple guest house, numbered based on the room numbers where people are staying.

This is the temple guest house:

One of the girls taking a photo of the temple:

 After the temple visit my YW advisor Karin, who works at the guest house, drove us to a nearby shopping mall Sello. What better to do after a spiritual visit to the temple that to dive into the worldly shopping madness.

 The girls thought it was a great sight seeing the eggs next to the electronic gadgets:

From the shopping mall we took a train to the center again, then a tram to the harbor, then right onto the ferry. It takes a lot of walking to get on and off the ferries. About over a kilometer on, the same off. Or more. It seems to take forever. They even have signs up saying 900 meters more to the ferry.

We took a 4.30 pm ferry back not to be too late. It was great. The ferry takes 2 hours or so the get across the Finnish gulf.

Once back in Tallinn I was driven to back to the parking lot by the girls´ parents. Then I drove back to Keila. I was home at 7.30 p.m or so.

Some people get back with 9.00 p.m ferries that take 2,5 hours. That is rough.

All in all it was a fun day with great young women.