We’re in Tartu.

During our past summer trips, we’ve been staying in various short-term rental apartments. (I can recall six different ones at least, ranging from just about liveable to really nice.) This summer we got the chance to stay at my father’s apartment since he spends all summer at his cottage in the countryside anyway.

His apartment is literally across the street from my childhood home. From his balcony, I can look straight at the windows of the kitchen and children’s room where I lived for twelve years. Ground floor, far left, just above the two parked cars. Two rooms, kitchen, small bathroom and toilet. Estonian apartments all tend to have a toilet separate from the bathroom, both tiny, rather than one more spacious room for both.

We moved there when I was about two and a half, and I lived there until I was fifteen. One of my very earliest memories is from a visit to that building when it was nearly ready for moving in. I remember the concrete stairs in front of the building not being quite ready yet, or maybe there was a pit in front of them – I couldn’t climb up and had to be lifted up.

Much of it still looks the same on the outside, even though it’s probably all modern on the inside. The old leaky wooden windows have been replaced with modern aluminium ones. I remember the way our window frames were winter-proofed with masking tape.

There used to be grass and bushes in front of our windows instead of that little parking lot. There’s plenty more parking space just outside this photo that also used to be green back then, when not many people in the building had cars.

The great thing about staying here (apart from being free of charge!) is that one of my closest childhood friends still lives in that building. So the kids can just walk across the street to hang out with their friends, with no need for me to drive them anywhere.