As the years ware on, I get increasingly worse about taking photos. Like, really bad. I have so many nice pictures from my first trip to Estonia; I guess that’s why I figured I didn’t need to take any more of the main attractions. It’s not as if they’ve changed much in 3 years. But anyways, I flew to Estonia to start a job, to actually move to a place and have a sense of permanence for the first time in years.
And boy am I bad at “settling down.” I should have landed and rented a proper apartment like a normal human being. But something inside my soul drags its feet at the idea of it. I’ve grown to cherish flexibility, rely on it – more of it has always meant more freedom to make a change if I was unhappy. Which is great when you’re traveling, but lethal when you’ve decided the road to happiness might actually be through weighing yourself down a bit.
Instead of getting an apartment, I bounced from Airbnb to Airbnb for two and a half months. A little over a month in two different spots, so I of course did have more permanence than I’ve had for a lot of the past few years. But still, it felt like living out of a suitcase. The job was taking much longer to get off the ground than anticipated, so I didn’t feel useful, which contributed to my angst and slowed my motivation to commit to it.
In two and a half months, this is the only picture I have to show for it.
On other days, the view is actually quite nice. My office is at the top of the hill, so living on the west side of it meant a climb up the side of it every morning. I did a lot of walking.
There are quite a few crows in Tallinn. I like them. I didn’t get around to it yet, but I know they’re smart so I was thinking I should train them to pick up trash or steal from tourists. Maybe on my lunch breaks next summer.
When I came to Estonia a few years ago, I felt like it was the beginning of my solitude amping up. People don’t really talk to each other here. They’re nice, but they aren’t exactly friendly. Which at this point I appreciate, but it also makes establishing permanent connections rather difficult, especially as an introvert already accustomed to avoiding any kind of social interaction.
There’s a vegan place at Balti Jaama Turg (Balti Jamma market) that I went to a lot. I highly recommend their sweet potato pulled “pork” sandwich. Anyways, you give them your name and they call you when your food is ready. I went there so frequently that one of the girls there learned my name – “Mike, right?” and my response was “Yeah. I guess that means I’m coming here too much.” So I didn’t go back for at least a couple weeks and she forgot or pretended to forget my name and life carried on. Nice girl. Cute too. Absolutely no reason for that. Anyways, that interaction sums up my life pretty well.
There’s a Georgian bakery in Balti Jaama too – I think those older ladies know me. We don’t speak any of the same language but they know a few words and frequently sell me a potato or potato and mushroom khachapuri.
Living in Estonia has also given me a taste for porridge. It’s a weird habit, I know, but for whatever reason I really like it. It’s less than 3€ at Reval Cafe, which seems like an awesome deal to me. Revel is the Starbucks of Estonia, which for some terrible reason doesn’t have any Starbucks. I have no idea why, and nothing makes me angrier. But Reval is nice, except for the one in the hipster neighborhood (which unfortunately was the closest one to me for a long time).
During the early days, I went out with a couple guys from work who were welcoming me to the company. Had a few nice drinks, then a couple of them went home and I agreed to go to one more bar with one of the guys (who had been drinking a bit more heavily). About an hour later he literally fell asleep sitting at the bar, mid-conversation. Quite impressive. After looks of disapproval from behind the bar, I finally woke him up and we agreed it was time to go home, to which he responded “sure I’ll just finish my beer” as he grabbed it and then carried on relatively normally. Interesting guy.
I took two weekend trips: one to Haapsalu and one to Võsu. Both were designed to be relaxing getaways to the countryside.
Haapsalu absolutely was. I stayed in a little apartment for two nights right by the sea. Pretty boring town if I’m being honest, but it was relaxing and had a couple nice little cafes and shops to wander around in. There’s a castle too, so I went to that. Did a lot of reading too.
Võsu I had similar plans for. It’s right on the beach, although I was early in the season so not a ton of people around yet. I booked a bed in a 4-room tiny cabin. It was just me and a German guy in there the first night. He was cool. I went for a hike through the woods and hung out at the beach for a bit. The second night was the grand opening of a party venue for the season – apparently Võsu is the young person capital of Eastern Estonia, known for (teenage) parties. So the other 3 bunks in my room were filled up with a group of 16 or 17 year old girls, which apparently is fine in Estonia, because it’s like the Alabama of Europe. But it was really awkward for all of us. Mainly because they wanted to get drunk and I didn’t want to be kept up all night, and they didn’t want to be around an old American dude. Awkwardness aside, it all worked out – they were able to take their drama elsewhere and I was relatively undisturbed, despite being dragged out at like 5am to help look for one of them that was “lost”. God damn kids.
After about 10 weeks of going to work everyday and being more than prepared for our launch, it became evident that the launch was going to be delayed once again. My restlessness getting the better of me, and having my flexibility to move around, I got permission to work remotely until it was time to launch. Permission granted. And so, I decided to somewhat mirror my trip from a few years back, heading to another familiar stomping ground that I enjoyed: Georgia!