Naughty Bilingual Sign In Tallinn Airport, Estonia

I think I’m going to like Estonia …

This country of 1.3 million people only has a little more than 900,000 people who speak Estonian as their native language yet they’re confident enough with their national tongue to make a bilingual joke right as you enter the airport in the capital city of Tallinn.

Language was politics in the old Soviet republics, and for the long decades during which Estonia was part of the Soviet Union the people had to learn Russian. Many also learned Finnish through TV stations broadcast from Helsinki that were never jammed (more on that story later in the series) while English was something few people ever learned. Now all the younger generation is learning English and it’s easy to get by without knowing any Estonian.

A lack of Estonian, of course, doesn’t lessen the impact of this sign!

Check out this new series: “Exploring Estonia: The Northern Baltics In Wintertime.”

Coming up next: Tallinn’s Medieval Old Town!

[Photo by Sean McLachlan]

Police Hunt For Lion In English Countryside (And Fail To Find One)

A mysterious beast stalks the fields of Essex, England.

Over the weekend local police received calls from a number of eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen a lion in the fields near the village of St. Osyth. One person even snapped a predictably blurry and inconclusive picture of the beast. I’m not a wildlife expert but it looks like a house cat to me.

Police took the sightings seriously enough to scramble two helicopters and a team of officers and wildlife experts. They also checked with a local zoo and circus but neither reported a missing feline. After a long search they found … nothing.

A police spokesman said the sightings were probably due to “a large domestic cat or a wildcat,” the BBC reports. Police have called off the search and told people to enjoy themselves outdoors while remaining cautious. They should also have told them to stop overfeeding their pets with chips and kebabs and wasting police time.

This odd incident is actually part of a much bigger trend in the UK. Alien Big Cats, as they’re called, are giant felines not native to the area where they are spotted. Of course they’re never actually found. That would ruin the fun. We reported on one jaguar-like creature in Scotland three years ago and that’s just a drop in the Alien Big Cat bucket. The Big Cats in Britain research group has collected 240 different reports so far this year.

So why do Brits see lions and pumas in their fields while Americans get buzzed by UFOs? I guess it’s just one of those cultural differences we should all celebrate and not analyze too much. So next time you’re hiking in the UK, be sure to keep your camera out of focus. You might just start the next wave of Alien Big Cat sightings.

Don’t scoff too much, though. One woman said she was attacked by an Alien Big Cat. I’ve hiked a lot in England and Scotland and while I’ve never been attacked by an ABC (yes, that’s what they call them), I did nearly get attacked by cows.

[Photo courtesy Jennifer Barnard. As far as I know, this particular cat has never been the cause of a lion sighting]

The Bachelorette heads to Fiji for tonight’s episode

One of our favorite parts about hit ABC television series The Bachelor / Bachelorette is the final few weeks. This is not because it showcases the show’s main contestant falling in love with multiple men and women, or because of the cheesy “fantasy suite” overnights. It’s because of the far-flung and romantic locations the contestants visit that give us inspiration for our own honeymoons … whenever that may be.

Tonight’s episode takes place at luxe resort Namale in Savusavu, Fiji, which, like many of its romance-ready counterparts in the 20-something seasons before, offers private villas, walks around the grounds to nearby rushing waterfalls, private dinners and luxurious spa treatments – a formula that will make it easy for the Bachelorette and one of her finalists to fall in love.

Previous seasons have taken place in Anguilla (CuisinArt Resort), Tahiti (where Carrie Underwood honeymooned after the show wrapped), New Zealand and more. In tonight’s episode, castmates head to Namale, located on the edge of the Koro Sea. Should you wish to plan a romantic getaway to the island in the vein of The Bachelorette, the resort has created a 7-Night Getaway Package, which includes accommodations at a bure or villa and the following amenities:

