Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Since last post I’ve definitely been to Sweden and Estonia and back. We took the god-awful bus trip to Tallinn, arrived shortly before 5 a.m. and had too many hours to kill before the ferry to Stockholm would leave. We dragged ourselves to a Double Coffee, where we were immediately greeted with English “Hi! How are you?” from a younger guy sitting at a table with his friend, his friends girlfriend, and his own girlfriend, who was passed out in the chair next to him. It appeared they had been out all night taking advantage of the holiday, and were still recovering. Then another local sat down with us, showed us all of the phone numbers he had collected on his arms (his presence was funny in general, as my father had just sent an SMS saying “Tere, Kaija! Tik uzmanies no eesti poisod!” Regardless if I spelled it right or not, the SMS basically read “Hello, Kaija! Just watch out for Estonian boys!”

Thanks, dad. Just in time, too.

So our new friend attempted to talk to us through his half-hung over stupor and a cup of coffee (which Ilze and Julija, being smart, told the server was on a separate bill because the guy wasn’t with us), while we conversed in Latvian and tried to gently signal that we were too tired to socialize outside of our group. He eventually got the idea and left.

By 8 a.m. we had been approached by at least 4 people and I was ready to take down the next person who talked at us. Luckily for them (and us, I suppose), no one did. I have never been mildly harassed by locals when I’ve been abroad. It was an entirely new experience for me, and not one that I enjoyed. The worst one was some guy who, after trying to talk to a man on the sidewalk (who ignored him), threw up his arms in exasperation, then walked back toward where Ilze was sitting on a stone dove and where I was trying to photograph another stone dove. I figured the guy would come over and just hover until I had taken my picture but nooooooooo, instead he sits down right on the sculpture I was trying to photograph. And says nothing. As I huffily put my camera away he starts speaking in broken English, saying something like “Is it… eh, is it hard? Is it bad, for you?” I look to Ilze who’s ignoring him and feign non-English speaker. Then we start to leave because Julija was done with the ATM. Then the guy sighs again and says, “You are afraid.”

Buddy, what the hell? I’ve had 30 minutes of sleep, will be on my feet for 12 hours and you just sat down in my frame without any regard for what I was doing. Does my face read fear? Shortly thereafter when Ilze, Julija and I were nearing the mall for a breakfast hunt was when I threatened suffering to the next person who would come toward us. Then I did some stretches on the mall floor and felt better.

Tallinn was nice,overall, and that’s all I can say about it. The old town is very similar to parts of Riga and smaller German cities, so I wasn’t in awe of anything other than the more modern buildings leading up to the older part of the city. I had also had close to zero hours of sleep since 4 p.m. the previous day (power nap!) and was not looking forward to 12 hours of walking around with no purpose. I managed to take a few pictures, managed to be interested enough in some things we saw, and generally cared very little about the rest. As I said, Tallinn, while lovely, is similar to Riga – no real need to get freaked out about it.

Julija finally suggested that we catch a movie to kill a few hours – AMAZING plan. We did just that, managed to stay awake the entire time (we saw “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, which, although containing unnecessary nudity in places, was a light comedy and at least somewhat realistic). Then we had a hobo-ish picnic on some steps before dragging ourselves across a major road to the ferry. By this time we had no objections to showing up for the 2-hours-prior-to-boarding request. We got to our absolutely divine cabin (three foldy beds, a couch, a TV, and a toilet-shower) and crashed. When we woke up a few hours later we explored the ferry, tested some perfumes, ate the dinner we brought along (otherwise the ferry dinner buffet would cost 17 LVL or $34… I choose hunger), watched a movie on Julija’s computer and passed out again until morning when we were almost to Stockholm.

TBC with Stockholm details in a few days.

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