Article by Ed Gaba
Photos courtesy of Rajon TV
The idea to visit Estonia this summer first came to my friend Davis Šenbergs (or Shenga as we call him) as he was planning his vacation away from his serious 9 to 5 office job in an international oil company. Being a very serious person, Davis had to choose between going on a luxurious cruise ship trip or going skateboarding. Hopefully, after a long discussion (as long as an average phone call lasts) I managed to convince him that skateboarding is the ultimate vacation a grown man can wish for. At first we planned to go just the two of us. We were thinking about taking someone with us, but couldn’t think of anyone. Later, a week before the trip, we randomly invited technical wizard Krišjanis Kalvans and a young philosopher Andrejs Poikans. And they both agreed!
We planned the trip to be six day long and the first stop was Tartu. Already on the way there our driver (Davis) noticed that Estonian drivers are really calm and obey the rules, compared to Latvians who always rush somewhere. This fact made our trip really calm and steady.
Obviously, in a foreign city it is always nice to meet some locals who can show you around and recommend a bar to go to. Good thing is, that it is easy to make friends, especially if you are a skateboarder. My technique is as follows – if you see someone with a skateboard just yell “Wassup!” and wave your hands, then wait for their reaction. If they respond with “Wassup” or anything similar, everything is fine and you have just made some new friends! So by the end of the day (thanks to my technique) we met some local dudes – Hans, Emil, Magnus, Aleksandr and Herman. Aleksandr told us it was okay to drink in the streets, if you are not causing any trouble and so we did. Surprisingly, demolishing property in the middle of the old town doesn’t count as causing trouble in Tartu. Another thing that Tartu surprised us with was food. For example, we ate hamburgers for lunch with the strangest price to size ratio. Approximately 15cm in diameter for 2,50. Barely ate that, Krišjanis left half of it and ate it later in the hostel. The hostel food by the way was insanely good! They had an all-you-can-eat-buffet from 7 to 10 am. We ate so much we couldn’t skate half of the second day. Local dudes were super helpful and welcoming, thanks a lot guys! All in all Tartu left a very positive impression, going to come back for sure.
A cool thing about Estonia (notably for a spot hungry Latvian) is the fact that spots don’t really seem to be hiding from you. We made two random stops near super markets and both of these stops granted us with an interesting obstacle. The number of people and amount of life in the cities also seemed remarkable (notably for a Latvian). We went through some smaller cities and you can really feel that things are going well there, you see people on the streets, cars on the road, kids playing outside. Compared to Latvian smaller cities the difference is noticeable. Another thing I would like to mention is people’s attitude, everyone seemed to be really positive and welcoming, as I said streets were full of people, but we never got kicked out or gotten a complaint from anyone throughout the whole trip which is pretty sick in my opinion.
Mr. Krishjanis Kalvans, also known as the Latvian secret weapon of tech-skating.
Rajon TV crew at Freedom Square, Tallinn
The last city we visited was Tallinn. As soon as we entered Estonian capital everything became really hectic, tons of people everywhere, tons of traffic. Davis is stressed doesn’t know where to turn, where to park. Everyone starts yelling and recommend him where to take turns as if we know the city very well. Finally we find a parking place and head out to skate. We skated the spot below the Freedom Square, it was the first and the last spot of the day. The session lasted a good 4 hours, with multiple runs to the shop for liquid, falls, makes and no fun what so ever. Although we filmed some lines there, the spot drained the crew and by the time we got to the next spot (the black ledges above Freedom square) nobody was able to skate. However, we got to meet some locals there including our mate Art and his crew. That night Art took us to a bar, we drank some beers and went filming in the night. We charged a little downhill in the old town where I performed the longest knee slide in the history of Baltic skateboarding with my camera in the backpack. Okay, it wasn’t that long. All in all that night was pretty epic, one local dude took off his shirt and skated some steps on my board, later he went to the bar with it and when he saw me following him the only thing he said was – “Man, I don’t know whose board is this.” Those made me understand that Estonians are amazing people.
Overall impression of Estonia: it is really sick, definitely coming back soon. All the crew loved it and 6 days was not enough for sure. Big thanks to all skaters, especially Tartu dudes, Antti for making this article possible and Art for helping out and suggesting some nice Estonian music for the video!