Day Five: March of Mephisto [July 8th, 2016]

Trigger Warning: EVENTUALLY THERE WILL BE BOOB TALK, that involves blood, surgery, boobs, pain, and injury… I mean by now you should come to expect this, but I figure I’ll put a trigger just in case. [I’ll put a warning right before it too, so feel free to read until you see my warning, if you’re squeamish and don’t want to hear about it]

Today we spent the day in Tallinn, Estonia. Since I know nothing about Estonia, I assume a good majority of people that I know don’t know much about Estonia, so I thought I’d give a little history lesson because history is fascinating.

The capital city of Tallinn, in Estonia, was founded in 1154 AD, and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe… Think a Renaissance Faire come to life. In 1991, Estonia declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Estonia is located in Northeastern Europe, on the Baltic Sea. Tallinn has a population of 431,021, which isn’t even half the population of the town in Texas that I live in.

Tallinn gets extremely cold winters, like 25 degrees or below Fahrenheit,  a cool spring season with little rain, and a moderate summer with highs of 70s. Today I would say that it was probably between the high 50s and low 60s when we were there.

My day started with room service waking us up with breakfast. I had scrambled eggs with cheddar, a yogurt, and I tried to eat some cottage cheese, but it didn’t taste like cottage cheese to me. It might’ve been from another country. The yogurt is from Germany and actually tastes pretty good. I also drank tea, I’ve been more into tea than coffee lately.

I slept in my mother’s bed again last night because the ship was going fast, and it was really bumpy and loud and I could feel vibrations from everything and it was driving me insane. She says I steal blanket, Justin said he was happy that it wasn’t just him I apparently steal blankets from. I guess I take after my dad because he steals blankets too… Seriously, the secret to a happy marriage is separate blankets, note that now, you’ll thank me later! [at home Justin and I each have our own set of blankets].

I also gave Justin a call since it was like 12:30 am in Texas, and I knew it was far more likely to be able to reach him then [he’s a night owl] as opposed to 9:30 am on a weekend, which is around what time it would’ve been in Houston when we were leaving Estonia.

We had a private tour of Estonia. Our guides name was Lauri [like the singer of The Rasmus]. He could’ve been Justin’s long lost brother from another mother. He loved power-metal [we bonded over mutual love of Kamelot, Savatage, Nightwish, and Linkin Park], playing video-games, and having LAN parties with his friends. He also spoke better English than some Americans that I know. He said he watched a lot of American cartoons growing up, and his mother was a literal English [like the language] teacher, and that was why he spoke English so well.

We saw a lot in Estonia. One of the first stops we made was at a park near some former palaces that are now used as museums. Estonia had such beautiful gardens. One of the palaces we saw was called Kadriorg Palace [do not ask me how to pronounce that], which was founded by Peter the Great, and the other was the palace of Lady Katherine.

We also stopped at the Estonian equivalent of The Woodlands Pavilion near Houston. They had a poster of some of the famous acts that came through there, and there was a picture of a Metallica album, and it was LOAD! Load came out in 1996 or 1995…. [the song Until it Sleeps was what actually got me into the band, when I saw the video for it on MTV, when MTV actually used to play videos] I think they might want to update their sign. Lauri was telling me he saw Rammstein there not too long ago, and I told him I was jealous because I really wanted to see  Rammstein in concert, but every-time they come to the US, they’re either not near me, or if they are sort of near me [like Dallas, per se], I can’t go because of real life job obligations… like teaching. I also bought some postcards and a magnet at the little souvenir shop there though those postcards won’t actually be written or sent til I get back to the states.

We drove down a lot more. We saw the seashore.

I learned that a lot of Estonians live in apartments in the cities, but they own summer cottages that they like to go to. There was a Soviet TV tower that no longer works, and is now a museum. There was an abandoned nunnery that was sometimes rented out for concerts. Lauri said that he saw Stone Sour there, not too long ago, and Stone Sour were really verbal about how awesome it was to play in an abandoned nunnery.

Eventually we went to Toompea Hill, which is “upper town”, and has some of the oldest architecture in the world. Highlights included Toompea Castle, which is a 13th Century Castle that now houses Estonia’s Parliament. There was the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. There was the “Dome Church,” which is St. Mary’s Church and the oldest church in Tallinn. A lot of the towers in Tallinn all have names too. Kiek in de Kok was an artillery tower and its name literally means “Peep into the Kitchen” because from the windows at the top, you could literally see into people’s kitchens. There’s Pikk Herman, which means “Tall Heman” and it’s defensive tower that stands at the southwest corner of Toompea Castle. There’s Stout Margaret Tower, which is the most massive part of the town’s defensive walls. Lauri said that some people call her “Fat Margaret”, but he thinks that sounds rude to call a lady “fat”, so he thinks “Stout” Margaret is a little bit more polite. Nobody actually knows how that tower got its name, some people claim it was named for a cannon, and other people claim that a cook named Margaret once worked there.

