<< Tartu2017-General

Summer school
"Formation of complex molecules in space and on planets - From interstellar clouds to life"
Tartu, Estonia, 17 - 22 July 2017


Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

During the conference it will be summer, although pollen seasons of different plants arrive later in Estonia than in Central Europe. If you have a pollen allergy, check with your doctor about possible medication during your trip to Estonia. Unfortunately there is no updated pollen forecast for Estonia, but you can consult the Finland pollen forecast from the University of Turku. The contamination levels for Southern Finland should be similar to the ones in Estonia. If you have any food allergies, please inform the local organisers (mentioning it on the registration form will do).

Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday 9.00 - 16.00 or 09:00-17:00. Most banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. There are several bank branches in Tartu. A Swed Bank office is at Turu street 1 (close to Hotel Dorpat). Closest to Academus hostel is the SEB office at Ülikooli 2 (intersection to Vanemuise). A cash machine is located at the main bus station and there are several ones at the shopping centers. ATMs are frequent in town but harder to get by in the outer parts.

The climate in Estonia is like the one in Scandinavia, but slightly more continental, characterised by warm summers and fairly severe winters. The weather is often breezy and humid (average humidity in July 79 %) due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea. The average overall temperature in July is 17 degrees C, the average max temperature being 21 degrees C and the minimum 14 degrees C. Precipitation in July amounts to 60 mm, with 12 wet days on the average. Bring your umbrella and a light raincoat in case of occasional showers. Please note that there will be Nordic twilight during the course (see below).

Tartu is a very safe place. The most common problems to hit foreigners are pickpocketing and car break-ins. Also drunken rioting can be a problem sometimes, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to report a crime, contact the local police station. In Tartu it is located at Riia 132, phone :+372 612 3000.Reception hours: Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00 For emergencies call 112. The non-emergency local number for the Estonian police is (+ 372) 612-3000. Although many operators speak English, at times those answering this line may have minimal English speaking skills.

Dangers and annoyances
We do not plan any extreme activities, so people should be safe if they take care. Participants will take part in all activities of the course at their own risk and the organisers do not have any liability for accidents or illnesses affecting any attendee(s) due to course activities.

Dress code
There is definitely no dress code at the summer course. However, at the conference dinner you might want to dress a bit smarter.

Estonians are fond of beer, Le Coq and Saku are two of the leading brands.As almost everywhere, there has be a surge of microbreweries. There is no significant amount of grape wine grown in Estonia, but fruit wines (apple, pear) are often on restaurant's menues. A traditional sweet herb liquor is Vana Tallinn. The bread beer "Kali" also remains popular, as well as vodka (Viru Valga).

Driving in Estonia
Driving in Estonia is done on the right-hand side of the road.Many rules on driving resemble those in the Nordic Countries. For example, car headlights must be lit at all times (even during the day and the Nordic twilight). EU and EEA driving licences are ok, if yoursis issued by another state check before. Seat belts in front and rear are mandatory, as are infant and child seats. Speed limits in urban areas 50 km/h, highways 90 km/h, dual carriageways 110 km/h. Drivers who have had their licence for less than two years must keep below 90 km/h. Your vehicle must carry a warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and wheel chocks. Most petrol stations are self-service and are open 24/7. Petrol service stations in Estonia are generally open from 8 am to 8 pm with big stations in major cities and on the motorways open 24 hours. Credit cards are accepted at most petrol stations. Elmo.ee rents out electric cars on need-only basis, so you pay for the time you use the car.

DO NOT drink even minute amount of alcohol before and during driving. The legal limit of alcohol in the blood is zero and drink-driving is punished by heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

Parking is a problem in Estonia, but Tartu is still a bit less crowded still. Illegally parked cars will be clamped. Heavy fines can be imposed for unlawful parking. It is recommended to park in guarded car parks.

112 is the general emergency line throughout the European Union (similar to 911 in the U.S.) The number can be dialed from any phone, and the call is free.

