Friday, June 15
Today we say goodbye to M/S Rossia, and travel by bus to Tallinn, Estonia. About half the passengers have left in the wee hours of the morning; the back half of the dining room is closed off, the chairs tilted up. We depart at the civilized hour of 8:15.
Our journey to the border, southwest of St. Petersburg, takes a bit over two hours. Eventually we leave the city of St. Petersburg, but our whole way is in the St. Petersburg Oblast or district. As we get closer to the border, the road deteriorates and we have to go quite slowly. Any number of people on the bus are hacking and coughing; a bad cold with laryngitis has been making the rounds. We will be lucky to escape it, hand sanitizer notwithstanding.
We have been told that it can take up to two hours to clear Russian and Estonian border formalities, and it does. No one gets sent to Siberia, and the sniffer dog doesn’t alert to anything on the bus or in our luggage.
We have lunch at the King Hotel in the town of Narva, just inside the Estonian border. The highlights of lunch are the local beer and real coffee! The barista is busy with dials and levers on the espresso machine, turning out cup after cup of the hot brew. The coffee machine on the boat made disgusting instant, or so I am told. I never tried it -- I drink tea, and Russian black tea is quite tasy.
After lunch, another 2-½ hours on the road will bring us to Tallin. At a rest stop along the way at a very rustic tavern, Hubby and Ron can’t resist the huge swing. They get it going pretty good. Some of the party buy ice creams and treats. I don’t know where they find the appetite.
One more hour on the warm, stuffy bus, and we are at our hotel, the Radisson Blu. After an hour to catch up and maybe unpack a little, Yulia takes us for a walk into the old town. It is just across the road and through the green park. We enter at a flower market; there must be twenty different stalls, with all kinds of arrangements and blooms.
The object of our walk today is to point out landmarks -- liquor store, grocery stores, pharmacies, ATMs and money changers, restaurants. We end in the old town square. Sasha, the other program director on this trip, tells us where to find the best beer in town. Six of the King Contingent adjourn to the Beer House.
We enjoy their red beer, then decide we might as well have dinner and another round. The venison sausage is very popular, as is the cheese soup with shrimp. I have bean soup in a bread bowl. We are all very happy with our choice.
On the way back to the hotel, Hubby and I shop at one of the local supermarkets. I find local chocolate and some Dilmah black tea -- we have a kettle in our room. Hurrah! Back at the hotel I begin to catch up on blog posts. What a relief that is -- I hate being behind.