I am currently sitting outside the Merchant House hotel in Tallinn enjoying a sunny day in Estonia while sipping on a pear cider. It is a lovely end to a lovely weekend.
Friday evening, post work, I rushed into town to my 7.30 chocolate massage appointment at the hotel. Was slathered in mocha for an hour of pure bliss and then went out to meet Malthe, Joonathan, Priidu, Jaanus, Kati and little Baby Sigurdssen out in the courtyard for an evening meal. Food wasn’t great, but the company was nice. Tallinn summers are amazing. Especially considering just a few short months ago it was as cold as a witch’s tit outside (-31 degrees). Ate dinner and conversed until around 11.30 then walked over to Pegasus for a midnight cocktail for Joonathan’s 25th birthday.
Saturday morning woke at the buttcrack of dawn (for me, not for Estonia since it is pretty much light all the time here during the summer months). Priidu had booked us on an 8 am ferry ride to Helsinki so we needed to be at the port by 7.30 for check-in. It is also good to note that I am semi running on London time which is 2 hours behind here so to wake at 6.30 is like 4.30 in my little brain. Made it on time to the ferry with Priidu and Helena and then passed out on board for the next hour and half.
Arrived around 9.30 to a delapidated ferry terminal. The city really should do their best to clean up this mess because it isn’t a very nice greeting to the place! Duncan and Virpii came to pick us up and take us to breakfast. We were told that we were heading to the “wrong side of the tracks” over into da hood. I prefer to see a bit of grit and grime so I was down. OK – the grit and grime of Helsinki is like the diet coke of ghetto. One calorie – not ghetto enough. I suppose we didn’t get to take a tour down the sketchy heroin alleys, but we did manage to see a few bums and drunks. We all had a nice breakfast in the middle of a square where they were holding a local market. Vegetables and produce abounded in rich colours and the smell of dill was permeating the air. I was informed by my knowlegable host (Duncan) that fresh produce is a rarity in Helsinki given its Nordic climate for most of the year. Had a breakfast of rice porridge with cinammon, sugar and milk. Then we snacked on some fresh strawberries. Delish!
Afterwards we took a stroll through the park that is situated on a little lake and rambled past some drunken bums and a makeshift missionary in the middle of the park where bums went to be saved. Headed up a little hill, past a dog park where strangely enough they had a rather large ostrich sculpture (who the hell thought of that?), then across a bridge over the railroad tracks and onto the most delightful, peaceful little hill overlooking a lake and a park. Ordered a peach ice tea and sat relaxing and enjoying the view.
The best part about this is all of this took place before noon!
Duncs and Virpii had to depart to do a little DIY and set the three of us on our way towards the city centre with plans to meet up later. We ambled down the hill and into town with some skate shop for Priidu as our main destination.
Arrived to town and the skate shop didn’t exist any longer. Decided to just aimlessly walk about and check stuff out.
Then we came upon the high point of my day.
The black Superman.
Normally I wouldn’t pay any attention to street performers (and god forbid that I even glance at human statues). But this one was different… I could tell right away that he was something special.
First off, he was black. I don’t say that in any kind of a racist way. It is just an observation after having spent quite a bit of time in Estonia and up in this neck of the woods that there isn’t a whole lot of racial diversity. So it is nice to see some minorities occasionally (such as myself).
Second off, he was standing on a rope that was tied between two trees balancing himself delicately on one foot. Not an easy feat (or feet, if you don’t mind the pun).
I borrowed some change from Priidu and happily gave it to him. Seriously. How many times in your life do you see a black Superman standing on a teathered rope in the middle of Helsinki?
After the black Superman there was the lady and her amazing travelling cat circus. She had a set up complete with a persian rug, her two cats and one poodle (who had his tail and paw dyed pink). The lady started the show off by having the dog zig-zag in between her legs. Then she thew a hoop that he presumably was supposed to do something with. The act of which will remain a mystery to me for the rest of my life since the dog failed to comply with her wishes and half sat with a disinterested gaze on his face while the hoop rolled by. At this point I felt it was too painful for me to continue watching this magical mystery tour and we took off. I do appreciate the effort and the effect. Perhaps I should have stayed to see the trained cat portion of the show. I might have been dazzled.
We then stopped for a nice afternoon drink in a cafe. I am not such a beer drinker and was struggling with the choice of beverages. I wasn’t quite in the mood for wine and I defo didn’t want a beer. So what is a girl to do? That is when I decided on a cider. Not a normal choice. But damn it is good! I think I am a new convert! Nice apple cider on a hot day with some ice is fantastique.
Virpii phoned during this time and offered to meet up with us and show us a few designer shops. Great! We went to go meet her in the design district of Helsinki. She expertly guided us through a plethora of great little boutiques with local designer goods. There are a lot of great little shops ranging from clothing to homewares. I ended up buying a really nice summer dress at Ivana Helsinki. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the city and shopping at H & M. I also managed to find the most perfect donut in the entire world. It put Krispy Kreme’s to shame…
At around 5 we met up again with Duncan for a little dinner before our ferry departed. I was planning on eating reindeer since it seemed like the thing to do in Finland. But I just couldn’t resist the meatballs and mashed potatoes. Damn it. I can’t help it. I love meatballs and mashed potatoes! I used to go to Ikea just to eat a plate of them for lunch. That is the equivalent of going to Costco for a $1 hotdog for lunch…
Finished dinner then back to the decrepit ferry building for our ride home. One thing to note is that inside the ferry building was this very interesting billboard. On first glance I thought it was just some perfume advertisement. But then I noticed the labels on the bottles… well, you will just have to see for yourself won’t you?