XCFeedsPete Davis Reports From Estonia

Avatar Sverre CaldwellJanuary 27, 2011

span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “blockquote type=”cite” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; border-collapse: separate; font-family: Helvetica; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: 2; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; font-size: medium; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; text-align: left; ” Caryn and I flew overnight from JFK to Helsinki, Finland yesterday. After an hour or so in Finland, we caught the Estonian Air, 1/2 hour flight from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. Both Tallinn and Helsinki are right on the Gulf of Finland. You could see all these straight lines running through the ice that covers the gulf and if you looked really closely, you could see huge transport ships cutting their way through the ice on their way to deliver their goods. The Tallinn airport is a bit bigger than the one in Burlington, Vermont. After some dicey discussions about insurance with the Eurocar agent, it was off to Oteppa, about a three hour drive to the south.br /br /Estonia is about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, with app. a million people inhabiting the country. It’s pretty sparsely populated with miles and miles of flat fields. Few buildings dot the landscape until you arrive in a village or town. Old ruins of stone barns are a common sight, bringing to mind scenes from the film series, BAND OF BROTHERS. Estonia has been the setting for some gnarly encounters with its neighbors over the centuries. Germany, Sweden and Russia have all laid the place to ruin in years past.br /br /The food in Estonia is… interesting. You can get skunked when ordering something that looks like a nice roll, only to discover a hidden wad of SPAM lurking inside, but on the flip side, there are some pretty decent culinary surprises to be had.br /br /Last night, we (Caryn, Tamra Mooney, her mom and I) all went out to a late night dinner after the Opening Ceremonies at the Stadium. Caryn and I were pretty jet lagged from a full day of travel, but we walked over to a local pub and I ordered a ‘chicken with plum’ dish. What a nice surprise! It was awesome. They actually wrap a chicken breast around an honest to goodness plum and bake it. It was great. Caryn ordered fish with ‘no sauce’ which is a guarantee in the USA to get fish slathered in as much sauce as they can find in the kitchen. Here, despite somewhat limited English and our absolute zero command of Estonian, she scored a really nice piece of fish with… surprise…no sauce! br /br /What’s a real mind blower is the cost of food. It is SO cheap. Fully expecting a tab for what would cost $75 at the Shaw’s in Manchester, or double that in Switzerland or Norway, the bill came to a paltry $50.00. Staples are incredibly inexpensive. If you shop around some of the more expensive items (ie. Zucchinis are expensive) you can get out of the market relatively unscathed. br /br /Another “WHAT?” moment came when checking out Norwegian design 100% wool sweaters… $40.00. There is a lady in an EZ-UP tent selling woolen goods at incredibly nice prices. Who knew?br /br /The skiing in the stadium is insane for skiers and spectators alike. I feel like we’re watching “Monster Truck” skiing. Imagine a stadium built with sprint ski racing in mind. Voila! That’s what we’re talking about. Rolls, mini-hills, hairpins, straight-aways… it’s all there, complete with Stadium seating. You can watch the entire race, sitting up in the stadium seats, gnawing on SPAM filled rolls and waving a USA flag. No dark side of the moon moments when skiers go out of view. Stunning. br /br /Big, huge cauldron of flames was lit last night, complete with requisite barrage of fireworks. Very cool watching Alaskan skier, Tyler Kornfield, as flag bearer, lead Team USA into the stadium. The roster for the US Team was a bit light, but given the 1/2 hour to 40 minute drive that the athletes would have to endure + sub zero temperatures, it was a prudent idea for the kids to get their rest and focus on staying healthy, rather than standing around listening to a lip-synching Estonian ‘Rahque und Rollz’ band. br /br /”Lena” and her band were funnier than watching Ashley Simpson on Saturday Night Live. The Estonians didn’t even attempt to hide the fact that they were up on stage, completely faking it. The guitar player was wearing mittens and strumming away while the music coming over the speakers was lead guitar. Hmmm… The drummer was completely out of synch with the sound coming through the PA. Really? On the second cut, when the sound literally e-braked as if someone picked the needle up off the record, the jig was up, but the band gamefully pulled song number 3 out of their lip synching bag and gave it one more try. By then, 90% of all the athletes had peaced out and were back in their vans scurrying off into the night. br /br /Some USA flag waving idiot (that would be me…) held down the fort, so to speak, for rowdy Team USA fans. Given that Caryn, Tamra, her mom and I are pretty much the entire cheering section for the USA, we have our work cut out for us. That doesn’t mean that we’re invisible. The SECOND I pulled my flag (complete with chrome pole…) out of the rental car, the impact was immediate. All kinds of people started giving me thumbs up with phenomenally accented “Go USA!” words of encouragement. It was really cool. When I got into the stadium and started waving it, the press went nuts (they were pretty bored…) and started taking tons of photos of the jackass waving old glory. Glad I was wearing my SMS jacket!br /br /On the way back to the car, Lena crooning away to the fast-disappearing crowd, a snooty member of the Norwegian team mockingly asked, “What country is THAAAT flag from?” He was a bit taken back when I said “Britain, but we kicked their ass out and made up our own country. We’re from across the pond.” It was fun shutting up a holier-than-thou Norgie.br /br /Neighboring, beat-on-the-Estonians-“bully-countries”: Russians, Norwegians, Swedes, all are booked in hotels right around the corner from the venue. Team USA? Not so much. But… being out in the boonies has its benefits. No distractions, very nice roads for running and the food in the compound (gulag?) where they are staying is excellent. All in all, a very nice set up for the team, in sort of Eastern European meets Soviet Era architecture sort of way. Frank Loyd Wright it ain’t, but the borscht can’t be beat!br /br /Did I mention that in general, the command