Drama unfolds

The police came around to the Monk’s on Friday asking for business registration papers. Apparently it’s not allowed to do certain things in apartment buildings. I don’t know much about it, but Hugo does. Anyway, they’re checking all the places in town now it sounds like. I’m not looking forward to that.

Still, things should work out fine. It’s just a little worrying at the moment.

Apart from that, I’m very sleepy (as usual). Marika has what is hopefully her final exam for now on Tuesday. I’m sure she’ll pass, she’s a good girl.

Fuck it. Too lazy today to write anything. I’ve been drinking a bit these last weeks. Summer is coming, after all. Memories are hazy. I can’t even speak English any more.

I can’t, actually. It’s regressed since I’ve been staying over here. Oh well. Maybe I sound a little bit cuter.

Lazy bones

In more ways than one. Nearly 2 weeks since I went running and I haven’t done much other exercise. I can feel the flab and shame creeping up on me.

My excuse is that I’ve been entertaining guests and Marika. What a good person I am. It’s also still too windy for a little boy like me to be charging around and letting my hair get all frizzled.

We’ve been having nice folks staying with us lately and shitloads are from Australia, of course. It’s a much nicer environment in the hostel without all these big fucking groups that stick to themselves.

Drunk staff members help with the fun, too.

I’ve been thinking for quite some time about writing a book about my time in the hostel, the people I’ve met and the funny stories that come along with it. Just for fun. Unfortunately I don’t really (or at least haven’t yet) take any notes, so if I do ever end up putting something out there it could very likely be considered semi-fictional. That’s alright though, since it feels like my life here is anyway.

palmy wants me to make a blog on his site for his girlfriend. I’m doing it because I like configuring things from scratch. I could be doing something else, like kicking the arse of 5 countries at the same time in Medieval 2: Total War but this will do for now.  She even wants the same theme I use! Jesus.

They’re coming over to visit in July, apparently. Hmm.

I saw Indiana Jones 4 the other day. It was alright. Not brilliant, but fun enough. I won’t go into any kind of review because there’s already shitloads out there. Ford looks in pretty good shape for his age, I have to admit.

So, time for coffee with Pilly.

Itchy noggin'

I need to wash my hair again, methinks.

I’ve spent a few hours the last few days plodding through my old LiveJournal posts that I imported to this blog. Basically I’ve decided to categorise all of them. I don’t know why. I just feel like I should. It’s nice taking a trip down memory lane. There’s only 120 entries left to do. No problem.

For some reason I’ve been feeling really, really tired this last week. Maybe it’s because I’m eating shitty food. I’m not sure. Maybe a little bit of me has died inside since my beloved tofu left Estonia. Maybe it’s because we have a big group of students staying in the hostel for 2 weeks. I really don’t know. It’s nice to curl up and nap, though.

Marika has exams. Lots of exams. I hope she passes them all. I’m sure she does, too. Maybe I’ll get a chance to go down to Tartu with Tim in the next week or two. That would be nice. He’s drinking like a maniac lately. I can’t keep up. It hurts.

So, instead, I think I’ll go running tomorrow and yes, wash my hair. I like the route I take. I run around the outside of Old Town, through the park and up the hill to Toompea then back down and through the Old Town itself. It’s fun jogging over cobblestones. It’s not fun jogging up the bloody hill.

I forgot to mention I won a foosball tournament that the kids organised here. I was in a team with Thomas. He was mainly inspired to play because apparently there was 500 EEK in prize money. In the end we weren’t awarded that, but I was happy anyway. It wasn’t really a fair competition, we were all over them. I’d have felt embarrassed if ended up taking money from them. I don’t think Tom was too impressed, however.

They did, however, give us funny little gold medals. A nice souvenir.

I got drunk last night and fell down some stairs after Bella (new girl volunteering at Monk’s Bunk) asked me if I had a bed while I was walking around in the dark. It sounded like a proposition but it was only intended innocently. I realised this at the time but it didn’t stop me giggling at the situation. Falling on my arse down three stairs only made it worse.

