Sunday, January 22, 2006

Just days after Estonian TV showed pictures from a party hosted at the presidential palace by the president's teenage granddaughters (kids drinking, smoking pot, running around half-naked and peeing on the roof - or, according to the Russian media, peeing on the national flag hoisted on the roof), the New York Times names Tallinn the "party capital of the year":

[...] Just 50 miles across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki, Tallinn gets a whopping injection of cash and conviviality from the more than half-million Finns who head across every year - frequently on multiple daily "booze cruises" - to exploit Tallinn's significantly cheaper alcohol.

Pockets filled with kroons (about 13 of them equal a dollar), motivated pleasure-seekers can smoke Cuban cigars at La Casa del Habano, watch rugby over a pint at Scotland Yard, sip cocktails in the Scandi-chic interiors of R.I.F.F., boogie at the huge Club Hollywood or elite Club Prive, watch women lose their clothes at the Soho strip club, and then lose their own shirts at Bally's Casino.

But Finns are increasingly quaffing alongside a new crowd: British bachelor-partyers. Take a summer stroll in the Old Town - the city's medieval center - and you're likely to find a host of Mr. Shorter's besotted countrymen weaving over the cobblestones and into myriad pubs and beer cellars. Many are sent by Tallinn Pissup, a three-year-old travel agency whose sole mission is to send bachelor parties to slosh through the various forms of decadence in the Estonian capital. [...]

Somewhat insensitive of the New York Times - or am I just getting old? (Or both.)


  1. At the beginning of last September, I was sitting with my father in the main square of Old Riga, waiting for my mother, my daughter Julija, and partner Zinta to arrive. It was the middle of his trip to Latvia, where he had gone to meet his granddaughter and where he has now been even before he has touched the soil of his own ancestral homeland. It was a father-son like moment; no words, just the feeling that I was enjoying a beer with my dad for the first time as a full member of the world's most important club--the parent club. It was a really nice day for Riga in late summer, and there were a lot of people in the beer garden. All of a sudden, a HUGE ruckus could be heard echoing from some street in the middle of the old town. THe sound got louder, and the around the corner came a big ol' group of British boys, doing some soccer-team-allegiance dance, shouting and woopin', etc. It turns out that in the beer garden where 2 other big Stag party groups, and each of the men of each group were now behaving, for real, like stags. They started shouting at each other; "Manchester sucks!" etc. Lots of machismo, lots of drunkenness. It was really annoying.

    Latvians don't know what to make of the situation. Old Riga is taken over by tourists every year, but the character of the Old town has not been really "altered" by these tourists. British men, however, come in huge masses. . .that one day, I encountered 5 groups of 10-20 men from Britain who had come to take advantage of the cheap food, beer, and what is more, sex. They dump a lot of money into the local economy while also supporting the now booming AirBaltic, but they are really annoying to watch. It is one thing for a bunch of boys from Manchester to descend upon London; at least there they are still in England. In Riga, they are just trampling all over the place in way that has lots of people quite upset.

    I myself dunno. . .watching guys at a stag party is annoying, but, well, is this part of the price of integration with Europe? Of course, the real important question is, do Latvians get to fly en masse to London and make such a spectacle and be all in your face and so unBritish in behavior? Of course not.

    But the money is good for a lot of local businesspeople.