Change (sometimes welcome, sometimes not) is an inevitable part of life and is etched in our histories.

I live in Australia and have extended family on four continents. We were all born and raised in Africa and in our lives there, as well as in our migrant lives, have experienced our fair share of change.

My husband and his siblings grew up in Africa, too, but his maternal grandparents, mother, and uncle were migrants from Sweden, where they had previously landed as refugees after fleeing from their homeland of Estonia (Australia would refer to them as boat people), when the Russians invaded Estonia in the 1940s. In their family, migration and change is epigenetic: my husband now lives in Australia, his middle sister in Sweden.

We have long wanted to visit the birthplace of their mother and maternal grandfather—the island of Hiiumaa off the coast of Estonia—and finally got to do so recently. Change is not always as good as a holiday, but a holiday often brings a welcome change of focus and pace, and we had wonderful trip.

Our journey first took us to Copenhagen, where we spent a convivial weekend catching up with dear cousins of mine over delicious home-cooked meals and copious amounts of wine.  bb-ch01

And then we had a wonderful two weeks with my husband’s sister and her husband (a Swede, who she met when he lived and worked for a time in Africa) in their beautiful home in semi-rural Sweden, an idyllic place.

Viking Rune Stones

Viking Rune Stones

Stockholm was next for a few days, where we experienced the charm of the cobbled streets of Gamla stan, the marvel that is the Vasa Museum, and the strange art in the Stockholm subways.

Ship Detail - Vasa Museum

Ship Detail – Vasa Museum

We caught the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, worth it alone to experience the beauty and vastness of the Stockholm archipelago. bb-ch03

Our few days in Tallinn left an impression of an aesthetic mix of the medieval, the modern, and the Soviet Brutalist. And the memory of the best coffee we had on our entire trip.

Old Town Tallinn

Old Town Tallinn

And, finally, we reached Hiiumaa – a place of wild beauty, ancient history, and, currently, peace.

Orjaku Harbour - Hiiumaa

Orjaku Harbour – Hiiumaa

Long may it remain unchanged.

38 thoughts on “Change

  1. Very nice photos from your trip, BB. Looks like you went quite a few places and took in all the sights. Stockholm looks so picturesque – love the shot of the clouds overlooking the water. Best coffee you had in Tallinn? I don’t drink coffee but everyone tells me Melbourne has the best coffee, the coffee capital of Australia 😉

    • Thanks, Mabel.

      A decent cup of coffee is very hard to come by in Scandinavia (there’s a business opportunity there for somebody). So it was a relief to find that the Estonians know the secret to making it well. It’s not difficult to get a decent cup of coffee in Australia, thank goodness. 🙂

  2. Beautiful photos! So nice that you were able to go back and visit the ‘past’ in the present.
    It’s true that everything in this world is changing (that fact never changes).
    I tried to stop time once when I was a child (on a particularly beautiful day), by attempting to physically nail a second to the wall.That didn’t work, of course. All I did was make a hole in the wall. My dad wasn’t too happy about that! 🙂

  3. What a lovely set of photos, BB and a wonderful trip. As I read your post, I thought about the great shift of humanity that still continues today due to political reasons, wars, and religious strife. What a vast migration and so much turmoil and strife. I am hoping more than ever for peace.

    • Thanks, Patti. Yes, what is happening in Europe now is also very much on my mind and was, of course, very much in the news. My husband’s family experienced that terror – they fled with nothing in a boat. I feel as you do.

  4. Your family has certainly embraced change! There’s a loneliness that comes with family scattered around the world. As a first generation Canadian I’ve often felt it.
    What a wonderful trip to experience a beautiful part of the world and reconnect with family at the same time 🙂

  5. It was so lovely to get this extension on your previous post. Thank you.
    I lived in four different houses by the age of four (including one in Kentucky) but I’ve lived in the same town since. My family and my husband’s family are all within the same state so I can’t imagine such a widely spread family. It must have been so special to spend time with family on this trip.

    • Gosh, your early life was peripatetic. I didn’t move around much in mine. But have made up for it since. It must be wonderful (on the balance of it 🙂 ) to have your families so close by.

      It was a very special trip. And work was the furthest thing from my mind. 😀

  6. Ooh, a new word! ‘epigenetic’. I love it.

    I love Star Trek and its multiculturalism but I think it got something wrong: in another couple of centuries, we will have travelled/migrated/fled so much, that we will all be a hotch potch of races and not easily identifiable – and thus, hopefully, less persecuted.

    Glad to see your family is doing its bit!

    • The Scandinavian coffee (well, whatever we tried there, which was quite a lot, forever hopeful 🙂 ) was quite atrocious – they still use those drip filters with the glass jar in most of the restaurants we went to. Not that we ate out at anything other than cafes, mind you, but in Australia that doesn’t preclude a decent cup of coffee.

  7. Wonderful post. It demonstrate how we are all interconnected – all migrants and refugees seeking home, past, present and future. 🙂

  8. Pingback: What’s Going On Here ? | Implied Spaces

  9. What an amazing trip, BB. And you went to the Vasa museum – uncanny, that, as I have just blogged the Vasa in a post on shipwrecks. The story still makes me chuckle though I know there was loss of life on this travesty of an overloaded ship.
    Thanks for a lovely tour!

    • Vasa was a highlight, Kate. And, yes, its sinking was rather an embarrassment to the powers that be. And a tragedy for the poor lost souls and their families.

      I could not imagine going to sea voluntarily in that time – disease, sinkings, malnutrition, accidents, teeth pulled and gangrenous limbs lopped off without anaesthetic (by ship barbers, no less).

  10. Fabulous pictures of an amazing voyage, BB – and how wonderful to share it with extended family. Interesting that you still consider yourself a migrant – South African roots run deep. I’m also intrigued by the name of that island – Hiiumaa. It sounds south sea island-ish – like Hawaiian. Estonian must be a unique language.

  11. What a wonderful thing to be able to visit different places as you have. The photos you take allow me the ability to see a bit of places I will never go. I have not even seen the East Coast of the US but with travel shows and people’s sites such as yours, I am able to see more of the world than I might. Thank You!

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