Let us take you back…back to Gatwick, where it all began.
After an emotional reunion (involving many bottles of wine and a big bucket of ice, and we’ll say no more about it) we made it to the airport on Friday morning in time to brave the hideous queues for beer. The 2 hour flight passed in to time, mainly due to the delicious 40 Euros worth of wine and nibbles.
Arrived in Tallinn to find it bracing but sunny and set about demolishing a couple of cans of local cider from the kiosk before getting the bus to the city centre. Which we stayed on until the last stop which was actually a ferry terminal nowhere near where we had to be. So we walked in the general direction of the church spires, hoping that would be some kind of central square, and with the help of Google Maps managed to locate our hostel (The Red Emperor) which was on the top of a nice pub called The Beer Garden which served a nice range of local beers and the food that the table behind us were eating looked quite nice so we decided to get some dinner. Susan had a smoked cheese, mushroom and sun-dried tomato soup with a pastry lid that was basically an Estonian fondue and fupping delicious. Jill had a platter of lards of the world, with gherkins and a shot of vodka on the side. The soup was definitely the winner, but you cannit be having the option of a lard platter and not try it!
Upon heading up to the hostel after dinner, we were greeted by a lovely South African bloke with an astounding beard (who Susan was convinced was Bryan Ferry – but he looked nowt like him but he was him), who showed us to our room and provided us some nice Somersbys. We were staying in an 8 bed dorm and only one of our room mates was around – a lovely Nigerian bloke called James who lived in Belarus and invited us to stay with him when we go there, We had a quick power nap (we’d been up since 6.30 man!) and headed to the hostel bar which was also open to the public, had cheap beers and a bath filled with cushions you could sit in. One of the hostel barmaids scribbled all her favourite places to drink in Tallinn on our map, and we set off out into the night to find some dubiousness. We walked in the completely wrong direction, and after a pub stop to get our bearings and check the map, all plans of recommended pubs went out of the window after we spied at bottom of the map ‘Vaali Bar’ – “A small and stinky bar that is a local institution – drop in for your share of cheap drinks and unusual elderly regulars”. Well it certainly lived up to its description, and within five minutes we had been befriended by “Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrnie” a former Soviet soldier and head of security in the bar, and his weasley snaggle-toothed compatriot. Many boozes later, along with more locals we met Danish Angel (who knew everything about Copenhagen but didn’t know anything (Jon Snow), as despite living on the Eastegade, he knew nothing about Non-Stop, was a millionaire and drove “the fastest car in Estonia”, but strangely always seemed to be in the toilet when it was his round) and he persuaded us to join him in some noblike dancing in the local gay bar “X3” who were too cool to play any Sylvester or Donna Summer so we got some small retribution by getting the entire bar to join us in a rousing chorus of “A Little Respect” by Erasure (it’s impossible to yell “I TRIED TO DISCOVEEEER” in a pub with out someone immediately singing the next line, even in Estonia). Rolled back to the hostel at 5am for some finishing shots with Danish Angel in tow, however he must of known the sun was about to come up as he disappeared while Susan was on the loo. Perhaps he was that pile of dust we found on the stairs later.
Despite having purchased a nice relaxing bus for 11:40, and I know none of you will believe this, but we managed to sleep through it and missed out on our Womens Day 50% discount and had to buy new tickets for the 12:50 dubious furgon – which we also almost missed as we were waiting at the wrong stop. Had a lovely drive with a nice variety of boozes (clear winner being grapefruit long drink that gave Susan good mammaries of Finwand) and enjoying the nice nice t nice nice Estonian countryside, interspersed with an invigorating ferry crossing to Saaremaa over a beautiful frozen Baltic Sea. Arrived and promptly walked off in completely opposite direction to town due to being mesmerised by the sea, that wasn’t a sea it was just flat and a service station. But not to be defeated we headed into said service station and replenished our booze supplies – with another clear winner taking over from Long Drink in the form of Cherry Kiss cider. Eventually found the “town” centre and a rustic local bar with Long Drink on tap – except it wasn’t. The bartender gave us directions to our hotel which was a nice walk by the castle and moat. By this time we were quite tired so decided to perk ourselves up with a nice dip in the pool and get our moneys worth out of the curly slide, jacuzzi and naked sauna (we have now seen so much Estonian vagaina that we think we are legally qualified to practice gynaecology here). And who’s of thought it but who did we come across in the pool but that rascal Mandible! After our revitalising splash about, we got ourselves dried off and ready and headed out in what we thought would be a futile quest for a nice sit down meal (it was about 10pm by now, and it was a very small quiet town!) and headed towards the Veski Tavern – a bar and restaurant in a motherflipping 18th century windmill. We arrived to the sound of “traditional” Estonian kareoke and a 7 EUR cover charge (that they ended up letting us off with as we’d drank so much). Got seated at a nice table made from a millstone and ordered a bottle of prosecco, pigs ears and beans, pickles and dips (that came with vodka on the side), some fish thing and wild boar stew, The food was lovely but way too rich for our little bird stomachs, although we still ordered dessert as the menu was just too good. As we were finishing our puddings and getting the bill, a gentleman from the next table (a massive party of 20 or so Estonians) invited us outside to watch the fireworks for his 40th birthday, so of course we were on that like a car bonnat, but by the time we’d paid the bill we’d missed them!!!! Regardless, we ended up talking to the birthday boy, his wife and her best friend (who ran their own travel agency and gave our itinerary their seal of approval, despite disapproving of the Ukraine part), the wife’s ma who was lovely, and his mates (one of whom was just introduced as “the solicitor” and had been asleep in his dinner for the last half hour). We joined them in a vodka or two and as the night was getting on we decided we should head off (we had a bus at 8am and it was already 2am!) but Kaide (the wife) was insistent that we joined them heading to the local night club Privilege (pronouced “Privvy Leg”) and we were so so SO tempted to check out the amazing Privvy Leg, but the huge amounts of stodgy Estonian food, booze and the threat of such an early morning got the better of us and we (for once) made the sensible decision to go back to the hotel and get some sleep. Now safely in Riga so updates to follow later. Good luck living up to the high standards set by Estonia – but judging by our hostel bar – complete with FISK and free welcome AND breakfast beer – we don’t foresee any problems.
Fabulous warm welcoming people, lovely beers and ciders and long drink, beautiful countryside and pointy roofed houses. Did we mention the fabulous frozen sea? We really fell for Estonia in a big way and would love to come back and see more!
Prices: Not dirt cheap, beers ranging between EUR2 for generic lager and EUR4 for nice local craft beers. Cans around EUR1.50 from the kiosk. Cigarettes around EUR3.50 for Marlboro
Best Drink: Cherry Kiss Cider
Best Food: Smoked Cheese Soup