Estonian cuisine shows influences from Germany (from the Hanseatic times), Sweden, Russia and other countries, although there is a distinct Estonian cuisine. Popular starters are selections of sausages, meats and potato salad. Other appetizers are rosolje (bettroot, meat and herring), räim (Baltic herring) and pirukad (pastries with different fillings). Soups (bean soup, cabbage cream soup, fish soups) are often eaten after the starter.

Pork in many forms (with sauerkraut and potatoes) is a very common main course, often with a rich gravy. Popular dessert are kama ( mixture of roasted barley, rye and oat flour served with milk or kefir), and kissel (a fruit soup).

Rye bread is served with almost every meal. It is said that some Estonians instead of wishing "bon appetit", say "jätku leiba" ("May the bread last").

Estonia is an associate member of the Schengen agreement which exempts travelers from regular personal border controls between 13 European Union (EU) countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) and two European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway and Iceland). People living in Great Britain and Ireland are subject to personal border controls upon entry to the Schengen area. Border controls can, however be imposed on travellers from all states.

A list of countries whose citizens DO NOT need a visa to visit Estonia can be found here. If you need a visa, please start the paperwork AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not only can handling times be long, but it might be difficult to find the embassy responsible for citizens of your nationality and location. In many cases, Estonian embassies do not hold consular offices and the visa applications are handled by embassies of other countries.

It can be said that Estonians are a bit of IT freaks. The Soviet Institute for Cybernetics was located in Tallinn and Skype was invented in Estonia. Free Wifi is available in even the most rural areas (although it can be congested and thus slow in cities). Also the hotel and the hostel offer free wireless connections.

Laundry facilities
It is best to use the laundrerete at Academus Hostel. It opens long in the evening.

Meals (if not announced otherwise) are served in the dining room at Café Vilde, if not specified otherwise in the schedule. With lunches and dinners table water is served for free. Cafe Vilde is locate at Vallikraavi 4 at the southern end of the city hill. For people at Academus hostel breakfast will be served at Kotka Kelder (situated in the same building).

Medical Services
In case of emergency, call 112 (general emergency). The medical service is quite good (better than its reputation with many Estonians). Pharmacies (Aaptek) are widespread in Estonia. There are several in central Tartu. One is located in the "Kaubamaja shopping center ar Riia 1. Even if you are not sick, the pharmacy att the Town Hall (Raekoja) might be worth a visit.

Estonia has the Euro since 2011. Notes of the old Estonian "kroon" currency are no longer accepted as payment.

Nordic Twilight
During the course it will not get dark in Estonia. Although the hotel and the hostel have curtains, some people might find it hard to sleep. So some sleeping cover for the eyes could be a good thing to bring. On the other hand, the Nordic Twilight makes romantic night walks in the city possible.

Post office
The closest one is "Kvartaali" at Riia 2. It opens from 09.00 to 19.00 hours on weekdays, and 09.00 - 15.00 on Saturdays.

Public transport in Tartu
There is a good public transport in Tartu, but, due to the short distances there normally is no need for attendes to use it.

Public holidays
There are no official public holidays during the course.

Registration will be at the lobby of Hotel Dorpat on 16 July 2017 and from 08:00 to 09:00 on 17 July 2017 at thre Estonian Biocenter. Later arriving lecturers can get their material in the lecture room during coffee breaks.

