Monday, May 14, 2007

Entering Estonia

A new day and a new country.
We caught our train early this morning. It lacking the romance of the Red Arrow, but was certainly adequate. We had our own little room with folding bunks and pillows and blankets, a little table and a window where we could watch the countryside pass by.

I am pleased to report that the ride was basically uneventful. It was relaxing. I had been nervous about going through Russian customs & immigration, but it was fine. We spent a half an hour at the Russian border and then about an hour at the Estonia border. We showed our passport several times and they searched the train, including under the seats and inside the ceiling.
Tallinn Train Station
We arrived in Estonia at 1:00. Note that we are now only 10 hours ahead of B.C. time, not 11 as we were in Russia.
We caught a taxi to our new temporary abode, the City Guesthouse. It is just outside the walls of the Old Town and is in a newish building. Our room and its amenities are the most modern that we have yet enjoyed (i.e. normal looking showers).

We had to get a new currency, the Kroon (pronounced "krone", but Mz. Kitty & Johnny Z have undoubtedly already researched this and were well aware). We now have five different types of currency in our wallets (Canadian, US, Roubles, Euros, Kroons).
Estonian Kroons
It is so odd now to see signs that are written in familiar-looking letters, as we had gotten so used to the Cyrillic signs.

Most people here seem to speak English, which is useful, because i can't seem to wrap my head or tongue around the Estonian pronunciations.

So we put away our things and made our way past the medieval walls and into the heart of the Old Town. This part of the city dates back to the 11th century. It is truly amazing. Tiny winding streets with treacherous cobblestones  snake past  impossibly quaint buildings. Everything looks as though it were straight from the pages of an illustrated book of Grimms fairy tales.
Window view of Tallinn's Old Town
Betty Lou is positively in love with the place. "I am so happy i could cry," she exclaimed with a flap of her tiny arms. We were walking down one street and entered a little courtyard that belonged at one time to a monastery. Down a flight of stairs we were led into what would have been a part of the monastery but is now a private art studio. The room itself was wonderful - so cozy and medieval with an enormous fireplace. Betty Lou was enamored with the art and may pick up a piece before we leave (i am holding her wallet).

The town is positively littered with cafes and eateries of the most alluring nature. Cafes so inviting that i stopped for three espressos in our first three hours. Handmade chocolate shops are everywhere. I found two cigar stores, both with lounges (one of which is fabulous and had an atmosphere in which i am sure to pass a few hours before our stay here is done).

It is comfortably mild out. The sky was sunny when we arrived, but now is raining.

Tomorrow we have some serious sight seeing to do.

Ok, we are going to go back to our room (there is only wireless internet at our hotel so we are using an internet cafe down the street).

Head Aega (that's good bye in Estonian),

Dale & Betty Lou

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