Here's where you can enter in text. Feel free to edit, move, delete or add a different page element.
By Linda La Fleur
The Bad Pennies IVV Olympiad Adventure lived up to its name: the walks were scheduled, we showed up, and we had an unforgettable adventure!
The guided walks in the Estonian capital of Tallinn provided a true foretaste of the Olympiad experience: a lesson in Estonian timing; a rather disorganized starting point; a lack of clear and complete directions; inexperienced and ineffective guides (never heard of IVV before); and LOTS of stair steps and sleep slopes which had no “handicap” provisions. That said, nothing ruined the excitement of actually walking around in the ancient city and seeing castle ruins, palaces, towers, walls, and earthen works that span the centuries—not even the constant drizzle (and sometimes downpour) that fell throughout the second day’s seaside walk.
The proximity of our hotel to the passenger terminal at the port (right across the street) and the perfect timing of the ferry schedule to and from Finland allowed some of us to add the Helsinki permanent trail to our adventure. An exciting and beautiful afternoon!
The medieval roots of the region were clearly evident in all the cities—in Tallinn, the Estonian capital and port city, later also in Tartu, the university city, where we strolled through the Hanseatic League Days (Medieval Festival) each afternoon following our morning Olympiad walks. Although our hotel in Tartu was far from the Olympiad Center and the walk start points (nearly an hour’s bus ride each way), its location allowed us opportunity to spend time in the beautiful old city each day and enjoy the festival’s offerings of music, food, and crafts.
The experience of the Olympiad itself was awesome. In the opening ceremony, we walked along behind the American flag with 50+ other US participants—sharing the moments with over 8000 participants behind flags from 37 different countries! It underscored how truly international our sport is!
The conduct of the Olympiad was, however, somewhat less spectacular. Confusion was the “order” of the day: confusion over monetary currency to be used (priced in Euros, payment only in Estonian Kroons); confusion about starting points and times (empty lot at the Janese Track in Tartu); confusion about getting start cards; confusion over mismarked trails (20K marked with 10K colors; 10K trail actually 15K); and confusion about obstacles on paths (fallen trees; narrow, steep, and crumbling steps; slippery slopes; and insect-infested areas). But we all survived!
For me, expecting the Olympiad in Estonia to be something like our AVA conventions (or like regular walks in central Europe) led to my disappointment regarding the Estonian sense of organization and handling of information about start places, costs, times, safety and logistical support. However, I adjusted.
The adventure was not exactly what I had expected: I did not walk the long trails I had expected to walk nor as many trails as I had expected. But I experienced unexpected bonuses—like going to Helsinki and to the Medieval Festival. Most importantly, the pleasant company of my fellow travelers and the spirit of adventure made this trip exciting and fun—one to be remembered happily!