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Published: October 10th 2017
Today was the first day it was beautiful outside - sunny and in the 40s/50s. 😊 We had very little time in Tallinn, Estonia today before we checked-out and the bus drove us down the coast of Estonia into Riga, Latvia. Our bus has huge glass windows so it’s like being in a convertible – you can see all the landscape, stores, homes, vehicles, etc. It was only a four hour drive but we stopped a couple of times along the way at odd little shops selling strange souvenirs and terrible food. Kamie purchased lunch at one of the stops - soup which included tomatoes, green olives, what looked to be cutup hot dogs, some type of beef and red sausages…all in this one bowl full of orange grease floating everywhere. I swear he will try anything once. I ate part of an apple for lunch. It was grrrreat.
We crossed the border into the country of Latvia and it was uneventful… no border patrol, no customs, nothing… it was like driving between Missouri and Arkansas except there was a big sign saying Latvia and a tiny bridge-type thing we drove-under which told us we were now in
a new country. Because Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all EU countries, there is no stop between the countries. Just a few very quick interesting things we learned about Estonia in the last couple of days:
- Estonians most recently won their freedom from the USSR (now Russia) by singing and 100% peaceful demonstrations and no one was killed or hurt in the demonstrations. This was Gorbachev’s “fault.” The full story of the former Soviet occupations in Estonia is heartbreaking.
- Our tour guide in Tallinn said her grandmother has seen the country use 5 different currencies in her lifetime (due to various occupations of other countries – USSR, Germany).
- Average Estonians make around 1,100 Euros per month but after taxes only bring home around 400 Euros per month. This is around $470 USD per month take home pay based on today’s exchange rate.
- Kamie says the toilet paper in Estonia is like John Wayne – rough, tough, and it don’t take shit off nobody. Thank Goodness we brought a roll of Charmin.
We were a few minutes into the country of Latvia
when our tour guide told us it was a beautiful, sunny day outside so we were going to make a surprise stop… we pulled into a tiny roadside area and there was the ocean! She said we were now in the Bay of Riga which is also the Baltic Sea. It was beautiful!!! We walked the beach and put our hands in the cold water. The Baltic coast is famous for amber that washes up on the shores. We thought she was joking but our tour guide said if we looked within the kelp, we would find some. One lady on the tour spent her entire time looking through the kelp and found several pieces. I found one piece and that was enough for me! Kinda neat.
We arrived in Riga, Latvia – a city of over 700,000 – and our hotel here is nicey nicey. I love our room here. I know I will sleep very well tonight. We had some free time on our own this afternoon so we walked around Latvia for a bit. We walked down the street to the Skyline Bar to see the city from their rooftop bar. Our group had
dinner together tonight at a local Brewhouse. I sat at a table with 5 men and one other lady. These old men were hilarious. Bob is a dentist who said he retired “20, 30 years ago” and Wilfred told me he has a son who is 54 years old. These guys are traveling all over the world and they are in their 70s and 80s. They are also very funny, kind, and great storytellers. I loved the dinner conversation and laughed most of the time. I glanced over and noticed Kamie was entertaining his table. That poor table. The menu was so-so as usual this trip… olive/tomato salad, homemade chicken noodle soup, beef stroganoff with potatoes, and ice cream with fruit for dessert. Kamie had the same meal but he had butterfish and steamed vegetables. Nothing to write home about but I'm doing it anyway. At least they had the good apple cider available and the conversations were a hoot… the fact that several of them are deaf makes it even more interesting!
OMG - That reminds me - I found out today "The Golden Girls" on this trip are from Tampa, Florida AND one of them
is the mother of the other. I'm so not kidding. I've got to get pictures of them as a group. I did sneak a pic of "Blanche" tonight.
PS – Where is dad? Is he reading these? I can’t believe no smartelleck comments from him yet!
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