Making Strides in Tallinn

In a crazy political time, it’s refreshing to see some progress of anything positive getting done by the political higher ups – whether or not if they have political appointments. In this case, it was making strides in Tallinn.

I thought it timely to read that 2nd Lady Karen Pense is traveling throughout Eastern Europe and Tallinn, where I just was, to learn about and bring attention to art therapy.

Art Therapy is a relatively new field in this area of the world and they are starting to see the benefits for participants as well as those involved as therapists.

There was no way for me to notice this at the time in Tallinn, although I was told that Estonia is known for its high-tech innovation. It’s where Skype was created.

What I noticed was a town with medieval roots, as seen in the bucolic cobblestone streets of its Old Town at the top of the hill.

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Old Town of Tallinn

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Medieval Fortress

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Tallinn Church

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One of the steepest streets

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Tallinn Market

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Dragon downspouts

However, down below in the main part of the business district and on the outskirts of town, there was a time warp with areas stuck in post Soviet style mixed with modern architecture.

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Mix of old and new parts of town

The Soviet Flashback was the most interesting tour we took. It was given by an innovative entrepreneur who had the last remaining Soviet bus. This is where our tour started with the guys pushing it to get it started and then vodka shots. His performance, while dressed in a Soviet guard uniform, was a parody of what life was like under Soviet regime controlling Estonia. It was not a happy time and it’s still raw for people here to remember that many family members and friends were sent to prison for simply flying an Estonian flag.

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Soviet Bus

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Soviet Flashback tour guide

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Our guide in front of the last remaining Soviet monument

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Tallinn Prison

Unwelcoming concrete barriers exit along the shoreline. These are coincidentally pictured in front of the Walt Disney Cruise ship. Graffiti from earlier days and the revolution decorate some outskirt streets. Our guide was one of the revolutionaries who stood up to the Russians in a peaceful demonstration that called attention to their plight and eventually ended Russia’s control.

Concrete barriers welcome the Walt Disney cruise ship on AIE

Concrete barriers welcome the Walt Disney cruise ship

Graffiti in Tallinn on Art Is Everywhere

Graffiti in Tallinn

The Freedom Cross was a striking picture as we turned the corner going out of town and back to our ship. Tallinn is a place I’d like to return.

Freedom Cross in Tallinn on AIE

Freedom Cross in Tallinn

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Recent Trip

After just getting back from a recent trip to 3 different regions including 9 countries and 12 cities, it was more than a coincidence that three different links were in my alerts pertaining to countries I had visited. They are all worth noting below.

Evidently the Finns have taken their Finnish passport to a whole new level. It’s easy to overlook but their passport has an interactive design included on each page as a flipbook.

Finnish Passport has flip-book animation

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any reindeer while in Finland except at the outdoor market in Helsinki where reindeer is lunch meat.

Reindeer in Helsinki Market on Art Is Everywhere

Although these murals below are not in Tallinn, they are interactive murals in Estonia by artist, Edward Von Lõngus. Estonia is well known for it’s high tech ability, as Skype was started here. So, it stands to reason that murals can now be made interactive with an app.

Finally, until I can get back in the swing of blog posting, this mural campaign in Berlin for Mercedes Benz is particularly intriguing. I like their sentiment about disconnecting and spending more time with family.

There were many murals we noticed but this photographic one in Berlin stood out. It depicts an East Berlin soldier escaping as he lays down barbed wire for the boundary of the Berlin Wall. The iron rods are representative of where the Berlin Was once stood.

Berlin Wall photomural on Art Is Everywhere

Much more to come in a later post…

 

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What the Doctor Ordered

A RHode Island Getaway

Now that I’m better and coming off my sick-leave, I had an opportunity to travel for an impromptu getaway to Rhode Island to visit family. It seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It also seems like I’m not ready to give up the beach combing yet — just because it’s no longer summer.

It was right after the big marketing push for announcing new designs so I knew there would still be some work to do but I relished the opportunity to relax. We had Hurricane Matthew that is brewing in the tropics on our tail. We survived a harrowing drive all night in the rain where people were using their hazards because it was so difficult to see and trucks were spaying us with tire-mist and constantly coming in our lane.

