Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tallinn, Estonia: Where they "spoke" Russian....

 To arrive in a new city and see Finnish people and their seven dachsunds is comforting...
 The cone towers of Old Town Tallinn.
 Alexander Nevsky, Cathedral.
 We came across this nightclub inside of what was a former Soviet theater. The art was slightly modified. Instead of hammers and sickles, Estonia had a monkey wrench and hammer, a book with protractor and a microscope and, of course, sickles and wheat.
 Tourism is in full force. Globalization and capitalism have no shame. But I must say, this spot isn't necessarily blown up, yet. It's far more fun to be here in August than, say, Venice or Paris or Western Europe at all. Then again, there was one guy painted tan like Jack Sparrow. We avoided this area. I shot this photo for the guy's bike. But because of the whole Medieval city, UNESCO heritage and all that, some cruise ships do dump people out and it's not uncommon to see tour groups led by leaders with little flags and headsets. We had no trouble exploring on our own, which is something they would have never allowed in Soviet times.

 People who lived through more than half of the 20th century.
 Kadriorg Palace of Peter the Great and Catherine I. Emblem of Tsaress Elizabeth.
 Estonian Frontal Upper Pelvic Area

 So after going to Sanduny Banya in Moscow, I assumed Kauna Saun would be similar with all the interior decoration and whatnot. Instead, we entered a very proletariat banya. Assuming the workers there were Russian, I approached them in Russian, asking if they spoke Russian. "Govoril" they said, or "I spoke." They were quite suspicious of us until I then explained in Russian that I could either speak Russian or English. When they realized we were American they both calmed down.
 Soviet massage chair, curtain. This place has not seen bleach since 1991. The saunas were great, and we slapped each other with birch branches. I was pumped because we had to ladel the water onto the rocks ourselves. In Moscow, a bronzed man right off a Soviet poster was in charge of the ladel. I was throwing gallons on the stones. The sauna was only ten feet by ten feet, with five tiers to sit on. Outside of that was a small plunge pool. Bare bones but true to the olden days. The three of us kept our swimming shorts on, while the only other man in the steam room looked like a naked viking.
 Old tram outfitted with new technology but still chugging along at over fifty years old.
 The Old Town pulls in loads of tourist money, but then there are bottle picker urchins living on the margins.
 This guy had some pep.
 We met this woman who claimed to be the daughter of the 524th richest Estonians.
 This was her boyfriend, the "most celebrated art critic in Estonia." The president gave him a medal.
 Bronze-age circle graves.
 The only waterfall in the Baltics... about 38 feet.
 Peat bogs.
 Putting our feet into the bog. Our guide said, "The rest of our group is from Holland. The kids are all artistic with special skills." "Artistic? What skills?" I asked. "Oh, um, autistic. They are autistic." I didn't bother to ask what special skills he was talking about.

 We ended up in a massive blueberry field. I just sat and picked and ate from 360 degrees.
 This guy put his berries in a bottle.

Here are some guys speaking the ancient language of Estonia...

 Swimming in the Gulf of Finnland. One of the dutch kids wandered off and delayed us by about an hour.

 We also went to a former, top secret, submarine base. They used this place to demagnetize the subs so that radar would not detect them. Since the fall of the USSR, locals have scrapped all the metal out of this place.
In about 22 years, trees have overtaken this place as the paint peels from inside. The area is hidden well from the roads. We pulled off of a main road and drove for about a two miles on a tiny path before pulling up to it. Apparently there were a few hundred men stationed here, and while locals could see this place there was no information on what it did. Few records remain, and our guide only knew about this place for one month. He kind of makes up tours as he goes.
 The steel doors and all the wires and all the metal are simply gone.
 That's our guide in the green.
 Some shitty Soviet-era rock band.
 This is a bar in Tallinn...

 The nights got blurry thanks to this bloke. I never knew he drank beer. I only thought that he ate candy. But we really liked going to this old bar in a cellar full of derelicts. Each night was some random asshole that made us laugh, like a Swede named Radar, a guy in sunglasses that blurted out "Vampires!" before passing out on a bar, the 524th richest woman in Estonia and her art critic boyfriend.

And then we went to Riga. A whole new world in comparison to Tallinn.

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