We were drinking what I call White Estonians. It’s like a White Russian, but with Vana Tallinn instead of Kahlua. Potent stuff. Quite tasty when done right. Nearly lethal, too.

The other day I read through The Watchmen. It was cool. I should read it a second time but I’m probably too lazy to get around to it. I also have a shitload of e-books to read that I haven’t even started yet. Not to mention I got all three series of Arrested Development again so I can show people how good it is. Now that I just googled for that link, I see I could have just watched streaming versions. Fuck. Oh well.

Frosties are a fucking awesome breakfast cereal.

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

This post was inspired by palmy’s return.

I’ll give a quick summary again, as it’s been nearly 2 months (what a surprise).

Emily and I broke up in July. It was a bit messy but now it’s done. She went to Germany with her dad and I went to Berlin the week before on my own. I had a great time there, actually. I met some guys that offered me jobs and was close to accepting them until Hugo offered me a pay rise and more stuff to do here.

Sure, I’d probably make more money in Berlin doing stuff but I still love my Tallinn. I was considering even getting a proper job here for some firm like HP or Skype or something. Hostel life is still more appealing at the moment though.

Anyway, yeah. Berlin was fantastic. One of my new favourite cities. I’m definitely heading back there some time… Maybe March next year for a month or two. It’s possible to rent apartments in the city for 115 euro/month. Tempting.

We had about 14 staff in the hostel in July. More than half left. We should be getting a few more soon, hopefully. It’s been fairly hectic on the farewell party scene of late, but fun.

I went to a folk music festival in Viljandi, a town in southern Estonia. The population of the place doubles for the four days of the festival, basically. It was really good fun. I camped out in the festival grounds in a shitty little tent and it only slightly flooded, so I was satisfied. The range of music was actually quite broad, and some other guys organised after-parties in a concert hall nearby each night. I really want to go again next year.

Oh, yeah, I finally went to Tartu, as well. Twice now. The first was for another one day festival that some of us hitchhiked to, then didn’t bother going into the place. We sat outside in a playground for most of the day instead. That was probably more fun, in the end. The second time was for a university party which was fairly tame… Partly because it wasn’t very big and partly because almost everyone spoke Estonian. Which is fair enough…

Speaking of speaking Estonian, I’m learning! Finally. It took me 10 months or so but I can now count and say numbers and also the days of the week. Basics, but basics I never actually had to use before. I’m getting a few more sentences and phrases ingrained as well. It’s fun. Too bad it’s almost impossible to replicate the vowel sounds, especially with an Australian accent. Ah well.

The hostel actually has a little bar now in the basement, too. Don’t tell anyone though. It’s a secret. We’re also owners of what used to be the second hand store and baby shop underneath now, so we can knock out some walls and connect the whole hostel together. We’ll move reception and the bar into there, too. I can’t wait, because it’s going to rock.

Last night I went to some multi-band concert called Polymer. There were about 10 bands playing throughout the night but I didn’t stay for them all. The venue was basically an abandoned factory out in the suburbs which is actually meant to be condemned. There were artworks and paintings and sculptures all over the place on display and all these funky little rooms. Reminded me so much of Tacheles in Berlin. Ahh, happy times.

Alright, enough crap for now. I’ve kind of stopped uploading photos onto my website because I use Facebook more and it’s faster than this host but perhaps I’ll slap up a few selections later on.

Red wine and whiskey

Livijus took me out yesterday afternoon to see this awesome little wine bar, although it’s more like a cozy, quaint little attic above someone’s apartment. There were couches and candles and curtains and knick knacks scattered around everywhere on creaky wooden floors with old varnished furniture dotted around the place. Fantastic. Of course, there was already a stuffed kangaroo mounted on the mantle piece, but that’s hardly surprising.

We chugged through some tasty Chilean merlot, a few crackers and a handful of olives. I haven’t had red wine for a while, so it was nice to experience the warm feeling of mirth that seeps in the more you drink. Two bottles of it meant we were ready to cuddle anything.

