Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tallinn, Estonia

The afternoon express boat from Helsinki put me in Tallinn at a reasonable time of day.  I was able to walk from the port to the Old Town.  I loved the cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, and the overall vibe of the place.  The weather was warmer and the people seemed excited going from work to cafes and university to parks.  My walking took me up some stairs and into a cemetery that overlooks part of the city below.  I enjoyed the stroll past tombstones, and even remember sitting on a bench to relax a bit.  Eventually I worked way back to the street level, and used a map to find Hotel Dorell, where I checked in for two nights. 

Overall I was very impressed with Tallinn and how developed and modern it seemed vis-à-vis other ex-Soviet republics.  Of course, I had only been to three other former Soviet Republics, and my perception was influenced by Western notions and news press that these tiny Baltic nations were more prosperous now that they were free of burly ole Russia and perhaps historically more industrious and independent due to their capitalist past and their proximity to Finland.

In the Old Town, cafes and restaurants of all types were bustling with business. I ate some pastries, did some window shopping, and strolled through some parks.  Near a university, I stood around with some students, absorbing everything around me.  I struck up a conversation an American guy who was in Tallinn working - probably teaching English.  There was a part of me that immediately, after talking to him, thought, "I could live here." 

In the Old Town and in other parts of Tallinn where I wandered around, people watching was my sport!  The women were gorgeous and fashionably dressed.  Many had blonde hair and were very tall and had beautiful facial features.  Only later did I learn that the people were mixed over the centuries - the Finns, the Swedes, the Russians, the Poles, the Germans - and this mixing produced some very attractive stock.  There was a lot of eye candy!

I watched a Hollywood movie at a theater.  It was subtitled in the local language, and played in English.  I felt at home! 

When I had the chance, I went into a big department store and used my credit card to buy a blue jacket that I would wear further south as I traveled.  I also wore it back home in the USA for many years, keeping it way past the "throwing away date" simply because I had bought while in Tallinn.  It was a memento!

It seemed like at least a couple of times I found a spot in the lobby of the nicest international hotel in Tallinn to rest and watch some NBA basketball on TV.

My mode of transportation out of Estonia to Latvia was by train.  I bought a ticket on the night train, in a sleeper compartment to be shared with another passenger - someone I didn't know.  Before boarding the train, I had a meal, by myself, in a Chinese restaurant at the station.  The food was good!!!!

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