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Crossing Estonia

Even boarding the ferry to Tallinn you can hear the sighing of ringpulls. For heavily taxed Finns this is the original boozed cruise across to Estonia where everything is cheaper. Some Finns need to make an early start.

Unfortunately this isn’t going to be a thirsty trip. This is one of the quicker jet cat boats. Short of teleporting it’s the quickest way to get to Tallinn and it’s even cheaper if you book online. The only problem is that smaller boats zip over the waves where bigger ferries break through them with their bricklike shape. So as soon as we get out to open water the boat is listing dramatically. In the duty free store the bottles are shuddering against each other sounding like the top notes of a ADHD kid’s xylophone. Most people are firmly seated, some brace themselves against poles to keep their position in the bar, but drinking is limited. The staff hand out large white plastic bags about half the size of a garbage bag. They’re expecting a lot of vomit.

In some ways the Finns drinking is just playing catch up after a lengthy dry spell between the wars. In 1919 the Finnish Parliament brought into law the Prohibition Law which lasted until 1932 when selling of alcohol was given to a government monopoly. Today if you want to buy a bottle of wine you ironically need to seek out an Alko which have limited hours, and restaurants have limited licenses to prevent boozing. The laws have relaxed more now so you see young people on the streets of Helsinki with their ‘daschunds’ of beer in long squat boxes.

When I got up to go and check on the duty free - the staff warned that if things got really dangerous they locked the displays up in wave-proof cages – my seat is quickly swiped by a Russian man in a salmon-coloured suit. The outfit is definitely unsettling his wife who has her white bag open in front of her expectantly. Tallinn’s calmer harbour isn’t far off.

Sauna-o-meter: 4 haven't had much time for sweating it out in Estonia

Best overheard Finnish comment on the ferry: Husband to wife "Well if you wanted to buy gin you should have brought your own trolley."


  1. That ferry crossing sounds like the evil brainchild of AJ Hackett - a cross between whitewater jetboating and the Bledisloe Cup support crew.

    By the way, those Finns can play football. Just youTubed the Euro qualifiers to see 3 crafty goals the Helsinki Hellcats kicked against the Polish welterweights. Impressive.


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