28 veebruar 2010

Kümme aastat varem - 21/02/00 - 27/02/00

week 8
21/02/2000 - 27/02/2000.

Monday morning found me in bedroom of large and pretty luxury apartment, located in the very heart of Tallinn, a special flat for K.'s visitors, as he laughed. I shared the bed with him and however we woke up about 9 AM, we couldn't start our trip to Port of Tallinn before eleven something... We simply had some more important things to do at first. Again.

After short walk through the city we arrived to the port, check-in was smooth but at the border we only saw that the cabin with text "For Estonian citizens" was empty... Well, somebody with more sense of duty probably couldn't cross the border at all but we (shameless as we are) marched simply to the queue (where text says on the cabin "For non-Estonian citizens") and I said in my broken English "Hello" to the borderguard, just to look more foreigner.

This was actually typical for Estonian officials, such messy situations are so common that our people probably won't even notice these anymore but it really might seem weird to real foreigners, how less our country cares for its own citizens.

Oh well, soon we were on board of MS Finnjet and tried to prepare ourselves for next 4 hours on that ferry. I still find ferries deadly boring but Finnjet is probably less boring of these large constructions of steel and whatever. And at last, after spending ages in tax-free shops and trying probably every perfume they had (but bying nothing, in fact the saleswoman began to keep her eye on two of us), a hour-long eating-session in one dining-room (where we also played the game "who can notice more cuties") and another hour sitting and taking a nap, we arrived to Helsinki.

Our hotel was very close to the terminal and as Finnjet's terminal itself locate in the heart of city, we couldn't make a better choice. Grand Marina, a very comfortable four-star hotel, in lovely old brick-red building (with unbelievable fast elevators) became our new home for next 19 hours. After checking the possibilities of our room (well-filled mini-bar, standard selection of TV-channels and so on) we decided to have a nice walk in Helsinki's night.

Weather was (probably especially for our visit) excellent, temperature only 1-2 degrees below zero, no wind and nothing fell from sky. Just excellent winter night. On that night we also paid visits to some stores which were still open but most of all simply enjoyed each other and the wonderful world around us. For hours. At last I bought from Stockmann something to eat (okay you infoholics, it was a traditional Grecian salad with feta, olives and everything, packed into nice takeaway bag) and we walked back to hotel.

The night. It was like always when we two get together, not much of sleep and a lot of laugh with some other activities.

Original plans for next morning were majestic. 8 AM morning sauna, then quick breakfast, followed with check-out and then to galleries (which was the main reason of our trip), so we decided to be at 11 AM in the place and start with paintings of Magnus Enckell. But as said, these were the original plans. Reality looked a bit different.

It was about nine when we arrived on the ground floor to have our breakfast. Whole area seemed to be a bit small for this crowd and we had some problems with finding ourselves a table. And when we found it at last and finished our first course and decided to go for additional coffee and tea, a maid cleaned our table very quickly and somebody else took a place there... So we had to find ourselves another place to sit. Food was fine, except meat-balls which had been far too long in heat. Especially I would like to mention wonderful buns and rolls, coming straight from the hot oven, these were excellent! Time flew by and it was not before noon when we were ready to leave that friendly hotel and move on.

Magnus Enckell - Fantasy - 1895 Gallery (at Tennis Palace) with works by Magnus Enckell (1870-1925) was our next and main destination. This important Finnish artist, pioneer of their so-called golden age, have unbelievably many paintings, sketches and even some sculptures, showing the beauty of young males. This exhibition (which is still open for few weeks) is probably most complete show of his works ever and definitely worth a visit. So if you're in Helsinki, be sure to go to Tennis Palace!

In addition to Enckell's art we also saw a breathtaking selection of best photographs, taken by Robert Capa. He pictured everything, from portraits of Picasso, Hemingway and Matisse to the cruel moments of five separate wars. He seemed to be everywhere, in Civil War of Spain, Japanese invasion in China, battles in and around of London and Italy plus his famous documentation of D-Day. Showing the shocking stills, reflections of the results of manhood's lunatic actions we used to call with word "the war". My personal favourite was one photo, taken in half-destroyed church where a hospital was temporary located, showing two young soldiers, both in dressings due to their wounds, and a sister of mercy... Wonderful play of light and shadows plus I felt some "peace at last"-feeling radiate from this photo.

