This is What I Learned about Estonia, Finland and Life in General (Part 1)

This is What I Learned about Estonia, Finland and Life in General (Part 1)

Part 1: The Ferry and Human Kindness

An hour or more before the ferry leaves

I spent a day in Tallinn and then got aboard the Tallink Ferry to Helsinki. My first mistake was thinking, in my own childish way, that I could simply walk to the boat and get on board. I left my Airbnb in plenty of time to walk to the terminal, and so I just walked to where I saw the big boats the day before. Then I checked my boarding pass and put the address of Terminal D into google maps, and it turned out that I was quite far away from where I was supposed to be, and my time cushion was quickly running out.

I made my way as quickly as I could to the terminal. I got behind two women who were also walking quite quickly in the same direction, so I thought surely they were also going to Helsinki. We entered the building where the terminal was, and then they went out a side door. I asked them if they were going to the ferry, and they said, “No” or however you say it in Estonian. Lesson learned… don’t just follow random people thinking they know where they are going.

See the big ships in the distance?

So I went back to my google map and retraced my steps. Now I found a group of older, “cruise-looking” people who seemed to be heading in the right direction. I followed them and came to a little series of gates like you might find in the airport where you scan your boarding pass to get through. However, there was a lady frantically yelling at people, and so we all just went through one gate that was already open because it seemed like the thing to do.

I just kept on following the group up the escalator and down hallway after hallway until we got to the gangway of the ferry. Here, all the people in front of me were showing these little cards to get on the ship. I, however, did not have such a card. The man in a uniform asked for my boarding pass, and I said that I just had what they sent me on my phone. I showed him the ticket information, but he said I needed a pass and I was supposed to go to the check-in desk. I told him that I never saw a check-in desk.

He looked at me with a mix of pity and compassion, and then he asked the two nearby workers to watch his station (all in Entonian, I think), and then he walked me onto the ship to an information desk and introduced me to a very kind, warm soul named Angela. She took my passport and said that I was all set. I asked her how to get onto the ship from here, and she said we were already on board. It didn’t feel like a ship at all.

My first cruise

Yes, I am naive. This is my first “cruise” although I have been on boats before. This was my first time being on a boat so large that you could be on it without having any idea that you were on a ship. There was a nice duty-free shop, cafeteria, and on the top floor a Burger King. I resisted all of it, and just found the sun deck where I could bide my 2 hour journey across the Bay of Tallinn in relative peace while reading a book.


As I was leaving the ferry, I saw the man in uniform again and thanked him 3 more times. I cannot get over how much a simple act of kindness from another human being can change your life.




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Side note

I also learned that Estonians have “piragi” or “piradzini” much like Latvians, but they are called “peekonipir” and they are not quite as good as the Latvian version. At least the ones at Circle K were not—a bit more doughy and not as moist. I need to do a series on the evolution of pastries travelling from Southern Europe to northern and noticing the similarities and differences as you move from region to region. I am sure it would be fascinating.

On another note, it has been awhile since I really traveled on my own, and it is amazing how you just forget simple things and make mistakes. I guess it is all part of relearning and living life, but it sure does make me feel like I am losing a bit of my mental capacity.



One Reply to “This is What I Learned about Estonia, Finland and Life in General (Part 1)”

  1. Great to see you out traveling the world again! I prefer ferry and train travel over airplanes any day of the week.

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