of a local Oteppan’s English is outrageously better than my Estonian? That being said, this ain’t Western Europe Dorothy! You don’t have to travel too far to run into a situation where NO English is spoken, whatsoever. Zero. Add my complete lack of Estonian and you’ve got some pretty funny pantomimes going on. Lots of little drawings and hand waving. It’s just like DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS. If you say it SLOWLY and LOUDLY, they don’t understand you much, much better. That being the case, we still have managed to find the US team’s hotel, our hotel (completely in the dark… and boy does it get dark over here!) shop, drive, eat and sleep. br /br /The sun comes up at around 8:15 ish (notice the ‘ish’). Kind of gloamy. A distinct ground fog covers the area until around 10:00 AM, when there is full light (on sunny days… both days that we’ve been here so far!) and then the sun is tail lights by 4:30 ish. It’s 5:00 PM now and almost completely dark, a la Vermont, on December 21st. br /br /Speaking of VERMONT…br /I’m looking forward to bringing back some VERMONT brand cigarettes for everyone. Yup! Won’t VT Attorney General, Jeffery Amestoy be excited to learn that our little state is being marketed as a cigarette brand in Estonia. Menthol, filtered, filterless… they’ve got ’em all…. and at KILLER prices!!br /br /Other Estonian Observations:br /Haven’t seen a single plane in the sky since we left Tallin, the National Capital, where we flew in from Helsinki, Finland ( 1/2 hour… by the clock… flight over the Gulf of Finland). Guess that there’s not a lot of air traffic between Latvia to the south or Russia to the east (frighteningly close to the east…)br /br /Russia is RIGHT OVER THERE…br /Pretty wild sunset last night. As we were driving south from Tallinn, the sun started setting around 3:00 PM and to the east, the wispy clouds in the sky over Russia turned a deep pink, reddish color. As the evening approached, the same clouds went to a distinctly purple color. All the while, I couldn’t help but think. Wow! If snow fell out of those clouds the flakes would be landing in Russia. Would they be purple?br /br /The Estonian flag actually makes sense. Turquoise, Black and White horizontal stripes, stacked on top of each other. It’s literally the scene you see everywhere around here in winter. Blue sky, Black forest in the distance and white snow fields.br /br /By comparison, Kansas is really mountainous. This is the flattest place I’ve ever seen. The northern part of the country is so flat it boggles the mind. The second highest hill in the Oteppa region is 211 meters above sea level. Not sure how big the largest one is, but I wouldn’t worry about popping your ears or suffering an aneurysm brought on by high altitude.br /br /The only hills we’ve seen are near Oteppa, sight of one of the only alpine ski areas in the country. We visited it this morning. It boasted a t-bar and approximately 150-200′ vertical feet of skiing. The locals were lazing over their umpteenth morning stein of beer and reported that the ‘resort’ wasn’t opening until 11:00ish, so we beat feet to pick up US Team Skiers and drop them off at Nordic trails in Oteppa. They wanted to get their practice ski in on trails adjacent to the actual venue where they will be racing. The logic in doing so was because the trails were being used for today’s events and weren’t open for training until 4:30, aka, “dark-o’clock”. Nah, thanks but no thanks. We’ll ski in daylight thank-you.br /br /Roads were designed with a laser. Straight all the way to the horizon. Two lanes with windblown snow in frozen, rutted tracks. Add 120 kpm semi tractor trailer truck coming the other direction and you’re white knuckling the steering wheel.br /br /Pay or no-pay? Unlike Norway, where all the Nordic trails are free-access, here you can pay to ski on trails maintained by a resort, or ski for free. We chose option “B” today and enjoyed some really nice skiing around the lake upon which Oteppa is located. The trails were very flat (no surprise there…) but stunningly beautiful, winding through forest and meadow, with gorgeous views of the lake. br /br /TEAM USA fared OK today, better yesterday with Jessie Diggins 7th place finish. Noah Hoffman placed 9th for the guys today and Sadie Bjornsen managed to place around 20th place, Caitlin Patterson a few places behind. Big show tomorrow with Skyler, Tyler, Eric and Cartwright in the sprint. Send FAST VIBES over here for the race tomorrow!br /br /Best, Pete/span/span/blockquote/divdiv style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; border-collapse: separate; font-family: Helvetica; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: 2; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; font-size: medium; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; border-collapse: separate; font-family: Helvetica; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: 2; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; font-size: medium; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; border-collapse: separate; font-family: Helvetica; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: 2; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; font-size: medium; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; border-collapse: separate; font-family: Helvetica; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: 2; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 0px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-decorations-in-effect: none; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; ” div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “div style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “pre style=”-webkit-user-drag: none; “span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family:Helvetica;”span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”white-space: normal;”span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family:Tahoma, Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:100%;”span class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-size: 13px;”br //span/span/span/span/pre/div/div/divbr //divbr //divbr //divbr //divbr //divbr //div/spanbr //div/span/div/span/div/span/div/spandiv class=”blogger-post-footer”img width=’1′ height=’1′ src=’https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/4680416899705879324-3015922110115275135?l=smsxc.blogspot.com’ alt=” //div

albuterol

.

buy naltrexone online buy chantix online

Avatar

Sverre Caldwell

Related Posts

2nd!

2nd!

November 21, 2012
Gällivare

Gällivare

November 21, 2012