Yes, robots and wildlife are existing side by side. This is the most accurate short description of Estonia. For real we have small robots and self-driving buses driving around the streets and at the same time, it’s normal to spot foxes, wild rabbits, and deer running around on those same streets. Sounds like sci-fi or fantasy? Well, that’s our reality.
Nature filled capital
I am honestly a bit confused by our green activists screaming there is not enough nature in our city. Because – there is. Sure we have sections of the city where there are more bricks than trees but if you step out of the core center of the city – it’s still the same capital and there are a lot of parks and even small forests around. And I have heard that more than even some other cities, so why the drama?
All over the city can be found someplace to walk under the trees and we literally have wild animals running around the streets. And I don’t mean stray dogs or cats. Real wild animals! Sure the small ones … foxes, rabbits, deer, but to be honest I wouldn’t want to run into a bear or a moose in the city. Would anyone? To be fair there has been news of them too. For example, the latest moose sighting that reached the news – there is a video: Moose on the roof in Tallinn and the latest includes video: Bear in Tartu
Robots in the wild
Some might have already heard of the company Starship – their little ones are running around here for years now. We have become used to them and time after time we see excited tourists in the middle of the street – taking pictures of them and with them. And we are reminded that they are still a rare breed in the world.
Besides them, we have Cleveron – filling our streets with parcel machines, self-driving buses, and delivery robots. I get that it might seem like a futuristic city, but actually, the high tech and nature can co-exist, and humans adapt. I think we have been even a little spoiled by all of these. Several shops offer a chance to pick up orders from their personal parcel machines, and if you are not a people person – you can order your pizza or burgers with a robot!
Our streets are filled with rental cars, electric bikes, and electric scooters. You need just a mobile phone (and the app with an active account of course!) and pick any of them. There are even forming a new group of people who have given up on owning a car because they can pick up suitable cars anytime. Going to town – get a small one, easier to park and then some. Or SUV to the beach? Or if you need to move big items – grab a van. No worries about insurance, fuel, maintenance, or other annoying things that come with owning a car.
Step outside The City
The weird thing in Estonia that people keep doing and are constantly pissed off about is referring to Tallinn as a City – like it is the only city in the country. We actually have several cities, but yes – Tallinn is the biggest of them. And though there are beautiful parts there I do believe the other ones are more beautiful.
So all this can be found in our capital, some of it also in other Estonian cities, just with a tad more green patches and fewer concrete buildings. There are also more private houses and small apartment buildings in the smaller cities. Of course, that also means there are less entertainment options or housing selections for visitors.
The farther we go from the capital, the more we can spot small family businesses where people are trying to make a living out of everyday life. Their homes, gardens, vehicles, cooking, or crafting skills. And islanders have mastered this art, but this is a story for another post.
Might sound dreamy – work from home doing what you love. But the sad truth is that local politics have been working hard on making it the only option to make a living. Many people give up and move to the cities where the jobs are. And stores, and doctors. Sometimes it really feels like somebody’s goal is to drive people to the cities.
Twist of pandemic
For a while, it seemed to be working too until the Covid pandemic hit. Quarantines in small apartments, stuck with the whole family without any option for outside made a lot of people revaluing their living choices and see the perks of living in the countryside in a house with a garden.
Along with the pandemic came the rising wave of remote working possibilities. This ultimately widened the borders of living areas and options. So more people could finally go back to their true homes or follow the dream of moving to the countryside while keeping their jobs in the City. Few companies have already discovered that this remote or hybrid work arrangement can be beneficial to them also. It widens their employment options when works physical place is not limited.
The vibes of living spaces
The smaller cities have their charm and they all have different vibes than Tallinn – but similar to each other. Tallinn is a big and busy city filled with constant life, people are always in a rush and running toward something. Time tends to go faster, people expect everything to happen NOW.
Stepping outside of The City you find totally different mindset. When you walk on the streets of other cities you can feel the difference – there is a lot more optimism, acceptance, trust, and love around. In comparison to City streets where mostly you can feel a vibe of annoyance, contempt, disappointment, and even anger. There is always something happening, making people feel like they are constantly late for something.
I have been in between for a while so I experience the shift daily. Many people don’t understand why I have chosen to live so far. Sure it would be easier to live closer to the office, but I enjoy the quietness after work. Even when I arrived home close to midnight, stepping outside of the car and looking up – seeing the starry sky, hearing the silence. It’s worth it. Waking up to the singing birds instead of street noise. It’s worth it. It’s what is keeping me sane.
And what’s for the wholehearted city folks is extreme boredom and loneliness, is actually a blissful dream and source of life. I am pretty sure I would go crazy being in the city all the time. It has a way of making you tired – just by being there.