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There’s something about this photo I took in Estonia that lures me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, so I’ll just share.


(click for bigger image)

posted by André Lemos in Estonia,Photography and have Comment (1)

Finland, Gulf of

On the 12th of May of 2007 I crossed the Gulf of Finland to visit Tallinn, Estonia.

After doing some searches on the Internet, we found out that it was fairly cheap to cross the Gulf of Finland, although the schedule of the boats were rather tight (eg. not enough time to visit Estonia). Either way, we took our chances, and headed out to the harbor area in Helsinki, Finland.

When we got to the harbor area, we realized that there were more than one company that did the trip, and most importantly, we found out a company that did the trip faster (1h:30m), cheaper, and with more frequent trips.

So the plan was to do the check-in at 11:30 (don’t forget that you’re crossing the border to another country, albeit also from the European Union, you still have to do the check-in, much like you do with airplanes), so that we’d arrive at Estonia at 13:30.

The boat was very comfortable, much more comfortable then the planes we had used to get to Finland, had 2 floors, and was pretty fast (the GPS showed that we traveled most of the time at about 60 Km/h (terrestrial, of course), which amounts to about 32.4 nautical miles).

Fast Boat

After getting there,


we could notice the difference between Estonia and Finland, right away.


You could tell that it was a much poorer country, with a very different architecture


, and different kinds of people. Though the historical part of the capital, and the park surrounding it were quite nice (please notice the churches, and roof tops, and the walls on the historical part)



, I didn’t enjoy the more developed areas, as everything looked either abandoned, with lack of taste, deserted, or just plain ugly.

The Estonian people, would strike me as being, what we Portuguese call, “pop trolhas”, the kind of people that try to look what they are not, by showing of golden jewelry (most likely fake), wearing extravagant clothes, or questionably fashionable sun glasses. The cars they used also proved me right, as the model I saw the most, were beat up Beamers (BMW), about 8 years old with noisy exhaust pipes. Having said this, you are also bound to find some occasional blond bomb shells.

After walking around a bit, we eventually stopped to have lunch, on what appeared to be the typical tourists lunching historical area. Out of sheer ignorance, we had forgot that although Estonia was now part of the European Union, they still used their national coin (and not the €), the Estonian Kroon, and as such, we had to exchange some Euros for Kroons.

I exchanged 20€, which amounted to about 200 Kroons, knowing that a meal would cost me something around 80/90 Kroons, I wanted to have some more pocket money to buy some more food/beverages to take to Finland, since everything was so much cheaper there (lots of Finns do this to buy alcohol and tobacco), and so, just before I left, I bought a sandwich, some soft drinks, some chocolates, and a yogurt.

When we returned, I noticed at the check-in, that we had at least 4 different nationalities going on board. Finns, loaded with drinks for the Saturday night craziness, Estonians, Spanish and Portuguese (obviously ;-)).

While already on board, almost arriving at Helsinki, the predictable, happened. Two drunken (I think they were Estonians) got into a fight. Figures, I thought to myself… Luckily two of the crew members, with naval uniforms were able to easily control one of the offenders quite easily (they were very big), and radioed in to the Helsinki police, so that they would pick them up on arrival.

And so it was… My first trip to Estonia.

Tallinn -> Espoo (Tapiola)
KML file (opens with Google Earth).

posted by André Lemos in Estonia,Finland,Trips and have No Comments