When the Irishman comes to Estonia and there happens to be the European Language Day he will be absolutely used as a live example of one of the European official languages, Irish of course. It doesn’t happen to every single Irishman, but if you happen to be closely involved with someone who works at the school and likes arranging events.
For me, it was really a good chance to bring my Irishman on the stage and let him speak a bit about the language, that most of the people don’t even know. Besides that, it was a good way to show the students that English, which we all think that we can speak and understand, can sound very different when speaking in different English speaking countries. And who the hell knows it better than I do 🙂
And here it is possible to see the presentation – CLICK HERE
When you are Estonian and you live in Haapsalu, everyone knows that you are sharing your hometown with the White Lady. The White Lady is our own ghost who has been living in the Castle walls for centuries and only on one August night when the full moon is in the sky, she appears on the window of the Chaple to seek for her lover. And for that rare appearance, our town has started a tradition of White Lady Days, when the whole main street is a big market, musicians are playing on different stages and in the back gardens, you can find small garden markets and theatre groups performing. All the cafes are full of people and at night you can go the see the performance which of course, takes place in the Castle Yard.
Of course, it is a romantic love story and who doesn’t like romantic love stories of beautiful sad girls, so the performance has been played in the Castle Yard from 1979 when Haapsalu had the 700th anniversary.
Years and years ago, when the Episcopal Castle of Haapsalu was the residence of the Bishop, there were only religious men, called Canons living there and it was not allowed to the women to enter the castle. But the Canons were young lads and so it happened, that on of them fell madly in love with an Estonian girl from the neighborhood. As they wanted to be together, they had made up a plan and the girl, dressed up as a choir boy, stayed in the castle, helped in the stables, sang in a choir, because she had a marvellous voice and at night time met her lover. For some time they were happy and safe but of course, their happiness was discovered and the church laws were very strict. So the poor girl was immured into the walls of the Chapel of the dome Church and the boy was thrown into the dungeons of the castle to starve to death. And every year, in August, when there’s full moon, she comes back and shows herself on the castle window to see if her lover has come. If you don’t believe it, you have to come and see it with your own eyes.
The White Lady Market
white Lady performance in the Castle
White Lady from the dungeon of the Castle museum
The Chapel Window where the Lady appeares
the Chape Window from inside the dome Curdh
The Castle tower
The Small Castle and the museum
White Lady Days
After every 2-3 years the play is changed, but the story stays the same – we have had 3-hour long performances with horses and houses on fire, we have had real fighting scenes, dance performances, a musical and now even a time travelling story. So it doesn’t matter, if you have seen one, the next time it can be totally different. And when the show is over, the crowd gathers under the Chapel window and starts to wait for the appearance of the shadow of the White Lady. 🙂 Haapsalu is quite like a Storybrook, you never know what you get here.
“Haapsalus on hea” means “It’s good in Haapsalu” and it’s the theme sentence of our town because it’s true.
Haapsalu is a really nice summer resort and it is hidden on the western coast of a small country – Estonia. Haapsalu has a long history and it was first mentioned in written documents in 1279. So that year has been considered the birth year of the town and in 2016 it celebrated its 735th anniversary. The main thing that reminds you that you are in historical town is the old Episcopal Castle which is also the venue for lots of well-known and amazing summer events.
Haapsalu became a summer resort in the middle of the 19th century when the local doctor Carl Abraham Hunnius discovered that the local sea mud had lots of treating ingredients in it and after some research, he founded the first sea mud spa in Haapsalu in 1825. In these days Estonia belonged under the rule of the Russian tzar and Haapsalu became the beloved place for the Russian nobility to prove their health and rest from their busy lifestyle. Because of that, the railway was built, and even if the trains are not in run anymore, we have the most beautiful old railway station, which platform was once the longest in Europe. That was the birth of the summer resort which is one of the most peaceful places in the world and still famous for its sea mud and spas.
The swans behind the Kurhouse
Haapsalu Episcopal Castle
Haapsalu Episcopal Castle
Small Wiik – sunset
In summer time the small town, with only about 10 000 inhabitants, is full of small street cafes, concerts, festivals and summer people, who might be the tourists, visiting the town for the first time, the youth who have been brought up here and come to enjoy the summer in their hometown, people who go to the islands and stop for a cup of coffee and tasty range of cakes in their favourite cafes, and lots of fans all over the world, who keep coming back, wherever their life takes them. The most well-known events are the Festivals of White Lady and August Blues, which have been held here for ages, but also the newcomers like the Street food Festival, Italian Wine Days, Yoga Festival, Old Music Festival and lots of others.
At Cafe Dietrich
The food is on fire, at Rapid Rabbit
Haapsalu Promenade and summer restaurant Kurhouse
Haapsalu from the top of the Castle Tower
Did I say that we don’t have a train anymore, actually we have one and it takes you slowly through the whole town and introduces you with the sights where you can come back walking when you have taken your coffee and cake from your favourite cafe and ready to go and discover this seaside town on your own. The train is called Peetrike, which is a childhood nickname for Little Peter and it starts from the real old train station.
But if you really really like trains, then just turn around the corner, behind the Train Station, and have fun with the old engines which belong to the Haapsalu Railway Museum, which is located in the same building. We did it some years ago.
The August blues festival in Haapsalu was already the third for us together. Last year we had to miss it and so it was nice and fresh feeling to jump into all this music, parties and fun again. I have been going to this festival so many times, that it’s hard to count already, it has been held in Haapsalu 22 times already and has become one of our most famous music events and there are lots of fans from different countries who come back every year.
For example, our Finnish friends with whom we have special Festival Traditions and so we start our Festival every year from Riika’s garden and then head to some nice place to have the Festival Dinner and get into the right mood.
August Blues Festival starts on Friday with lots of concerts all over the town but the main events take place in the Castle Yard, inside the old episcopal Castle, and I am pretty sure that the medieval walls give this festival a special taste and vibe. When all the performers have been on stage the party continues i the Blues club, which has always been the old Culture House from the 70-s, where some not so well known bands are playing and sometimes they form totally different bands from the musicians who are there. this year we had even two Blues clubs with two after parties, the other one took place at the Old Cinema, which is kind of a night club now, but years ago it was a real cinema.
The festival continues on Saturday with lots of concerts in cafes, on the streets, and of course, in the Castle Yard, and ends with afterparties at the night clubs. So everyone can find something, even if you are not interested in buying the Festival Pass but want to see just some of the musicians.
It has been nice here, what else do you expect from a summer resort town at the seaside. We have got just these three summer months and sometimes the weather is not on our side, but this year it has been and it’s possible to feel the peaceful spirit of this little town which is so quiet and abandoned during the winter time. All the cafés are open and the tables are set outside, each one of them is offering tasty cakes, so it is hard to choose the one you really want because they are so filling and melting in your mouth and unfortunately you are not able to eat more than one at a time. The promenade is beautiful as always and people are just wandering around without any reason and finding their way on the terraces of the cafés. And the most important – the sun is shining and it’s warm and you can wear your summer clothes at last.
I really hope that it will stay the same until August when we are coming back and we will be able to enjoy the warm and dark August nights. I am a bit afraid that I will be missing my new bicycle because I have had it just for some days and it looks so very summer resort like and fits here so well. But at the same time, I am longing for Dublin and Ireland and my month ahead and all the nice plans which all I even don’t know at the moment. That’s the best part every time – just follow your inner feeling and it comes out the best. Actually, I like to have two homes, the better thing could only be to have two summers as well.