Welcome to Estonia

I like our new corporate travel agent. Their name is much more serious sounding, almost like a law firm, and it contains acronyms. They also send amusing stuff to read. Having booked flights to Tallinn yesterday I received following information about my motherland.
There are no alerts at this time (Friday March 14, 2008 21:56:03 GMT ). Before you depart, please view the Estonia Country Guide for up to the minute information, or sign up for automated email alerts.
Executive summary
There are currently no major threats to expatriate visitors or residents in Estonia. Estonia has a low rate of violent crime. Old Town, Town Hall Square, and the Central Market are the parts of Tallinn affected most by petty crime. Although foreign travelers are not specifically targeted, criminal elements take advantage of vulnerable targets. Petty crime is common in Estonia’s major cities and there have been reported instances of pick-pocketing, purse snatching and muggings, mostly in crowded areas.
In recent years, there have been several bomb attacks on buildings and vehicles in Estonia. Most of these incidents have been attributed to organized crime. Like most of the Baltic States, there is an organized crime presence in Estonia. Foreign travelers are generally not threatened or targeted by organized crime, but the possibility of collateral damage requires visitors to remain vigilant. Organized criminal groups are involved with stealing cars, gambling, drug trafficking, and prostitution.
Public transportation is available and generally safe. Foreign visitors should only employ well-marked taxis and ask to see the government registration. Unregistered taxis are notorious for being unsafe and charging exorbitant fees.
Although not a serious threat to foreign travelers, elements affiliated with organized crime may conduct kidnappings.

Had I not been boon in that troubled country I would probably have cancelled my trip at that point at started preparing for an XXL Skype video call. But I read on, brave as I am.

Medical Information
Hepatitis A – Recommended for all travelers and expatriates.
Hepatitis B – Recommended for all travelers and expatriates.
Rabies – May be recommended for long-term travelers and expatriates.
Recommended for anyone who will have contact with dogs, monkeys or other potentially rabies-carrying animals.

This email continued quite long, advising not to swim in unsafe lakes, only drink bottled water and such. The only good news were:

  • There is no malaria in Estonia
  • Prevention: Always use new condoms (preferably brought from your home country), do not share needles, and in hospitals, ensure that needles and syringes are new.

  • The latter suggested I’d be safe buying condoms on spot for that is my home country. But imagine if I was a Canadian working in London and travelling to Estonia. I would have had to go to Canada first to pick up rubbers or have them parceled over. Not that I necessarily need them on a 2-day work trip. But you never know.
    Thank you International SOS (what a suitable name) for providing this amusing, but critical information through our travel agency. It’s just sad that most recipients of such emails are not actually from Estonia. And having chatted to a workmate that booked flights to Prague it’s the same thing for that lovely city. Why the paranoia?