Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaching my way through the Baltic - Part 3, by Karen Albright Lin

In March, Karen Albright Lin shared the beginning of her journey on how to teach writing on a cruise. If you didn't have the opportunity to read that blog, here's the link: Writers, Want a Free Cruise? The Secret is Revealed.

In August, Karen shared with us the first two installment on the results of her first trip:

Teaching my way through the Baltic - Part 1
Teaching my way through the Baltic - Part 2

Today, we're visiting the Baltic for the third installment!

To refresh your memory, Karen Albright Lin consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres and conducts writing workshops in various venues. Her website is www.karenalbrightlin.com.

And now, let's all set sail, and again join Karen in the Baltic!

Janet Fogg


We’d started in Southhampton, had visited Zeebrugge and its famous beer, Rostock in former E. Germany and its darker beer, Stockholm and its unmemorable beer, Helsinki and its watered-down, poor excuse for beer, and St. Petersberg--where we had no time for beer on our elaborate and expensive excursion. I’d taught “Have a Great Story to Tell” and “Writing Your Life” to the curious and receptive who’d passed up a popular quiz game, mud therapy in the spa, a glass blowing show and the fruit and vegetable carving demo. We were just over halfway through our two-week cruise.

As our capable captain guided us into our next port, beer didn’t come to mind.

Tallin, Estonia is a delightful sum of many quaint parts: little signs hanging above store fronts, cobblestone roads worth walking on despite the risk of twisting an ankle, ornate lamps, earth-toned vertical homes, arched doorways, turrets, and crosses cutting the sky, cute balconies, archery practice for a price, monuments to successful struggles against neighboring countries, sidewalk cafes and an unexpected gem, The Beer House.

After roaming the town between sun showers, we slid into an outdoor bench where locals enjoyed elaborate salads and beers.  We ordered two different varieties from the huge beer-shaped menu.  16 oz each.

Wen ordered a silky light Tallin beer; for me it was a local honey beer. Our delicious first sips were distracted when two 300+ pound brothers who might have been twins tried to pry and struggle their way into the bench seat next door. Perhaps spotting our glances, they decided to come and scootch in next to us. They ordered beers that had to be 1 ½ liters. I thought, “This ought to be interesting.” And it certainly was! These two brothers were amusing, and our hour or so with them was one of the most memorable of the trip.

They were frequent travelers to Estonia from Amsterdam and had raunchy tales to tell of their homeland that went beyond medicinal greens and red-light districts.  They shared a unique scoop on Estonia and Holland.

Our dinky beers paled in comparison to theirs so we slid our tiny diminutive butts close to them, took up their mugs (larger than my head) and snapped photos for fun. Since the pictures were on Wen’s smart phone, he immediately emailed them to our new giant friends.

We learned a few lessons: don’t judge a dinner neighbor, open up to even the most unusual fellow travelers, and be sure to tell others about the joy of Tallin’s honey beer, a nice finish to a beautiful day in Estonia! The best of our trip!

~ Karen Albright Lin

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