07 May 2008

if it's Tuesday...

Returned to Iceland yesterday from Helsinki, and this morning I was yet again in the airport on my way to Oslo. When I grumbled about this to my wise friend J, he pointed out that you can't have the jet-setting without the jet, so off we go again.

The trip to Estonia and Finland was all the things a choir trip ought to be- lots of singing, so much that we got thrown out of a bar in Helsinki for singing in four-part harmony and got almost thrown out of a restaurant in Tallinn for singing about how great Iceland was to a partial audience of Norwegians. That singing when happy and/or drunk thing that Icelanders do so frequently is apparently Not Done in all these other places. A shame really, though, because the impromptu, fully blended singing was the best we did on the trip.

What to say about these places... Tallinn was enchanting but seems to be like many large cities former Soviet countries, where there's a lovely old walled portion, a strange wasteland beyond where something once was, and then many modern and impersonally shiny skyscrapers off to one side. Still, the medieval town is among the best preserved in the world, with the Easter-marshmallow colored buildings all leaning upon each other, plenty of cobblestones, and a snarl of tourist shops selling amber, linen, nesting dolls, and folk-knitted items.

I'd forgotten about the aesthetic of dress in these areas, the women for whom purple hair and maximum sparkle are the goals, who must break the heels on their stilettos with frightening regularity. I was actually puzzling over how they managed to maintain the impractical shoes in the heel-gobbling streets until I went past a cobbler. Inside the window were ranged a forest of heel shapes, in every height and slenderness. Must be a good business there.

After 3 days in Tallinn, the Icelanders were all pinkly sunburned from hours spent outside, soaking up sun and beer, wandering the dark passageways and twisted streets, and doing the crazy shopping thing that Icelanders always do when abroad. Estonia proved to be an unexpected surprise, and an excellent contrast to what came next, the Finland component of the trip.


Food, she thought. said...

That sounds like an amazing trip. The singing thing that you Icelanders do is one of my favorite things about the Icelandic. Nothing like being 2/3 of the way through a party full of the Icelandic, and all of a sudden the singing begins...there is really nowhere else to go from there as it doesn't stop until the last person is poured into their car. To kick people singing out of a bar? That is just odd, IMO. But maybe in character for what I think of as the austere Nordic personality.

ECS said...

your comment inspired me to think more about the singing culture- who likes it, who doesn't, and why it is that everyone here likes to do it so much. Haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet but it's an interesting thought.