Rounding the World – Day 11: Riga To Tallinn…

This morning was surprisingly in the 30s – a heat wave – haha. Highs forecasted in the 40s, wow! Despite how much I historically liked large breakfast buffets, I surprised myself that I preferred to pay for a cappuccino and homemade pastries instead. Can you believe I gave up a free breakfast!?! There was this little bakery around the corner that handmade every morning a lovely set of pastries, of which I consumed two. There were less cherry options here, so not sure if cherries are more prevalent in Lithuania or just more preferred. Either way, I was pleased my entire breakfast was only 2 Euro.


I had just enough time to get ready for the day, catch up on writing, load my photos and get packed before heading to the bus station. This time I left nothing behind – yes! Luckily I had half my peanuts, half my faux-Cheetos, and my apple left from yesterday so I was set. Just needed water. I was surprised to see so many Lux Express buses at the station. In Lithuania there was just the one, here in Latvia there were like 10. Riga is popular! The bus was only 2/3 full and I once again got my row to myself, love it.

The scenery between Riga and Tallinn is mostly wide and vast. There were pockets of forests, though the trees were really tall, skinny, and a mix of aspen-looking trees and pine-looking trees. The rest of the time was mostly farms – agriculture and a few cows. We stopped once at the Estonia border to drop off a driver and then again shortly there after when a police came onboard to check all of our IDs and remind us that car related deaths are the highest in Estonia. He then asked everyone to buckle up. Before he said that I think there was probably only a handful of people other than me that were already buckled. Surprisingly after he asked, only another handful buckled up. Hmm…

The next stops were scheduled drop offs. One of them we got a 5 minute break so I scurried over to the kiosk selling food to supplement my snacks. Quickest option was a hot dog in a bun that was sealed at the bottom (weird!). The ask which sauce you want, I chose mustard, then they put it in the bun first, then in a panini maker to warm it (also weird!). It was surpisingly good. Yes, I really did eat completely processed meat from a kiosk, ha!

Today’s soundtrack for my head phones was the Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration. At times depressing, but mostly great road music for clearing the mind and processing what on earth I’m going to do with my life after this trip. Small things like that. It did inspire me to refine my list of 3 traits I’m looking for in a man. In my prior post I talked about how the traits can get skewed when you’re at the beginning or end of a relationship, so now that enough time has passed since my last one ended, my list started to become clearer. I’d pretty much found my prior relationships all ended for one of three reasons. What are those? Curious, Capable, and Considerate. Stay tuned for a future blog with more on that!

When we arrived in Tallinn, the blue skies were just barely peeking through the clouds, enough for us to know they existed, but not enough for us to feel it. There was a train stop a few minutes walk from the bus station that went into the old city, which was easy to catch. I didn’t see any way to buy a ticket and it seemed to be more done on good faith, so I shamefully road for free and vowed I’d figure it out before I took it again. Once dropped off at the Viru stop, I wandered through the circular streets of old town Tallinn until I found my hotel.

There was what looked like a club under the hotel… Hmm… Across the street was a Gentlemen’s Club… Hmm… The tourist books say my street is the ‘night life’ and ‘bar’ street. When I checked in there were 4 sets of ear plugs by the bed. Hmm… I’m a little nervous what I got myself into! Will keep you posted tomorrow. Otherwise, the hotel appeared quite nice, the room was lovely and it also has a free breakfast. Fingers crossed there will be cappuccino at this one! I tried to minimize the amount of time in the hotel room as possible so I could get out and explore the city, however, I needed to get some clothes washed in order to dry before the next move.

I was able to spend a good few hours touring the old town which appears to be centered around this absolutely large and beautiful cathedral. The streets are all seem to stem from it in different directions with loops and outer loops around the main church. I’m sure this made sense at one time and probably had a purpose, however, in today’s day and age it just makes navigating a bit confusing.

I’m not sure why it is that some city’s connect with you more than others. Like for some reason when I was in the mountains of Romania there was something about it that felt like home. Tallinn has that for me, and there is really no explainable reason why, it just feels good to be here. As I winded around the streets leveraging the map the hotel gave me, I saw parts of the old town wall, the gates, various cathedrals and important buildings. I enjoyed thinking about what it must have been like to live here hundreds of years ago, to be defending the port, and living on cobblestone streets and working as some blacksmith or cobbler (actually as I think about it, they probably didn’t let women do that…).

When nightfall came it was time to head back to the hotel and try to search for a restaurant. This process was starting to be far less exciting after the last few days of many no-go’s. Today was no exception. The poor hotel lady couldn’t understand why every restaurant I chose was full even though it was off season and cold outside and the other restaurants were dead. But alas. Apparently everyone is reading Lonely Planet’s recommendations! After literally going through the entire list of Eastern European restaurants on Lonely Planet’s list, beyond their ‘top picks’, we finally found Vanaema Juures.

Just behind the large cathedral and beyond a few windy roads led to a tiny door where a building jutted out with the restaurant name. Down the stairs and into the basement, there were no windows, but the tables were all decked out like an old time restaurant. They had my table for one ready in the corner, I seem to always get placed in the corner, which is a-ok with me because it’s a prime people watching spot. The menu was varied with supposedly Estonian dishes, which I say supposedly because I have no idea what those would be so can’t speak if they were or weren’t.

Being close to the water and close to Finland and Norway, all I wanted was salmon so it was a pretty quick choice for me. They had a lovely Australian Chardonnay on the menu which paired nicely. I elected not to do a starter as I had peeked and saw the desserts were a bit intriguing. When dessert time came I chose the dish I cannot pronounce that translated to a spotted dog. Turned out to be a bit like fudge with cherries on top. Super rich but I’m not really a chocolate person so just devoured the cherries. Cherries!!

The nice part about being a table of one is not only do I get to people watch, or analyze the wait staff, or ponder everything that comes into my mind endlessly, it also allows me the ability to ease drop. I will say I lucked out completely as the table behind me was English speaking and a couple of guys that were having the most riveting conversation. They were analyzing everything. How are candles made? What does the word Tallinn mean? What would it be like to be in Tallinn in the old days? Where does tea come from? When did Great Briton get the Great part? OMG I was in heaven. It took every once of me not to join them and their intriguingly exciting conversation. They had the same analytical curiosity I have which I so rarely find I couldn’t help myself.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and see what the sounds of the night would bring. I will say the club below, ‘Labor’, looked awesome with it’s neon colored chemistry tubes. Admittedly I did purposely walk by the Depeche Mode club which was playing one of my favorites ‘Policy of Truth’ and had it not been a ghost town I probably would have entertained it for a bit. Though when weighing the other options with giving up tomorrow morning, it just didn’t measure. I love mornings!!

Cheers,
Sara

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