We End Where We Began

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September 29th 2018
Published: October 13th 2018
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This morning we will take a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to end this tour where it began, in Helsinki, Finland. Right now we are in gorgeous Tallinn, Estonia, the last of the three capital cities of the Baltic States. Heading in to this trip, fifteen days sounded like almost enough time to explore this part of the world, but, as usual, and of course, it is not. I especially need to go back to Lithuania, to see more of that little country and to try to find the town that is named after my family (or vice versa). My last name was made up by my father; unfortunately he - or someone else - chose a confusing to spell, abrupt name that sounds as if we are German, but we are not German at all. In any case, our guide in Lithuania, Maria, told me that "our" town is not far from the Hill of Crosses; I even saw a road sign pointing the way, so it can be found.

We only had one afternoon in Tallinn, but by now everyone is focussing on either heading back home, or continuing on with further travels. The energy has changed in our group; this happens every time as people start to detach mentally and break away.

After an orientation walk, as usual we had time to enjoy the city on our own. Here, in Tallinn's Old Town, I finally found the Echinacea tincture I had been searching for in the oldest continuously running apothecary in Europe, on site since 1422. It was exciting just stepping into the almost 600 year old shop, plus it smelled so good. A small museum is also there, displaying some of the original furniture and tools used to turn herbs into medicines. I felt right at home. The shop woman understood English, so my transaction here was not only easy, but very pleasant. Happy with my purchase, my friend Linda and I continued walking through Tallinn, stopping in little shops here and there, enjoying just meandering through the narrow streets of this lovely city. It was a very delightful, relaxing afternoon.

This morning's ferry ride to Helsinki took two hours, enough time to stand out on one of the decks breathing in the fresh, chilly air as we crossed the Gulf. It was another gloriously sunny day, perfect weather for a long ferry ride over glittering water. After disembarking and setting up in our final night's hotel, we had our last orientation tour, revisiting Freedom Square where we had stopped on our first afternoon. Bittersweet now; we'd all say our good-byes at tonight's farewell dinner. Tomorrow we'd leave at different times, heading off to our own futures, with lovely and happy and sometimes very strange or funny memories of our trip. It's amazing to me how we can all come together and then just leave at the end, richer for having met fellow travellers, but still taking our leave of each other when the time is up. That's the hard part for me. But we don't leave the same person as we arrived; we've been changed by our experiences, our memories, by others who have touched our souls, even for only such a short period of time. Love extends outwards, like ripples in a pond, magnifying, not lessening anything. We are enriched by our travels, in so many ways. But it's still hard to say good-bye.


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