Toole Castle on the Gulf of Finland [again, courtesy of the panorama setting on my camera]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Entry VI: In Which We Go A-Viking

     Come Sunday, it's time for a trip to a Viking village out near Tallinn. I'm told we have a reservation for the Viking longboat, and I'm not really sure what that means. My imagination tells me we'll be supplied with a shield and an oar before hopping into a seaworthy ship with burly, dirty men and puttering around in the Baltic Sea, maybe heading over to Finland for some pillaging or popping down south to burn some Latvian villages. In my heart, though, I know this is not the case. I try to keep my expectation low or non-existent, which is difficult for me because I really like Vikings and I'd like my wildest Viking dreams to come true at this village tourist attraction. As it turns out, I'm coming to learn that I like the idea of Vikings more than I actually understand the real history of Vikings. "Viking" is kind of an amorphous term I guess, and has been hi-jacked by storybook tales and Hollywood. I've checked out a couple of books from the university library in hopes of educating myself and becoming a true Viking enthusiast--a connoisseur even. Anyway, allow me to tell you about this village.

     We meet Riina's brother Jüri and his family at the village. We make our introductions and pile into the Viking boat, donning bright orange lifejackets and potatosacklike canvas tunics (authenticity is key at the Viking village). Our captain's name is Anu. She's a loud-voiced woman with an infectious casual air, and if I understood Estonian, I'm sure I would've appreciated her sense of humor. She directs our rowing, shouting from the helm: "Tüürpoord!" (starboard) "Pakpoord!" (port) and "Kõik koos!" (all together). 

     After an invigorating trip down the river, it's time to throw axes. Well, only one axe--but we throw it many, many times. Here is a nifty video of me ineptly throwing our axe. I hadn't quite gotten the hang of it at this point, but rest assured, I eventually figured it out and made the wooden target feel my Nordic wrath. You can't see it in the clip, but this courtyard was lined with painted plywood cut-outs of fierce Viking warriors who scowled at us fiercely for the duration of our visit.

     Post axe throwing, we gather for a Viking chicken dinner at a Viking gazebo next to a Viking pond. It's getting chilly outside, so there is no leisurely dining in the traditional Viking style. We finish our meal and, eyes to the threatening clouds overhead, say goodbye. Jüri's oldest son Karl plays guitar, and we make plans to get together and play music in the weeks ahead. With that, we pile back in the car and return under overcast skies to Tartu, where homework and a fireplace full of dry wood await.

     Overall, not a bad Sunday! If you're ever in the area, I encourage you to check out the Viking Village. That being said, my host family paid my entrance, so I don't know how much it cost and cannot say in good confidence that it's "worth it." On the other hand, you can't really put a price on public restrooms refurbished to look like Viking lodges (see below), can you? Follow this link to learn more:


  1. Not a bad Sunday indeed! :D
    Also, you throw a mighty axe. Maybe this has to do with your host dad's encouraging words?
    Keep having a blast! And blogging about it.

  2. Hi,

    For the January issue of Columbus Magazine - a Dutch travel magazine - I am looking for photo's of the Viking Village in Estonia. Do you have more photo's of it? Could we place one photo in our magazine? You can be accredited as you like and we can add a link to your website. Let me know if you are interested in this.

    Kindest regards,

    Annette van den Berg

  3. I can say that story aboat the pay of enter is a lie! Viking village is not selling tickets to get in. IT'S FREE!!!! All that story is'nt true. I had some activities there and all was extaly oposite to that story!

    Irish Cultureclub is Estonia