This last weekend was spent in Tallinn, Estonia for Jimmy’s company party.
This ancient town is just a short 2-ish hour ferry ride away and is frequented by Finns for their cheap(er) booze and reliable night life.
We left on the early 830am ferry Friday morning, expecting a pretty low key ride across the Baltic. However, apparently this boat’s reputation as a booze-cruise knows no hours, and the party was in full swing before we even left the harbor. We had staked out some booths in the bar, which gave us prime seats for the show of Finland’s finest morning boozers, already on the dance floor. The entertainment value was worth the cost of the ticket.
After arrival, Jimmy had to go take care of some work business, so I booked a short treatment in the spa- “Skin like Velvet Body Scrub” -in order to scrub some of this winter off of my skin.
I am not unfamiliar with body treatments, nor am I shy about stripping down for a professional to do their work. However, in the states, generally you are given privacy to disrobe and crawl under a blanket. I should not have been surprised that this was not the case in Eastern Europe. The woman with very little language skills pointed me to a corner nook and basically said to take off all my clothes, except for a tiny packet of paper underwear that she handed to me.
I was not uncomfortable, but highly amused at how different the experience was. And I was quite curious as to how the treatment would progress if this was just the starting point!
Fortunately it proceeded as a normal body scrub, just with some smaller boundaries -and warm towels rather than sheets for coverings -then I was commanded to shower and get back on the table for the velvet-y lotion and light massage.
After my treatment, I met back up with Jimmy, finally checked into our room, and forced ourselves to post-pone a nap, and set out to explore the “Old Town” of Tallinn, which we had only briefly seen on our previous visit.
We were delighted to find an uber charming Christmas Market in the main square, where we wandered around until the weather began to turn. We sought refuge in a nearby tourist destination, Ye Olde Haus, a medieval-themed dining hall complete with maidens for waitresses, low candle light, copper kettles for hand washing and a gift shop!
As hoaky as it sounds….we had a great time and will certainly go back! We sat in one of the smaller rooms, which we had nearly to ourselves, and ordered cinnamon beer and “thick beef soup” from the hilariously worded and illuminated menu. The beer arrived in large clay mugs that made such a satisfying cheers-ing noise that was more “clunk” than “clink” that we found ourselves looking for more toasts to make. Plus, I thought the frothy beer was rather tasty, but maybe it was just the ambiance and the whipping flurries outside.
The soup arrived in clay bowls with handles along with warm bread and a sweet, fluffy butter. Turns out the meat was lamb and wild boar -two of my favorites- and was equally perfect for the blustery day.
Satisfied and cheery, we payed for our meal (the maiden-waitress accepted our credit card, but suggested we bring rabbit pelts next time instead) and took a turn in the gift shop. We were seriously tempted to purchase some mugs or iron work, all of which is crafted locally, but resisted until a later date. We strolled back through the market, stopped for a hot mulled wine to-go, and continued our climb up the ancient city walls on our way toward the hotel for a nap before the evening festivities.
Dinner was held back in the Old Town, close to where we had spent our afternoon. The girls in heels shared a cab to the restaurant from a very friendly cabby and beat the walkers by just a few minutes. We had 3 long wooden tabled reserved at another medieval restaurant called Pepper Sack, where we were presented with plates of cold meats and fish, followed by large family-style dishes of lamb shanks, salmon, ham, and duck legs on a variety of vegetables, squash, and sauerkraut. All of course with generous portions of wine.
The meal was completed with a not-so-Oscar-worthy sword fight by the staff (started, of course, with one of them being too cheeky with a waitress, and ending with her rejecting them both) and then a company white-elephant gift exchange.
Jimmy and I had brought our gift back from Russia: a black furry soviet-era hat and a coffee mug featuring Putin’s stern face (actually, I think that was him smiling). They both found a good home and were some of the most-traded gifts of the game. Jimmy and I came home with chocolates, a bottle of Jameson, a confetti cannon, and a decorative reindeer. Therefore, I call the night a success!
We continued the night at a bar/club which was a bit slow, as it was early still for the Estonian scene. Jimmy and I turned in early (at 230am) and walked home through the tick flurries of snow.
The next day included a late breakfast and checkout, and more wandering through the town. Jimmy and I were joined by Denisa, a coworker from Boise that just moved out here for the next year. I am super excited to have a girl living in our neighborhood that I can gab with and whose company I really enjoy! The three of us had a fantastic time wandering through the sights, eventually killing time by bar hopping and settling for a large, protein packed dinner at a local joint, before heading to the hotel for coffee and a cab to the ferry terminal, where we would stock up on beer and whiskey for the next few months.
The boat ride back was -as expected -another display of terrible drinking habits. It has some entertainment value, but after a long day and busy weekend, I was pretty ready to get home, put on my leggings and an old T-Shirt, and watch a movie.
Which is exactly what we did, one 2-hour ferry, 20-minute tram, 15 minute walk, and 4 flights of stairs later.
I hope you are all enjoying the festivites leading up to Christmas! It is the most wonderful time of the year!