Escaping the Dirty Saint Petersburg Air
Trip Start Feb 05, 2006
33Trip End Jun 30, 2006
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After having crossed half of Finland on a roughly traveling Russian bus, to meet my aunt Bärbel was wonderful. She came to Saint Petersburg with a group of individual tourists. They planned to travel to Moscow on the Neva River on a cruise ship.
As a present she brought me six bags of the finest tobacco you can buy in Germany. Thank you, Bärbel! We roamed the streets of Peter for a while, then her cruise ship sailed away.
If you ever plan an indivudal trip to Russia and don't want to worry about a lot of stuff (just as we backpackers do), you should contact her agency. If you want to have a conference of any sort in a nice place, contact her as well. This is her contact data:
Columbus Tours & Events, Projektbüro Frankfurt
In der Au 47
Tel.: 069/97 84 37 76
Fax: 069/97 84 37 79
Mobil: 0172/6 73 84 86
From Saint Petersburg to Tallinn
Nevertheless, the air in Saint Petersburg was too dirty for me, as I turned out to be highly allergic during the last six months. I simply couldn't breathe and was drained in sweat all day and night. So my travelmate Mari and I left for Estonia.
The bus takes about 6 hours from Saint Petersburg to Tallinn. The price is ca. 700 Rubles (20€, ask for a student discount!!!) with Eurolines. There are cheaper buses. Check out Ecolines or ask around when you are in Peter.
We chose to use Eurolines, because we thought that there would be air-conditioning. As a matter of course, we wasted our money. The bus ride was quite exhausting. The air inside the cabin was so hot, that I sweat even more than in Peter and also couldn't breathe.
The border crossing to Estonia (at Narva) was quite interesting, because you could see a huge fortress on the other side of the river. It seems like the Estonians are scared of the Russians.
When we stepped off the bus in Tallinn at 5 o'clock in the morning I felt better instantly. I COULD BREATHE. The air was fresh and clean. Lovely Baltic Sea Air. The city was still asleep. We didn't know which bus to take to the city center, so we simply walked.
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Where to Stay in Tallinn
In Tallinn we stayed in a cute little hostel, the Old Backpackers Hostel, Tallinn. The caretaker was a very friendly polyglott Japanese. The price for the Hostel was 225 EEK (15€). In the hostel they have a TV (cable), DVD player, washing machine, sauna, very big bathroom and one computer with an internet connection.
The (Paradise) City of Tallinn
Tallinn is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited so far. It is impossible to find a house built in modern architecture inside the city center which is one of the reasons why Tallinn is UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. If you are interested in the history and culture of the town, you should read morea at wikipedia...
Wikipedia entry on Tallinn (English) Wikipedia entry on Tallinn (German)
(photo taken from Wikipedia)
Since the Tallinn airport is served by several cheap airlines, there are ships every two hours from Helsinki to Tallinn and Estonia has become a member of the EU, the city is packed with tourists from all over the place. If you are planning to travel during the high season, it's recommendable to book a hostel in advance. If you don't, surely you will find a bed somewhere anyway, but it maybe difficult or expensive.
In the city center everything is in walking distance. You can also rent bikes, if you are a sporty person (there are many hills ;-)).
After the busy, electric streets of Saint Petersburg, where no laws are obeyed and it's dangerous to cross the street when the light is green, Tallin seems to be paradise. Even though the city is crowded with masses of tourists, it still seems to be asleep at the same time. The nordic way of life. Don't worry, don't be hasty. Just take it easy. People are working, yes, but they are taking it easy at the same time.
Observing the Faces of Tourists
I like studying the faces of other tourists. In Tallinn, there are many tourist groups from Germany and England. You can tell their nationalities by the expressions on their faces, the clothes they wear, the way they walk and move their body. You can tell that somebody is German by the way the wrinkles surround his mouth and eyes. Mostly, the elder German tourist will walk the hands folded over his buttocks, wearing a basecap and glasses, looking at everything and trying to tell his wife about the history of this and that. Only that the wife already knows about the history of this and that. Actually most of the wives know much better than their husbands, but they refrain themselves from telling their husbands so, because of the arguements that would arise. German tourists are very obedient, they always respect their tourgide. Although some of them turn out to be wise guys. I overheard a conversation between a tour guide and a German tourist, where the tourist told the tour guide about the history of Estonia and Tallinn. I wondered, why the guy had taken a tour guide in the first place. Of course nobody would ever dare to argue. The highest principle in the German tourist groups seems to be:
Nothing is more important than the peace inside the travel society.
Unfortunately English tourists are labeled "sex tourists" these days. My Latvian and Estonian friends are quite mad at the middle-aged and elderly guys who take a trip to the main-land for a couple of days to have some fun with underaged or young local girls. It is said that they behaved like pigs.
Elderly English tourists, such as the ones who travel in travel societies, mostly dress their face in a superior, yet open-minded, manner. They seem to look down upon what they see but they want to hide it and talk about it in the most effusive way. Many of them wear objects of prestige and status (as well as the Germans) such as golden necklaces, rings, ear-rings, watches, etc. ... . They also carry their hands behind their backs, lying on their buttocks. They walk slowly, yet determined. When they see something, they say:"oh, I know this from somewhere...".
At this point I wonder why anybody would like to travel in a tourist group anyway. Then I reason that elderly people don't enjoy the hazzle of backpacking around the world. Just think about all the things you have to go through: packing up all this equipment, traveling somewhere you don't know unexcpectedly, you know nothing about the place and nobody there, you always have to find out about everything when you only get there...and a lot of other things...it's really a bit tiring after a while. No, old people need something else. They need a climatised bus, café stops, a reliable tour guide and a lot of comfort. If everybody would go and explore the world as a backpacker, surely it would not be a nice place after a while.
Baidi and I took everything a bit too serious. My head got so heated up. Overheated. In Moscow I had a nervous break-down. Luckily Natalie and her family where there to take care of me. If I would have gone there on my own, maybe it wouldn't have ended so well. Long-distance relationships are no fun. Intercultural relationships are a lot of works. I'm so young. I don't know myself. I don't even know where I will be in half a year. What can I do? I didn't catch that plane to China, although I really wanted to go there. This nervous break-down and feelings of panic held me back. The morning I wanted to fly, all I could see was red and black.
In this way, I have changed, revoloutinized. Listen to my feelings. Just do what I wanna do. Disussing this further would be a bit too deep for the traveldiary. Next stop, Helsinki. :-).
Where I stayed