Fortunately, my husband did all the driving and made reservations at a boutique hotel in Connecticut, just outside of New York City, right off the Merritt Parkway. This meant we only had 3 more hours to drive to RI and hopefully the morning would be better.

Don’t let the name or stark location fool you but the Hi-Ho is a pretty cool place, boutique indeed with its 70’s retro styling and Andy Warhol prints and Palomino pillows in the bedrooms. Old-fashioned phones and red high-top tables set the contemporary breakfast room decor. We had one of the best continental breakfasts with one of the staff making sure everything was fresh and filled and greeting all the guests warmly.

Hi-Ho Hotel on Art Is Everywhere Hi-Ho Hotel bedroom on Art Is Everywhere

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Like this one wallpapered feature wall.

There was an interesting Barcelona wine bar/ restaurant to try that was attached to the hotel but we weren’t staying for dinner. We’ll have to go back! As it turns out, I believe this  is a chain restaurant and each location may make their own unique adaptations. At least when we want our Spanish-fare fix, we can go a little closer to us in Reston, VA, but may not be as good. The one at the Hi-Ho has cabanas and their own vegetable garden and their award-winning food looks exceptional. Another reason to go back. In fact, this may be our regular pit-stop on our way to RI. I’m glad we discovered it!

hi-ho-barcelona restaurant on Art Is Everywhere

Beach + Food + Family

We weren’t expecting the weather in RI to be in the 50’s! We mostly brought short-sleeved tops but layering with sweaters and jackets kept us warm while we attempted to catch fish in the surf. Although our luck wasn’t good, the striped bass were biting as others were more lucky catching them on the beach (and throwing them back).

We tried some new places for food, like 210 Oyster Bar & Grill as well as some old favorites, like Haversham Restaurant & Tavern right off Post Road (road to the beaches).

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210-oyster-bar-inside on AIE

Where we ate inside overlooking Salt Pond

210-oyster-bar-aerial on Art Is Everywhere

210-oyster-bar-outside-front on Art Is Everywhere

Front “tiki” bar to try in the summer

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Clam Cakes!

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“The Sham” as locals affectionately call it

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We were happy to have clam cakes in the off-season and see Green Hill in a peaceful state as all the transplanted vacationers had mostly packed up for the summer and had gone back to their other New England homes. The residents, however, and those who have long-time connections to the area were enjoying the calm. Everyone was friendly and was waving hello as almost a code that suggested we all have something in common for being here.

Here are some of the photos from our trip. Our (left) side of the beach had all the sand this time but this will change as the currents shifts from year to year.

Our sandy left side of Green Hill beach_AIE

Our sandy left side of the beach

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The other — rocky and seaweed right side. Our beach usually looks like this.

Notice this change as you turn the corner on AIE

You notice this change as you turn the corner. (Photo Credit – The Rev. Peter Spencer)

Algae covered rocks on AIE

Algae covered rocks (at low tide) harbor lots of wildlife

mussels-and-snails on Art Is Everywhere

Mussels and Snails

One of our favorite days was the very last, when we spent time walking in the Trustom Pond Wildlife Refuge. It’s right next door to these beach properties, which is wonderful that is protected from being developed and serves as a safe haven for many wildlife. In the summer, a big part of the beach is closed off in an attempt to protect the nesting grounds of the piping plover.

Trustom Pond on Art Is Everywhere

Right as we started walking on the first path by the field that leads you to the pond, we saw a bobcat — first time! Initially we thought it was a dog. It was sitting on the path looking at something (probably for dinner) in the clearing. Another couple coming our way walked around the corner and scared it but didn’t even realize it was a bobcat. They thought the strap on our binoculars was a leash and therein the bobcat was a dog. It simply turned around and walked into the woods. It was not very afraid but we picked up a large stick as we continued on our way.

