Occupational Therapy

If I could use one word to summarise my experience of Tallinn, besides the hospitality of our hostel and the beauty of the city (and the inexpensive price of food and drink), it would have to be ‘wi-fi’.  Seriously, it’s everywhere, and it’s free.  If I bought an apartment in downtown Tallinn, I probably wouldn’t need to pay for internet at all, as wireless access is so prevalent. More on that in a bit.

We kicked off the day with a trip to the Museum of Occupations, where we learned about the ill-fated first Soviet occupation, the WWII years under the Germans, the Stalinist regime through the 50s and 60s until finally Estonia regained its independence in 1991.  We ended up watching three of the seven half-hour documentaries and spent an additional half an hour perusing the sparse artifacts from each era.  We now consider ourselves experts on 20th Century Estonian History.  This was rather ill-timed, as the overwhelming animosity we now felt for the Russians as we left the museum didn’t heighten any excitement about going to St. Petersburg later that night.

Breaking for lunch, and to debate the best scenario for liberating the Estonians if we were in charge during WWII, we found a terrific café called simply ‘EAT’, where you could get a full bowl of fried Estonian dumplings (meat, meat and spinach or potato) for less than £3.

While Nick bought another of their fried delicacies for dessert – a doughnut – I got chatting to one of the tourist guides who actually made the map I was looking at and who’d popped in for a bit of lunch himself.

By the time we’d left the café, it was raining.  Hoorah.  I hope the leftover trait from 2008 isn’t inevitably poor weather following us around…

We walked to the Old Town Square and had a look at the impressive Town Hall building, and then took a walk north to see the part of the Old Town we hadn’t yet managed to cover.  St. Olaf’s church and Fat Margaret’s Tower awaited our acknowledgment and….yeah, they were alright.  Everything looks a bit more dull in the drizzle.

Remembering something that the friendly tour guide mentioned, we wandered back into the Old Town Square and checked out a quirkily rustic coffee house for a spot of tea, coffee and cake.  Then it was back to the hostel to chill out in the common area and hit the supermarket for some dinner.  Buying the staple carbohydrate-laden assorted sweet and savoury items from the bakery to save for our bus journey, we ended up buying  the cheapest pasta and the cheapest sauce to cook back at the hostel’s kitchen, That was an error, as the pasta was akin to molten lead and the sauce appeared to just be sweet ketchup,  Needless to say we didn’t quite clean our plates and learned a lesson to serve us in good stead.

Giving travel advice to our Aussie friend Rob and meeting two nice young Irish ladies who were willing to share a taxi to the International Bus Station, we avoided the now-heavier rain outside by watching Anchorman to while away our final couple of hours in Tallinn.

A seven-minute journey took us to the aforementioned International Bus Terminal, where we met some more people from our hostel who were taking the slightly later version of our bus.  We were all hastily giddy with excitement when we saw our jet-black Lux Express bus pull up.  Thoughts of a champagne reception and a caviar bar quickly formed in our minds as we wondered what our extra supplementary expense might buy us.

As we boarded our formidable wheeled transport (although it did look a bit like a cockroach), we were greeted with: comfortable seats, a reasonable amount of legroom, a power socket per two and, of course, free wi-fi.  See, I’m typing this up while making two Skype phone-calls on my iPhone through an admittedly slow but reasonable connection provided by our bus.  Yes, that’s right, we have internet on our bus.  I can check Facebook while hurtling towards the Russian border.  The 21st Century is great, isn’t it? I hope you’re listening and taking notes, Gordon Brown, because ‘Digital Britain’ has got a long way to go to match this techno-savvy Baltic state.

And they were under German and Soviet rule for 53 years, so don’t give me all that ‘recession’ talk….

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