Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Back to the Baltics

Hello all

It's me going on about being abroad again. Once more I literally have nothing better to do than blog while waiting for Powell to faff; the new factor this time around is the mode of his faffing... as Diana once said to Martin Bashir, "there were three of us in this marriage", and while I'm pleased to report myself and Powell have never slept together as man and wife, I'm not sure I can say the same about him and his bloody iPhone - yesterday morning he spent 30 minutes reading aloud the web comments on a Richard Littlejohn article. I actually walked out of the room so he'd stop, but I'm not really convinced he did.

Tallinn's bountiful free WiFi truly is a dangerous thing - there was a Japanese guy in our hostel whose sole purpose for coming to the Estonian capital appeared to be to put in 24 hour shifts sitting in the common area following the stock market on his laptop.

All that accepted, Powell's antics have been less irksome than usual thus far, primarily because we've been to Tallinn before (twice in Mark's case), and with the added social bonus of my friends Adam and Ruth being in town at the same time, we haven't actually been arsed to do any tourism whatsoever. Indeed we always had the stated intent of doing nothing more than sleeping and drinking for our two nights there. Both have been achieved in abundance (Mark actually managed to spend more time in Tallinn asleep than awake), though even his efforts were upstaged by our dorm-mate, a middle aged German man who went to bed at about 5pm on Monday and didn't arise 'til 11am the next day.

Not going to overly dwell on Tallinn again - I'm sure you have all committed my previous blog to memory - but a few new things this time, foremost among them the discovery of DM, a bar themed entirely around the music, art and general, y'know, vibe of Depeche Mode. It's, um... I dunno, it could have been a lot crasser, it just seems faintly baffling: we were the only customers in there at about 1am (there seems to be a strict 'never give ground' policy on the notion a bar in Tallinn might shut early, no matter how desolate) and the barman had the look of a man who'd probably punch Dave Gahan's lights out should he or any member of the band responsible for this purgatory have the temerity to wander in. The thing is, the music policy isn't just 'Depeche Mode only'; it's actually just their four concert films, thus further narrowing down an already pretty limited music palette. I can confirm from an hour's exposure that missing out on the Songs Of Faith And Devotion tour is not something I'll hold as a regret in life.

Looking for somewhere to kill an hour before meeting Adam and Ruth for dinner, Mark suggested a place with the glorious description "there's a good bar around here. Yeah, I can't remember what it's called. Or where it is. Or what it looks like. Actually I dunno if it is any good". We found what he claimed was it, a nothing if not memorable Austrian-style beerhall, named something like 'Austrian Beerhall'. Again, like a lot of things in Tallinn, it wasn't half as awful as logic would suggest, though even two one litre steins of beer couldn't dull the pain of the incessantly jaunty barrage of accordion music. Also notable for the fact the male staff all looked like criminals of varying degrees of hardness, but had been rather cruelly spooned into lederhosen (they were about as nonchalant about it as physically possible, i.e. not very), while the female staff were so pyrotechnically beautiful* we were both freaking out a bit... I sort of wanted to take a photo just to prove they existed, though I realise this could be taken the wrong way. And was probably intended in a wrongish way, if I'm brutally honest.

We'd gone back post-dinner (mostly to show the girls to Adam and Ruth), but when that shut at the unseasonable hour of about 11.30pm, we sort of mooched around town looking for something to do. Adam wanted to go to a strip joint, Mark to the terrible night club we went to last time... we ended up in an Irish bar, which one always thinks of as the ultimate tourist fail, but actually it was full of locals doing karaoke, which is the ultimate tourist win. My, Mark and Adam's rendition of Bloodhound Gang's 'The Bad Touch' (yes, I know, we're deservedly going to burn in hell) went down almost freakishly well with the crowd (there was DANCING), but the greatest pleasure of the night was actually hearing the Estonian music; arguably I was drunk and deluded, but all the indigenous songs sounded like great lost college rock anthems, was impressive, we sang along in their conveniently phonetic language with less irony than you might expect. Also impressive: Estonians do not take karaoke very seriously, which can always be a thorny issue when men of our vocal 'talents' exercise their lungs abroad; but the one girl who did take it seriously had a really awesome voice, like ethereal and shimmery in a Julee Cruise style, which you NEVER get in karaoke anywhere and is, in hindsight, the main problem with all karaoke everywhere.

More productive return visit than we thought, then, and we shall be back for a wee bit next week... stay tuned loyal readers for an account of Lithuanian hijinks. And believe me, those jinks have been HIGH.

* Obviously YOU, my lady readers, would put them to shame, etc etc etc.

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