The entire old town is walled. It reminds me a little bit of Avila, in Spain, which was a completely walled city. I think I might even have a picture of me, in 11th grade, trying to blend in with one of the walls surrounding Avila. Note to self: Try to find it.

The “Keik en de Kok” [aka Peep into the kitchen] fortification was built in the latter part of the 15th Centuary, and was hailed as one of the mightiest defensive bastions of time. [And thank you to Princess Cruise line, and the nice man at the passenger service desk, who printed this information to me, so I didn’t have to waste my internet minutes on Wikipedia!] It’s about 38 meters [approximately 124 feet] high with walls that are 4 meters [approximately 13 feet] thick. Back in the day, there were a lot of cannons fired there.

We also visited Lower Old Town, which is known as All-linn. I don’t have as much to say about the lower town, but it’s a really great place to view the kitchen fortress, and the town wall, which dates back to 1265 AD.

In lower town, there was a little Medieval Faire going on. It was pretty cool. It was a lot more medieval than say the Texas Renn Fest, and a lot smaller, but they had a lot of really cool hand-crafted stuff. Lauri was telling me that during Christmas time, there was a huge Christmas tree in the middle of town square and there is a really cool Christmas market. The first public Christmas tree was displayed in the town square in 1441, and the custom was to dance around it and then burn it down [note: Lauri and I also shared the opinion that “Burn it Down” is one of Linkin Park’s most awesome songs… RIP Chester] after the celebration.

Mom also bought me coffee in Tallinn. There is no Starbucks in Tallinn. There’s only a McDonald’s and a Subway, which is nice. It’s nice to see not every country in Europe has been somewhat Americanized. I had an iced caramel latte, and it was very strong, and slightly bitter. I think I like Scotland coffee better.

One of the most interesting things I found about Tallinn, which I hope doesn’t offend anyone, though I don’t know of any communists who actually read my blog… [Actually I don’t know if anyone aside from spam-bots read my blog] was how much Tallinn hated the Soviet Union. Lauri was telling us about a museum, that was built during the Soviet Union era and had all these outdoor sculptures. One of them located at Maarjamae memorial [Maria Hill’s Memorial], which is basically a dilapidated sculpture garden, where former Soviet Sculptures such as “The Eternal Flame”, which was always supposed to be lit was located during Soviet rule. The garden is basically overgrown, and abandoned, and it sounds like it would’ve been cool to see. There’s also a former Soviet Fortress, that apparently used to have a roller skating ring located in, but that has since long been closed, and nobody uses it for anything, except for star-gazing, at night because it’s abandoned and there’s no light. We also saw an abandoned Soviet Prison from that time in history that used to be open for tours, but is no longer open for tours. Lauri said that he had been there before, when it was actually open, and there was a room with the back of it just painted red, and when he asked why it was painted red, he was told it was so nobody would see the bloodstains after prisoners were executed. It was just so fascinating to me to just see all of these abandoned memorials/landmarks/historical places/I don’t know what to call them there, but not there, if you know what I mean… Like they’re still contaminated with stains from that time in history [note: Lauri also agreed with me that The Human Stain is an amazing Kamelot song].

Some of the buildings have been re-purposed into apartment buildings and things like that, painted bright colors, and transformed so they don’t resemble that time in history, at all, but for the most part, every thing from that time in history has just been left to rot and wash away.

I found Tallinn to be a very fascinating place. There was a lot more to it than I had initially thought, though to be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect when we docked there just because I know so little about Estonia, to begin with. It’ll be the same way when we dock in Latvia, in a few days, I really know so little about so many of these countries, and it’s cool to learn about them.

After our tour [and Lauri was wonderful, if you ever find yourself going to Tallinn, he was an awesome guide, try to find him! Our tour was arranged from the Princess Cruise, but I’m sure he can probably be tracked down somehow, or if you’re on Princess Cruise, try to get them to find Lauri for you!], we went back to the ship, and had a quick lunch at the buffet.

I had some delicious zucchini, potatoes, mashed potatoes, and half of an egg sandwich of some sort. Why are potatoes so freaking good? I had another piece of that banana cake too.

After lunch, we went down to our stateroom. I played Bravely Default, and it literally took me 11 or 12 tries to actually beat the battle with all of the mages in Chapter 8 in Eternia. I literally think that has been the hardest battle I have ever fought in that game thus far.

Around 4:30, I went down to the medical center.

BOOB TALK STARTS NOW!

That morning, I noticed I had a lot less discharge than I had been having in the morning, and though there’s still some pus, there’s more blood than pus, and that seemed like a pretty positive sign to me.

I hadn’t been having that much pain either, except when I accidentally whacked myself right under my right boob with my camera while trying to take a picture of the ship today. THAT FUCKING HURT!

