Sunday, July 3, 2011

Honeymoon Day 6 – June 6 – Tallinn, Estonia

Starting on the second full day of the cruise, Jeff decided to run upstairs and get us breakfast from the buffet, and then bring it back down to our room. We arrived in the port of Tallinn fairly early, and discovered that the port offers free wifi that we could access from our room. That was nice, because we could check our mail, post to facebook, and I could review Katie’s clothing guidance. (Katie bought be me a bunch of clothes and accessories for the honeymoon, but didn’t get a chance to explain to me what goes with what, so she sent me an email.)

The port is really close to downtown Tallinn, so it was a quick walk from the ship to the main tourist spots. The old town of Tallinn is pretty small – about one square kilometer (.25 square miles), so it was fairly easy to see in a day. It’s a really cute town – lots of really well-preserved medieval buildings, and an old city wall circling it all. One of our first stops was at St. Olaf Church. It was the tallest building in the world in 1500. And it certainly felt like it when Jeff and I decided to climb to the top of the tower, but it was worth it – the view of the city was great!

We wandered through the old cobblestone streets and bought some interesting sweet and flavored covered almonds that are sold all over the city (Rebekah had recommended we try them!). At one point we got to a part of the old town that connected to the more modern section of town, so we decided to tour that area, too. There are a number of skyscrapers and big glass-walled malls.

Making our way back, we wandered through a cool area that was all restored warehouses that were now filled with little shops and restaurants. We wandered by a restaurant called “Platz” and decided to stop for a drink. When we saw there was a “Taste of Estonia” menu, we decided to share that as a snack (which was more like a second lunch). We had fish and beets, porkbelly and potatoes, and a baked apple with liquor icecream. I wasn’t a fan of the fish, but the porkbelly was actually pretty good, and who doesn’t like baked apple? We also found out that our waitress lived in DC for two years – in Bethesda, specifically. We finished our meal with a cup of really great coffee, which was awesome, since I’m still staying away from the coffee onboard the ship.

Refueled and re-caffinated, Jeff and I decided to climb the big hill to the “Toompea” area, which is where the Estonian parliament is. It also has a really cool black “onion dome” church, and some great views of the city.

From there, we headed back to the cruise ship, and off to dinner. Katie had informed me (via email) that I could wear the shorts and tights with my sequin top if I also wore heals, so I figured that was an easy way to transition to evening-wear. Dinner was fun – on the ship they always seem to do something fun (or random) each night during dinner. The first night a clown came around and took a photo with each person. On this night, a pirate came around for a picture. All the waiters were dressed in Caribbean clothes, and they danced a conga line in the middle of dinner, followed by a semi-choreographed dance to the song “Sexy.” So random, but pretty funny.

Since the last night we’d spent most of the day in, we decided to have a night out on the ship. We got a drink in one of the bars with a big window near the water. Then we decided to go to an event listed in the “Today” schedule as this:
It was held in the disco, so my guess was that it was going to be a dance party where they played lots of love songs, or something like that. But I was wrong. Jeff and I got there to find a group of about 8-10 couples standing in a circle. We were the only English speakers (everyone else was Italian), and that they were just explaining the rules to the game we were going to play. It was kind of a mix between the “passing the orange” game and hot potato. Essentially, there were two long neon-colored poles, and you had to pass them from person using just your legs/knees while the music played. When the music stopped, whoever had the pole was out and had to sit down. It was so random. Jeff got out pretty early, and I got out fairly close to the end. The last three left at the end won a little prize (I think it was a Costa Luminosa keychain). The whole thing lasted about 15 or 20 minutes. It was fun or funny, but I think Jeff and I both left with a bit of “what just happened?” running through our minds – so random.

Neither Jeff nor I are generally big fans of the shows on cruise boats, but we decided we should check out just one. This was called “Dreams” by the Starlight Dancers. It was a bit better than the average cruise show, I think. The dancers seemed to be trained in some specific styles, like flamenco. Jeff thinks it seemed better because it had way less talking than normal, which is usually the cheesiest part. (It wasn't completely free of cheesiness, though. There was a fake dance competition among the dancers at one point, and after choosing a winner, the announcer said, "I think we're all winners here, because we got to see such GREAT DANCING!!!")

After the show, we decided to squeeze in one more event. There was a “Miss Valkyrie” event/ contest, and Jeff and I thought, given our interesting experience with the honeymoon event earlier, we’d see what it was all about. It started with all of the women on the dance floor, like a little dance competition, and I participated in that because pretty much everyone was (and it was a big group), and I thought ‘why not.’ They were putting leis on some people, and I got one. But then when the song ended, I realized that only four people (including me) had gotten leis. They asked our names and where we were from, and told us that the competition would now begin.

The person running the show would announce what the task was in all seven of the standard Costa Luminosa languages. It was kind of crazy, because he’s say it in Italian and all of the other women would react or burst out laughing, and I would still have no idea what was going on until he got to English. Also, one of the Italian ladies in the competition kept talking to me in Italian, and I mostly just nodded or said short phrases in English.

The first task was to read that day’s dinner menu in a sexy way. They let me go last, so at least I had a decent idea of what to do, and they went out and got me a copy of the English menu so I could read everything in English. This is not really the kind of competition I normally get involved in, but I figured ‘in for a penny, in for a pound,” and I did my best to make the salad and cheese plate selection sound sexy.

The next task involved popping balloons in three ways. They did a demonstration to show us what to do. The first involved running at one of the people running the show head on (he was running, too), and popping the balloon between the two of you. The second was running backwards (he was also running backwards) and popping it between your backs. And the third had that guy sitting in a chair with a balloon on top of him, and you ran from the far corner of the dance floor and jumped on top of it to break it. There was no getting out now, and the other (middle-aged) ladies in the competition did it, so I went ahead. I think it probably helped to have a semi-sharp sequin shirt on, because I did a pretty awesome job of popping balloons, if I do say so myself. ;) And in some ways, I had it easy – when the last lady went, they put about 8 balloons in the guys lap, and then two other guys lifted her up and down until they were all broken – so ridiculous.

The final challenge (it was down to just me and the one other lady now) focused on the importance of being a good mother. So two full-grown men (with lots of tattoos) came out dressed as babies and climbed into each of our laps. Then we had to sing them a lullabye (into the microphone). Singing is definitely not my strongpoint, but I went for “Hush little baby,” and only had to get a few verses in before the baby “fell asleep.” The second part of the task was to “put a diaper on the baby,” which essentially meant wrapping a sheet around the baby while he tried to crawl away. It was all super ridiculous, and pretty embarrassing, and Jeff was there video-ing the whole thing.

In the end, I won 2nd place in the Miss Costa Luminosa contest, and got a free Costa towel (and some pretty unique memories). Overall it was pretty hilarious, but I think I’ll be a lot more careful what kind of competitions I get myself into in the future…

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