Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tallinn! Settling Into Our Apartment.

Bro sitting at the dining table.  Perfect little apartment for the two of us!

As we were lunching in Haapsalu, I emailed our Airbnb host, Jurgen, in Tallinn to tell him that we were still in Haapsalu and that it was unlikely we would be in Tallinn by 2p. He was such a nice guy - said he only lived a 15 minute drive from the apartment so we could just take our time and enjoy our visit. I replied back to tell him that I would email or call him when we neared Tallinn so he would have an idea of when to expect us. It was nice to know that we could take our time. Not that we would as I did want to get to Tallinn but with our driving and our maps, who knows if we would get lost along the way. Not to mention that we had to make our way to the Old Town and actually find the apartment - most likely easier said than done.


As I had expected, Tallinn is a big city and it took us quite a bit of driving to get from its outskirts to the Old Town. At one point, I pulled over on a side street and emailed Jurgen to let him know that we would be arriving around 6p and that we would meet him outside the front door of the apartment building. Once inside the old city walls, we had to follow Jurgen's very specific instructions on how to get to his apartment. The street address was one thing but the actual entry was on a parallel street - we basically had to enter in from the back of the building. We found the street address and then turned onto the street to the back of the building. Later on, we would realize that the back street was off limits to traffic - we should have left the car elsewhere and walked up. Oh well. It's obvious we're strangers in town - no one seemed bothered by the fact that we were double parked outside the building.

As soon as we stepped out of the car, a scraggly looking young man approached us, binder in hand. It was Jurgen. We introduced ourselves and followed him to the entrance to the apartment building. Truly a nondescript building and nondescript entry door. I guess it's the back door so it's not intended really to look nice. Jurgen had a special key - sort of a small, round magnetic bottom that he touched a correspondingly shaped and sized button with. The door buzzer sounded and he pushed the door open. Plain cement walls and a plain set of steps greeted us. We headed up one flight of stairs and that was the apartment floor. Only one apartment on the floor. Two keys and two locks to unlock. When Jurgen threw open the door, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. A very large and thoroughly modern studio apartment. The kitchen was very tiny but very functional - everything was modern European. There were some basic food supplies to get us going. The furniture was a mix of old antiques that Jurgen had accumulated over time - I loved the rustic dining room table. There was a good sized bed, cable TV, a bathroom with a European style washer/dryer unit and......free WiFi! Of course, the free WiFi was the most important thing to us.....after the washer/dryer so we immediately got the code from Jurgen! Before he left, he showed us how to use the washer/dryer. Then, there was the question of where to park the car. Jurgen told us that if we were to leave it in the city, it would cost us about 20 Euros to park it. I gasped in silence. He then offered for us to park in on a street outside his personal residence and it would not cost us anything. I gasped in relief, in silence! We graciously accepted his offer.

Back outside, Jurgen indicated he was parked up the hill from us. I got in the drivers seat and slowly drove up the hill to meet up with him. Once Jurgen got to driving, following him through the city streets was a challenge. I don't think he was looking behind him to see if I was still following him or not. At one point, we were separated by a few cars and I was praying there would not be a light change between the two of us that would have me stopping and him driving ahead. Luckily, that didn't happen.

It felt like an eternity but soon enough we found ourselves on the streets of a quiet city neighborhood. I saw Jurgen parking so I pulled over as well. We got our luggage out of the car and locked the doors. Bro confirmed the car was secure and we walked towards Jurgen with our luggage. How to get back to his apartment in Old Town? Easy. You go down this street, turn left, cross the railroad tracks and Old Town will be on the other side. Sounded simple enough *grin*.

We got to the railroad tracks and couldn't figure out how to cross them. We went down every path we could see and none of them led us across the tracks. I finally gave up and asked for directions. There were a few patrons sitting on the patio outside a nearby restaurant. Surely, one of them would know. The first guy I asked replied back to me with a perfect American accent. The way across the tracks was to walk along them for a short distance and the break over to the outside would be an obvious one. I confirmed exactly where we had to walk to be along the tracks and then headed back to where Bro was standing. Of course, he was skeptical about the directions but as I told him, we had tried every other route, what do we have to lose to try yet another one? And so we followed the directions I had gotten and lo and behold, we found the crossing as the guy told us there would be. Once we crossed the tracks, we were at the train station.  Finally!  I was about to lose it walking about in circles....so frustrating!

Outside the train station, we happened upon a vendor selling Uzbek pastries called samsas. They looked like puff pastries filled with meat. How can you go wrong with that? Bro bought two and we continued on our walk back to the apartment. By the time we made it back to the apartment, it was just about dusk. Neither one of us was inspired to go get dinner so Bro's meal was the samsas and whatever he could rustle up from the kitchen pantry and fridge......oh and an apple or two to draw down his stash which had grown exponentially thanks to Apple Alley. :-)

The rest of the night was spent doing laundry, watching some TV and surfing the web. I was in search of a supermarket - we needed food as we would be staying here three nights and I figured we would eat breakfast every morning and most likely dinner on all three nights. I also reacquainted myself with the landmarks of this city - it's such a popular tourist town and so well known, I just hope I'm not setting my own expectations too high!

Cute little studio apartment.  Old dining table, which I loved and a small, but very functional kitchenette.

Looking towards the sitting area/bedroom.  I did some laundry and it's hanging on the rack to dry.

It had been a long travel day today and driving just saps the energy from you. I was more than ready to just chill the rest of the night away. We didn't see much today as it seemed like most places were closed. Even so, I had a great time! Looking forward to tomorrow when we get to spend the entire day exploring Old Town.

Good night from Tallinn!