  • Inter-island transportation for two
  • A chilled bottle of champagne at arrival and a basket of South Pacific fruits upon arrival
  • A Dolphin Day Tour to Natewa Bay
  • Couples Ultimate Fusion Spa Treatment
  • Horseback riding to Namale’s privately owned waterfall with 3 course lunch served at the base of the falls
  • Private candlelight dinner over the Koro Sea and under a bed of stars
  • Lunch where the Bachelorette dined at the Walu Deck (or choose from Hanging Bed at beach, Veidomoni Deck, Blowhole Deck, Lasalasa, Main Bure private deck)
  • Romantic themed turndown service on the eve of departure
  • The all-inclusive resort features:

    • All meals (champagne breakfast, 3 course lunches and 5 course dinners)
    • All beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) with no limitations on beers, spirits, house wines and house champagnes
    • Daily replenishable mini bar
    • Daily laundry services
    • Nightly turndown services
    • Wi-Fi
    • Complimentary access to fitness center and indoor entertainment center
    • Activities such as snorkeling, horseback riding, Fijian village visits and more

The Bachelorette Inspired Romantic 7-Night Getaway Package to Namale will be offered for 90 days after the July 25 episode airs, and travel dates are August 2011 through the end of March 2012. The inter-island transport is only offered for packages purchased before August 12th 2011.

Yep, we think we’d fall in love in a setting like that too. Where can we sign up to be the next Bachelorette?

ABC to launch “Weekend Adventures” this fall

The ABC television network has announced a new line-up of weekend programming for the fall, with a host of new outdoor and travel related shows on the docket. This three-hour block of programs will include six new shows that will air under the ABC Weekend Adventures umbrella, immediately following Good Morning America in 95% of the U.S. market.

The six new shows that will each occupy 30 minutes of the time slot, beginning with Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. Each week the show’s well-known host will offer a top ten list of animals that occupy a specific category. For example, the top ten fiercest predators or the ten most colorful birds. The aim of the show is to offer insights and images on some of the magnificent wildlife that occupies our planet.

Joining Jack Hanna will be Jeff Corwin who will host a show entitled Ocean Mysteries, which will take us deep under the ocean to explore the amazing plant and animal life that lives in our seas. Mark Koops, the creator of The Biggest Loser, will produce a show called Agents of Change, which will demonstrate the ability for one person to have an impact on the world around them, while The Delicious Adventures of Claire Thomas sends its host, and her kitchen, to a variety of communities looking for inspiration to create tasty and healthy meals.

Perhaps most interesting of all will be Born to Explore, an adventure travel show hosted by explorer Richard Wiese. The show will send Wiese into Australia‘s Northern Territory where he’ll explore the culture and myths of the Aboriginal people, while giving viewers a breathtaking tour of geography and archaeology that exists in the Outback.

The new shows are set aimed at viewers of all ages, although they will have a slant towards the teenage crowd. They are set to begin airing on September 3rd.

Adventure travel show Expedition Impossible begins tomorrow

Fans of reality television and adventure travel shows will want to set their DVR’s for tomorrow night’s premiere of ABC’s Expedition Impossible, the latest creation from Mark Burnett, the man who brought us Survivor. The show looks to be a combination of The Amazing Race and the sport of adventure racing, mixing in puzzle solving and physical challenges while crossing through a remote and exotic location – in this case Morocco.

When the show debuts at 9PM ET tomorrow night, there will be 13 teams of three lining up at the starting line in hopes of winning $150,000 in cash. Judging from their team bios on the ABC website, the show’s producers found some interesting, if a bit predictable, characters for the race, including teams of jocks, cops, fireman, and the obligatory “California Girls.” Once the starting gun goes off, they’ll be racing across deserts, up mountains, and down rivers over ten grueling stages, with teams being eliminated each week until an ultimate winner is crowned.

Will the show be an epic competition that will have us riveted to our seats all summer long? Or will it feel like a made-for-television adventure? We won’t know for sure until it begins tomorrow night, but you can get a sneak preview of the show right now. ABC has made the first 14 minutes available online which you can check out below. Post your thoughts in the comments section for this story. Is this going to be a hit or summer let down?