Nearly two hours after we arrived it was announced that there would be some Estonian actor doing an intimate one man show with the audience. Basically he was telling stories, or something. I couldn’t understand a word of it and it lasted for nearly three hours. Needless to say, I took two naps in my chair. I have to thank the wine for that ability.

We finally escaped the building when the actor had finished his performance and had made a bee-line for the three girls that had been watching his show in order to talk to them. I followed Livijus outside the old town to the Traveller’s Pub. A really nice, traditional style pub with that right kind of vibe about it that makes me want to sit there all day. Unfortunately it’s in a crap spot for travellers, so it’s mostly Estonians in there. After a double whiskey, an interesting salad and a lot of yakking, we headed back through Viru Keskus and the Sokos hotel lobby (the doors to get outside of Viru Keskus were locked) and met up with John and Ewan in Nimeta for a couple of beers. Two drinks later we made our way back to go to bed.

Even though that was at 2am (and I’d started at 5pm), it still felt like an early night. Talk about conditioning.

Fuck Easter

Isn’t it meant to be a holiday or something? Christ knows.

Yes, I said that intentionally.

I already wrote about my Friday morning in my previous entry. I got up early to check out even more bastards who were going to Helsinki on the 8am boat then succeeded in getting the laundry back in order. I had to sacrifice my bed for a Japanese guy named Shutaro (I think) who really wanted to stay with us even though we were overbooked.

Shutaro was desperate to do some shopping and get a belt. Adamant, you might say. He also shared with me that he’d never been backpacking before and this was his first trip to Europe. This meant he had plenty of questions about the best ways to protect your wallet and passport when you’re travelling. I gave him all the hot tips I could.

The afternoon was spent hanging around Lai street, mainly. We had to lurk around waiting for 7 people to arrive for Viru. By the time they arrived at around 12 all of the staff were reasonably intoxicated. I gulped down my second double gin and tonic while waiting for their credit card transaction to clear then led the posse of Aussies down to their beds only to drag them out of the building and take them to Juuksur.

The evening became more and more hazy with people disappearing and scattering off throughout the night. Eventually I ended up in Levist with a very sleepy Valerie who’d only just gotten back from Riga that afternoon and some Scottish girl called Lisa who I think was staying on Uus street, but I’m not sure. We finally dragged Val off the table that had become her bed around 6am before stopping for a smoke at Lai street. Lisa wasn’t sure where her hostel was and I was going home to Viru. I couldn’t be bothered working out where she was going or giving directions so I ended up throwing a mattress on the floor of the common room in the hostel and letting her crash there while. I had to sleep on the tiny green couch because Shutaro was curled up like a foetus on my bed.

Unfortunately, sleeping on that couch gives me head spins when I’ve been drinking. I don’t know why but it always happens. I had to drag myself up and towards a sink so that I could force myself to vomit in order to paradoxically settle my stomach and head. It worked.

After a solid and refreshing 2 hours of slumber I was awoken by guests wondering where they could get some breakfast. Being the professional I am, I rolled over on the couch and gave them a recommendation and full directions, even managing a smile. They left and I dozed off for another 5 minutes before starting my day.

Fortunately, the morning was rather uneventful. Too uneventful. I was unable to leave the building or even take a proper nap as I had to make up a few different rooms and then wait for a guest who was arriving directly at 1pm. Or so she said. By 6pm she’d arrived and I was finally given the chance to go outside. I chose food and company over sleep, although I did end up with Valerie again and this time her friend Emer who was visiting. We ran amok all over town. Kinda.

Apparently I have a great smile and some Estonian kid wants to get a photograph of it. Flattering to hear but it’s not really what you want to be stuck with at 5am in Levist. I survived the ordeal and the three of us ended up in Old Club, of course. Poor old Val was finding her eyelids unbearably heavy and kept nodding off in the corner. Somehow I was on a second wind and felt fine. Emer was somewhere in between.

