Posted by: bkropf | May 1, 2008

Grumpy Grumpy

I arrived in Tallinn, Estonia especially grumpy and irritable.  We had taken an overnight bus from Vilnius to Tallinn and my body was tired and I was generally grumpy, I don’t know why.  Poor Tyler.
The weather was beautiful.
We got off the bus at about 6:30am or so and jumped on a tram.  We were supposed to go five stops and get off at our stop however, when we did we failed to see our stop and realized we went the wrong way.  We hopped on a tram going the other way.  We didn’t have tram tickets so we decided to get out and walk the rest of the way instead of risking fines.
We eventually made it to our hostel after a couple wrong turns (that was another reason for my grumpiness).  The hostel didn’t open until 9am and it was only 8 so we had some time to kill.  Tyler wandered off and I started to read the Economist but got cold so I went in search of shelter.  I found a McDonald’s and finished the magazine.
We settled into our hostel.  Turns out our beds were in the middle of a construction zone. I was so tired from the long walk and lack of sleep I took a nap.  It had to be the best nap of my life.  Unfortunately it was cut short with some crazy construction works barging into my room.  I got up and Tyler said we were about to meet Kai, a local Couchsurfer.
We walked downstairs to meet a beautiful woman with a mountain bike and full riding gear.  She took us across the street to a local amazing restaurant (Krompressor) which served the best crepes/pancakes.  We shared a crepe and omelet.  Kai was amazing and really open and friendly.  I loved her accent. 
Kai, it turns out, is an avid athlete in about every sport.  She is actually a model for the gym she attends (She actually calls it ‘Jim’).  She said she could get us in free and thought we should come that evening with her.  I didn’t know whether to be grateful, or to be offended she thought I needed to work out.  Then she realized I didn’t pack workout clothing all the way to Europe.  She went back to work and I went looking for some clothes to wear.  Back home, people in my gym work out in pretty much anything so if I was going to lift I didn’t mind wearing some jeans and a t-shirt if that is all I have.  I guess that doesn’t work in Estonia so I looked for some clothes to buy with no luck.
Giving up on finding clothes, Kai said her friend would bring some of her husbands pants for me to wear.  Tyler and I arrived at the hostel to do some reading and internet work only to find Porn Man at the hostel.  Porn Man is a crazy 35ish guy who spends the entire day in the hostel, on the hostel’s public computer, looking at porn.  It really was one of the more disturbing parts of the hostel experience (All the sawdust everyone was disturbing too).  He was very creepy and would flirt and proposition the girls in the hostel.  The worst part of the situation is I could never use the internet.
Tyler said we were going to meet Kai at 5:45pm to go work out.  I said I wasn’t going because I wasn’t going to wear some crazy Estonian pants while doing dance aerobics (Inside I was thinking I would probably make that decision at 5:45 when she arrived).  Tyler then decided to go run some errands and would be back.  After a while it was getting close to 5:45 and he wasn’t back so I realized he probably got locked out.  I walked down to wait for him at the front door.  I waited and waited and he never came.  After an hour of waiting I was irked and I decided I would have to try to contact him via email to tell him I would meet him at the door at 8pm. 
I went on a really nice long walk trying to find a Kebab shop we had seen the previous morning with no luck.  I decided to eat a panini at a nice little Italian joint.  The lady asked if I was Australian, which made me feel nice.
Eight was rolling around so I headed back to the hostel to try to see if Tyler had gotten my message.  He wasn’t there so I went to glare at Porn Man a while to attempt to get him to leave so I could use the computer.  I went back down at 8:30 and Tyler had returned.  We had totally miscommunicated and he had just went to meet Kai straight from his errands (because he was locked out) and left me behind because I said I wasn’t going.  I really didn’t care a whole lot except for the fact I had to wait so long.  The other sad thing is Kai’s friend had driven all the way home to get some ‘pants’ for me which were actually cool shorts which would have been nice to have. (At lunch I had told Kai that Tyler was a really good dancer).  Given Kai thought Tyler was a good dancer she insisted he take a Dance Aerobics class with her and her friend.  I started to laugh when I heard he danced with 20 Estonian women.  Kai mocked his abilities for a while which was also funny. 
I think animals in Europe are braver.  I saw these ducks the other day sitting on the road warming themselves which appeared to be asleep.  Cars would simply swerve around them like it was a normal occurrence not even waking the ducks.
Here is an issue I have with the United States: Immigration Policy! According to the Economist, 85,000 H1B Visas are given annually, to foreigners who qualify as ‘Highly Educated Foreigners.’  So many people apply that on April 1st, when the application process is started for the year, it fills up immediately.  It is like a big April Fools Joke.  Then all the other highly educated individuals are moved into a pool with all the uneducated people for a lottery for visas.  According to economists, for every H1B visa given, 5 jobs are created by the highly educated visa holder (i.e. – they start American businesses).  People coming to the US on H1B visas are coming to start businesses, do research and improve the American way of life.  Why restrict them?  Of the 300 Americans to win Nobel Peace Prizes 70 were foreigners.  H1B visa holders started companies such as Google, Intel and Sun Microsystems.  Much of the Silicon Valley has H1B visa holders working there.  The main thrust of the article is that the United States currently has an advantage at attracting talent but limits the talent coming to the US to a laughably low number.  Lately however, Britain, Australia, Canada and China have adopted programs to attract ‘highly educated people’ by offering various incentives to come instead of prohibiting talent unlike the US.  Point is, if the US blocks the cream of the world’s crop from entering, the talent is going to go elsewhere and start rival companies which will compete with American companies.  I say, let them come! (Has anyone seen the movie Idiocracy?) 
Also on the topic of visas, I find if a little unfair that US citizens can pretty much travel the world without getting a visa when it is really hard for much of the world to visit the US, if possible at all.  I haven’t gotten one visa yet this trip.  However, most countries have a really hard time getting visas to visit the US and some countries it is almost impossible.  There must to be a better way to streamline the process to make it easier for people to visit.  Don’t we want people to come visit, spend money, see our culture?  I really feel that if people visited the US they wouldn’t dislike it so much.

I have uploaded some videos to the Flickr website, you can see them using these links but I am not linking some so maybe you should just check them out there.



  1. sounds like Kai is a great girl!

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