04.09.2012 - 06.09.2012
View Sun siberia and snow on awowchuk's travel map.
I arrived in Tallinn aroud 5pm and made my way to the hostel. I had just checked in and moved my stuff to the dorm when Mike (from calgary) comes in and after the obligatory greetings says he was going shooting and I should come. So I did. 10 of us from the hostel made our way to a shooting range 10 minutes away to do a specialist shooting pckage shooting a range of guns. We got there and then as we started seeing guns and getting the safety explanations and then moving into the shooting room I was so getting so excited nervous. It was a timber panelled room with a table in the middle covered in different guns! Shit! We got eye protection and ear muffs and then started slowly with the glock. I liked this one as it had a laser pointer and thus I got all 10 shots on the target. I was surprised how steady I managed to hold my hand, some guys were shaking all over the place. Most of us were doing the same package where we would shoot 6 different guns, 61 bullets in total. One aussie guy, Dave paid double of everyone and got to shoot 10 different guns and some ridiculous number of ammo. So after we had all had our 10 on the glock he got to shoot with a glock in each hand and 30 bullets in each! He absolutely sprayed the wall. It was pretty cool to watch. We then shot the revolver on which I was definitely not as successful, not having the laser made such a difference. Then it was onto the M16. This scary looking gun I found quite difficult as you have to get your face down so low to the gun to be able to see the tiny holographic laser, but I did manage another perfect round on this one! Next was the most fun- the AK47. Your adrenlin goes crazy as you are pumping 30 bullets into the wall. I cannot begin to describe how loud these guns and other guns are. Most of us were holding our ear muffs to get a tighter grip during the rounds. The next was the shot gun which is feels absolutely crazy to pump the gun and then set off this massive bang. You get quite a bit of shock through it too. Lastly was a desert eagle, one of the largest calibre guns made. We had one shot each on this and we had to make sure you have a good strong grip because it has a lot of recoil. I missed the target. (only 2 people made it) It was an absolutely mental experience. It was lots of fun to try them but god i'm glad Australia has tight gun control. After everyone had finished their packages we got to do lots of staged photos with the guns which was fun.
I felt absolutely wasted after getting back to the hostel, the exhaustion of travelling followed by the adrenlin of gun shooting caused me to crash. But I was starving and having forgot to sign up for dinner in the hostel I had to head out and get some dinner. So with 3 guys from the hostel we headed to one of the most popular places in Tallinn (and frankly the only place I ate at in Tallinn). It was a medieval kitchen in the town square called 3 dragons and all it served was elk soup, elk pies, elk jerkey and beer (and a few other flavour pies too). It was absolutely delicious. I could drink bowls and bowls of the soup. It actually felt medieval with big wooden tables, lit only by candlelight, served in rough earthware bowls and cups by women in medieval costume (who I believe were drunk). Such a cool place. We headed back to the hostel and joined in on the cheap drinks and drinking games in the hostel common room. Tallinn Backpackers is a really social fun place to stay. We headed out on the pub crawl a bit later but I only stayed out for a bit as all conversations were going in one ear and out the other as all I could think about was sleeping.
I headed on an organised day trip to Lahemaa National Park the next day. 4 of us from the hostel first headed to an ancient Estonian cemetery or at least what is left of it as the communists built a major freeway over it. Then we headed to the Jagula Juga, estonian largest (volume) waterfall. Estonia is basically made up of Limestone and thus with the water running over it at this waterfall the water appears to be the colour of beer, and hence we called it Beer falls. After this we headed into the swamps of the national park. We firstly walked through the beautiful lush forest of pines and Christmas trees to a boardwalk where we followed it over the swamp lands. The swamp is quite deceptive as in parts it looks like you could walk on it but apparently it is like quick sand and you will just sink and get stuck. We walked along this boardwalks to a look out pavillion where we could see the whole landscape around us. It was stunningly beautiful but also really cold up there. We then continued on to a swamp you can go swimming in but as it was freezing there was no way in hell that would happen but I did dangle my feet in the water. It was beautiful there as the sun started to come out and glisten on the swamp. We then backtracked back to the van and were driven to a local tavern out in the middle of nowhere. It was previously a wooden horse stable and now was a fantastic estonian tavern which served delicious food. I've eaten so many potatoes on my trip so far I would be quite happy to never see a potato again but the potato here were amazing! Served perfectly with my pork cultet. yum. Richard our guide then drove us to a little coastal town with gorgeous houses and cottages. This little village is so small it doesn't have a shop and we happened to be there on shop day when a shop-bus comes to town and all the locals do there shopping. So cool. We were such tourists taking photos of the bus. Then we walked along a short path to the coast where there was massive bolders in the water and just offshore an island that in low tide you can walk to. It was so beautiful, there was not a piece of development in site, just nature. We walked through a field of wheat (or some crop) on the waters edge to the other side which was far windier and still just as beautiful. All of us couldn't stop smiling as the sun was shinning and we were seeing this little slice of heaven. After walking barefoot on the sand we boarded the bus again and fell asleep on the drive back to Tallinn.
I had dinner in the hostel and spent the evening playing fuse ball and other games with everyone before heading out on a pub crawl through the town which was a lot of fun!
On my last day in Tallinn I went on the free walking tour which was guided by this fantastic exuburant girl who told us lots of stories about the history and the people and the city itself. It seems everyone has had a piece of estonia and half the time the estonians have let them as they are a peaceful passive aggressive people who just surrender to avoid conflict. In fact this year they have celebrated their longest period of independance in their entire history - 21 years. Well done estonia. It was a great tour but the weather was absolutely horrible, with rain and wind and so I left it early to go warm up back at the hostel. After I while I headed out with another aussie, and 2 german guys to Patarei Prison. It was about a 10 minute walk out of the old town, sitting on the coastline and is the most eery and one of the strangest places I have been to in my travels so far. It is not so much a museum but a giant abandoned prison complex that feels like one day everyone just trashed it and walked out. We wandered around the many levels, seeing cells, library, bathrooms, operating theatre, execution room and then the exercise pens. At times we needed flash-lights to see into some the rooms and would find a pile of rubbish or strange objects or just smash up tiles on the floor, in others the stench of urine and mould was horrendous. All of us struggled to comprehend the scale and strangeness of this place. This would have been one horrible place to be locked up in and the scary thing is it only closed 7 years ago.
After a while, we were all quite satisfied we had got a good understanding of the place and even if there was more to see we didn't need to see it. So instead the germans and I headed to the 3 dragons to have some elk soup and pies and to warm up after being in the horribly cold prison. I then went on a wander through the shopping area and some really cool modern architecture just outside the old town where I finally managed to buy a new jacket so hopefully no more freezing in inappropriate clothes.
I had dinner again in the hostel and had a few beers with everyone, playing some more fuzeball and drinking games before heading out on the pub crawl. It may be september now but the bars were still lots of fun. I didn't last very long as I knew I had a very early start to get my bus to St Petersburg. It is finally time to go to Russia!