A rough crossing to toytown Tallinn

November 13, 2006 by

261_thumb.jpgWe’re back on the road, ok, ferry. And a bumpy one at that. Someone asked me at the conference (I think it was Nick) if I found pitching or rolling worse. I couldn’t tell him then, but I can now – it’s rolling, by a long way. The fast catamaran from Helsinki to Tallinn was like one big rollercoaster, but at least it was only an hour and a half long (although that’s considerably longer than your average rollercoaster ride).
We checked into our hostel in the old town – a considerable step down from the Radisson let me tell you – and the guy behind the desk who looked like an escaped axe murderer gave us the key to our little twin room (just couldn’t face the dorms).
Since we were keeping it basic with our accommodation, we gravitated towards one of the nicer restaurants in Tallinn to have our dinner – Italian of course.

Lost in Tallinn

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In the morning we thought it would be best to go to the bus station and buy our tickets for the bus to Riga later in the afternoon. So carrying all our stuff we started out on our mission. We got on one tram, then came back one stop on the same one, asked some studenty types where to go since we had no clue by this point, got back on the tram into town, then stood looking bewildered at a complicated map of the Tallinn public transport system, pretty much back where we started an hour earlier. Thankfully our guardian angel turned up at that point in the form of a very lovely Estonian lady, who spoke good English and worked as a tourist guide. She showed us the way, and eventually we reached the bus station and sorted everything out.
Back in the Old Town, we had a good wander around the beautiful cobbled streets, and gawped at the turrets and pastel coloured historic buildings. The place is so consistent and well preserved that it feels a bit like a Medieval Town Theme Park, but not in a tacky way.

Ferry of Dreams

November 12, 2006 by

244_thumb.jpgApologies that my entries have got a bit dull recently, just haven’t been spending so many hours on trains dreaming up what to say. A quick entry is in order to describe the bizarre experience of taking the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. It has completely confirmed what I always knew: I will never, and I mean NEVER, take a cruise. What a weird experience. The ship was so huge, and had a kind of fake indoor road down the middle called the ‘promenade’. So it was like a road, but really not, since it was on a big ship in the middle of the Baltic Sea, with a glass roof on it. There were shops and restaurants lining it, which had little partitioned off ‘al fresco’ dining spots ‘outside’, so you could eat inside or outside, except they were both inside – I think I’m still a little spun out by it all. Jane and I passed on the Dinner Show, which by the sounds of it had performances by an Elvis impersonator, but caught from our cabin window (which overlooked the ‘promenade’) two rather impressive aerialist performances. Yes, in the middle of the Baltic. We narrowly avoided getting chatted up by a group of elderly Scandinavian men in the English theme pub, and eventually returned to our cabin to watch Zoolander on DVD on my computer, which seemed totally normal and sane in comparison
with the rest of it all.

Apologies and a bit of writing

November 11, 2006 by

Apologies everyone for wussing out on blog writing over the last 2 weeks of Treasured. It was quite a hard process towards the end, and I felt a bit too submerged to blog it. However the production was good I think, and Katie and I are considering the next steps for the project.Thanks to all who participated.

Now we’re in Helsinki – see Katie’s blog for travel details. I am doing some filming of our overland journey, and occasionally writing bits. Here’s a bit:

So much time spent waiting and wanting.
Snow has fallen.
Ships sail.
I wash my underwear in the hotel sink and dry it above the bath.
We are held up in the static brown comfort of the Radisson.
In the night I have two dreams,

of being frozen to a Helsinki pavement amongst the grit and ice, and being stuck forever on a cruise ship in the Baltic sea.

Our rucksacks are getting heavier with duty-free vodka, gifted mittens and paper momentos.
10 countries.
13 nights.
Too many miles to calculate.
I think of arriving into Waterloo attached to my travel-worn thermal underwear and with a head full of finished moments.

Stockholm by day

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242_thumb.jpgWe were lucky enough to have most of the day in Stockholm. It was a beautiful sunny day, and showed off the city at its best. The sun glinted off the water, which is everywhere (the city is made up of 4 islands).
We had a stroll around and took far too many pictures of nice looking buildings.
Then we decided to visit the architecture museum, which turned out to share its spacious modern building with the modern art gallery, and was really good. Lots of little models of buildings, and I even saw two Mondrian paintings (which I’d missed out on in Amsterdam last weekend).

Speeding to Stockholm

November 10, 2006 by

239_thumb.jpgThe high speed train journey to Stockholm was incredibly picturesque. Little painted wooden houses nestled by the sides of beautiful tree-lined lakes. We had some Danish Krona left over, and had already bought some lunch, so blew the rest on some beers and a small bottle of wine for later. I did look like a bit of an alcoholic carrying it all back from the buffet car though.

A night and a day in Stockholm

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247_thumb.jpgWe started to feel a bit like the world was against us during our one night in Stockholm. We wandered around a bit then went to find a vegetarian buffet restaurant recommended in the guide book – when we got there we got extra excited because it had an amazing view over the city. But it had stopped serving an hour before at 9pm (vegetarians!). We eventually found some grub at a cafe, and following that decided to get the tunnelbana into the city centre to visit Stockholm’s Ice Bar (where everything’s made of ice). We arrived to find a sign outside saying it was closed for maintenance for 7 days. Humph. The night was rescued when we found a cool little morrocan style bar near our hotel, and the barman made me a very wonderful mojito – result.

I’ll write about the day in the next entry…

Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen

November 9, 2006 by

After a two hour afternoon kip we got our act together and hit Copenhagen. Wandered over to the harbour and found an Italian restaurant (it’s going to be a theme, since we’re both veggie and meat/fish features pretty heavily in Scandinavian cuisine). We found a bar later on in the ‘latin quarter’ which may/may not have been a gay bar – there were lots of guys, and it did seem on further inspection that they were all talking in couples, but whatever, it had amazing red and gold vintage wallpaper and we felt like we’d gone back in time 100 years.

Mission Helsinki

November 7, 2006 by

Me and Jane are off on a “work” trip to Helsinki to attend the Informal
European Theatre Meeting taking place there from 9th to 12th November.
Our mission is to get there without flying, and we’ve decided to take a
circular route around the Baltic Sea. We’ll pass through Belgium,
Germany, Denmark, and Sweden on the way out to Finland, and Estonia,
Lativa, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France on the way back.
It’s a bit of a long way round, but it should be quite an adventure.

Bruxelles Rendevous

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Jane and I met up at Bruxelles-Midi train station, went straight to Haagen Daas, and got a belgian waffle down us.
We had about five hours to kill before our overnight train to Hamburg, so walked into the city and explored for a while. My geographer genes told me that if we walked up the hill we’d be sure to find something interesting, and we were rewarded with a big cathedral, lovely old narrow streets and courtyards, and a great little Italian restaurant where the owners treated you like family (and I got to do all the ordering in Italian, hooray).
Then it was into the poshest sleeper cabin I’ve ever been in for the train journey to Hamburg, complete with sink and towels in a little cabinet, and breakfast served on our cabin’s table in the morning. How very civilised.

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