One of our favorite spots walking back is the lily pad pod. This is where Peter caught a bullfrog and pretended to kiss it when our boys were younger. They were grossed out!

lily-pad-pond on Art Is Everywhere

Frogs are everywhere on AIE

Frogs are everywhere you look

Frogs are everywhere 2 on Art Is Everwhere

This time, we saw a beaver!

See the beaver in trustom pond on AIE

See the beaver?!

The pictures reflect for me the magic a much-needed break can bring. Getting back to Nature, sharing meals and the importance of spending quality time with family all leave lasting, life-sustaining memories.

Beautiful Skylit Boulders on Art Is Everwhere

Beautiful Skylit Boulders

Pear cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden to share on AIE

We shared our pear-shaped cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden.

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on window on AIE

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on the beach house window

Pics Appear as Paintings

After Vacation

If you’re like me, returning from vacation and going “back-to-school” this week is HARD! ;(

I so want the beach-living-life and living-in-the-moment with little to do to continue. If only I didn’t have to work….

Although our vacation was cut short by tropical storm Hermine, we had the most glorious weather for a 2 week getaway. I can’t complain that we were evacuated and caught one of the last ferries to Hatteras during the only day of rain.

Beach Sunset Ocracoke_AIE

Pics Appear as Paintings

Upon returning, I have tons of photos to organize and delete from my phone due to lack of storage. Yes, I cursed Apple and thought of that new Google phone advertisement that uses other phones’ “storage full” alerts just as you’re trying to get that single moment captured. It’s happened to me more than once! Just like the yeti crossing the forest, I almost didn’t get this picture of the Pamlico Sound on the most calm and perfect-beach-day, right before the storm and look what showed up!

Dolphin in Pamlico Sound_AIE

A shark in the water!

Actually, it’s a bottle-nosed dolphin, and not a shark but sure spooked me at first, especially after thinking about the many shark bites that have occurred in the Outerbanks in waist deep water, as I’m fishing in waist deep water. I’m used to seeing dolphin in the ocean, beyond the surf but still in moving water with waves. This is why I was surprised to see this one swimming with its mate in great arks while blowing water out their spouts, as they serenely swam from the sound at North Point, where the calm waters meet the rough Atlantic waves. I tried to capture this but alas, I really needed something better than an iPhone. If you look beyond the waves, you can see how calm the water was in the sound.

North Point Ocracoke_AIE

What I really wished I had was one of these fairly new photo apps that adds filters to your photos to make your pics appear as paintings. NPR questions whether it is “art”? Photography is an art form and choosing how to display one’s photograph adds to that description. They are not real paintings however and should not be misrepresented as such.

I personally don’t think anyone is doing that but instead sharing on various social media networks, for which they are meant.

Prisma translates your photos into various styles and those used by famous artists and Artisto works similarly for videos.

I loved these two examples, one of Venice, my favorite Italian city, and the NPR building, in DC, using Prisma’s appropriately named “wave” app for this post.

Venice Prisma App_pic as painting_AIE

NPR building with Prisma Wave app pic as painting_AIE

I have a lot more photos to share but want to try these apps first.

Kayaks Ocracoke_AIE

We kayaked to Teach’s Cove where Blackbeard hid but was caught and supposedly beheaded at this Springer’s Point Beach. The pathway through the woods is beautiful and creepy — what I call American Gothic and very True Detective-like.

Kayaks with Running the Storm Prisma app filter_AIE

Kayaks with the “Running the Storm” filter using the Prisma app

In the meantime, I’ve spread out all my collected shell treasures so I can make a wreath or something to visually enjoy rather than just adding them to storage.

