The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

St. Petersburg Residency, Day -1

I love that for €54 and an hour and a half (round-trip, both numbers), you can take a boat from Finaland across the Baltic Sea and be in Estonia. The abandoned immigration and customs counters look a little forlorn to me, but have got to look completely eerie to anyone who made the trip before 2008, when Estonia entered the Schengen area.

The ferry terminal on the Estonian side is a ghastly pile of Soviet concrete too horrible for me even to photograph. To give you an example, this is directly across from the terminal, and is one of the first things you see entering Tallinn:

Fortunately, it gets better. The Soviets seem to have left Old Tallinn alone, so there is still a good-sized hunk of the city that looks like this:

Then there's this, a door you never, never wanted to enter if you were Estonian during the Cold War:

That building, at #1 Pagari, was at one point the KGB's headquarters. It seems to have been repurposed, which I deduce from my ability to photograph it repeatedly and not disappear.

Beautiful day, though. The temperature hovered around 22°C, the sun came and went, and the sea breeze off the Baltic felt great. I'm glad the weather held.

One more thing. As the return ferry approached Helsinki, I thought about the original settlers of the two cities, living a thousand years ago, rowing their longboats across. The catamaran I took cruised at 64 km/h, about ten times faster than the fastest longboat ever could have made the journey. We had about 15 minutes from the time I first sighted Finland until we were close enough to the archipelago to have waded ashore. It would have taken the Vikings three hours to cover the same distance. It's a mundane thought in the 21st century, but just the same, I thought it.

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