The big tough bouncer of the bar kept poking Val to get her to wake up. On the third strike he practically assaulted her, grabbing her by the harm (although it may as well have been her hair) and ripping her out of the seat and kicking her out the door. It was simultaneously one of the scariest, bizarre and hilarious things I’ve ever seen. We were too shocked to react. It was a good sign to wind down the night, so I walked back through some really cool morning snow that was falling. Before bed I had to clean vomit off of a toilet so that it’d be nice for all the guests to shit into in the morning. I got to sleep after 7:30.

Hoping to get at least 3 hours sleep proved to be a pipe dream. Shutaro kept waking me up asking me various questions before departing into the big wild world. I managed to get by on auto pilot until around midday when Ewan, one of our new volunteers, brought some guests down and then we left for McDonald’s to get some grub. I picked the shortest queue and lined up. Our cashier was about as green as you can get and continually balled up everything he did, even dropping my Big Tasty as he was putting it into a takeaway bag, meaning he had to ring up a new one. 40 minutes later we headed off to Lai street to enjoy our greasy McSludge.

The heavy food and lack of sleep combined to make me fade out of consciously at any given moment. Again, late guests were keeping me from getting any rest. They arrived two hours late at 5pm. Not too bad, really. I escorted them to their rooms in Viru and was greeted by a guest and her buddy who was some random prick from another hostel who’d helped himself to our Internet and kitchen. Normally I’d go off at people like that but our guest had a special type of booking that we’re trying to get good reviews for, so I let it slide. How’s that for fair? Money talks, I guess.

Stumbling around checking the kids into their room wasn’t so difficult, or unbearable. What really made it fun was to be made aware that the second toilet here was blocked. Completely. There’s already one that I can’t unblock because I’m too retarded and so now we were basically done for. With determination and grit, I wrapped my hand in a plastic bag and managed to get myself elbow deep in the bowl and wrist deep in the S-bend. After a bit of poking and rummaging around we were again flushing with great success.

I tidied up a little and then hopped onto my bed for a nap. Within minutes two of the Aussie girls started bickering with each other. I walked out to see what was going on and one was locked inside her room because the mechanism has decided to break while the other was standing in the hallway wearing nothing but a towel and surrounded by confused American kids who didn’t know what to do. Using a spare key solved the problem and I then had to wait for the girls to get dressed and calm down before experimenting with the lock and teaching them how to use it for now until we get it fixed. No worries.

Finally, I lay down to take a 2 hour siesta. Within 40 minutes someone was knocking on my door. The kids who’d arrived late had snapped their key off inside the lock of the door. Yep. These locks are designed and installed so that you can’t actually open them with credit cards or even unscrew them from outside the room. Normally I’d have just gotten a professional to come in or something but it was 8pm on Easter Sunday and on top of that I don’t know what the Estonian word for locksmith is.

We tried getting the broken piece of the key out with tweezers but to no avail. We even experimented with a bit of brute force and probably would have succeeded, except that the door itself and door frame would have been completely destroyed if we’d kept trying. Thankfully, there’s a frosted window between that room and another one which we managed to somewhat open. Unfortunately, while we were in the middle of rearranging beds and breaking through windows and walls, the four young students from Hong Kong came back and caught us red handed making a mess in their room. They weren’t upset, just very confused and startled. Their reactions were even worse when I told them I couldn’t give them change in Euros.

The guy staying in the room with the broken lock was rather lanky and lean so he slipped through the crack between the window and the wall and unlocked the door from the inside. He was Spanish and couldn’t speak a word of English but he knew what he was doing when he unscrewed the lock on the door and literally took it apart, tumblers and all before recombining it and putting the lock back together in the door. He even left a spare part out. Nice.

I’d given up napping so I planned to quickly use the toilet before hopping into the shower. Someone else took the advantage and locked themselves inside the bathroom for an hour so I was stuck plodding around waiting to clean myself. When I’d finally started washing and enjoying the lovely warmth my phone rang from inside my jeans. I stood in the cold air, naked and with water pooling around me and answered. John had arrived.