Tartu is a very nice town with lots of interesting sights. Since we do not have a lot of time during the course you should plan some extra time before and after the course. Highlight include

  • The Raekoja town hall square and its surroundings.
  • The town hill with the Old Observatory and the Musuem of History (situated in an ancient church ruin)
  • The many museums including new Estonian National Museum
  • The wooden house quarter Supilinn
  • The Botanical Garden
Information about these sights can be found at the Tartu Tourist Office website. It is located in the town Hall (Raekoja square). Phone: + 372 744 2111, Address: Raekoda, Tartu 50089 e-mail: info@visittartu.com. It opens Mon-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00

Shops generally open 09:00 - 18:00 (Mon to Sat). The great shopping cnters "Tasku" and "Kaubamaja" open much longer on Sundays. Most popular souvenirs are:

  • Estonian liquor (Vana Tallinn, Valga Viru).
  • Pickled food, honey, mead candles and bee wax products.
  • Handicraft items such as hand-knitted woolen sweaters with traditional Estonian folk patterns, carved wooden beer mugs, juniper coasters and carved limestone product.
  • Original art such as graphic prints, handmade jewellery, colourful glassware or fine ceramics.
  • CDs of Estonian composers of international acclaim (Tormis, Pärt, Tubin, Tüür).
  • Dark, bittersweet Estonian chocolate and other local sweets produced by the Kalev confectionery.
  • Hand-painted marzipan.

A lot of shops sell amber (especially in Tallinn). However, most of the raw material is imported from other countries bordering the Baltic Sea, since not a lot of this stone is found in Estonia.

Taxis are safe and cheating tourists is still not very common in Tartu (has become a bit of a nuisance in Tallinn though). It is thus wise to remember the following points:

Prices are not uniform, taxi operators can set their own rates. Take a close look at the yellow price list, which is posted on the right side rear door. Here you will find rates for the base fare (usually 2 EUR-5 EUR),the waiting charge (usually 6,40-19,20 EUR/hr), and the pre-kilometre charges (both usually 0,50 EUR-1 EUR/km). Anything much more than these is considered high. Make sure that taxi driver holds an operator's card - a white plastic card with the driver's photo and name, attached to the middle of the dashboard.

When setting off, the taxi's meter should be turned on. It is illegal for driver to smoke or to allow others to smoke in the taxi. The driver is not allowed to ask for more than what is on the meter. The driver must be paid in Euros. Ask the taxi driver for the receipt from the meter's printer. If the meter or printer is out of order, the driver should not be in service and you have the right to refuse to pay the fare.

For calls to Estonia: Dial +372 (the country code for Estonia), then the area code and the subscriber's number. If you want to male a call from Estonia, dial 00 + the country code + area code + the subscriber's number.

For local calls: Pay phones accept phone cards. If you wish to make a call within Estonia, first dial the area code and the number. Phone cards may be purchased from hotel reception desks, tourist information offices, post offices, newsstands and some shops. Telephone cards are also convenient for longer and/or more expensive phone calls (e.g. calls abroad) or if you are going to be making phone calls over a longer time period and do not want to have to worry about having coins handy at all times.

The GSM network works on frequencies of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz (dependent on the carrier). If you are taking your mobile phone with you, make sure that it is able to work on these.

Eastern European daylight saving time (GMT + 3) will be in force during the meeting. There an one hour time shift between Germany, France and Estonia and a 2 hour time shift between London and Estonia. If it is 1 o'clock in London and 2 o'clock in Frankfurt it is 3 o'clock in Tartu.

Tipping is less common in Estonia than in the rest of Europe. In restaurants, service is included in the bill, but if you get a good service in a restaurant where the bill is sent to the table you can tip 5-10 %. In case of bad service it is OK to give nothing.

A triangle pointing down (dinner jacket) signifies the gentlemen's room (sometimes also marked with "M", "Meeste", "H" or "Härrad"), while the triangle pointing up (skirt) is the ladies' room (sometimes marked with "D", "Daamid", "N" or "Naiste").

Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

The electricity supply in Estonia is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. European-style 2-pin plugs are in use. European plugs work in most sockets, but a few Soviet-era buildings (you will rarely encounter those) still require the thinner-pinned Russian version.

Weights and measures
Estonia uses the metric system.

All the information given above is to the best of our knowledge. However, we cannot accept any liability for inadvertently false or incomplete information on this site.

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