Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24th, 2012 "Our Last Weekend"

     Our last weekend of this glorious trip started Thursday in Stockholm, with Abby & I going on a mini travel adventure by ourselves. Becca took us to the 869 bus into Stockholm which was at 7:30am, this was about a 30 minute ride, the others on this double bus were commuters, with ear phones in, laptops on, books and papers in hand, theres not much interaction between all of the occupants.
     Arrival at the tube brings us to a game of follow the leader, Becca told us when we get off the bus to follow the crowd to the boarding area and get on the tube and take it to the central station. Our tickets for all of this was on Becca's smart phone, she purchased them and they are good for 1 1/2 hours, for both the bus and tube. She told us that more than likely the driver of the bus wouldn't even look at the ticket, and she was correct, he waived us to the back. The gentleman at the tube only looked at one of the passes, I then fumbled with the smart phone and he promptly said to go on that he had seen the other email message. Good eyes he had.
     Again the ride on the tube was about 6 stops before getting to central, same as the bus, morning commuters with ear plugs in, laptops on, papers up, very little talk. I don't really understand it, as I usually talk when going on a commute for work, either on the phone or to myself.
     Getting off of the tube again becomes a game of follow the leader to get out of the subway up to street level. Hailing a taxi to take us to our departure point is easy, but have you ever noticed that more times than not, the taxi driver is more foreign than you are. Oh well, he got us there and for not to much of an expense. It's around 8:30am, the ticket office opens at nine, so we take a little walk to look for coffee, we see a lady with a cup of the good stuff and ask her where we can find more of it. She directs us to the mall right in front of us and we get our cup and head back to the bus stop.
     Others start milling around at the bus stop, trip starts at 9:30am, we meet a couple from North Carolina and Florida, have a nice visit. The bus comes, we board, it's a double-decker, not open air, thank God, it was chilly this morning, we put in our ear plugs, tune to English, there's a pattern here, oh my, we're just like the commuters now! The bus tour last about 1:10 hours, lots of history, lots of beautiful views of old architecture, sail boats, and people going to work. Stockholm is an old city, built on lots of islands, therefore lots of bridges to cross. We find that this works out the best for us to take these tours of places we have not been and you usually find the top 10 items in a city to see.
     Our tour does not end after the 1:10 hours on the bus, we now switch over to a boat and sight see from the water. We both enjoy the water, so this is an added bonus for us.
Seafood Platter at the B.A.R.
     After the tour, we have around 2 1/2 hours to have lunch and then meet Becca, Jesper, and Scout for the ferry ride to Estonia. We been referred to the B.A.R. for lunch by Jesper's mother and father, we get there when the noon business lunch's are ending and have a wonderful meal. We enjoy eating certain foods when we vacation and do have some rules that we follow. When we're near the coast, we like to eat seafood. When we're inland, we look for good beef, pork, or even lamb. Today Abby has a 3 course lunch with a King Flounder, risotto, and zucchini stir fry, then top it off with ice cream and cake. I, went for the seafood platter, oysters on the half shell, shrimp, crab, crayfish, and muscles. It was all very "delicious".
On board the Baltic Queen
     We meet Becca, Jesper, and Scout at the ferry, tonight we ride the Baltic Queen, from Stockholm to Tallin, Estonia. Now this is not just any old ferry, it's a cruise ship, lots of restaurants, bars, gambling, and shops to take in. The big thing is the "duty free liquor" buying that takes place. We taking a long weekend to Estonia, but Becca tells us they have a cheaper fair over to Tallin, a 6 hours in Tallin, and back to Stockholm, for those on a liquor run. Leaving Stockholm we view the literally 100's of islands that make up greater Stockholm. Some of these have many homes on them, some only 1. With the sun setting this makes a beautiful sight.
     We do supper on board, then go to our cabins for a good nights rest. We arrive in Tallin at 10am, our rental car is there waiting for us, a quick stop for some supplies, and it's "road trip time".

Strolling in Parnu.

     After our 3 days of driving in Estonia, we find rural Estonia pretty much the same from coastal areas to inland. It reminds us of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, & Northern Minnesota. Lots of forrest, farm land, and bogs. We see the remains of small grain harvest, lots of hay bails, and some cattle. We quickly find out the action is in the cities.
     Our first stop is Parnu, we find a Hotel, rest a little, and off to find supper. Becca does the research, and finds "Trahter Postiepoiss". Now for all garlic lovers out there, Estonia is definitely the place to visit. We enter our adventure this night with thoughts of starters and main course. We end the night with just eating the starters. Garlic toast, dumplings with garlic, herring with garlic, beans and garlic, you catch the pattern here. We entered the restaurant with no one there, by the time we leave the dinning room is full. A tour bus of Swedes is one of the group and they fill up half of the dinning room. One of the leaders ask us if it is ok for them to play some of there traditional music and we say no problem. He goes and ask every table and gets the ok from all. Out comes two accordions and the music begins. Grabby and Scout gets into the music and Scout gets her first dance. A wonderful time was had by all.
     The next day we spend around 2 hours in "Old Town Parnu" and then hit the road to Tartu, Estonia's oldest city. We arrive, find the "Hotel Barclay", check in and do it all over again. Tonight we find the "Gunpowder Cellar", an old gunpowder bunker converted into a lovely restaurant, we go upstairs to find a table, the ceilings must be 40 yards in height, all brick. The waitress dressed in traditional flair. The food again is heavy in garlic and all very good. So is the beer!
     All of our lodgings include the morning breakfast. Eggs, toast, porridge, herring, bacon, juice, cheese's, jams, are found on all, which makes a great start to a day.
Old Town Tallin.
     We take a walk after breakfast, find the local meat market, stroll through it, lots of fresh pork, and I mean all of the pork if you can imagine. Cheese, fruits, breads, spices are all found there. One thing about the European countries I find most enjoyable is their breads and pastries are hard to beat.
More views of Old Town.
Happy Birthday Abby!
     Road trip time to Tallin, the nations capital, our stay tonight is at the Merchants Hotel in old town. European "Old towns", all are similar to me, narrow streets, cobble stoned, tall buildings, unique architecture, shops upon shops, restaurants of all variety await you, Irish Pubs, British Pubs, traditional food, modern food, all to be found. Tonight we celebrate Abby's birthday at a British Pub, fish and chips for Abby, Becca, and Jesper, with a chicken melt for me, all served with chips British style, and beer British style. A good time is had by all.
     We end our journey with a long day in Tallin, walking around "Old Town", before heading back on the evening ferry to Stockholm.

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