If I was smart, I would have stayed in that night and slept. I was too fed up with my day though to surrender like that, so I went out for a few drinks in Nimeta and Molly Malone’s. We stayed watching the cricket until Australia won and ended up going back to Lai street for some food, since no one was fucking serving. John whipped up a bit of Irish tapas and I was back here in bed by 2:30am. An early one.

Now, I’ve already gotten up at 7am and 8am and then 9am today for brief stints. Everyone’s arrived, I just have to tidy up some rooms. Oh and the laundry.

Emily’s coming back here this afternoon. The ferry should have left Helsinki about 20 minutes ago. On top of all the other crap I’ve gone through this weekend, it all got magnified because we’ve broken up.

Sleep's better than rampaging

Another night in Levist Valjas and a good few beers on a nearly empty stomach sounded great last night. Too bad this little baby hadn’t had enough nap time over the last week as hitting the sack at 3:30am with the intention of arising at 6:45am was an utter failure. Fortunately I was forward-thinking enough to have people checked out or half-checked out before I slept in until 10am.

Feeling like a zombie wasn’t the greatest start to the day and neither was developing a grinding headache at my first conscious moment. I’ve missed this. Sort of.

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in various MSN conversations with my plethora of friends. In fact I was so enraptured by their digital companionship I nearly forgot to put away my butter before it melted. Six slices of toast was basically the highlight of my day.

The lowlight was yet another blocked toilet. Well, nearly blocked. It took a bit of hoping, praying and flushing but it worked itself out in the end. Now I just have to hope I can successfully fix the other one. My handyman skills are sorely lacking. In fact they’re simply absent.

One of the kids who stayed here showed me a cool little gadget for your camera. Basically, Eye-Fi is a 1 gigabyte memory card with wireless capability that automagically uploads your photos for you whenever your camera is turned on and it can access a wireless Internet zone. Within a minute of two of taking a picture it appeared on his Flickr page. Neat! Can’t wait for more funky things like this to pop up in the market. Geek heaven, here we come.

Thursday roundup

That’s right, another randomly timed summary of my world’s events. Are you ready to feel the rush?

Good. Let’s get to it then.

Firstly, hostel related: Viru’s looking rather spic and span, all the rooms are beautifully colour-coordinated, clean and inviting. The sun’s shining brightly through the windows all day long and keeping the place warmer than it should be thanks to the combination of solar radiation and central heating.

The king of the couch is back on his throne, everyone’s checked out for the day and that laundry’s hanging up to dry. Tomorrow we’re getting more guests and it should be a piece of pie.

Nightlife: I can’t recall if I mentioned going out on Monday night. Well, I did. In the manner of all true good nights out it started somewhat spontaneously. Some cheap beer and a half dozen foosball games in the hostel with John kept me occupied for an hour or so and then we went out with Val and Ben while poor old Emily slept on the couch for night shift.

Levist was on the agenda, as always. We stayed there until it closed at around 3am, meeting and greeting some drunk and blind drunk locals. I received the privilege of listening to a 30-something bitterly intoxicated Estonian regale me with his tales of learning kick boxing after being beaten up by Russians and having a tooth knocked out, at least that’s what I think he was saying, since I could barely understand him. He also tried to channel with me telepathically or something by sending out energy from his palm to mine. It reminded me of the guy that tried to hypnotise me then collapsed on the floor and passed out. I’ve gotta keep away from these hippies.

Some girl that lived in a monastery (seriously) also joined up with us for the night. We headed for The Old Club of course, as it was late and it was Monday and we had no other option. As expected, by that hour we were speaking nothing but bullshit. Money got wasted on pissy flaming B52 shots, twice, to no effect. I just couldn’t get decently inebriated. It could have been due to the quantity of food I’d eaten for dinner that dear Emily cooked for me. Probably.

