Monthly Archives: February 2015

Tallinn to Riga on Lux Express

The bus ride from Tallinn to Riga on Lux Express  was a quick four-and-a-half hour trip in a modern, air-conditioned bus. It was kitted out with power points to charge your electronics and even had free wifi, although it was spotty for me.

I was surprised at the high quality of the bus, because the fare was extremely cheap when compared to train prices. The bus driver made announcements in several languages, including English, making it easy to understand what was going on. Also, the roads were in really good condition so it was smooth riding all the way to Riga.

The only negative aspect about traveling this way was the fullness of the bus. However, who can really blame people for using this transportation to get from city to city? With these prices, it made travel between countries very easy and affordable.

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Filed under Estonia, Latvia, Transportation

Drunk Estonian Escort

The morning I left Estonia was quiet and serene despite all the revelry (or possibly due to it) that I heard through the windows the previous night. My bags were packed so I didn’t have much else to do but leave my key at the front desk. No one was there to accept it at such an early hour.

I left the building and exited the walled city via Viru Gate as I walked to the bus station. My bus to Riga, Latvia wasn’t for a couple of hours, but I wanted to go early in case I got lost on the way to the station.

About 10 minutes into my journey, I came across an Estonia bloke walking in the other direction. I suppose I must’ve looked odd to him as I was humping my backpacks – one on the front and one on the back – at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. He stopped me and asked if I was ok, which I thought was nice of him. His English wasn’t great but definitely understandable. It might have been even better had he not still been drunk from the night before. Ah, but to each his own.

When I mentioned going to the bus station, he said he knew where it was and would walk me there. My solo traveler radar immediately perked up and started pinging. No one else was around at this hour. I had only seen a couple of cars pass by and no people other than this guy. But, he seemed harmless for the most part so I just continued walking.

He asked about my travels and I told him I was spending the summer in Europe. He asked how I liked Tallinn and said there were so many Russians living here now. Not one to get into anything political, I just nodded in understanding and continued toward the bus depot.

Once we arrived, I expected he’d be on his way but he came inside and waited with me for about 30 minutes. We chatted on and off, and then it happened. The inevitable bow chica wow wow solicitation for which my solo traveler’s radar had been on alert for the past hour.

If this had taken place en route to the bus station in the middle of nowhere, I would definitely feel uncomfortable. But at a relatively modern and bustling bus station, it just felt like any other drunk guy trying to pick up a girl. It wasn’t aggressive or offensive. It was what it was. And after my gentle rebuff, he bid me a good trip and weaved his way out of the depot.

These are interesting times, and I’m learning new things every day. My Estonian escort turned out to be somewhat of an escort himself. But, as I rode out of the city toward Riga, I just laughed to myself. Ah, the unpredictable joys of life on the road.

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Filed under Estonia, Transportation

Day Trip to Helsinki

On a whim, I booked a day trip to Helsinki, which lay north of Tallinn across the Gulf of Finland. I woke early and walked to the Tallinn’s port. Many people were already there anxiously waiting to board the ship. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I was the only person from my hostel who was awake at this hour. Guess that just goes to show you the difference in travel styles.

It was a great day to sail as the sky was blue and a cool breeze blew. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was warm, but it was comfortable and I was excited to visit another new city.

When I arrived in Helsinki, I followed the mass exodus off the ship and made my way into the city center. It felt like a good 20-minute walk, especially because I like to take in the architecture as I pass by.

In the city center, I headed into the tourist information office to pick up a map. I’d been using one saved on my phone, but a physical map is always easier to see. By the time I got my bearings, I realized I was still early for the day’s walking tour, so I meandered through a street market and decided on some breakfast. I had a salmon soup with bread that was very delicious.

After breakfast, I headed to the meeting point and joined the walking tour group. I really appreciate these free, often student-led tour groups that allow you to tip the guide what you see fit. Europe, especially northern Europe, is pretty expensive when you’re coming straight out of southeast Asia.

The tour took us through the main areas of the city, and our guide provided us with basic historical information. I’d never really put much thought into Finland so it was great for my introduction to be through such a user-friendly channel. As part of the tour, we went inside one of the famous churches of the city.

Midway through the tour, we stopped at the street market for lunch and a bit of chatting. There were a few Australians who were over for the weekend from London, a handful of Americans on holiday and the rest were Europeans from other countries.

By the end of the tour, I wanted to stay a bit longer and experience the city at night, but unfortunately, I had a ship to catch. After saying goodbye to my new friends, I made my way back to the dock for my journey back across the gulf to Tallinn.

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Filed under Attraction, Finland