06 November 2009
Road Trips Are Funny. No Wait, It’s Just The Baltics That Are Funny
Twelve days in the Baltics and I can safely say this region is absolutely one of the World’s hidden gems. Naturally, as is the case with any trip, there have been some funny moments. For some reason, however, it seems that this portion has been particularly humorous. I think it is owed in part to the fact that these countries are just so tiny and adorable thus able to embrace and celebrate tiny adorable things.
It all started in Tartu when - while standing in line to use the ATM - I realized the girl in front of us was no more than 8 years old. She was totally full-on too. Knew exactly what she was doing even to the point of looking at the receipt, sighing then ripping it up. She was rocking some designer clothes and carrying bags from “Accesorize. I both nearly passed out and felt a million years old. We meandered over the city’s main bridge to take in the monument to the 100,000th person born in Tartu. Seriously? An entire monument? I think we would have to get right down to my neighborhood to commemorate such a feat: The 100,000th car to be stolen or 100,000 swimming pool to be installed.
That night, while attempting to find our B&B, I led Matt down the tiniest little roads (none with street lights) only to arrive at the correct location totally shocked that we actually found it. The thing is, all the “roads” were ON THE MAP. In fact, the map considers any concentrated population of 5,000 or more to be a “city” and includes a “city map.” 5,000 people equals a city in the Baltics! Tiny AND humorous.
Speaking of our car, it had a button on the roof that the manual described as a “kill” button. Naturally, being me, I pressed it hoping it would initiate some sort of James Bond-esque launch sequence or laser guns. Nope. Instead it just turns off all the lights and makes the car stop running. Oops? More importantly, why? On top of that, there are NO radio stations in large parts of the Baltics. The “seek” function just went round and round and round sadly finding nothing. Also, when you park in a public lot you have to put this tiny paper clock in your window set to the time of your arrival so that meter attendants know how long you’ve been there, as the first 30 minutes of parking is free everywhere. I don’t even know where to being with this one. How is that enforced? How do you buy more time? WHAT?
Finally, the external conditions. Naturally, having brilliant luck, it started to snow minutes after leaving from Tallinn. Couple this with random stretches of dirt road, mud pits and the most insane drivers I have ever encountered and you’ve got a general sense of road-tripping in the Baltics seriously crazy drivers. Overtaking on blind curves, going 100 miles an hour on dirt roads, massive trucks overtaking massive trucks, the works). It shows, however, as Lithuania has the most road fatalities per capita of any country IN THE WORLD.
Finally, just for kicks, our adorable host in Riga was telling us about his night out at a “house-heating” party. Of course he meant house warming, but how cute is that?