Day 7 - Tallin, Estonia

July 7th continued...

Since our tour guide could not keep our attention while talking about the area, we walking around, but not too far that we couldn’t hear her. We waited to follow her down the next narrow street into another church. She led us to an overlook where we could see all of lower old town and the new town. The day was beautiful. It was a nice, but very short stop. This was where we ran into the only none staged aspect of the tour -- there were guys selling soviet era items in a shady sort of manner. I’m not sure if what they were doing was illegal, but I’m sure this was part of the reason we were pushed on -- to hide the negative from the tourist for fear of scaring them away.

Walking down a cobblestone street and through a tunnel/stairway we entered the ultra Disney area of restaurants. It was a very cute section of the city; with seating under porches and carved wooden signs. If it did not feel so staged, it would have been a wonderful “find.” The total lack of any non-tourists however put the street into perspective. We were taken inside one of the restaurants, where the waitresses wore “traditional dress” and sat down at tables set with bottled water, coffee, hot cocoa and pastries. It was a very welcome break from the walking and standing around we had been doing and it was good to get some food.

the city of tallin

After this break we were supposed to attend an organ concert in one of the old churches, but we didn’t feel like doing it so Tina told our guide that we were going to skip it and meet her at the final spot for the day. Our guide encouraged us to follow along for a little while as she took us up and down a few other streets with some amazing architecture. The idea of decorating the exterior of the building with people, carvings and other things has really been lost with modern buildings. These narrow streets with unique buildings were wonderful to see. We walked through another passageway separate from our group past a cafe with Mucha style art on the shutters and into the market square.

In front of another historic church in the square was a street fair set up, all the sellers were dressed in costume. Unlike the girl on the bike, these were the crafter’s that made the items for sale. There were tables with handmade clothing, food, jewelry and pottery. It felt like a real craft fair, where I could find something authentically Estonian. If everything did not seem like what I had found in Finland, Sweden or Russia, I could almost ignore the fact that they just “happened” to be having a fair on the day a cruise ship came into port. We sampled some of the smoked cheeses and meats available, all very good, and wandered up and down the rows of vendors. While many of the items were really nice, we did not have any local currency to buy anything we liked. In one of the tourists shops that bordered the square Chris bought me an amber necklace and earrings. In the shops, the power of the credit card overrides any currency issues.

Once we joined the rest of our tour group again, we exited the land of the clean for the tourists and entered into the main city, down a street with a McDonald’s, liquor stores, a “sex club” and a Bally’s Casino. It would have been nice to buy some Estonian Vodka, but we were rushed through this area to get back to the boat (don’t let the tourists see that we are a real city, get them back to the ship before they notice!).

The ship was going to leave port around noon, so all the buses arrived back at port at the same time. The line actually moved quickly and we were able to get on board and download all of the photos from my camera to Chris’ computer before heading to the grill along the pool for lunch. Lunch was one of the best meals up to this point. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and soft serve ice cream. Chris checked out the early players in the casino and I went to the shops for the hundredth time. Since the rest of the day until dinner time was agenda free, Chris brought his laptop down to one of the lounges, hoping to check his email while I scribbled in my journal. It was mid-afternoon and it was nice to just relax. We waited for the waitress to stop and offer us a drink. She walked by three times without even stopping and appeared to purposely ignore that we were sitting there. After the third time she passed us by, I got up and went to the bar myself.

I ordered Chris a Dirty Vodka Martini - Up, and the guy wanted to see my ID. We are on the Baltic Sea (international waters), on a cruise ship with a very 50+ crowd, I am not requesting a slushy margarita, it was only a few weeks away from my 29th birthday, and this guy was asking if I was old enough to order drinks! Since wars are at sea and we are not allowed to purchase anything with cash or charge - only the cruise card / room key - I did not have my ID with me, only my cruise card. With out any drinks I went back to where Chris was sitting. The waitress then walked by another two times, and that was the final straw for Chris. He stopped her, asking if it was general practice to not offer any service to guests and to actively look away when she passed by them. Her response was that since he was on his computer she did not want to disrupt him.

We eventually got our drinks and some mixed nuts. After about an hour in the lounge, it was the regular evening routine. Change for dinner, eat, then change again. Everyone gathered in Angela and Brian’s room before a short visit in the lounge. Then Tina took Kirsten to bed and the rest of us visited the game room for a round of cosmic wimp-out. When the game was over we attempted to find edible food in Horizon Court. After some cold and hard sushi and many samples of desserts it was time once again for the casino.

We hit the slots for a while then Brian and I tried our luck at the roulette wheel. While he was losing money at the table I was winning, but once he backed out and I tried to be a little more aggressive I went back down again. Chris played craps for a while, but after about an hour, we were all off to bed to rest up for our day in Poland.