Tuesday, June 7, 2016

We Made it to Hogwarts

We spent a couple of days in the fairy-tale land of Tallin before receiving a lecture from Estonia's skinniest man about all of the ways the police were probably going to lock us up abroad before he handed us a set of keys to a rental car. And then we drove south.

We stumbled upon a roadside diner of sorts, run by a woman who I think might be the actual Anastasia. It was in the eyes. She also kept asking me to compare lockets with her.

Anastasia didn't speak a word of English and I don't speak a word of Estonian so we negotiated our meal through a mix of Russian, Pig Latin, and Ebonics for good measure.

This seemed successful considering that she brought out nearly 75% of the things I thought our conversation directed her to bring. And then we ventured on through country roads and Estonian hillsides that were so pretty that every teenage girl just wrote something nasty about them in a burn book.

And then we landed in a college town called Tartu. Or, as Adam calls it, "Tatooine."

I don't know why he calls it this. "Hogwarts" is a much more accurate name, considering that this is a college town that looks like something straight out of Harry Potter. So much so that I have been perpetually tempted throughout the day to stop groups of college-age people on the street and knowingly say things like, "that Professor McGonagall can be a real witch. AMIRIGHT!?" just in order to try to fit in.

Tartu is adorable. And horrifying. In addition to basically just being Hogwarts, the entire place looks like a town Dr. Seuss designed. And no offense to Dr. Seuss, but home boy was no architect. If you tried to live in one of his buildings, you would die. And that is exactly what I fear might happen to us in Tartu tonight, considering that every single structure in this entire town is modeled after the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Well, every structure except for our Airbnb . . . cabin? I'm not totally sure what to call it. All I know is that when we walked up to it and passed the open-flamed fire pits and wood piles and dodging a two-story garage that is literally being held up by sticks the neighbors collected from the nearby shedding trees, I suddenly had PTSD flashbacks to every scout camp I was ever tortured to experience.

Fortunately the interior of the place is slightly less horrifying. Although the bathtub is about 14 feet off the ground and is only just barely big enough to fit one foot while standing in a ballerina pose. I don't know what this pose is called and I'm unwilling to look it up so I'm naming it "the Oprah Winfrey Millennial Position."

We heard there were some cool towns along the nearby ginormous lake through which the Russian-Estonian border runs, so we headed out this afternoon for a little drive. We may have gotten lost. I'm not totally sure. We can't Internet in this part of the world unless we are holding the wifi device in our mouths with the antenna portion slightly lodged in our throats so when we're out on the road we're sort of at the mercy of fate and common sense and the navigation skills we were supposed to learn at scout camp when Jon Scoville was giving us inaccurate information about sex.

Lost or not, we wound up stumbling upon a mid-nineteenth century church surrounded by trees, far away from the signs of a modern world. Next to it, a few-hundred-years-old cemetery that if not haunted I want all of my money back.

The scene was so beautiful that I immediately converted to whatever religion currently owns the church and signed over a power of attorney to "God." (He's already started investing my money in multi-level marketing companies based out of Utah County).

Eventually we made it to an empty castle where two women served us grandpa dinner (it was 4:30). It was one of those places that if we mention it to any of the locals I'm certain they're going to respond in haunting voices, "Deristruff castle? That place has been abandoned for 200 years." Which would actually explain why the chicken tasted like rotting.

After eating at the castle, we wandered a local town and waved to Russia across the lake. We couldn't do this for too long because my left knee has recently started to catch up to the age of my eye wrinkles and so I've been hobbling around Eastern Europe the last couple of days like . . . well . . . in the Oprah Winfrey Millennial Position.

We're turning in for the night in Tartu under the constantly-lit skies. Tomorrow, we continue our trek south to a new country.

Poster for a local Tallinn production. You know the woman in the back is going to overact the hell out of this thing.

Sipping some warm drinks on the old fortress wall in Tallinn.

Wandering Tallinn.

Tallinn's square at night. 

I am wearing nearly every item of clothing I packed for this trip in this picture. You can't see the fresh chocolate stains, but they're there.

My new painting by an artist in Tallinn.

Campaigning hard in the Estonian countryside. 

One of Tartu's leaning buildings.

Don't worry. The world's creepiest statue is in Tartu. Also, OMG NSFW!!!!

The church we found in the countryside mentioned above.

And its neighboring cemetery. 

Our view from the castle.

The castle.

A countryside cafe. 

Lake Peipsi near the Estonian-Russian border.

Wandering the streets of Tartu.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I feel like that creepy statue is actually a metaphorical representation of almost all of the men I've dated in the last 4 years...they are still holding on to their childhoods with a death grip.

    1. See now that makes sense. I stared at those statues for longer than was probably warranted, and could not figure out what I was seeing. Man? Boy? Thanks for explaining.

    2. Suzzzz, we must be seeing the same men.

    3. Amy, I tried not to look too closely at the statue, the giant baby was freaking me out.

      Anonymous if that is the case, my condolences. I swore off dating for Lent because I swear if I went out with one more emotionally stunted man-child I was going to lose it.

  2. Every other scenery picture is so beautiful I want my next vaca to be in Estonia, where those statues are immediately going to come to life, find me and kill me in my sleep. Scarred for life.

  3. Re: the creepy statues, uh, do the genitalia look a little, oh I don't know, SHINIER than the rest of the statues????

    1. I'm sure they've been rubbed for luck a thousand times.

  4. PEPSI LAKE? Then all the Mormons ask: Is it caffeine free?

    1. I read this every time I see the name of it . . . .

    2. I think the mystery of where all the Crystal Pepsi went when they pulled it from shelves in the 90's has been solved. They created a lake in Russia with it.

  5. You're posting this from abroad so I'm going to forgive the grammatical issues but I really have to say these two sentences hurt my head:

    "Next to it, a few-hundred-years-old cemetery that if not haunted I want all of my money back."

    "Which would actually explain why the chicken tasted like rotting."

  6. Seriously, why is that building leaning that way? In the picture, it looks like the foundation was built to have it on a lean. WHY???

    And The Suzzzz is so. wise.

    1. I think it's built into a hill - the building itself is straight but the road is slanted. It's an optical illusion.

    2. I don't know how it was built, but it is definitely leaning. The fact that it's on a hill makes the leaning appear slightly more dramatic.

  7. I feel like your shoes are two sizes too big for your feet.

  8. That leaning building defies the laws of physics. And aesthetics.