I hated the 2001 winner from Estonia but was delighted to go there – I have always wanted to go to the three Baltic States but due to politics, South African citizens were not able to travel there until 1995 or so. Now I was able to go to the first one. It was my first Eurovision to a country without an embassy in South Africa and so problems to get the visa. Estonia made a special arrangement for to me to pick up a Baltic visa at the Latvian embassy in De Hague on my stopover there before I flew onto Tallinn.
Estonia also made me feel really special and even gave me a free VIP ticket for the final. I do not really like sitting inside the venue but I did and once the performances were over, I rushed out to follow the voting on the big screen inside the press hall.
In the press hall was free beer as a beer company was one of the sponsors.
We had a wonderful hotel; the people were so special and so hard working. The woman at reception misspelled by surname by writing it as one word instead of three loose words and she said they are not allowed to make such mistakes and I got one night stay in the hotel for FREE. Across the street from our hotel was Stockman, the Finnish chain store and I bought some CD’s there.
Personally I regard Tallinn as one of the best places to stay. We had many invitations to the various embassies and at one embassy (it was the Latvian embassy), Morten and I were the first guests and so we have a long chat with the ambassador. In the old city there were also various parties organised by some of the countries and people sort of jump from one party to the next (I think one night there were three parties at the same time and close to one another).
I predicted Latvia to win after seeing the stunning and surprising performance. It is not one of my favourite songs, but already by then Eurovision moved away from a SONG CONTEST more to a PERFORMANCE CONTEST due to tele-voting. Even 4 days before the final, the Latvian head of delegation wrote in my passport “See you in Riga next year”.
Macedonia had a special promo single packed very interesting. A local singer Jenny Kirsten covered the Estonian entry of that year song and packed her single in a similar way (just more African).
Greece brought Michalis Rakintzis with a song called “S.A.G.A.P.O”. Besides the lovely promo single, Michalis gave me also a full CD
Spain had high hopes this year – they has a whole selection over several weeks and in the end Rosa with “Europe’s living a celebration” won and came to Tallinn. I was very disappointed with the song, I expected so much better. It was also the biggest group of Spanish fans I had seen at Eurovision.
Ralph Siegel was also back, and this time with “I can’t live without music” by Corinna May who won the selection a few years earlier with a song but was then disqualified. This song was catchy but totally wrongly performed.
Slovenia rocked the boat by sending Sestre with their song “Samo Ljubezen” and we attended a party hosted by them.
Switzerland brought Francine Jordi. I had known her already with especially songs from the Grand prix of Volksmuzik. The song was good but they entered with the French version and I thought the English and German versions were better choices.
Malta nearly won when Ira Losca, while singing “7th wonder” threw star dust during her performance and surprised people.
Denmark brought a strange CD with 20 tracks on – it was recorded live at Martinez Ballroom on 22 January. They thought I would like it since it contains Safri duo with their song BAYA BAYA. To be honest besides Safri duo, I have never heard of any of the 19 other artists in this CD and have never played it as well. But being a collector, it has a spot in my CD collection.
As the venue was outside the city center, we went there every day in a shuttle bus and all the time we traveled with some delegation and artists and have really great personal contact.
Musically I like the following songs
Israel – Light a candle – Sarit Hadad
Estonia – Runaway – Sahlene
Cyprus – Gimme – ONE
France – Il faut du temps – Sandrine Francois
Malta – 7th wonder – Ira Losco
Switzerland – Dans le jardon de mon ame – Francine Jordi
Interesting is that there were actually no song I hate – a few were just average
United Kingdom – Come back – Jessica Garlick
Russia – Northern girl – Prime minister
Spain – Europe’d living a celebration – Rosa
To read previous years go to esscovers