Domus Dorpatensis - uudised ja blogi

Journey to the island of volcanoes and geysers

Uta Kuehrt 09.02.12

On 31 January, the series "Meet the world" took us to Iceland, accompanied by two interesting guests.

Þorkell Gislason, an Icelander who now has been living in Estonia for two years, started off the evening with a short and enthralling Icelandic history lesson. We learned that it was the first Vikings who gave Reykjavik its name and that it was, in fact, Word War II that fuelled the economic growth of Iceland and eventually propelled Iceland into an independent state.

We also got to know that Iceland boasts the world's oldest parliamentary democracy and is a bastion of free speech and press freedom.


Next up was Mihkel Järveoja, who shared with us his stories from his time in Iceland, where he studied geology in 2009/2010 as an exchange student for a year. He even had a chance to witness live the notorious volcano eruption. He visited six different regions of Iceland and thoroughly enjoyed the variable and magnificent Icelandic nature. You can find his slide show here.

Mihkel recounted many amusing occasions during his stay, for example, blissfully enjoying a lengthy swim in the dangerous Viti geothermal lake, next to Askja volcano.

He also told us about the 50 km ski marathon he attended – and the (literally) uphill, and in hindsight, hilarious battle to finish it.


We also discovered that the perception of volcanic activities in Iceland greatly differs from the Western viewpoint. Volcanic eruptions are to be expected in Iceland.

During the first days of the Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption, while the world media was reporting of a disastrous eruption, Icelanders were looking for a place to rent a car and go see the live “action”. It was more of a family amusement, than a natural disaster scene. Granted, later on as the volcanic activity increased even Icelanders chose to rather watch it on TV.


Volcanoes and the French Revolution

While talking about volcanoes, Þorkell also told us about the legendary Laki eruption, which took place in 1783. “Icelanders believe that the eruption caused the French Revolution” surely brought out gales of laughter, but they did not last long. 

As it would appear, the eruption brought upon a devastating effect not only on Iceland, but in whole Europe, and even in North America. The Laki eruption resulted in several years of extreme weather, destruction of crops and livestock and eventually widespread famine and poverty – all of which triggered the French Revolution in 1789.


After Mihkel and Þorkell were through with their talk, came the time for questions and answers.


With help from Þorkell, we all learned how to correctly pronounce “Eyjafjallajökull”, though it took some tries to really get a hang of that.


Icelandic specialties

When talking about Icelandic food and drinks, McDonalds seemed to reign supreme until recently, when all McDonalds stores were closed, and Icelanders (mainly young ones) bought extra burgers and fries before the close up.

We learned that the most popular alcoholic drinks are beer and vodka, and of course we heard about the notorious Icelandic fish and meat gourmet dishes.

Apparently, after eating some of the traditional fish and meat dinners, the Icelandic vodka (branded “black death” by the locals, a reference to the disastrous consequences of overconsumption, as well as the “delicate” taste) tastes like mere Coca-Cola!


We also got to know that Iceland has a relatively poor fauna and flora (arctic fox being the only common indigenous wild animal), but some polar bears wander off to Iceland every now and then.


Þorkell had  brought along a traditional Icelandic sweater, which has recently gained popularity especially among the young Icelanders.


Mihkel described the Icelander through the eyes of a foreigner, and concluded that they were rather similar to Estonians – relatively introvert and quiet, but when you finally get to know them, great friends!


In the end, we got a better understanding of Iceland, both through the eyes of an Icelander and through the eyes of an Estonian. We discovered we have many similarities – from the sauna and hot pot analogy, to religion’s low prominence in both countries – we do have a lot in common!

After the formal talk was over, everyone got to taste Icelandic fish dishes that Þorkell had prepared for us, as well as freely talk to the performers and each other. The fish dishes, as it turns out, were in fact delicious!


