A show and no snow

So to Saturday evening, and the main event – at least as far as Eurovision fans are concerned. And Estonia takes thing seriously, with a short and sweet TV show lasting three and a half hours.

The Saku Arena holds about 5,000 people and the TV show resembles something like the X Factor, at least as far as the presentation goes. Twelve acts present their songs, a mix of ballads and pop – though he vote itself is somewhat complicated. At least 50% of the points come from juries selected by the orgainisers, seemingly randomly spread around Europe and the rest of the world. Only then does the public vote start.

It’s all a bit overwhelming for NewsMutt, who decides to check out the stage.

Yesterday’s favourites, Traffic, are somehow eliminated from the final three. Then there’s another vote. The Estonians know how to fill an entire evening’s TV schedule. At some point in the distant future, the winner is annnounced.

Uku Siviste is no stranger to Eurovision, having twice competed in the National Final. While I wait for the chance for more beer, the Euro Geeks patiently wait for Uku’s press conference. He’s the one on the right

It’s been a long night – but there’s still time to fit in a couple of drinks in town.

Sunday comes, and so does the big thaw. After yesterday’s winter wonderland, it sounds like it’s permanently raining, though most of the noise is coming from melting snow falling through substantial drainpipes to the street. In the UK, a few millimetres of snow would bring the country grinding to a halt. In Tallinn, they just bring out a fleet of snow ploughs.

Our final evening couldn’t be much more touristy if you stuck a fridge magnet on it and called it Robin Hood. This may not be Sherwood Forest, but the Old Hansa restaurant provides an authentic medieval dining experience with costumed characters, strange phraseology and music played on old instruments.

Not unlike the previous night, when you come to think about it.

The food is priced according to its location and quirkiness, so a bit more expensive than other eateries, but this is the first time I’ve sampled bear – in a sausage. It tastes a bit like… a sausage, but a good one at that. Also on offer is dried elk (think Biltong), berries and cheeses and sauerkraut flavoured with ginger.

It’s been a full on three days – with not much time with touristy stuff. But Estonian hospitality is open and welcoming, whatever the setting. I’m now more of a Eurovision expert than I ever thought possible, and over further beers the discussion turns to next year’s National Final plans.

Moldova is mentioned. Which frankly sounds nuts.

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