Category Archives: Estonia

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

Restoran Vanaema Juures

I wanted to try some traditional Estonian food, and my tour guide suggested Restoran Vanaema Juures or Grandma’s Place. It served a wide array of hearty meals from the area, and I was excited to check it out.

A Malaysian guy I met on the tour decided to join me on my food journey. He was only in Tallinn for the day and wanted to take in as much culture as possible. Together we wandered the winding roads of Tallinn’s Old Town until we finally came across Restoran Vanaema Juures’ unassuming entrance.

When we descended into the cellar dining room, the stone walls and ceiling surrounded us. The dimly lit tables and small space created an intimate atmosphere, which was odd for a meal in the middle of the day. I suppose it would be nice for dinner or perhaps a shared meal with someone you’ve known longer than two hours.

Still, we pushed ahead with our desires to experience traditional Estonian food. For lunch, I chose the beef tenderloin and my friend had the elk stew, which was one of the restaurant’s specialties. Both dishes were large and filling, especially when served with potatoes, carrots and other vegetables. The  sauce that accompanied my beef was rich but could have been more flavorful in my opinion. My Malaysian lunchmate enjoyed his stew, which apparently didn’t taste too gamey.

Over lunch we chatted about our travel plans and the reasons that brought us to Estonia. All in all, having lunch with a guy I just met wasn’t too weird. Over the years I’ve learned not to feel so awkward about it, because chances are high that I won’t know anyone wherever I am. That’s part of the excitement of solo travel.

But, having lunch with someone you’ve just met is never completely comfortable no matter who or where you are. How would you feel having lunch with a stranger? Any go-to conversation starters when meeting new people?

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Filed under Estonia, Food