I got up just in time to see Mike at the door about to go out for his “dirty work” today – he needed to co-ordinate a team clean a certain park area for a certain project. He asked whether he “disturbed” me last night, such as by snoring; I almost laughed, telling him that I was about to ask the same. After all, I’ve been told and known for doing lots of things when sleeping.
It no longer rained, but the sun wasn’t as shining brightly, and that affects colors on everything. Still, Tallinn’s is a lovely sight. I got ready and went to tourist information to book the reservation for the tunnels tour, a whole system of tunnels built back in the 18th(?) century by Swedes to defend the city.
The information was helpful, although the tunnels at “Kiek de Kök” tower wouldn’t open until 10.30, so I returned later only to check again. In the mean time I went to the town square, starting to capture images of people – the photographic version of people-watching. There are a number of young people in casual clothes (and later, in some cases, in medieval costumes – Tallinn is keen to sell this medieval flavor of hers) strolling randomly as restaurant touts.
The tourist information was helpful and reserved for me the tour at 12.30 at noon, although I was privately a bit skeptical whether that’d get in my way of lunch. Still I thanked the clerk, who asked for the sake of statistics where I come from.
I went to a shop which also has a big sign saying that they offer tourist info and tours. They sell a range of souvenirs, mostly clothes, and I asked one of the ladies (all of them have such impressive, rather handsome, features and hair) to show me T-shirts. Among the few choices (one for 15 Euros) is a T-shirt with a ship with several big chimneys; each of the chimneys have a country name on it, such as Estonia, France, Spain and Italy, and there’s a line of big words: “Estonia, Welcome to the sinking Euro Titanic!”
I asked the lady what she thinks about the Euro situation. She pointed out how unfair it is that they have to pay for the mess made by countries whose citizens earn maybe two or three times they do. Later I asked to buy tram tickets, and while that’s probably not included in their services, she kindly offered to sell me some of hers – locals buy 10 tickets at once, for it’s cheaper this way, she said.
I proceeded to Niguliste Museum – originally a church, once burnt down, later restored to be an exhibition and concert venue. The gate was so heavy that when I tried it the first two times I thought it was locked. In fact later I also helped some old ladies to open the door, since it’s just so ridiculously heavy. The museum is fine with its restored interiors and acoustics, although an old patrolling staff member kept coming to me angrily to admonish me “NO FLASH!” Yes, I know not to use flash! It was the red light the camera emits when focusing the image in dimmer light. I explained to him to no avail and was frankly a bit pissed.
I enjoyed an unexpected music in this church. [Cf. the previous article featuring all the related video clips.] But that means I had to miss the tunnel tour. Later I hastened to the tower, and the clerk told me the tours for the entire had been booked. Well, it’s just tunnels, right? (Probably not, but) I can only comfort myself this way.
At the brink of the square I went into a drugstore to get vitamin C. The dryness in Europe can be a real jerk.
I decided to check the restaurant nAnO, but the door was again shut tight. I asked locals nearby, but they don’t even know the restaurant. As I glanced at the book again, I finally realized: it’s closed on the weekend.
So what to do? I decided not to waste time on meals if I want to see the museums and even go suitcase-hunting. I returned home first to make some sandwiches as well as re-charging a battery – I should have no complaints, since I made probably 200 photos and took videos of maybe one hour with this battery! And I decided to upload the more-than-one-dozen video clips to Youtube for my blog article. Fastidious as I am, I had to modify all the file names of course; (hey, I’m not an animal!) and it took sometime.
Finally I went out again to take the tram to go to KUMU. I wasn’t sure where to get off, and when I asked a young lady, a big guy sitting in front of her volunteered to take me there, as he was to go as well. The big guy is Anton, a third-generation Russian in Estonia. We walked to the museum, and he parted for a scheduled Russian/Estonia guided tour.
I saw there’s a combination ticket for three museums, but I’m only interested in KUMU. However, the museum seems to be nothing “futuristic” as described in the book. After I purchased the ticket, I finally checked with the female door guard, who hardly spoke English but was sure this is NOT KUMU. So where’s KUMU? She led me to the door to gesture, and suddenly she switched to German. Finally a language with which we can use to communicate with each other! Her German is limited too, but at least with that she conveyed a tad more.
I quickly finished this Kadriorg Museum, which is housed in a previous royal house I think. The collection is Romantic, not very much interesting to me; what’s more enticing is the interior. After that I hurried to KUMU, all the time a bit concerned that my camera was running out of battery.
I rushed to the 5th floor to start with a Contemporary Danish exhibition. Often I don’t like such seemingly overly simplistic non-artful things, but these are surprisingly good after I focused. The 4th floor housed Estonian works over (if I remember right) four or five decades in the second half of 20th century, and oh my! The works are almost uniformly excellent to the extent that I wanted to scream! I decided to take photos all at once only after taking as close looks as I can. Gosh, they were good, so good that I suddenly was stricken with a strong desire to __________. The 3rd floor was of earlier periods, but among them were also some pretty intriguing items.
Afterwards I proceeded to “Great Hall” to see the temporary exhibition, which turned out to feature a number of Dutch and Belgium works in the 19th century. What? It’s rather likely I’ve seen them in the Netherlands and Belgium! But then it isn’t that bad to encounter them, right? And the exhibited pieces were actually pretty well-chosen – as someone explained in an introductory film played in the video room, the works were selected carefully to keep a consistently high quality and in a way that makes sure to retain viewers’ patience.
I should have gone to the shopping complex not far from the harbor, but that looks far, and it was already 6.20pm or so, so I returned home first, as Mike told me he’d return roughly at 5pm. It turned out to be a mistake not to purchase the suitcase, which has among its two zippers only a single functioning one, and the surface already has cracks.
I returned to find that Mike happened just to have returned. We were to wait for his young Russian Estonian friend Maxim, who turned out to be late, so we went to a touristy Russian restaurant Troika – luckily someone pulled some stops to squeeze us in, btw. Yes, it’s touristy with the staff in traditional costumes, the accordion players placed on high, and young female dancers in dresses showcasing their slim waistlines and long legs to enter for intermittent performances, but the food was pretty nice – I had BEAR meat dumplings for entrees! (Strangely its clear soup tastes so Taiwanese that I was almost a bit shaken.) And the duck was a bit sweet yet good.
After dinner was men’s night chez Mike, first with Maxim then another flight attendant friend of Mike’s joining us two. Liquors and sauna were the features. Maxim, who seemed to have “converted” to heterosexuality recently, had his confusion.
It was fun, but Maxim had to leave, and I kept postponing bed time beyond my limits, even though I had to get up at 6.20am to catch a tram No.4 to go to Central Bus Terminal for bus to Tartu. Finally I could no longer take it and bade good night, which isn’t the easiest thing to do. After all, who would have too much of such relaxing and talking on the sofa (which somewhat is constituted by two French beds) like this?
Before I went to bed, Mike warned me not to leave without saying goodbye!
Naguliste Museum 3.5歐
電車票 0.8*3 = 2.4歐
Kadriorg Museum 4.5歐
Kumu (Museum) 5.5歐
午餐 = 自製三明製；晚餐 = Troika。