Beautiful White Shells_AIE

Beautiful White Shells via Dinner en Blanc

Finally, I’ll end this post by relaying a funny story about one of our last nights in Ocracoke when we closed down Zillies while waiting in between bands of rain from the first tropical depression that threatened to evacuate us but fortunately, petered out. It was a good excuse, however, for more rounds. We met two NOAH researchers, who were there working on excavating the many shipwrecks off the coast. They recently discovered a German U-boat that they had been searching for for 8 years! I asked them when is the PBS documentary going to be aired? They weren’t too sure on that but did mention a story that was due to publish in the Washington Post the Sunday after we returned. Then they asked us, “What does one do for 2 weeks on Ocracoke?” That was an easy answer, “live in the moment” and enjoy the many different surprises this island always delights us with. This year it was Dajio’s for breakfast, shrimp fest and pizza and ghosts! (another story), as well as listening to new live music, like Barefoot Wade. He can do a mean island-man Led Zepplin and Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustic all with guitar and steel drums! Who knew? Here’s his Lets Slowdown as reminder to the hectic fall ahead. (Ocracoke is so hippy, but I love it!) 😉

When we returned, and finally went through the huge mounds of mail back home, we were lucky that I decided to restart the paper early. The article published on Thursday, the official non-resident evacuation day — the day described at the start of this post. We left the next morning since we weren’t being run out and enjoyed one last night in what I think was a haunted house, complete with a friendly-spirit, river-mink that visited us and had a beautiful sunset off the deck. Although, not the same as the Blue House, which we had to move from the second week, it was lovely in an odd, mid-century, kind of way.

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC_AIE

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC

Reflecting on my reply to the NOAH guys, one of whom I had seen several times over the years (Ocracoke is a small enough place for this to occur and start to get to know locals), it would be nearly impossible for me to live there and have to do work. There are just too many temptations to enjoy. I realize I gave them an answer that really doesn’t apply to their situation. Oh well, I hope I see them next year, as they mentioned they were parked by the island cemetery and I relayed the story about how our friend’s bike lights just randomly went out while riding by there and then he heard really strange sounds that weren’t just the wandering wild chickens. His cute but chatterbox 6-year-old son suddenly got verrrrry quiet, bringing his father a bit of eerie relief. The NOAH guys laughed and hesitantly said “no,” they didn’t need a “walk home” (– to their car) when I offered jokingly. Fortunately, we were biking home but in the rain and laughing all the way. This is when I wish someone had gotten a picture. Fun times I won’t forget.

The wooded path at Springer's Point Ocracoke_AIE

The wooded path at Springer’s Point, where ghosts have been seen.

Springer's Point path into the Ocracoke woods_ AIE

Springer’s Point path into the Ocracoke woods

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Graves in the wooded cemetery & single flower carefully placed

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Getting Your Southern Fare Fix

Before vacationing in Ocracoke, North Carolina, we tried out the new Hen Quarter restaurant, in Alexandria. It took over the old Austin Grill but is managed by the same owners with this new Southern cuisine concept. It’s a way to get your Southern fare fix, complete with porkbelly pops, down-home collard greens, fried chicken and some of the best fritter waffles you’ll ever taste and a very smooth-balanced mint julep. Now that’s something coming from a native New Orleanian and still one at heart!

Love their décor and their Southern phrases and charm:

“You’re like the butter to our biscuits…

…and whiskey that warms the heart”

and wouldn’t be the South without the, “Bless your heart” sign hanging.

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Classic Southern Biscuits and Fried Chicken

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How they make their Belly Pops

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Pop ’em in – porkbelly pops melt in your mouth

Here’s the play-by-play video with some good Southern, bluesy music too!

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Egg Basket lighting that I’ll have to make someday. Love this idea!

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Hen Quarter upstairs décor with wood plank walls that kinda remind me of….

Hole in the wall entrance at Captain Gregorys on AIE

You guessed it. It’s a hole in the wall entrance. The flag is the “doorbell”

Now we’re back to thinking of  mint juleps and….

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Bourbon flight but where’s the Pappy?

“Free Range Cocktails” (Hen Quarter’s slogan)

…but looking forward now to some much-needed relaxing days while waiting for the green flash at sunset. We haven’t seen it yet but keep hoping!

Pre sunset porch time_AIE

Pre sunset porch time

Sailboat view from dock on AIE

Sailboat view from dock

End of day starting on AIE

Sun Rays – End of day starting

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette on AIE

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette in Pamlico Sound

Ahhh, summer and cicadas, don’t want it to end…

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