Text by Dan Prits

Fire and Ice - Dragon ice sculpture unveiled on Tartu Townhall Square

Uta Kuehrt 24.01.12

Yesterday, Tartu citizens celebrated the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Dragon with fire artists and the unveiling of an ice sculpture.

The unusual sculpture (created by artist Aivar Simson alias Simson Seaküla) unites two events – the year of the dragon and the celebration of 100th anniversary of Estonian film. The sculpture shows the first Estonian movie maker Johannes Pääsuke together with a dragon.

By the way – if you stay in our apartment No 5 or 6, you have a view from the window straight onto the sculpture!

Foto: Sille Annuk

Musical „Mary Poppins“ at Vanemuine Theatre: A Spoonful of Sugar for Big and Small

Uta Kuehrt 29.11.11

Last week, the Domus staff partook in a special theatre experience – we were invited to watch the dress rehearsal of the musical „Mary Poppins“ which is staged in Vanemuine Grand Building.  As the director of the musical, Mr. Georg Malvius from Sweden, was staying  in one of our guest apartments for two months during the rehearsal period, we were especially eager to see the results of his work.

Probably every child has heard about Mary Poppins, the nanny with magical powers, who gets the children into most incredible adventures.   But the performance is by far not only meant for children – the heartwarming story also carries off grown-ups into Mary Poppins’ fantasy world.

When we were coming back to work after the inspiring performance, the work went almost by itself – just as Mary Poppins is singing in the Estonian version of „A Spoonful of Sugar“: „Igas töös leidub alati üks suhkrutükk, mis teeb pipratera magusaks.“ („In every work you will find a piece of sugar that makes even pepper taste sweet.“)

So if you are still wavering about a visit of the musical – don’t miss it, we highly recommend it!

Foto: Theatre Vanemuine.

PÖFF: Black Nights Film Festival brightens up dark autumn nights

Uta Kuehrt 15.11.11

Already for the 15th time movie lovers can enjoy a variety of high-class films in theatres all over Estonia. In Tartu, PÖFF takes places from 18 to 30 November in movie theatre Cinamon and Athena Center.

As Domus is supporting the understanding of different cultures, we would like to especially recommend the Panorama programme, which introduces different (film) cultures from all over the world.

You find the Panorama programme here:  and the whole PÖFF programme here:

PS! Do you need a place to rest after long movie nights? Come and stay in our guest apartments in the center of town, easy to reach from both movie theatres!

Harbingers of spring*: Motoexotika 2011, 18.–20.03.

Kadri Roos 16.03.11

Foto: MrPhilDog

*Birds? No, motorbikes! :) Motoexotika 2011 is undoubtedly no. 1 motorcycle exhibition in Estonia!

While waiting impatiently for my first Cat. A lesson to start, I found out that in March there is a reason for everybody, who are interested in motorcycles, to meet and take part in the finest springtime fair and exhibition in Tartu – already for the 8th time – the Motoexotika!

"Motoexotika has found its steady place in everyone’s calendar thanks to the variety of newest motorcycle models, unique custom bikes, favorites from the past, first-class security equipment, casual wear, accessories and off-course you can meet with most active motorcycle clubs. Also different demonstrations, competitions and tattoo shows are being held."

Hotels: Where to stay in Tartu, while having a good time in Motoexotika?

 Since the event is quite famous amongst the foreign cyclists as much as Estonians and therefore most of hotels nearby may be full, the Domus Dorpatensis guest apartments would be glad to have you here from 19th to 20th of March.

Date: March 18-20, 2011
Venue: Tartu Fairs Centre, Estonia
More information:

Find the Fairy in the Fantasy Garden: Okeiko photo collages in Tampere Maja 17.03.–13.04.

Kadri Roos 16.03.11

Okeiko is an artist, observer, creator and illusionist. The very first thing that comes to my mind is Cuprock – pictures made by using plastic cups attached to a fence. No matter how or what we call her – the magic of her works will meet us in Tartu this Thursday, 17th of March at 6 p.m. :)



More about Okeiko and her works: