We get up early-ish with the intention of getting back to Riga, booking a ticket with Bitchface and hightailin to Tallinn. The room is a champagne and Yurri beers mess. We get it and ourselves clean and go down to the breakfast buffet. Fairly standard stuff. Shit eggs, mini hot dogs, real bad coffee, meats and cheese. As we’re sitting there chowing a hotel worker comes over and asks our room number. “There are three of you?”, “Yes”, “You can not all eat”, “Ahh, we’re already eating”, “It is 10 Euro”, “We paid this last night at check-in.” He looks a little distraught as he walks away. Guess the Jedi Mind Tricks didn’t carry over until morning?
We are a bit sluggish today but pound the coffees and get back to the room and pack up. Back down to the front desk to drop off the key and the girl there wants us to pay for the extra person in the room. Guess the hotels in this beach resort town are a little strapped in the off-season. MacKay gives the Jedi hand wave again, “The guy last night said it was ok”, I add some back up, “Yeah, there were three of us right here”, wrinkly face scowl, “But this is not normal”, “Well that’s on your boy last night”, she ponders this, “Ok well, you must pay for third breakfast”, we’re hung-over-it, “Sure, where can we do that?”, “Over there”, she points at the bar.
Señor Cranky Pants that came to our table earlier is at the bar waiting for us. He delights in taking James money, having won a small victory over the Western Riff Raff.
We split the Daina and hoof through the streets to the nearest metro station to make our way back to Riga. Now that the rain has let up and the sun is out we can see some more of the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful spot here with the old wooden houses, fall colors, Baltic smell and snazzy beach. Good suggestion from that random metro guy to come to Jurmala.
It’s a twenty minute wait for the train and when it comes it’s tight quarters. People heading in to work maybe. It’s a pretty ride though, beside the Lielupe River and through colorful little towns. I rather like Latvia, seems a good pace.
We get back to the scene of the crime from yesterday and as we walk up to Econolines we hold the door open for a dejected group of Aussies cursing and walking out with no ticket. No way! I look in and sure enough there’s Bitchface at the desk exacting her wrath on the unsuspecting drunkards simply wishing to leave her township. Look back at the detectives with an eyeroll. “She there?”, “Yep.” Ok here we go.
There’s a small line formed in front of her. Thankfully a second girl is working today, hopefully we’ll get her instead. Yes, we do. “Three tickets to Tallinn please”, “Ok, but there’s a little bit of alcohol smell”, fucking Christ! Really? This is just their shtick?! “No, no alcohol at all”, “I hope not, you will lose your tickets and money.” Man, what the hell is up with Riga Econolines?! Bitchface glances over and sees me, eyes back on her keyboard she bitch-types and says, “Same matter as yesterday?”, “No. We have had no alcohol today. None. It’s noon”, “It is a bit smell though”, “I don’t know what to tell you. We’re clean showered and just came from breakfast.” Should I have to qualify this? The girl shrugs in disagreement but prints off the tickets and hands them to me with a look of disdain. Fuuuuck off, these two are the worst. I snatch the tickets and cast one last icy glare at my life nemesis. She meets it with aloof haughty judgement. Agggh why?
We leave the ticketing room feeling like a bag of wet dogs. “What is with them?”, “I dunno man. We’ve done absolutely nothing wrong”, “Weren’t drunk yesterday, haven’t had a single drink today. They turned away the guys ahead of us”, “Yeah, it’s unacceptable. We should actually talk to Econolines and complain about this nonsense. They’re losing the company money and making travelers uncomfortable, giving them a bad feeling about Latvia”, “It’s true. Worst ambassadors for their country. Treating everyone like this.”
Alright, rant over. Time for some lunch. We’ve got a couple of hours to kill before the bus gets here. Guess we should play it cool with a sober lunch in case Bitchface really cranks up the spite and meets us at the bus to smell our breath or some shit.
We go back across the street to Old Town Riga just looking for some place to grub. Around the corner is a spot called Karjala that should work. We walk in and Eugene has an epiphany, “Whooooa. I recognize this place from the other night! Maybe my wallet is here.” He inquires with the server girl, “No, I don’t think so”, but she goes back to check the lost and found anyways. She comes back empty handed, “I’m sorry. I don’t see anything”, “It’s ok, it was worth a shot.”
There’s a soup stand that’s serve yourself. Oogie and I go for that while MacKay orders a club sandwich.
The guys beside us overheard Oogie had lost his wallet. Couple of Scottish dudes with heavy accents, “Hey man. Lost wallet? Hear ya. I lost my wallet and passport first night here”, “Me too! Well, wallet. Riga is nuts”, “Yeah, we came straight from the airport to a bar. Lost my wallet, passport and suitcase”, “Daaamn, that’s insane”, “Fucking hell. Had to wait two days for an emergency passport. We lost our jackets in that time. Fucking cold and rainy too”, I look at the other dude, “You too?”, “Yea. We need a fucking leash man, I swear. Lost my shoes. Had to walk home in me socks on that wet shit out there”, “Wow, what a shitshow”, “Fuck, right? We missed our flights last night too. Town’s too fun. Too fucked up this morning and missed them again”, “Holy shitballs, you guys are a disaster! You ever find the suitcase?”, “Nah. She’s a goner. Just tryna make it home now.” He takes a swig of beer. Ok that is some profoundly top notch goonery right there. “Well best of luck to ya”, “Cheers boys!”
An old lady comes from the back straight up to our table, “Who lost their wallet?” Oogie perks right up, “No way!”, “Yes, I have it. I tried to find you on facebook but you’re not there”, “Nah, it’s under a different name. Wow, this is unreal.” She hands it to him, “I’m so glad I found you”, “Oh this is unbelievable, can I please get a hug?!” Oogie stands up and delivers the most honest, gracious hug on Planet Earth 2019. “All my money is here too. Wow, you’re such a sweetheart”, “Well, you can spend it here”, “Haha we will!”
One of the Top Goons pipes up, “You wanna rub some of that luck our way, pal?”, “Ha, you need it!”, “Fuck sure we do. Cheers to that. Good on ya”, “Yeah, so glad we stopped in here”, “Turns out Bitchface was a Godsend, eh?”, “Yeah, crazy. We would have left yesterday”, “All works out. Kind of want a drink now”, “Noooope, noooooooooo. Wait til Tallinn”, “Haha ok ok.”
It takes a millennia for the club sandwich to arrive but we don’t care. Still on a high from the unlikelihood of Oogie actually getting his wallet back. We spin back to the terminal early in an effort to minimize the Scottish potential to wreck our chances of getting out of here. A nice bus rolls up and no sign of Bitchface. Looks like it’s a go this time. Good looking bus. Plush and comfy with screens and internet. As it rolls away from Riga we crack open three bottles of whiskey, drop acid and crank the Lithuanian dance tunes #KoolKids4Life
I wake up in a place called Salacgriva in the North on the water. Peer out the windows at a nice looking town overlooking the Sea. Wooden houses and brown brick buildings with a bridge over the Salaca river. Black out and fade back in as we come into Pärnu. This looks like a larger version of Jurmala but on the Estonian side. Huh, slept through the border. The EU is nice like that. This place is pretty, probably could have killed a day here checking it out. It’ll be nice to get to Tallinn though, looks killer.
The bus sits for a bit at the Pärnu station and we get out for a stretch. Wonder what the SEB is.
The bus glides through the picturesque Estonian countryside on the way to the capital. Fall colors all along the road. Looks like a nice, quiet country so far. We pass by a disc golf course by a lake. Whole lotta trees. About two hours later we’re pulling into Tallinn. Small feel to the city with a range of architecture through the centuries and cultural nods to passed occupations present.
We get off the bus and make tracks for a hostel that I booked en route called Old Town Munkenhoff Guesthouse. Looks to be in a good location in the heart of the city and walking distance to the highlights. It’s still a tad rainy as we walk across the city to the Old Town walls. Oh wow, the whole Old Town is in a medieval walled off castle section. The lights within mixed with the evening glow and rain clouds are lighting the area up in this incredible incandescent blue.
Yeeeeeah this is a tad on the spectacular side.
Ok, getting excited about it now. New day, new country, new city. Wow! Look at this place!
We scuttle through the cobblestone alleys looking for the hostel. “Ok, this place is super awesome!”, “Yeah, it’s amazingly great. I’m pumped.”
We check into Munkenhoff and get settled into a simple room with three beds. Kick the feet up for a sec and get situated. Everyone breaks out the phones for the intel gathering phase. The Karjala soup is starting to wear thin after that four hour bus ride, time to re-up.
Oogie reads our minds, “You guys wanna eat in a medieval dungeon?”