The ferry trip from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia is only a couple-few hours. The ticket site I used was a little confusing so we ended up with a cabin that we hardly spend any time it, but did get to leave our luggage secured in at no additional fee* so that was cool. We ended up finding a lounge with live entertainment and seats by some big old windows.
It took me several tried to even get close to a succeeding at getting a panoramic shot of the view of the Gulf of Finland from our table in the lounge. Our crossing was not actually in the least bit treacherous.
We arrived mid-late afternoon, took a taxi to our hotel, and checked-in planning to drop our bags and head out to start exploring the old city. But first we had to find our way to our room... we had no idea just what an adventure that would be on our way to our room, so we shot this video on the way back out. Later we found a very cool Indian restaurant where we had moose vindaloo!
|I have now eaten moose.|
|I don't know the story behind the bronze cow sitting on a bench outside a restaurant. Don't let the color of the sky fool you, it was night and dark-ish.|
The next day we explored more, seeing a few specific historic sites and a museum or two. Eric also arranged for a one-day car rental so we could get out to see some nature the next day. And that evening we had our tradition one fancy meal of the trip at a deliscious farm-to-table type restaurant. It was really, really good and really, really reasonably priced. YEY! Also they had a pretty kick-A taxidermy display up front.
|The view from that medieval some kind of real old wall! Click to enlarge!|
|Old city fortifications kick ass. Actually this one is called Kick in the Cock.|
|One the wall selfie.|
|Some old church.|
|Oh! Longdrink with cranberry. Not as good as regular. Oh, well.|
|Mayer Staircase with 7 vases... and one Bigfoot.|
|Great dinner and excellent atmosphere!|
The car arrived around 9a and we headed east to National Park that's a big forest bog! Note: Estonian is a language that we could mispronounce understandably to each other for purposes of navigation. Not that it always worked out perfectly on the drive. Ahem.
|The trail starts off like a pretty standard forest trail.|
|Yup, that's a forest all right.|
|Then it starts to get all boggy. Stay on the boardwalk!|
|Hey look! We ran into our old pal at one of the pond-y parts!|
|There's a cool viewing stand in there.|
|After the viewing stand, the boardwalks get a bit more serious. And less friendly to cyclists.|
|This is a two-way path, by the way. We just take turns stepping onto those support pieces jutting out on the sides.|
|I do love me a lush riparian zone.|
|Our traditional selfie-with-rental-car.|
When we completed our bog walk we headed further east and a bit north in search of a forest trail that we never did quite find, but we did find an inhabited part of the National Park not far from where we thought that trail was supposed to be! Where we were able to secure a yummy snack & beer, watch the roof be re-thatched, and walk some beach-side and wooded trails. We got back just in the nick of time to return the car then chilled in the room a bit before heading out for dinner. After dinner we stopped at the Depeche Mode themed bar (underground) for a reasonably priced, well-made drink and some Tara-specific nostalgia.
|Such a lovely little rest spot in the fishing village of Altja.|
|The restaurant is a traditional Estonian building which they were busy rethatching while we were there.|
|Charming houses in the village, this one with lichen on the fence. I love lichen!|
|Some Baltic Sea action.|
|Some big crane-like bird!|
|Another scenic Baltic Sea view.|
|Some lush, non-bog forest.|
|Hiking sign posts, the international language|
|Peet-y water? I don't remember if that is why it is dark or even if we found out why.|
On our last day we finally found our postcards and a few other souvenirs. We hit the Tallinn City Museum which was a really good one and well worth the few Euro price. Then at lunch we wrote our cards, found a mailbox, and prepared to catch a taxi back to the ferry terminal. No cabin this time and a much more crowded ferry. Luckily we hustled our butts and secured a seat in a quieter lounge... that didn't say quiet for long. More live entertainment and lots of generously-embibed Finns. It was quite stormy, but that didn't really rock the boat or anything.
The Tallinn City Museum was a very good one! Among many other exhibits, it had a room with several of these interactive dioramas. All the fun of being an abusive monk with none of the bad haircuts!
|Look at this guy! Outside a history of healthcare museum.|
|I think this is the street our hotel was on.|
|Lucky for us, the crazy storm hit after we were safely inside the ferry terminal. We did see some drenched passengers.|
We arrived later than we expected, but not because the ferry was late, but probably because not adjusting the 24-hour time. Then we found I messed up our reservation and we had to relocate and then there weren't restaurants near the new hotel that were still serving food, but we finally found one that was serving TERRIBLE, overpriced food. Iguana, it was called, and it was the kind of place that served blended margaritas in buckets. Super MTV Spring Break vibe. Oy. This is the night we got word of the Lolo Peak Fire getting serious for our town, our area was under Evacuation Warning, north of us was issued an Evacuation Order, and Eric spent much of the wee hours texting with our dogsitter and our emergency/fire backup. The next morning after coffee we tried some local bookstores looking for Dr Potter's Medicine Show which Eric's agent, Jennie, had spotted, but we did not find it. A little window shopping, then we hauled our suitcases over the cobblestones to the train station and head out to the airport. A few hours later we were in the Rekjavik airport hoping to finally try the rotten shark, but we didn't have time. It was a MADHOUSE. But we got on our plane without issue, tried to sleep, and arrived in Portland 7 or so hours later. We didn't have much time and really no attention span to see many folks, but our nephew dog did eat Eric's mom's chocolate out of my suitcase. It didn't phase him one bit.
|No shame & no one goes alone... even at 4:45 in the morning.|
The next afternoon we flew back to Missoula, seeing the fires from the sky. Well the smoke, anyway. Delia had moved to our emergency/fire backup location - some awesome friends' house a bit south of us and on the other side of the valley, out of danger. Since there wasn't an evacuation order for us and it didn't seem like there would be one that night we went directly to pick up Delia, then came home and immediately photographed all the rooms of the house.
|Looking towards our place from the air above Missoula.|
|Driving down Hwy 93 towards home, this is where Hwy 12 meets 93.|
A quick Lolo Peak Fire post coming soon.
* There are lockers that cost a couple Euro for storing luggage, but we had no cash and I'm not sure our luggage would've fit anyway.