I’m terrible at keeping a photographic account of my travels, to the annoyance of friends who keep requesting pictures. Dutifully, I’ve snapped as many shots as I could remember to of famous landmarks, impresssive buildings, cute little cobbled streets and so on, but it seems like a chore to me. I’m not a natural photographer, and normal touristy photographs tend to bore me.
Then again, it would also bore me to have to write normal touristy descriptions of the places I visit. I like to write about the little details, the amusing conversations, the silly moments, the misunderstandings, the unusual sightings… which probably explains why the only things I really like photographing are the things that would be of least importance in a proper travel photo journal.
Mostly, I like to take pictures of things that appeal to my sense of humour and my love for the obscure. And throughout my travels, nothing has kept me more entertained than the wonderful variety of signs – both official and unofficial – in each town and city. There are hundreds of these, if you have sufficient appreciation for this type of humour. Like this sign outside a shop in Stockholm, for example.
But much as I love to giggle in a superior manner at shops offering special deals on the purchase of infants, and menu errors resulting in the tempting option of Fried Unions with one’s steak, I find that the very best of this genre is signage of the less official variety: that is to say, graffiti.
Graffiti in Europe is brilliant for its utter lack of sense or purpose. I always get a little thrill of anticipation as I approach another wall with a promising scribble in the corner.
From the high intelligence of graffiti artists in Rotterdam…
…to a simple chalk drawing on a bridge to the beach at Lake Balaton, Hungary…
…there’s always something to keep me amused. I have to say, though, that as with most things, Tallinn is once again the clear winner for me. And there’s not even a need for me to write any more on this: I merely need to show you the examples. And so, my friends, I give you… The Writing On Tallinn’s Walls.
And my own personal favourite to date, the ramblings of a genuinely happy, contented, and utterly loopy graffiti artist who just wants to make the world a better place:
Well said, my friends. Well said.