and father greet us off the Ferry
(5.0) (19 Votes)
10th May 2005
Pros: Great people, great
times, great stories!
Gday all....it seems like a lifetime ago since I last updated our
tour shannanigans. As you can probably imagine the country towns
of Latvia and Estonia don't quite have internet-cafes on every corner.
I will fill in the last week or so over the next couple of days
here in Helsinki. A brief summary is that we rode along the west
coast of Latvia after spending a couple of nights in a National
Park north-west of Riga, reaching Tallin on the 9th, we spent a
night in Tallinn with Richard, an estonian that we met in brindisi
at the start of our trip...great guy. The following continues on
after the night spent eating and drinking and sweating in the Sauna
with Richard and his girlfriend plus son, Carl-Eric.
After sweating it out in the Sauna and then sleeping the night away
like a baby, it was off to the centre of Tallin for a buffet breakfast
with Richard on his way into work. Richard had already informed
us that his work for the day would be only to turn up to the office,
and perform the Russian ritual (most of his colleagues are Russian)
of shaking hands with everyone in the office to signify that you
are at work for the day, then he would be free to show us around
more of his home-town...this is exactly as it happened. Sam and
I spent no longer than 10 minutes waiting in the car while Richard
shook hands, it was then into old-town Tallinn for the three of
us. First stop was the liquor store...Tallinn is the port of call
for all Finish/Sweedish/Norwegians loading up on cheap alcohol,
it's unbelievable...but local Finish beer is cheaper in Tallin than
in Finland...people go crazy carrying huge loads of beer and Vodka,
old ladies wheeling trolleys full of booze...funny stuff. We of
course did the customary thing (as we didn't wish to insult anyone)
and loaded ourselves up...large bottles of Vodka for Sams mates
in Sweden, Cognac for our friend Marie's father, bottle of Baileys
for Marie's brother...and of course beers and some baileys for ourselves.
Very cheap...1 litre Estonian Vodka (95 eek, aus$9.50, 5€),
750ml Baileys (189 eek, aus$18, 10€)...understandable why the
scandanavians head down here for drink, for example the 750ml Baileys
costs well over aus$50 in Finland.
We next stopped off at the cool looking russian-influenced church,
Sam and I poked our heads in for a look and there was some form
of religious-ceremony going on...at least a hundred people were
inside with many more making their way in, hundreds of candles were
lit and smoke filled the church, an arch-bishop type of dude was
conducting a sermon...that was definitely enough Christianity for
one day so it was back into the car and Richard drove us all around
Tallinn for the morning, pointing out the Russian side of town which
is a whole district of large-ugly-blocks of very small apartments,
drove through the most dangerous part of Tallinn (largely off-limits
afer dark...in fact, two of Richards friends had been hospitalised
2 weeks ago, after being jumped in a park within this area of town).
Richard was an awesome tour-guide for the city of Tallinn...filling
us with interesting info on all aspects of life/culture in Tallinn
and Estonia and also all countries of the former Soviet Union. It's
unreal when someone can explain the situation, present and past,
of a country....gives you a very good insight into the mind-set
of the local people. It has certainly opened my mind to the vast
amount of continual change that the people of the previous Soviet
Union have encountered, particular over the last 50 years. And definitely
given me a far greater understanding of communism...its bad and
also its good points.
Sam and I had planned to catch the 1:30pm ferry to Helsinki, but
of course as usual plans changed, and in the end we only just managed
to scramble onto the 4pm ferry. Our organisation has to be up there
with the best in the world...not. We weren't helped however by the
very-unhelpful information counter and ticket seller, both of who
sent us in completely the wrong direction...further confusion occured
when the ticket collector would not let us onto the ferry with our
bikes (although we had already paid for them to be on there)...some
friendly smiles and kind words soon saw us on the ferry and on our
way to Helsinki, where hopefully Sam's college-friend Jonna would
be waiting to greet us at the terminal. A Ferry ticket for one-way
trip to Tallinn = 250eek,aus$25,13€ the bikes were an additional
80eek. The trip took 3.5 hours.
Helsinki...and Jonna, her sister Katija and their father were there
with a van to pick us. Some big hellos were exchanged with hugs
all around...Sam and Jonna had both lived in the same international-house
at Jacksonville University in the U.S.A, Sam had also visited Helsinki
in 1998 so it was a re-union of somewhat.
With the bikes in the van Jonna's father drove back to the house,
while Sam, Jonna, Katija and I went straight to downtown Helsinki
for some Mexican food and story-telling over a couple of beers.
We then hit another bar and met up with Katija's friend Mia, sharing
more beers and stories...great people, great stories, great time.
We've arranged to all meet up again tonight (11th), apparently there
is many bars in downtown with 1euro specials on Wednesday nights...so
tomorrow there will be another interesting lae to tell.
Its great to be in another city, with another very friendly and
hospitable family...enjoying the good times.
Until next time (probably tomorrow) take it easy....I hope all is
well around the globe, Adios Ben.