BALTIC NEW YEAR: Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Russia
Travel and food experiences mark you for life. I mean that in a positive way. Travel opens your eyes to the beauty of life and food nourishes your soul and spirit. It is for this reason that my true passions in life, aside from my family, revolve around constant exploration and renewal of what goes on beyond my immediate world.
On a recent trip, I visited Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and St. Petersburg, Russia. These Baltic countries share more than a body of water, each with very distinctive cultures, customs, and cuisines. Denmark and Sweden are close cousins in some respects. They are highly developed and polished societies that have some dishes in common such as herring marinated in wine sauce served in a variety of ways. Meatballs also bear some resemblance as well as their signature smorgasbord of charcuterie, cold cuts, fish, cheeses, and highly nutritious and fiber-loaded dark breads and butter. Danish hot dogs are world class (picture above)!
Finland is a Scandinavian country with a foot on both western and eastern Europe. In contrast to Denmark and Sweden, Finland seems closer to eastern than to western Europe. As an industrialized country with a technology competitive edge, Finland also boasts a strategic logistics site in Europe. Think renaissance festival. Tallinn, Estonia (picture on left), is exactly that and more. It is a medieval city that takes you back to a time long past with people dressed in unique ways, eating unusual rustic foods and going about their way in a more relaxed environment that we live in.
St. Petersburg is a cultural city where you can still see the remainder of communism, yet sharp contrasts of wealth reminiscent of Versailles can also be seen in the Hermitage Russian art and handicrafts are colorful and of good quality. Good buys are the renowned babushkas and matrushkas, music boxes, and amber jewelry. Cuisine is bland and unsophisticated.
Traveling is definitely living! What a fantastic world we have to explore.
¡Happy New Year!