Our first full day in Tallinn was quite a treat. With the group growing closer each day and everyone excited for the packed day ahead, morale was high during the morning meeting and leadership activity. Soon we set out for Kiek en de Kok, a fortifications tower with bastion tunnels underneath. After a tour through the chilly tunnels that provided a behind-the-scenes look at Estonia’s riveting history and colorful atmosphere, the group headed out through the pouring rain, led by leader of the day Arman, to the food court of an Estonian mall. After dining at a restaurant called lido with its extensive buffet options, the Fellows splashed through the streets towards the KGB museum inside Hotel Viru. We toured the headquarters of the KGB, which sat inside the hotel as a long kept secret during the Soviet times. We learned about the myriad of ways in which the KGB kept tabs on the foreign visitors staying at the hotel, ranging from microphones in the flowers to undercover spies mingling amongst the guests. Afterwards we all got time to ourselves to wander around the city, some climbing to the top of a tall church, others shopping at the open air market in the square, and others simply sleeping. Finally, we navigated, via city bus, to the TV Tower and took in the great view at the top, ending our day with “dinner in the sky” at the tv tower.
This morning, we explored a Finnish grocery store. It was vastly different, and there were only a few brand names we recognized from the U.S. We then had breakfast at Stockmann, a department store. Their cafe had a wide variety of fresh baked goods that we treated ourselves to. After eating, we walked to the Helsinki promenade where we held our morning leadership meeting. I failed twice to capture a pigeon. Then, the group split up and roamed the surrounding area. Lawrence, Chris, and I took a ride in a ferris wheel and got an excellent view of the city. Others explored the Helsinki Cathedral. We then returned to the hotel to pack our belongings and check out. We set up shop on the promenade and split once again for lunch. All of us tried something new, from moose meatballs to reindeer. After lunch, we watched the promenade come alive as Fins enjoyed a classic summer day. We traveled via tram to the port of Helsinki, where we boarded a cruise liner bound for Tallinn, Estonia named the Tallinn Superstar. The views exiting Helsinki and entering Tallinn were stunning. We navigated our way to the Merchant’s House Hotel and dropped our bags. Next, we enjoyed some tasty local cuisine at Hell Hunt for dinner, then moved back to the hotel for our evening meeting. It was a productive and exciting travel day for the group. Looking forward to the next couple of days in Tallinn!!
A primary key to effective leadership is the ability to quickly develop and effectively execute a plan, all the while remaining flexible when curveballs inevitably arise. As the ’17s and ’19s came to realize, those are also the keys to being a solid international traveler. During our (approximately) 20 hours of travel time, we met unexpected delays, quick connections, and long hours in the sky. Although we’ve only been together as a whole group for about 26 hours, we have already formed tight bonds within close airplane quarters, in front of giant monuments in the city center of Helsinki, and over heaping plates of pizza and kabobs. Group morale is high thanks to our favorite Finnish phrase, “olen iloinen,” which roughly translates to “I am happy!” We all cannot wait for the leadership challenges and shenanigans to come!
Hallie & the gang