Archive | August 2009

One Week and three Baltic States – A kind of Conclusion


This post is the last post of my “Travel to the Baltic States” series.

What you can see on the above photo is a wonderfully made door which caught my attention somewhere in the city of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. We went there on the last day of our one week travel. From there the plane took us back to Frankfurt, Germany.

It had been a week packed with new impressions and beautiful views. Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Riga, the capital of Latvia and at last Tallinn, the capital of Estonia – each of them had their own character, their great architecture. Of course we also had learnedĀ  much about the history of these three Baltic states.

But when I look back on that week some weeks later now I get the feeling that there are so many things which I still don’t know. We didn’t have the opportunity to speak with “normal” people – the people in the cities, the people on the countryside. Well, our guide was a young Latvian woman, but there was not much time to talk to her about things beside architecture and history.

So if I had the time and the opportunity I would visit these countries again and on my own, or with some friends, but not with a travel group and a fixed program. I would try to leave the tourist paths and go to where the people living there go, and try to talk with them, hoping that some sort of communication would be possible.

What I learned from the Death of my Bonsai

Bonsai. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Bonsai. Photo: Ulla Hennig

One of my colleagues and friends owns a Bonsai shop. You know what Bonsais are – those little trees, planted in decorative basins. Some of them are only for your garden, but some of them – so it is said – can be happy inside your flat.

Last September Melanie (that’s her name) gave to me one bonsai as birthday present. She told me how to water it, where to put it. I chose a place for it, and it was the first thing in the morning for me to look at it. I must add that my experience with plants up to that time consisted in dealing with cut flowers. I liked to arrange them in a vase, carefully cut them, and I usually managed to have them quite a long time. So I thought I would be able to care for my Bonsai.

Well, after some weeks, my Bonsai was not feeling very well anymore. It changed its leaves to a first yellowish and then brownish color. I told Melanie about the state the poor plant was in and she mentioned the possibility of it having not enough light. So I put it on my window sill.

September had changed into October at that time, and it had become cold outside. So the heating was on, and the heating was – you might know it already – under the window sill. Poor Bonsai now got light, but also the heat rising from below. It clearly did not like that, and it showed by throwing away slowly but continuously more or less all of its leaves.

Of course I tried to find out what I could do – more water? Less water? Removing the dried branches? Nothing helped, and in the middle of November my Bonsai had decided to dieĀ  (I had the impression it really wanted to go, somehow). I was left with the feeling of having killed it and I felt rather bad for quite a time.

What did I learn?

  • There is a difference between looking at plants and enjoying them in their surroundings and having them in your own flat.
  • There is a difference between the handling of cut flowers and bonsais. Having a “green thumb” for the first doesn’t mean you’ve got one for the latter.
  • If I wanted some green plants in my flat I should try hydroponics first before experimenting with something so difficult like Bonsais.

This post is a contribution to the August Group Writing Project “What I learned from the Plant World” organised by Robert Hruzek over at

A Piece of the Old City Wall in Tallinn

A Piece of the Old City Wall. Photo: Ulla Hennig

A Piece of the Old City Wall. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Tallinn is the capital city and the biggest city of Estonia. It was founded in the 12th century, and you can still see many medieaval buildings.

In 1219 the Danes conquered the city. After that it became known under the name of “Reval”. Tallinn has a long history – if you want to know it in detail, there’s a long article on Wikipedia about it. There are two dates however which are most important to all Estonians

  • In 1920 Tallinn became the capital of the first independent Estonian state.
  • And in 1991, after long years of being a part of the Soviet Union, it became independent again.