Despite getting delayed in New York, I made my flights in London and Stockholm without a problem.
Well, Stockholm was sorta weird, only in the sense that when I arrived it was not inherently obvious where I was supposed to go. I asked some people at a desk and they told me to go downstairs where I was to “press a button” to summon a bus which would take me to the proper terminal. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but I got it. I got on the bus and was the only one there. The driver dropped me off at Terminal 5. When I got there I tried following the signs to the gate but all I got was the directions to passport control. When I got to that desk — after walking down a pristine hardwood floor with polished glass corridors — there was no one there. I backtracked and found a security intercom and asked what I should do. The whole place was empty. He suggested that I go down to the third floor. I did that but I couldn’t figure out how to get into where I saw some people waiting at the gate. I went back up to the fourth floor and behind a long row of glass windows I saw a guard who was reading a book in an empty check-in type room. I knocked on the glass and he came and opened the door for me. I told him that I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be. He ran me and my stuff through some security scanners. When I said that I’d never seen an airport so empty before he said it was normal for Stockholm to be like that at that hour (around 7:40 pm local time). I walked down and got on the proper side on the third floor and eventually boarded the flight.
Veljo Haamer met me at the airport, as expected and we headed into the city. My initial impressions are that Estonia has been experiencing, since independence in 1991, an explosion of foreign and private investment. There are a lot of new gas stations, supermarkets and the like all over the place. He took me to a semi-upscale pub called Moskva, where I ordered some salmon pasta and we talked a little bit about Estonian history and his work with doing WiFi stuff and all of that. Veljo is basically the Johnny Appleseed of WiFi in Estonia — he runs WiFi.ee and is responsible for putting up signs like this where there is available WiFi. It’s pretty sweet. He’s 36 and lives alone but has a son who lives in another part of the country. He speaks English, Russian and obviously, Estonian. He served in the Russian army back when Estonia was under Soviet rule with a two year tour of duty in Kazakhstan.
After dinner he took me to Old Town Tallinn, and showed me a brief nighttime view of the city. I’m sure I’ll get more tomorrow, but it’s pretty impressive thus far.
Tomorrow we’re off to Parliament (I have an interview at 2 pm) and I’m going to try to get a prepaid cell phone working while I’m here.
Hopefully pictures and a podcast with Veljo tomorrow.