Around 5:30am the slightly toothless Estonian arrived in the bar with, of all people, a recurring hostel guest: Portuguese Miguel. Things felt tense for a few moments as we’d told Toothless that we were going home and we’d had a slightly awkward relationship with Miguel of late so we weren’t sure what to do. We did the normal thing, a pleasant acknowledgment and a civil nod of the head. They were in a group with some others and sat somewhere else and we didn’t have to move. We were happy until 6:30am when we left and wandered home.

Plans: Em and I are going to Vilnius on Monday or Sunday. We’re going to be down there for a few days. Em’s adamant that we have to be somewhere else for our 1 year and I’m too scared to argue. Hopefully Simone will have some free time to show us around, local style. Em wants to check out some little forest cottage that Livijus told us about as well, so if time permits that’d be really nice, too.

Miscellaneous: I read this earlier today. It made me laugh.

Cracking Hollywood’s code.

The system designed to protect next-generation DVDs from pirates has been cracked. Even the hackers are surprised at how easy it was…

No vote for me

I’m not going to be voting in the next Federal election back home. I just have to fill out some form and fax it back to the Australian Electoral Comission. I’ve never sent a fax before. I hope it looks pretty.

So, the gym’s still good. I haven’t been able to go as often this week due to work and other distractions. It’s only going to get even harder to find the time soon as there’ll only be three of us working here within the next week or so. Hopefully Emily and I will be able to at least go separately whenever we find the time. I’m considering taking up morning sessions, as in 9AM to 11AM. I’m generally awake at that time so it shouldn’t be a problem, particularly when the hostel is also quiet during those hours.

Yep, three staff members for two buildings. We’re going to need more volunteers soon. Anyone feel like visiting?

Going away for our one year anniversary is sounding like a difficult achievement. With a bit of luck though we should manage. Either that or just delay it. I don’t know. I’ve got a feeling Em won’t be too impressed regardless.

Stupid head cold has come back to piss me off. I couldn’t even breathe when I tried to go to sleep last night. Fascinating, I know.

Speaking of fascinating, geez it was good seeing Ireland thrash England in the Six Nations last night. The local Irish were dancing whilst the local English could do nothing more than shrug their shoulders in embarassment. After the match we caught most of a groovy little gig in one of our favourite underground bars by a young Swedish band that was touring Tallinn for one show. They played a very catchy, up-tempo cover of Oasis’ Wonderwall that really impressed me.

The band actually stayed in the hostel that night. That happens a lot. We’re cool like that.

We had a little bash for Hector on Friday night. He’s one of the staff members leaving soon. I’ll put some pictures up later when I can be bothered and share them with you all. :) The sangria was good.

Still in Funland

Emily and I are still here in Finland. Still in Lahti, in fact. Unsurprisingly, palmy and Dylan came back for New Years and have been staying mainly at Heli’s, although they were meant to stay with Krista’s parents.

It’s been fun having all these little bastards around. The party on the 31st was good. It was some dress up party so I went as a genie again. Inspiring, I know.

The party was some weird old house on the side of a railroad. I had no idea where we were but it seemed pretty cool. I can’t remember much from the night apart from running around being silly and dancing for a couple of hours. There was even a band playing earlier in the night but I was too lazy to check them out properly.

When we got back home, palmy and I tried to stay up all night. We ended up getting bored around 7:30am or something and crashed. I woke up with a hangover and with 3 other people in my bed. Too bad that doesn’t happen more often.

Yesterday was Emily’s birthday, the big 19. What started as a quiet affair ended up reasonably well. Heli’s folks made a nice big meal the day before for her even though it was Seija’s birthday, then Em spoilt us all by taking everyone out to dinner the following night.

After din-dins we had a mini round of King Cup and then hit up Rock and Molly Malone’s. Em needed a bit of convincing to come out as she wasn’t feeling 100% but I think the cold air did her good.

The other bastards went off to Onnelas later on but didn’t get in, so the night was effectively over, for me at least, by 4am.

Tomorrow we’re all leaving Lahti, bound for Helsinki and Tallinn. I’m going to stay at Suski’s and try to get my Eesti visa. Hope it doesn’t take too long.