Anyhow, I got my bandages changed by the medical staff. They seemed very pleased with the progress since last time they had seen me [on that wondrous day in Copenhagen]. My left boob has almost closed up and was far less inflamed than it had been before. My right boob [which is the worst boob] was doing better too. The goopy and gross hole by my nipple is closing nicely, my underboob is doing better too. There is still some puss, but there is less discharge and less pus, and I don’t have a fever or a rapid heart-rate or anything like that, so my body is doing a good job of fighting the infection [knock on wood] I think. Though it did sting like a mother fucking bitch when they cleaned my underboob with whatever they were cleaning it with [it was either hydrogen peroxide or saline solution, not sure which] and I wanted to scream out in pain, but didn’t want to give any of the older people waiting to be seen a heart attack by screaming, but fuck did it hurt.

I’ll be seeing them again in two days to get my bandages changed again, and I’m hoping to see a lot more progress and healing, and feel less pain, hopefully.

END BOOB  TALK

After the medical center visit, I went back to the room, played some more Bravely Default til my battery got low [I swear that game sucks battery life faster than other games!] and then read a bit before dinner. I’m currently reading Brief Cases by Jim Butcher. I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but it’s Jim Butcher and The Dresden Files. I’ve read five books since the cruise started. Not sure I’ll write reviews of all of them, or any of them because I’ll be more interested in publishing these trip entries and editing photos, but I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read thus far.

A TINY BIT MORE BOOB TALK

I was freezing cold at dinner for some reason. I don’t have fever, I feel fine, it could just be menopause fucking with me since I haven’t taken estrogen in over a month [and I don’t really know if I’ll start taking it again because I got my boobs reduced, and I think I’d rather suffer menopause symptoms then risk them growing again from estrogen taken to counteract the hysterectomy/menopause as a result of my uterine cancer], so I asked Gerhard for my tea before the meal as opposed to after the meal when I usually drink it, and went through like four cups of tea before dinner ended. I eventually warmed back up.

END BOOB TALK

We had a new couple at our table today. The Asian couple from day one never came back. I think they requested a table for just the two of them. The other couple hasn’t been to a meal in three days or so. I don’t think they really clicked with us as a table, I think personalities were too different, so they might’ve requested another table… Or I suppose they could just be going to the buffet or specialty dining or something, but I somehow doubt that. The new couple was older, they were from Scotland, and they seemed nice, hopefully the boisterous personalities at our table don’t scare them away too. The two men from Chicago were there, as they’ve been since Day One, I like them, they’re very nice, and I really need to learn their names because I feel bad not referring to them by name.

I had some sort of crab and artichoke dip as an appetizer, which was good. There was a cottage or Shepard pie for my meal [they’re both the same thing, I’m just not sure what merits calling it a cottage pie as opposed to as Shepard’s pie], and ate maybe half of it. I drove Marius crazy because I wanted a sugar free chocolate mousse cake for desert, and he wasn’t sure if it had nuts in it, even though mom insisted it didn’t because she had had it before, but regardless he had to find the pastry chef and ask just to be safe. Last time I was on this ship, The Pacific Princess, Nelson, our former headwaiter used to give us the dessert menu alongside the dinner menu, maybe I should ask Marius for that too, so I can see the desserts beforehand and not drive him insane at the actual dinner itself. Though I did vow to myself that the next meal we eat in the dining room, I’d order something normal like vanilla ice cream, so I can save Marius, a bit of sanity for once.

I do think the kitchen staff may be slightly over paranoid sometimes. Sometimes I think they won’t let me have things because they have possible traces of nuts, but those things I can eat, and peanut butter I can eat, but at the same time, I understand where they’re coming from with liability issues and things like that especially since food allergies can be life-threatening [like my nut allergy is, walnuts kill me].

After dinner, I got my usual cranberry juice from the bar from my usual bartender [I really need to have at least one “adult” beverage on this trip just because I can because it’s free, maybe I’ll order an Irish coffee or something at dinner one day, and there is that guy who promised me yesterday that he’d make me the best Sex on the Beach ever] and went upstairs.

Tomorrow is St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m excited about going to Russia, but also nervous because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about Russia, and how they try to steal your passports and mug you and things, and if your passport gets stolen, you’re basically fucked, which is scary. We’re doing a tour EARLY tomorrow morning We’re docking overnight in Russia, but that’s the only tour we’re doing, so we’ll have to stay on the ship the following day [Unless your excursion is sponsored and booked by the ship, you actually need a Russia visa to do anything in the country] so it’ll be like a fake sea day.

I have no idea where we go after Russia. Maybe Helsinki? I’m way overexcited about Helsinki. I’m actually sad we don’t have a private tour in Helsinki [we’re doing a ship one] because Helsinki is probably the port I am most excited about, mainly because it’s the home of music I love [I actually named a category in my iTunes: Finlandian Rock], but hopefully the tour gives me lots of good opportunities for pictures… Lauri actually told us today that a lot of people from Finland take the ferry over from Finland to Estonia [Europe seriously has like the best public transportation systems ever. The USA fails spectacularly in comparison to them] just to buy beer. Apparently beer is relatively cheap in Estonia, but sort of pricey in Finland, so they take the ship over [Lauri said it’s maybe a two hour ferry ride], buy lots of beer, and then go back to Finland.

Anyhow that’s it for today. It’s getting late, and I need to wake up really early tomorrow, so I really should sleep, but who needs sleep anyways

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