Helen Is Broken: A Day In Tallinn

Two…no three…three different flights among the six of us and we had all reconvened in Helsinki. It was a long day, we were hangry and tired. After Jayson and Sydney pissed around taking photos while the rest of us were waiting to eat, we chowed down on some gastropub food and good wine. I don’t think we did much else that night aside from annoy the other hostel patrons and perhaps drink a bit too much. Have I told you about our new friend Deng? He’s joined our group in Iceland. He travels with us now.

Looking ever so threatening with that bread knife.

The next morning we woke up early, packed our day bags and headed to the docks to catch the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn. Rich had the genius idea of spending one day in Estonia, since the easy commute by ferry is only a couple hours from Helsinki.

Unexpected food is always such an exciting surprise. We didn’t realize breakfast was included in cost of our ferry ticket, but once on-board we were ushered into the dining room. We found a table and helped ourselves to a few plates. When you are a budget traveler, unlimited food is your best friend. We walked around the main deck and found a relatively empty Burger King…with benches…for sleeping. Tina, Trinh and I had a bit of a snooze. The other had lots of fun in the arcade and most likely terrorizing the ship like the adult children that they are. Love you!!

Safely docked in Estonia, we decided to walk into the old part of Tallinn and it was a good call. Lots of interesting architecture and murals to look at along the way. Tallinn itself it a beautiful city and the newer areas are quite modern looking.


Big fan of this big mural.
This man sneaking a peek at the construction site was such a nicely framed photo, I had to seize the opportunity.

Once you’re into the old town, it’s classic old times medieval goodness. Narrow cobblestone streets, tiny houses and shops, a few central open squares with churches and big Christmas trees.

Love that streak of white across the sky. Love Tallinn.
Old vs. New

I think the snow added to the whimsical feeling of Tallinn that day. And thank goodness for that, because I was having a day. Travelling does not give us a free pass for a streak of good days. Travel is still life and life sometimes hands us a bad day. This day, Helen was broken. I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, but that became the slogan for our day in Tallinn; “Helen is broken”. I had a lot of trouble getting my head straight, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts, I was tired…I was a lot of things and none of them very good. I am extremely fortunate to have had these particular friends with me. These wonderful, understanding, hilarious, beautiful people.

We made a spontaneous stop at the Estonian Health Care Museum. We were wandering around a bit aimlessly, when I saw the doorway to the museum and somehow convinced the crew to go inside. We had no idea if this would be a boring, crappy little museum. Somewhat reluctantly, we paid the entrance fee and walked upstairs.

This museum exceeded our expectations to a level I cannot describe. To begin with it, it’s HUGE. It looks like a tiny little medieval house on the outside, but on the inside it just keeps going and going…like the tardis from Doctor Who; bigger on the inside. Needless to say we spent a good hour or so exploring, playing and generally enjoying the Health Care Museum.

For some reason, it’s took us five days to understand how creative we could get with panoramic photos. It’s started in one of the main squares in Tallinn, where I took this magnificent picture of my fellow IceFin’ers.

A photo of my ten friends

We captured a few more panoramic photos and then Rich tried to have me do a solo panoramic. But he forgot one very important factor. All together now!

Helen. Is. Broken.

We ended up with a horrifically distorted photo. The concept of “Helen is broken”, the absolute epitome and perfect visual representation of this phrase can be summed up in this singular photograph.

You’re welcome.

I had made lunch reservations for our group at an Estonian restaurant, because food. It was a beautiful old building with wooden tables and chairs. Quite a high end looking establishment with reasonable prices. Estonia is far less expensive than Iceland or Finland, so we enjoyed ourselves with a good meal and some souvenir shopping. The lunch was delicious! We shared a very fancy looking appetizer, a few ciders, a few beers. Waiting. Another beer. Waiting. A whiskey for Jayson and Tina. Waiting. One more drink. Waiting.

It took a while for our food to arrive. Although we suspect this was intentional and not because of any lack of good service. The longer we waited, the more money we spent on drinks. Not to mention the atmosphere was slow and comfortable; they probably don’t often have tourists-in-a-hurry come by for lunch. But alas, we ate. We enjoyed. We paid and moved on.

We slow walked in the direction of the port to catch the ferry back to Helsinki. I took a spill on a snowy stone staircase, landing hard on my butt and tailbone. And why did this happen? That’s right kids! Helen is broken. A bit surprised but no major injuries, I got up and we continued on (Jayson holding on to my arm most of the way because Helen is broken). Our slow walk turned into a quicker pace when we noticed the time. So we quick walked. And then we ran. And we did NOT miss the ferry. T’was a close call.

Tallinn is a beautiful, friendly town. We all wished we had given ourselves more time here and I’m sure some of us will be back to appreciate Tallinn again. I especially enjoyed the various doors of Tallinn. I mean, we all love a good door right? Why though? What is it about an intricate door that seems so inviting and comfortable? Whatever the reason, I’m into it.

The trip back to Helsinki was much more fun. We got comfortable in a booth in the on-board pub, where drinks were enjoyed together. Rich accidentally bought a women’s toque. Rich gave the toque to Trinh. Rich enlisted my help to buy a new toque that did not have a fluffy faux-fur rabbits tail on top. The embroidery on Rich’s new toque was crooked. Rich should not own toques. But the highlight of it all was in fact another panorama. It started with this one of the boys…


I’m sure the people around thought we were completely bonkers. We are. And it was totally worth it! I present to you now, the absolute most epic IceFin panoramic photo that has ever be captured.

A most historic event indeed. Photo credit to the ever talented, Rich.

We are so bloody proud of that damn photo.

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