I arrived in Tallinn on the morning of the 12th of June. I headed out to the suburbs to stay at the Youth Hostel. The hostel was a large building but I think the half dozen staff out-numbered the guests. They did not have any hot running water. They only had hot running water in July and August. So I had cold showers for a few days before I headed to south Tartu.
After the stoic depression of the Russians, Tallinn was like a breath of fresh air. The Estonian economy was doing better than any of the old soviet block countries and you could feel the optimism. They were partly doing well because groups like the Finns were helping. But there was also an Internet boom going on that would put anything in Australia, even to this day to shame. They are a much more technologically switched on people. They understood what the internet was about and what it was for. Tallinn is one of my favourite cities in the world.
Tallinn has some interesting history and beautiful buildings. I wandered around for several days in bliss. Friendly people, smiling faces, sunny days.
It took me a while to work out the ticketing system on the trolley buses. You need to go to a kiosk to buy a ticket. But none of the validating machines on the buses seemed to work so one ticket lasted forever as well as being very cheep.
I also needed to do some laundry. There were no laundromats, so I found a commercial washing company. But they let me use their machines for the price. Very unusual and it is the only time I have used industrial type washing and drying machines. It was quite an experience. The young woman was quite helpful at showing how to run the machines which had no labels or instructions. She spoke no English. I spoke no Estonian. Yet she even showed me how to pack the spin-dryer to put all other spin driers to shame with is gadzillion rpm horizontal spin rate. In fact, I don’t think we ever said any words to each other at all. But maybe I don’t remember correctly.
I also remember walking into my first real supermarket for over three months. It was a delight to behold and I spent some time wandering the modern buildings hallowed isles and purchased some fruit juice drink. In Europe they have like 14 fruit and vegetable drinks and while travelling this was one of the staple parts of my diet.
One night there was this German boy staying at the hostel. He was very young, maybe not even 20. He wanted to go out drinking beer on the town. So we headed out into Tallinn proper. We had dinner at this pizza place. There were some Australians there at another table. They had made some mad dash from Riga to Tallinn and were very upset. It was all done at the last minute and it had ended in a great waste of effort. Though I never did discover the reason why they had made the dash to Tallinn.
After a few days I went down to Tartu and then came back to Tallinn for a night before catching the hydrofoil to Helsinki. On my return stay, I stayed in the middle of town in a backpackers. There were two Americans in my room. They said that one of the local women had set up a strip club in the place and they were admiring her capitalist spirit.
A man at the market down near the docks tried to sell me a watch. First he tried Estonian, then finnish, then russian, then german, then swedish and finally English, I felt a bit sad after all of that effort that I did not want to buy a watch. I did buy a watch. In a proper shop, with multiple time zones. It was fairly expensive and it was the last watch I have ever purchased. I stopped wearing watches after this holiday. In the shop they wanted to see my passport as proof of identification. I was quite happy to do that as it showed that they were being serious about doing the whole check thing.