Monday, July 23, 2018

EuRoad Trip 2018: Hipster Estonia, Ferry to Finland, Bar Tram with Katie

We gathered up our crap and checked out of the Airbnb. Having a car made this whole trip less stressful than it would have been otherwise. Just having a place to put one's luggage in between lodgings was frigging awesome.

After spending the last few days in storybook old town centers it was nice to make a change of pace and check out Tallinn, Estonia's hipster village area of Telliskivi.

Another cool Soviet water tower.

Lydia was always begging to go to another liquor store to search for obscure A-B beers. I indulged her sickness.

We popped over to a grocery store. Lydia enjoyed exploring the novel flavors of yogurt.

After last night's opulent dinner I was looking forward to cheaping-out and making a little sammich picnic. Rye and rye bread seems to be the rage around here so I was looking forward to sampling. Luckily they had little quarter loaves of sliced bread that seemed made especially for this purpose.

I went with the realest, dark as night rye I could find. It was so good.

We did a little hipster shopping and Lydia grabbed some hipster clothes.

There were some fun antique booths that I had fun digging around in. One of my favorite bars in St. Louis, Propaganda, is often screening episodes of the Soviet Tom and Jerry ripoff Nu, pogodi!

We'd run out of time in the Baltics. Time to sail to Northern Europe! When I think ferry I think of a barely watertight little lump struggling across the Mississippi into Calhoun County, Illinois.

This thing was a essentially a cruise ship that you could park your car in.

Helsinki, Finland here we come!

I was impressed how many cars and semi trucks could fit inside the thing. Loading took a while but it was a pretty orderly process.

We grabbed a table on deck and watched beautiful Tallinn, Estonia fade into the ocean behind us.

We sipped a couple of delicious A-B Inbev beverages: Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brune.

I was getting worried about this bird chilling on the roof. Presumably it's smart enough to know how far away from shore it can get before it needs to fly back home.

I was impressed at how nice this ship was. It was way way nicer than the Carnival Cruise that we abandoned mid-voyage.

They had Franziskaner, which is another AB import favorite of mine so I had no choice. Clear eyes, full beer, can't lose!

I was amused by Google Maps showing us in the middle of the Gulf of Finland.

When I zoomed in it even showed the shipping lanes which I thought was impressive.

What a fabulous lamp.

We continued our exploration of the ship. 

As we discovered yesterday at the Latvia/Estonia border, taxes on alcohol around here are real, and so the duty free areas are serious bidness. Lydia got a couple of treats. Baileys Chocolat Luxe was made with Belgian chocolate which seemed like a good move. And the other was Vana Tallinn Ice Cream. We just visited Tallinn and Lydia is an ice cream fanatic so this seemed like a no-brainer. A great description of this I found online is "a stylish cream liqueur the taste of which includes legendary Vana Tallinn, fresh cream and frisky ice cream. The outcome is cheerfully frisky, freshly silky and icily vanilla-like drink of the product family of Vana Tallinn." I have not heard ice cream described as "frisky" before.

Alcohol is whatever but I liked checking out the rest of the stuff. You know I grabbed a can of bear meat for later.

I got this Haribo gummy mix and it was horrid. It contained all kinds of weird crap including those nasty salty black liquorices that people pretend are food around here. BLEH.

We got a warm welcome when our car touched land in Helsinki. Get it? Because pee is warm.

Now that I'm here I can confidently describe Helsinki, Finland as a city that is on the other side of the big water near Tallinn.

We switched it up a little and stayed at a real hotel this time: the Hotel Indigo Helsinki - Boulevard. I liked the wallpaper a whole lot.

It just so happened that my friend Katie from all the way back in Illinois College days lives in Helsinki. So I was like "hey Katie want to hang in Helsinki?" and she bounced right over. Like a slinky.

We decided to do something real touristy: ride the SpåraKoff pub tram. Spåra is Helsinki slang for tram and Koff is a beer brand produced by Sinebrychoff Brewery, the oldest in Scandinavia. This bright red beauty was originally constructed in 1959.

The tram rides around the city in a big loop while you look out the window and drink beers. Some people say that looking out the window and drinking beers are the two things that I'm best at.

There must have been a flash of light or something because my stripper training kicked in and things got sensual.

Whelp that was a success. What should we do next, we pondered. We'd done some drinking. What else do people like to do... Eating! 

"When you arrive at Salve, you enter a time when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel. Generous portions of tasty Finnish food make up the menu – such as what may well be the country's best Baltic herring, not to mention Salve's stir-fry, a favourite handed down from the golden days of sailing. Salve's original style, relaxed milieu and delicious food have been given special acknowledgement in several catering trade competitions. The restaurant has no conference facilities, but table reservations can be made."

They had solid gin and tonics. Unfortunately they cost a solid $17 each. Sad. Now that I've had a chance to review the receipt, it turns out these were no ordinary G&Ts. They were made with Kyrö brand Napue gin.

"Our rye-based Napue gin boasts locally foraged fresh botanicals, including sea buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves. The distinct fragrance and flavour of an early morning, misty Finnish meadow is instantly recognisable. Napue gin was voted as “The World’s Best Gin for Gin & Tonic” by the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 2015 and in 2016 Napue won the gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition premium gin-series. Enjoy your Napue Gin & Tonic with plenty of ice, a twig of rosemary, a few cranberries and your favourite tonic water.

Tasting notes
Herbal and sweet, essential oils of meadowsweet and gentle citrus on the nose. Full bodied herbal flavour ending with notes of pepper of rye on the tongue."

Now that I know the situation I should have asked if I could pay more.

I went with the "Sautéed reindeer, cranberries and mashed potatoes". The price clocked in at about 1.5 gin and tonics. It really was amazing how much the prices of things changed as we progressed on our journey. I wonder how much the EU/euro is evening this all out.

After dinner we said our farewells to Katie and strolled our separate ways. I'm pretty jealous of her working in Europe.

It was still pretty early but we were pooped and retired to the hotel. It's a marathon not a sprint, people.

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