Interesting as many years ago I lived in Estonia and had a Company there registered in Tartu. Estonia is a pleasant place IF you can cope with the severe and long Winters. Our appartment was above the Casino on the edge of the Old Town and facing the National Theatre so my wife and I spent most of our time in the Old Town which was a hive of activity even then - notably bars and restaurants, most of which were very good indeed. We later replicated this in Riga (Latvia).
All this before Estonia became a trendsetter in Internet activities. Very well educated young people (now most are late middle-aged I suppose)
There was at that time a distinct group of Russians who were always easy to recognise as we found they were usually the ones who smiied a lot (again ditto in Latvia). To be honest Riga has more sustainable interest than Estonia, and also has (had) better road, rail and air links with Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland. Estonia was closer in every sense to Finland.
As in most former Soviet States (including Hungary where we lived on and off for five years the young were open and pleasant whilst the older generations - say plus-50s were much more dour and ill-inclined to take to foreigners.
Again many years back now (mid 1990s) so I am sure things will have changed even more for the better - although I have doubts about Hungarian Nationalism which is quite unpleasant.
Very unusual and very interesting insight into a virtually unknown (to me) corner of northern Europe, Norman.
Peter I was very lucky in my career - which was largely spent chasing work in odd places. Looking back it often perfect timing in that basic comforts and services were usually in place, but the tourist boom had not struck. So whilst I was not a ‘pioneer’ in any sense of the word, I was definitely an ‘early starter’. Even my last contract(s) were in Vietnam - North and South in 2005 which was just before they were ‘discovered’. They were united in name and government at that time, but were still completely different entities.
The Baltics opened up my interest and knowledge of Russia at one stage removed, until I was lucky enough to lecture in Moscow and St. Petersburg, following my last stint in Hungary, so really got to know both sides of the Soviet and postSoviet times. It also stimulated me to read up on Russian History which although I had read much Russian literature (English translations) when young I needed to be older to understand things better. Ditto with the Middle East and parts of Asia when based in Australia.
On the other hand I have never been to any part of the Americas - North, South or Latin! Just the way the contracts fell.
I spent some time in Estonia as an investment banker - a thoroughly enjoyable place. I think Estonia benefited from being able to get a lot of western TV channels and being quite close to Finland - for instance Estonian film makers like Lennart Meri (who later became President) were able to work with Finnish partnerships. That gave Estonians an understanding of what a civil society could be like, so they were off the starting blocks very quickly in setting up their new institutions post-USSR.
I’m impressed by what Estonia has achieved in the tech sector. Ironically, some of this they owe to the Russians - a massive cyberattack on Estonian government servers back in 2007 upped the ante. Since then, Estonia appears to have a distributed backup for its entire national infrastructure, meaning that if Russia ever invaded, the Central Bank, government, and major strategic servers would all be running from somewhere else within minutes. So they say. At least, I reckon they’re better prepared for Russian interference than the UK is for Brexit