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24th July, 2012



Strong winds followed us as we sailed east towards the Gulf of Finland, but there was only a gentle roll despite the waves breaking in the same direction as our travel. Above us was only high thin cloud and so we had a day at sea in very pleasant warm conditions. Tallinn was relatively quiet, with only the ferries coming and going from across the Baltic, so the old town was not quite as busy as normal. Even so there were plenty of tourists wandering around this old Hanseatic capital with its watchtowers, graceful spires and winding cobbled streets.

I have seen a huge difference in the ten years I have been going to this ex-Soviet country, there has been much investment, mainly to cater for the tourist trade I guess. Consequently the old unspoilt feel has been slightly ‘jazzed’ up, but in the old town, quite carefully so that new buildings have had to meet the UNESCO World Heritage ground rules. We strolled around, stopping from time to time in a variety of shops more suited to my wife’s requirements but there were also quite a number of antique shops, far more than there had been when I first visited. They sold, of course, everything from the communist period, and at extremely high prices. In one shop I found everything from German second world war helmets, to SS daggers, Luger pistols and even a machine gun. Another sold some lovely old furniture, looking rather tired however but what interested me perhaps more than anything else was on the top shelf, tucked away behind other stuff, it was a model plastic kit of the TU-144, the Soviet attempt at building a copy of Concorde.


I asked the dealer to let me have a look. He reluctantly took it off the shelf, cut the sticky tape, which no one had done for years, and opened the box. The white plastic kit had been half assembled, rather carelessly, and there were no transfers. ‘The price?’ I asked. ‘One hundred and fifty Euros’ was the answer. Even a collector would baulk at that I thought. I smiled politely took a photo to prove my ‘find’ and moved on.

I left my wife to continue in her endeavours, and walked back to the ship. Our internal auditors had arrived and my turn was scheduled. When it came to sail I found we had an outstanding passenger according to the computer. A most unusual situation with our regular Saga passengers, so the announcements were made, we waited; even I made an announcement, which probably sounded somewhat pleading. The local agent went back up to the shuttle bus stop to check. We waited, and then I made the decision to leave, the first lines were let go.......and she strolled around the corner.

Cheers from the boat deck, the agent brought her the last few hundred yards in his car, the boys went down to assist, and she casually walked up the gangway seemingly without a care in the world. I guess we must be doing something right if our passengers are that relaxed.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.