One of my most unplanned and chaotic holidays ever!!!
An ex-colleague and friend now works for Nokia and was supposed to visit Oulu for work…since March. I had been eagerly waiting for him so that we could do some sightseeing and winter activities here, but his plan kept getting postponed and by the time he reached the snow had all melted and the plans I had made were no longer possible.
He always mentioned he would be coming for 2 weeks or so, so that when he landed here on Thursday I had no clue that he was supposed to leave Oulu on Sunday afternoon!!!
Thursday we made some plans about just hanging around in Oulu over the weekend since he had only till Sunday afternoon. However, Friday afternoon he pings me to say that due to the volcano in Iceland all flights are cancelled, so let’s plan something else. We decided that we would take a train to Helsinki and visit Tallinn in Estonia on Saturday and maybe Poorvoo on Sunday.
Till 2:00 PM we hadn’t decided which train to take. Everybody was warning us that due to the flights cancellations the trains’ will be very busy so we should get some reservations. But the VR site was facing too much traffic and it was getting very difficult to book tickets. Somehow we managed some train tickets and hotel bookings in Helsinki.
No planning, no clue as what to see where, no timings of the ferries to Tallinn, no bookings on the ferries…NOTHING AT ALL!
Raghu wanted to meet his friends in another hotel the next morning, so we went there first. He seemed to have an impression that there were several small boats that leave every half hr from the port to Tallinn. I did mention to him once that we need to be at the ferry point by 10:00 to catch the 10:30 ferry, but I guess he is used to the US ways. Things are different in UK and Europe, where most offices are closed on weekends. If you don’t have reservations better to reach in time and figure out how to go about everything. So we reached the ferry point at 10:15 and they WOULD’NT sell us tickets to board as they close the check in by 10:20. The next ferry was at 2:00PM. I WAS soooooooo disappointed. We actually begged and pleaded with the lady at the counter but she wouldn’t agree. She wouldn’t even help us with alternatives. We looked around for some information but couldn’t find anything.
Then we went back to the counter and found another lady, who was more helpful. She gave us details of another ferry company whose ferry left at 11:30 from another port. We charged to that place. Too much traffic on the way, but somehow we made it in time. As we entered we saw the place was sooooooo crowded. Went to purchase tickets and were told they were SOLD OUT and they would put us on waitlist. I was sure we wouldn’t get to Tallinn, but Raghu had this conviction that we would. After 20 mins or so, they opened reservations for people on waitlist and after a BMW and a BENZ cab ride we were finally ON OUR WAY TO TALLINN!!!!
We were late and I was wondering if we would be able to see Tallinn properly, but friends who had visited Tallinn told me that it’s a beautiful town, but you don’t need much time there. 4 hrs would be sufficient There are many museums there, but one doesn’t have to visit each one, to which I totally agreed.
Once on board the ferry, I looked for a Tallinn map and/or a guide. Managed to find something and started reading up as much as I could on what to see and do.
Tallinn is a very small town…it has a modern part to it…but the part to visit is what is called the ‘old part of town’. Narrow cobbled roads with churches and cathedrals at every turn, tiny shops selling handicrafts and cute stuff, girls in traditional clothes selling nuts in wooden carts, the old town wall and towers made me think that I was in some other century and soon I will hear clip clop clip clop as a horse drawn carriage approaches me.
The one thing that I didn't want to miss was the Niguliste Church. This church boasts of a fragment of the Dance Of Death painting by Notke. They have converted this church into a museum and one can find detailed explanation of the painting and other sculptures in this church as well as other churches in Estonia. I thought the painting was very nice and that alone made the trip to Tallinn worthwhile.
On the way we visited this shop where the lady had made the most amazing use of colours for making scarves and wall hangings on cloth.
Last stop was to be the Kadriorg Park and Palace. I should have guessed we didn't need to go there when we caught Bus No 3 instead of Tram No 3!!! Thank god that I have this habit of asking people if I am on the right track when I have even a wee bit of doubt. Otherwise god alone knows where we would have reached!!!
Anyways finally we reached the park. What a disappointment!!! Pictures look beautiful…but that is when the flowers are in full bloom. At this time of the year, the place is barren…with nothing interesting to see.
It was now getting time for the ferry back to Helsinki so we started moving towards the port. But I hadn't bought my fridge magnet yet!!! I really wanted to, but looked like there was no time. If I had been on my own I wouldn't have gone…but Rags also wanted one and he was like…I will kill you if we don't get a magnet. This was because initially he wanted to stop at some shop and pick up a magnet and i wouldn't let him. I was like we’ll buy in the end. Now lets move fast towards the Niguliste church.
Luckily we crossed a market on the way to ferry point and quickly bought our magnets!