Thursday, June 16, 2011

A little football...Euro-style

One of my favorite things to do here in Tallinn is to get out on the pitch and play a little soccer with some of the locals (that's me with the ball).  The first time I came to the Baltics, in 2002, I knew that I wanted to spend three or four months working on a novel that I was writing.  I wasn't sure which of the three Baltic capitals I wanted to stay in.  I started in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.  It was nice, but I decided to go to Riga, the capital of Latvia, to check that out.  I was definitely more inspired there, and actually spent some time looking for an apartment.  Then I met a guy in a cafe who was taking a bike tour around the region, and he told me how great he thought Tallinn was, so I took a bus up to take a look for myself.  Once I'd seen it, I was actually torn between Tallinn and Riga.  They both had their good points.  In the end, what swayed me was that I found this soccer field, just outside the city wall near the hostel where I was staying.  I walked out and talked to some people about getting in a game.  In the end I hooked up with a group that played twice a week and I was sold on Tallinn.

This time, when I came back to town, my friends from nine years ago, Peeter and Aivar, picked me up from the airport and mentioned on the way into town that they were involved in a weekly game at the same field.  Perfect!  Below is Peeter, in the middle, with a remnant of the wall in the background.  For me, soccer adds much to my stays here for many reasons.  First, it's great to get the exercise.  Second, it is a way to feel connected to the local community that tourists rarely get.  It is also a way to make local friends.  And lastly, there is just something spiritual about losing yourself in the game.  When you spend most of your time sitting at your laptop struggling at an intellectual pursuit, it is great to get out there and spend a few hours involved in such a physical endeavor.  Sadly, today was my last day playing soccer here in Tallinn, at least on this trip.  Next week I'll head to Finland to spend the midsummer holiday with some old friends, and then it is off to Budapest...


  1. Looks like you are having a lot of fun - AND the sun is shining too!

  2. Yeah, we got a bit of a break on the weather, but back to raining now!