There are several ways one can travel from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to Kuressaare, the regional capital of Estonia’s Saare province, Saare being Estonia’s largest but largely unpopulated island, a charming small town with a population of about 15,000 or so. One of my friends at the feast, an elder whose brother is a longtime friend of mine from my days in Los Angeles, flew between the two and found the luggage weight requirements to be extremely restrictive and costly. However, most of us at the Feast of Tabernacles, myself included, took the bus between the two cities, and it was a sufficiently interesting story that I thought I would record it here for the amusement of readers because the trip allowed me to not only catch up my reading, as I managed to finish two books along the way  , and write the book review for one of them. Rather, the trip was significant for how odd it was in a variety of ways.
As is often the case, it is probably best to begin at the beginning. In this case, the beginning is my waking up at 5:45AM, pattering away on the keyboard and waking up the occupants of neighboring beds in the hostel I was staying, and getting ready for the day. Immediately when I finished checking out of the hostel and took my suitcase outside the taxi driver with my parents that we had pre-arranged last night was there and we went off on the short trip to the bus station. Once there, I explored the building on behalf of my family, pointing my stepfather to the restroom and discovering the location of the platform, and doing some reading and chatting while we waited for 7:55 to come so that we could get on the bus. When the time came, we presented our tickets and I was found to have had a ticket for Monday morning, for reasons unclear, and so I had to cancel that ticket and pay the bus driver for the fare. As it would happen, later on I would realize I had done the same thing at the end of the feast and so I will have to, at some point, make the exact same arrangements on that side of it as well. At any rate, what had been a fairly leisurely wait became a mad rush to get to the bus on time, and I had two or three minutes to spare. And so we left, and the bus driver seemed to be a friendly sort of person about it, even if his knowledge of English was fairly rudimentary.
There were a lot of odd sights along the way. Of course, I am someone who notices odd things anyway, so I suppose it is not too unusual that I would notice odd things. For one, many of the Estonian cognates that I have seen from English have very characteristic spelling conventions. For example, they do not have stop signs in Estonia, but rather stop signs. One does not stay at a hotel, but rather a hotell, and so on. On the other hand, many native Estonian words are known for having multiple vowels. A common name in Estonian is Eeva. The word for island in Estonian happens to be Saare, making the island I happen to be on as I write this, Saaremaa, mean something like “Big Island.” As it happens, Kuressaare, whose name relates to its status as the main town on Estonia’s largest island, happens to be also known as Arensburg for those who are students of the history of the Baltic crusades or the trading efforts of the Hanseatic league. At any rate, it is worthwhile to note at the outset the strong influence of the Baltic Germans on the countryside and material culture of Estonia, because it gave me the weird feeling of feeling that something was simultaneously alien and familiar, the sensation that even though I had never visited this part of the world before that people of a similar background to my own family made a material culture here relating to farming as did my own heavily German father’s family in Pennsylvania, which was extremely trippy. I’m not sure how I feel about the sight of round bales or cozy-looking farm houses or gas stations with Pittsburgh Steelers colors, whether I feel good about it or not. I did notice it however.
As far as the trip itself went, it was a pleasant four hours between a slightly foggy morning with a gloriously big full moon showing in a cloudless sky with frost on the grass as we passed alongside a surplus of Korean War-era vehicles that looked that they could have driven off the set of M.A.S.H. Later on there were cute villages with churches several hundred years old that could have been put in a town like, say, Colton, and although most of the roads were only local highways with two lanes of traffic, one going each way, there were few lights or traffic circles along the way because there are few large towns or cities or population centers along the way. There were a lot of random bus stops with solitary Estonians at them looking to get further along the way, although seldom all the way to Kuressaare like we tourists were doing. What was most interesting was the half-hour ferry we took–which I think was my first ferry trip–where we enjoyed some breakfast and I ate some fried eggs and a frozen treat with some lovely Estonian young ladies on the wrapper called “Vanilla Ninja.” Now, that’s a treat I can’t refuse. Once that ferry ride was over, we were given notice to pile back in the bus and we were off toward the feast site. Once I got there my room was ready and I had the most amazing view from the balcony, looking at the famous castle of the town. It can be said of this feast the same way it could be said of Bryan Adam’s first greatest hits compilation, so far, so good.
The view from my hotel room balcony.