Ingrid and I are on vacation in Estonia (leaving Eric at home to work, mow the lawn, water the kitchen garden and eat all the nice strawberries that were just ripening when we left).

We flew to Tallinn yesterday and spent the first day and night with an old friend of mine in Tallinn. This afternoon we took the bus onwards to Tartu, where we’ll be staying the majority of our time here, almost two weeks. We were met by proper high summer weather: 30°C heat alternating with thunderstorms. (It’s pouring down outside now, and finally cooling a bit, after several very unpleasant hours of sticky, sweaty heat.)

In Tartu we’re renting a guest apartment. Somewhat to my surprise, there were a number of such apartments on offer in Tartu. I picked the cheapest one, not so much because it was cheap (although that also mattered) but mostly for its convenient location.

Given the price and the apartment’s non-commercial landlord (the Estonian Society of Naturalists) I wasn’t expecting a high standard. And that’s fine – I don’t need fashionable furnishings or cable TV. I wanted a kitchen, a bathroom, and an internet connection. This apartment promised all three, and technically delivers all three. I have no complaints about the internet connection, and the bathroom looks reasonable. (Although I’ve yet to investigate the quality of the hot water supply). But the kitchen really surprised me on the downside. I mean, if someone rents an apartment rather than staying at a hotel, it’s probably because they want a kitchen, right?

I can understand that someone of the older generation might consider a microwave oven to be a non-essential item. I can live with that. But this kitchen has a stove from the 1970s, with those black iron hotplates, dreadfully slow – and no kettle to compensate. Dinner tonight took forever; I’d lost the habit of turning on the stove as soon as I’ve decided that dinner will be needed.

Tomorrow we will go shopping for essential kitchen equipment:

  • A kettle, so that we can cook pasta in under half an hour
  • A pair of scissors
  • A potholder or two
  • Salt (of which there was some, but there was so much rice in the salt shaker that I barely managed to get any of it out)

Still, I’m not unhappy, given the price of this place. The next cheapest place cost double, and several other guest apartments cost triple the price of this one. Even the kitchen investments will cost me no more than two nights’ price difference to the next apartment on my list.