Tallinn Old Town

My two years in London have finally drawn to a close. My visa expired yesterday so I flew back to Halifax last week. I'm glad to be home for the summer to spend time with family and friends. There is a lot of knitting to be done and new designs to be created over the next few weeks so I think this summer will fly by. I'm still reminiscing about my time traveling through Europe only a few weeks ago. I'm hoping to head back to England or Europe eventually so those adventures are definitely not over yet. In the meantime, I'm already planning a few adventures to have right here in the Maritimes.

These shots are from two afternoons exploring Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We spent a weekend between Muhu and Saaremaa. Both are islands just off Estonia in the Baltic Sea. I promise to post more about these islands soon. We took our time when we arrived in Tallinn to explore the Old Town. I fell in love with the medieval-esque doors and windows in the area. Many of them are brightly painted with intricate designs and against faded, cracked and peeling pastel walls. 

I couldn't pass through Old Town without picking up a few souvenirs for myself. I settled on these mittens which have been hand embroidered. I also picked out a few colours of yarn and wool embroidery threads. The Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union was the perfect place to find amazing examples of traditional craft. I would love to find the time to embroider more. After this trip I definitely feel inspired to do so since I saw many amazing examples. I'm hoping to combine it with my knitting more frequently. I also loved the small boutiques which featured modern craft by local Estonian artisans. I bought a few gifts from Oma Asi for friends. Of course I was so excited to give them away I forgot to photograph them. 

On our way back through Tallinn we had the afternoon again before catching the ferry to Helsinki. We stopped for lunch at Vegan Restoran V in the heart of Old Town. I had the beetroot ravioli with cashew cheese and for a main, the spicy peanut butter tofu with vegetable quinoa and tomato coconut sauce. Both dishes tasted like vegan heaven. I was thrilled with the variety of beetroot dishes I saw on various menus during our stay in Estonia since it is one of my favourite root vegetables. 

Suomenlinna

For the past two weeks I have been traveling around Finland and a few of its neighbouring countries. I had the chance to visit my boyfriend in his home town of Helsinki to see where he grew up and to meet his family. I had not explored much of Europe since moving to the UK two years ago. Now that my visa is nearly up, I feel pleased with myself for finally getting out of London for more than just a weekend to experience a few unexpected places. Plus, having a local tour guide always helps! This trip was a very much needed vacation after what feels like two non stop years in London. However, I rarely turn my brain off from working, so I was able to take in these fantastic sights, hoping to refuel my inspiration for new projects in the near future. 

I flew into Helsinki where I spent most of my two weeks. On my first full day, we took the ferry from the city's Market Square to visit Suomenlinna, a historic sea fortress located in the harbour, just a few minutes from the city centre. The moody weather complimented the old and overgrown landscape of these islands. 

Construction for Suomenlinna started in 1748 when the country was under Swedish rule and was originally known as Sveaborg. The military base stretches across six closely situated islands and was to protect the country against the growing Russian naval power in the Baltic Sea.

In 1808, the fortress had to surrender to the Russia, where it remained a Russian naval base for the next 110 years. Eventually when Finland became independent in 1917, the fortress was returned to the country and renamed Suomenlinna, which means Castle of Finland. In 1991, UNESCO added Suomenlinna as World Heritage Site because of it's "unique monument to military architecture" and long history of importance since it served as defence to three different powers, Swedish, Russian and Finnish. 

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Today, Suomenlinna is home to nearly 900 residents who live there all year round. Many of the old garrison building have been converted into residential homes and properties. There's a number of cafe, restaurants, museums and galleries spread throughout the islands. 

There were many textures and colours that I loved about this place. The first few photos of the overgrown military bunkers next to the sea reminded me very much of home and of the bases along the Nova Scotian coast. As we wondered through the town these colours of faded reds and pinks on many of the buildings caught my eye too. It was a perfect first day in Helsinki. I was able to learn a little about the city's past and begin to soak up some of these inspirational colours and views.  

The North

Iceland has always at the top of my 'must' destination list for a while now. It's always seemed to be this idyllic dreamland thats oozing with knitting traditions. This January I finally got to escape London and venture to the land of volcanoes. After visitingIceland, the really of the place still felt like another world. The weekend was't long enough it take it all in. I got a taste of the scenery and yarn they offer but I would still go back in a heart beat. 

Blue Lagoon Clinic

Blue Lagoon Clinic

I ventured to Iceland with my housemate, Abigail. Our weekend started with totally indulging in what the Blue Lagoon Clinic had to offer. The complete silence around the place was slightly haunting at first. Watching the sunrise for their thermal spas was unlike anything even my most relaxed dreams could muster up. 

After a night at the Clinic, we traveled in to Reykjavik for the remainder of the weekend. Reykjavik's modern and geometric architecture against some unbelievable colours was completely inspiring. 

Their natural landscape is astonishing as well. Abigail and I spent the entire Sunday with Reykjavik Excursions on their South Shore Tour. Sights of glaciers, waterfalls and black sand beaches took our breath away. It was the perfect trip to really put some of my knitted accessory to the test. I played up in both my Ketch Harbour and Martinique Beach. I also took a new pair of mittens that I had made from the leftover yarn from my cowl. 

Black Sand Beaches near  Vík.

Black Sand Beaches near Vík.

Mittens from my  Uncommon Thread, Lush, leftovers. 

Mittens from my  Uncommon Thread, Lush, leftovers. 

Loft Hostel in Reykjavik. 

Loft Hostel in Reykjavik. 

During the last day in Reykjavik, we stayed close to our hostel and explored some of the local shops. I'd highly recommend Loft, our hostel, for the inviting atmosphere and friendly staff.  One shop that I had on my 'must visit' list was Storkurinn. This quaint yarn shop in the city centre doubles as a haberdashery store and has amazing fabrics and notions alongside their massive selection of yarn. Of course I was interested in browsing their Iceland brands. I'm no strange to Lopi since LK Yarns, the shop where I worked in Halifax, stocked it. However, I was delighted with a new Icelandic yarn discovery, Gilitrutt, by Hélène Magnusson. It's an 100% Icelandic Lambswool 2ply yarn. I picked up a few balls for some future stranded knitting projects. I settled on a handful of colours that will continue to remind me of the colours I kept seeing in the Icelandic landscapes over the weekend. 

Till next time Iceland.

Storkurinn.

Storkurinn.

Reykjavik.

Reykjavik.

Gilitrutt.

Gilitrutt.

Loft.

Loft.

Icelandic Panos

This time last week I was soaking in the views and incredible silence surrounding the Blue Lagoon Clinic in Iceland. I spent last weekend traveling around Reykjavik and the south coast of the island. Here's a few panorama shots of various landscapes, until I can put together a more appropriate blog post detailing my trip. I was naturally expecting to see a lot of black, grey and white but was completely blown away with the amazing shades of blues in my surroundings. You can say I have a new appreciation for the colour. 

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