Emotional Farewells and Fond Memories

Day 11. 6 August 2003

Wednesday. Bed at 2am, I wake at 8 after an interruption at 6 when Shaun leaves without so much as a goodbye leaving his lunchbox behind for us to remember him by… I’m awake now, so I get up despite still feeling a tad sleepy. When I descend upon breakfast Tim is already there. He’s off to the Russian quarter of Tallinn this morning in search of Soviet memorabilia. We reflect that both Shaun and Hannah have now departed, one for Finland, one for Yorkshire (via Copenhagen). Now we are eleven.

During breakfast Tim, records that Ele and Karin had asked last night if anyone had come on the holiday together (apart from the obvious two couples) – because they thought Tom and Alice had. He tells me that he noticed what was later to emerge between them on the first day in Saaremaa: it was at the old fort and Ester was telling us about how it was built to defend Saaremaa and its people from invasion, but how in the end living with the enemy just seemed easier, that Alice was listening to what Ester was telling us, but that all the time her feet were turned towards Tom. This is (allegedly) a tell tale sign of *interest*.

When Alice surfaces, Tim offers to show her Shaun’s lunchbox – and to even give it to her – an offer that generates much laughter from those present that now includes Steve and Vicky. Tim makes a point of notching it up as joke number three for the holiday.

With Hannah now gone home, Vicky moves back into her room, and Tim, Steve, Alice, Jane and myself move our bags into her room where they can be locked till we collect them at 2.30pm for the taxi to the airport. Soon 10 o’clock one, and Tom’s taxi arrives to take him to the bus station and from then the eight hour bus journey to St Petersburg. At some point, Fiona and Gordon leave, quietly and without a goodbye. And then we are eight.

Tim heads out at a pace in search of his Russian markets, old coins and KGB merchandise. Jane, Vicky and Alice head off for one last “girly wander round” Tallinn, and Paul and Charis are having a bit of a lie in after the night before … which leaves Steve and myself to go and see the streets of Tallinn again, wander in antik shops, buy more supplies of sugared nuts from the medieval wench outside the Olde Hansa.

This latest separation is however, short-lived, for only two hours later, the six of us (the Slightly Extended Crazy Gang incorporating Tim and Alice meet up at noon at the foot of the Town Hall clock tower. Jane reccies some places for lunch and whilst we wait, Tim charges across the square desperate for 5 EEK. I am first at the ready and slips him the orange note – and he charges off again, returning shortly with a set of old Russian postcards he’s just bought for 10 EEK (50p).

Alice’s Top 10 of Toilets

  1. Elevant Tandori
  2. Olde Hansa
  3. Soviet-themed Restaurant
  4. Kaali Meteorite Crater
  5. Valjala Toilet
  6. Sutu Basecamp
  7. Hagrid’s Farm
  8. Farm Museum (many flies)
  9. Oldhouse 2 (en suite to communal showers)
  10. Oldhouse 1 (leg room!)

Together again, we retire to the Café Anglais for a light lunch of salad followed by coffee, and it is here that Alice writes up her top ten of Estonian toilets from the week, and shortly after 1 o’clock we settle our bill, and make our way back – via the Olde Hansa sugared nuts and a last visit to the alkohol shop – to the Oldhouse.

A last drink is had outside the bar across the street (although I have to leave half my glass of Saku for Alice to finish), and we write a note for Paul and Charis, giving it to Vicky to pass on. Soon, the Takso arrives we collect our bags and head off to the airport – well, at least we do once we’ve told the driver where we are headed!

It’s 2:15. We check in our bags head for coffee to find Ele and Karin already waiting for us. We chat and reminisce and all too soon it is time to say goodbye. Tears are formed if not shed, and we depart through the solid double doors, through passport control and on our way to England.

Gate No. 3: We spend our last few Kroon in the duty free and watch our plane arrive, disembark, and loaded – Jane’s and my bags are at least put on board – but then Steve’s is so ridiculously small you would need a magnifying glass to see it?! And so boarding is announced, and literally as we prepare to go through the gate, Alice arrives for her 6 o’clock flight, and so we are last to board, as we hold back to say more farewells. As we take our seats on the 19 row plane, we pause to reflect. Now we are four.

Another excellent in flight meal later, and the journal complete to the very moment, we begin to descend over the green fields of England. We agree to pour ourselves a glass of Vana Tallinn at 10pm tonight and toast the group with…


Endnote: The adventure finally comes to an end…