This past weekend was a long one here in Estonia. April 30th is Volbriöö, or Walpurgis Night in English, which in pre-Christian times was thought to be a night when witches gathered together. Now it’s pretty much just a night for partying, particularly for student organizations like sororities and fraternities. May 1st is a holiday– Kevadpüha— but it doesn’t have the working-class holiday connotation like it does in some other countries. It seems more like a day to recover from a hangover and welcome the (hopefully warm) spring weather.
J and I headed down to the university town of Tartu to see friends and also observe the Tudengipäevad, or Student Days, which is a spring festival intended to allow university students to refresh their spirits before they have to hunker down to study for final exams. Events during Student Days range from the culturally fulfilling– concerts and film nights– to the utterly ridiculous– students building “flying machines” and attempting to fly over the Emajõgi river, although the real point is that the spectators get to watch all the participants fall, along with their elaborate contraptions, into the incredibly cold river. Now that’s entertainment.
We had a cookout along the river with a bunch of friends. The weather was incredible, perfect for the season’s inaugural cookout. I didn’t photograph most of the food, but we had typical grill stuff– sausages, marinated chicken, and, of course beer. (I wish I’d taken some pix of the different designs A.Le Coq Premium cans are sporting these days).
J made this lovely bacon-wrapped mushroom and cooked it over the fire we had going.
Unfortunately, the bacon didn’t crisp up very well, so it wasn’t great. However, the mushrooms that we tossed into a foil packet with some blue cheese and then set on the embers for a while came out amazing.
Disposing of any leftover food from the cookout wasn’t a problem, seeing as these two were in attendance:
Granted, they’re chewing on wood in the photo, but they got plenty of goodies that day, believe me. This weekend was something of a breakthrough for me, because the last few times I’ve seen these dogs, the male has had some kind of problem with me– keeping his distance, eying me suspiciously, even growling sometimes. It sucked, because I had no idea what I’d done to upset him, and he made me nervous. But this weekend I tried to act normal and not anxious, and he acted normal too! Yay. Now he’s fine with plopping his 95-pound self on my foot so that I can scratch his back. 🙂
In the evenings when it got too cold to be outside, we sat in bars with our friends, catching up and watching World Championship hockey games. My alcohol consumption was kept reasonable, but I did take my first ever flaming shot, a B-52. It was OK, very sweet. I prefer Hot Shots, which are incredibly popular here, but perhaps I’ll discuss those in a later post.
Although I’m not a student facing finals, my spirit was refreshed by our weekend in Tartu. 🙂
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