After leaving Tennis Palace we had some free hours before our leaving and so we simply walked on the city. Passed by the Helsinki's most popular gay-place DTM (or Don't Tell Mama) on Annankatu, K. decided to found out the errr... erotic bookshops? :) on Iso-Roobertinkatu, he has been before. So we walked to that direction. First one was a weird place on second floor of one dirty building and we were greeted by a girl who eagerly wanted to strip in front of us but as she also wanted money for that, we couldn't agree with her. There were no male-strippers available and also shop itself was a tiny one but as I found (and paid for it only $1.50!!!) a brandnew copy of Bel Ami's 1997 calendar, I won't whine.

Second shop we discovered, was uncomfortable, only very few and very old gay-items (probably because the owner wants to call himself "gay-friendly") and we left that place quickly. The third one (still on the same street) was the smallest but the guy behind the counter was very friendly and the selection was best, including a good part of Cadinot and Bjorn movies, brandnew videos and mags by Man's Best and so on. In the end I couldn't resist the temptation and bought Kristen Bjorn's "The anchor hotel"...

Then I decided that I have given enough of my hard-earned pennies to porn-industry for this time and we walked back to Stockmann where K. wanted to check the cafe on top floor of the building which, according to some sources, is a mixed place and sometimes a cruising area for sophisticated guys. It was truly crowdy, so I believe that some gays (except us) were definitely there and some young guys who cleaned the tables were damn cute. But the coffee and tea were expensive (as actually almost anything in Helsinki) and the lady who sold me our drinks, was tired and grumpy. So I am confused and don't know so far, do I like that place or not.

We had just enough minutes left to make a short circle of windowshopping on the underground floor of railway station and then it was time to walk to harbour where Finnjet was already waiting for us. Back on board I reserved the table for supper and after another session in perfume shop we were ready for restaurant. It was a nice place but too crowdy again. Thankfully there everybody had the fixed table and so it was not a problem to stand up and go for another course. The surprisingly good things were free wines and beer, drink as much as you can. If to think that the price for single person was less than $20, then I found that's another reason why to prefer Finnjet to other ferries on Tallinn-Helsinki line.

Anyway, after my first (or was it after second?) large glass of red wine I was watching away from window and thinking of something when I heard K. asking me: "Do we want the vodka?" So I took a look and saw a lady with tray, full of small, ice-cold vodka glasses. As K. had that little-devil-look on his face I thought that he simply wants to irritate me (I had declared few days before that I don't like drinking pure vodka) and I decided to hit the ball back (because he had told me the same) and said: "Yes, sure. Why not?" Lady with the tray seemed to be a bit happier, gave us the glasses and I continued to have stare out the window where some weird lights were visible. I saw also from reflection on window-glass that lady still stays with her tray next to table and then I heard K. crying loudly to me: "You have that money, right?" "What money?" "40 marks for two vodkas, thank you!", explained the lively lady to me. Oh well, at last I understood what she wants and I paid her that forty marks (about $7) and only then (when I saw him grinning all over) realized that K. was still lucky to catch me anyway. For explanation, in Estonia you can buy for same amount of money one litre of vodka.

But this small and strong drink fitted very well to the fish and caviar I had on my plate. We continued our supper with warm meal when suddenly most of people left the room. Only later (when I was finishing excellent apple-cake with icecream and selection of berries) we discovered that restaurant was originally opened only between 7 PM and 8.30 PM. We left the room at 9.10 PM and not among the last ones.

Back in Tallinn we took a cab and drove to our apartment again, making a short stop only to buy a bottle of Spanish wine and some oranges. We were probably too tired (and definitely eaten far too much), so we slept in the night indeed and started with our gymnastics not before the dawn.

Sometimes around Wednesday's noon we drove to bus station only to find out that all tickets to my town were sold out days ago. As 24th was the 82nd birthday of Estonian Republic and many people had days off for long week-end, it seemed to me impossible to arrive home. But due to some family situation and also work I had to... So the solution came from K. again (he IS one of the sweetest guy I've ever met!) as he simply called to his ex who in the end changed his plans and decided to drive to his landhouse (which is on two third way to my town) on same night. In the end I was home at 10 PM and after clearing some possibly critical situations, I felt myself alone again.

Thursday was a holiday here but nevertheless I was few hours in my shop, then back home to do some computerwork, same routine continued on Friday and on actual week-end I didn't moved from home at all, sat most of the days in front of my PC (except few hours on Sunday when some bastard took away the electricity) and continued with my boring paperwork. I still have a lot to do and I don't like that.

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