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Estonian Institute in collaboration with podcast “Found in Estonia” brings you a series of recommendations from English-speaking local foreigners. Estonian Institute is presently developing its web environment at Culture.ee to make integration and cultural exchange more accessible.

Sandra Valle, originally from Mexico, has been living in Estonia since 2006. She says the 15 years here has been a rollercoaster of experiences. Proudly, she says she has learnt how to survive the Estonian winters. “I visit my home country every two years,” she says, “and although it’s hard to be away from my family and friends, looking back now I don’t regret any of these experiences and moments because they have helped me to be who I am.” You can listen to her episode on the “Found in Estonia” podcast here.

Her top 5 recommendations – some of them to reconsider when the restrictions are looser in the restaurants and cafés.

  • Take a visit to the Estonian forest: I never realized how energizing and giving forest can be. Coming from Mexico from a place where we have amazing beaches, I never had the opportunity to experience the forest. I would recommend visiting the forest in all 4 seasons because there is always something amazing waiting for you. For example taking fresh air and collecting wild garlic (karulauk) or flowers in spring, find fresh berries during the summer and picking up mushrooms in fall. And if you like to make jam or prepare wild garlic pesto or put berries in the freezer, you will later in winter enjoy these gifts from the wise father forest.
  • Komeet coffee place in Solaris centre in Tallinn. I recommend this place because it has the nicest view of Estonian National Opera. And because it is in the very centre of the city, one can enjoy looking at the diversity of life happening outside, whether in summer on the rooftop or in autumn because there are big windows. If you go there, I recommend you grab a coffee (with oat milk – yummy!), get a pavlova (this the best place to buy pavlovas), and just enjoy the view… If you are very relaxed and calm you will sense the spirit of the city.
  • Kino Kosmos: It is not that I am a big fan of the space (cosmos) but the movie theatre Kosmos has the best screen in town, nice sound and good nachos (would be better if they added the jalapenos). Beside “Sõprus” that is mainly focused on art and niche films, it is also one of the few cinemas in Tallinn that has been functioning since soviet times. An interesting fact is that the fountain in front of the building was once used to cool down the heat caused by the projector machinery.
  • Sõõrikukohvik (donut place) in Nõmme. I live outside of Tallinn and taking a ride on the train is always something I enjoy and recommend. This place is located next to the train station in Nõmme. So I like to go there with my kids. The reason I recommend this place is because it is one of these cozy places that is still keeping the homey atmosphere and vibes from the old times. When I go there I feel like visiting my grandma’s place, because my grandma used to sew our clothes and she had an old sewing machine for that – in this restaurant the table legs are those of old sewing machines. Another thing I like about this place is the donuts, they are just classical greasy donuts (nothing fancy) – just like my grandma used to make. If you go there, try to get the place near the mirror (this is the best spot) and enjoy the original Estonian music and the old pictures hanging on the wall.
  • Hiiumaa. There is a good reason why I recommend this one. I go there every single summer for at least one month. My mother-in-law has an amazing summer cottage and we go to help her keep the place alive and to clean ourselves of the city. Hiiumaa, oh! My lovely green, relaxed and pure Hiiumaa! There are hundreds of things to do there, too many to list, but enjoy the forest, the relaxing beaches, their folklore and traditions during the midsummer day, visit the lighthouses and get a little knife made of juniper wood – it will make the butter for your sandwich taste better (really!).