18 Aug

This year, the Master’s trip went to Tallinn in Estonia. The reason I chose Tallinn was that firstly, we were due to visit the city on the Master’s trip in Sue Algeo’s year, which was sadly cancelled twice due to lockdown. I knew there was a lot of interest in Tallinn from the Company, and not too many of our members had visited before!

Accordingly 39 of us met at Gatwick Airport late in the afternoon of Tuesday, 6 June to embark on our journey. We were, of course, delayed, so in true World Traders’ style, managed to find several bars, cafes and restaurants and time passed quickly until we were allowed to go into the airport lounge where many of us waited until the flight was called.

We boarded Air Baltic Flight to Tallinn nearly 2 hours late, and arrived just past midnight Estonia time (BST + 2hours) where we were met by Maarja Pehk, our friend from the Estonian Embassy in London. A short coach ride later and we were warmly welcomed at the Radisson Collection Hotel, met with some of our friends who had flown in from other parts of Europe; we were ready for the first full day of our adventure in Estonia.

At our trip briefing a few weeks prior, I said that the aim of the trip was two-fold: to get a taste of Estonia, and for the 45 of us attending to enjoy ourselves.


Our postcard from Estonia

We had a full 3.5 days of programmes to enjoy, with a particular focs on observing how the country’s digital and entrepreneurial economy worked, meet some of the main players in that economy, visit the historic old town of Tallinn, enjoy cultural experiences and great food – and above all else, have fun.

There follows a report of each day, written by a different member of the group. And you can see a selection of photos in each report, and at the foot of this page.

Air Baltic Flight BT871 flew off  only a few minutes late, with us all talking about the many insights and wonders of our trip. We flew through the clear blue sky with no clouds, watching the lovely countryside as we left Estonia back to Gatwick.

Day 2: Visiting the Kumu Estonian Art Museum

Day 2: Futuristic Views & An Evening With the British Ambassador

Day 3: Visiting Laulasmaa & An Evening With the Deputy Head of the British Mission

Day 4: Banking & Law in Estonia

Day 4: Fotografiska, the International Photo Museum

Day 5: A Visit to Vabamu Museum of Occupations & Freedom


Thank yous

Firstly, a huge thank you to Maarja Pehk, for all her help over the past 12 months in putting together the programme and listening to what we wanted to do – to make it not only a trade visit but also a relaxing and enjoyable few days to learn more about Estonian life. Maarja is based at the Estonian Embassy in London and works with Invest Estonia. We look forward to seeing her at our reunion.

I would also like to thank the Estonian Ambassador to London, Viljar Lubi,  for all the interest he has shown over the trip and for hosting the pre-trip reception. His enthusiasm for us visiting his native country has been rewarded by us all having such a great time.

In Estonia, I would like to thank Enterprise Estonia, and especially Krista Mihkelsaar and Robert Lang who were very helpful with the day-to-day details of the programme. I would also like to thank HE The British Ambassador to Estonia, Ross Allen, for inviting us to his fantastic garden party held in honour of the King’s Birthday.

We found the hotel staff really helpful, and most of us had wonderful views of the old town from our rooms.  The breakfasts were amazing, as was the roof top bar. Our flights were organised by Aleksander Seeman, and we are grateful to him for his patience and getting us all on the flights to and from Estonia that we wanted.

I would also like to thank the trip’s Treasurers, Peter Alvey and Paul Benbow for bringing the credit card with them, and for producing our accounts, which has enabled us all to receive a refund, and of course to Gaye who although she remained in London, has been very helpful throughout.

My final thanks are due to my wife, Jill who co-ordinated the entire trip, from making sure that everyone who was coming had actually booked their flights and hotels, to ensuring that all the administrative side of the trip worked so well, and for making sure that everyone was in the right place at the right time. She also spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months in exchanges of emails with both London and Tallinn to ensure that the trip worked smoothly.

I am delighted that the programme worked out so well. Thank you all for your lovely comments to Jill and I. Most of all, I took real pleasure from watching everyone enjoy themselves and I know that many new friendships have been made. I enjoyed getting to know to so many of you who I didn’t know so well. All this does show the value of these trips.

A big thank you to everyone who came on the trip who made it such an enjoyable and fun experience, enjoying commerce and honest friendship with all.

Michael Shapiro