After my grand tour, I headed back to the hostel. It was Saturday the 12th and my birthday was fast approaching. I had no grand plans so on my way home I stopped and took myself to a movie (Hancock – which lost its way half-way through) then the supermarket to pick up dinner fixins then back to the Hostel.
I get in, fully expecting to have a nice, quiet night, maybe write up a blog or two and generally be chill.
Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
I run into Indie, the guy from my top bunk. He’s met up with Liber (a Canadian from Montreal) and Marlei (a Ph.D in ecological simulations from Brazil) in the common room of the hostel and they’re all planning on going out. I mention it’s my birthday the next day and now Indie won’t take no for an answer. I’m going out, too!
We all head back out to Old Town, meeting up with Anna, Indie’s friend who is a Latvian belly dancer at the Freedom Statue along the way. We wander for a bit, passing a hen night group selling various things to make the money to buy their
friend’s wedding dress (it’s a hen night thing). We end up buying a banana, a couple of mentos, a rose and a condom (and are now ready for “Let’s Make a Deal”). I should digress for moment here to say that the bane of Eastern Europe right now is the Stag/Hen dos coming from England. With cheap airfare, groups of bachelors and bachelorettes are flying over for drunken weekends and generally being obnoxious and giving their countrymen a bad name and worse reputation.
Anyway, we continue on and end up in a French bar. A little place in a basement covered in pictures from Baz Luhrman’s “Moulin Rouge” and paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec (Bailey…tell me who he is). We each have a beer, have conversations amongst ourselves and with drunk
Latvians and when it gets too stuffy and packed, we move on, ending up in a place descriptively called The Cuban Café.
We’re there when the clock strikes midnight and the gang of four sing happy birthday and Indie orders a round of Tequila shots. So, if you’ve been paying attention (this is going to sound like a logic puzzle) – the American (me), Brit (Indie), Brazilian, Canadian and Latvian and doing shots of Mexican alcohol in a Cuban bar. As Faye pointed out, this is either the start of a joke or a United Colors of Benneton ad.
A couple more rounds and dancing ensues. Not by me, mind you, at least not on my feet. I chair dance with
the best of them but I’m not getting up…okay, I get up. I dance a little bit. Of course, dinner (which I had so thoughtfully purchased ahead of time) was still sitting in the fridge back at the hostel and while we tried to eat bar food, it wasn’t enough. At 3:30am or so, we all trouped out (well, minus Liber who had called it a night, twice, by 2:30) to find a late night eatery. This isn’t as easy as it might sound, mind you. At first we thought our only choice was going to be McDonald’s but thankfully, we found a Cili Pica open which served pizza. When we finally made our way back to the Hostel, it was near 5am and I had been toasted and roasted
pretty well for my birthday.
The next morning, we all got up pretty late. My clothes, which had been washed, had not dried so they were getting tumbled and Indie and decided to have a mellow day of wandering. We had a long conversation about the Americanization of Europe which included a lot of talk of Mackers (stemming in part from our late night food choices) which put us both in a mood for fast food goodness. We went in and immediately I noticed a guy sleeping in his burger. Literally. It was like he had taken two bites and then just collapsed. His hand was still wrapped on the bun and his head was using it as a pillow. We ordered our food and as we made our way to the table I checked to make sure the guy was breathing. He was. A few minutes later, I told the manager. A few minutes after that, security arrived. Indie and I wondered about the quickness of their response, if this McDonald’s had a contract with them since they were so close to the train and bus stations and what have you. We finished our burgers but couldn’t leave. We kinda had to stay and see how this all played out. I explained to Indie this is the kind of thing I see all the time. Somehow I find these situations and notice them, or maybe I’m just open to them happening. Either way, from yesterday’s “excursion” with my new friend to a clearly drugged out man in Mickey D’s, life is never dull.
By the time it was over, the police had been called and the guy half dragged away to a waiting police wagon. Obviously, we don’t know what he was on, but it was something, since he quite literally couldn’t wake up. He would open his eyes then immediately fall back asleep. As soon as he was safely in the paddywagon, We figured it was safe for us to leave as well, so we went and had a bit of a wander around town, finding a weird art school graduation exhibit of applied, practical design and a great chat in an English Sports bar (where Cricket was on the TV, so there was nothing exciting to distract us).
By this point, it was getting close to time for me to catch my bus, so back to the hostel, pack my bag with my now dry clothes, say goodbye and off I go. I get there as the bus pulls up, take my seat and start to write blogs. Then I stop. The bus ride is way to bumpy and I am way to tired so before I get too carsick I stop and promptly fall asleep.
Upon waking, I start up a conversation with my neighbor, a very nice girl called Piret, from Tallinn (where we’re heading) who was returning from a night visiting her Latvian boyfriend. We stop for 5 minutes and she buys me a chocolate bar (I have no Estonian currency) and then, as we’re eating back on the bus, I remember it is still my birthday so I tell her and she thinks it is now double appropriate she got me some chocolate. We start talking about backpacking, how it works, what hostels are like, and all that, when she asks me where my hostel is. Turns out it’s down the street from a shop she owned until Friday and where she had to go when she got off the bus. She offered to let me share her cab, then took me to the hostel, and out for a birthday drink. We’re going to get together for lunch on Tuesday.
And now, it’s Monday the 14th. I’m in a bookstore in Tallinn, listening to Estonian versions of “Lady Madonna” and “Memories,” waiting for the rain to let up so I can explore some more. The schedule coming up has ferries to Helsinki, buses to Vassa and more ferries to Stockholm. I think. The way things are going, I’m trying not to make plans too far in advance. The adventures are finding me, and I’m going to keep on letting them.