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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First Impressions

'Fuck Riga,' I proclaim. We are walking into the Old Town section of Tallinn. The streets are cobbled and it is dark but already I have begun to fall in love with this place. On the bus from St.Petersburg I couldn't help but notice the changes. Here in Estonia the twilight lasts for hours. On shopfronts the Cyrillic alphabet of Russia had slunk away to the distance and had been replaced by a language that was fond of double letters. Stop signs were now Stopp signs. Hotels were called Hotells. Their vowels had dots above them. It was exciting. I immediately wanted to live here.

'Seriously. Fuck Riga. Fuck Latvia altogether. I don' t care for their constant stag parties or the Tectonic knights...'
'Teutonic knights,' corrects Chris.
I stamp my feet angrily. 'I! Don't! Care!'

Perhaps I was a bit hasty in wanting to live in Tallinn indefinitely. At this stage of the night we had yet to find a place to stay for the evening. We wandered around aimlessly down the myriad streets where music seeped out of various bars that were heavily aimed at tourists. I tried to take pictures to capture the mood of the night- the slight mist, people walking around in twos already indifferent to the town around them, the moon that hung limply in the night sky- but every photo seemed to not do Tallinn justice. They were as two-dimensional as you'd expect.

Eventually, after Nik flicked through the book several times, we found the Old Town Backpackers....which was too full. The girl who was on duty asked us to wait outside while she checked on one of the other hostels. 'It seems you're in luck. Number ten, Lai street,' said she, giving us a small flyer where it had a crudely-drawn map of the hostel on the back.

We staggered through the door of Tallinn Backpackers about ten minutes later. It was around eleven at night. We climbed the stairs up to the reception area where a bearded Welsh guy sat. He peered at us from behind the reception desk. 'Hey guys. Come on in,' he says, 'But do you mind taking off your shoes first?'


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