Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Roisin Murphy doing a little dance at Tallinn concert

Take a very close look and you can actually see her smiling at me:)

Roisin Murphy performing Cry Baby in Tallinn

Went to see Roisin Murphy at concert. It was one of the BEST CONCERTS EVER! This lady rocks your socks off. I wished so much it were Friday, the party night. She looked great, sang perfect and danced like crazy. Good show!

Morocco travel letter:Marrakech-Essaouira-Home

Last evening in Marrakech
We’re tired and dirty and totally disinterested but decide we still need to buy some stuff. Thanks to the apathy the bargaining goes extremely well because it’s not an act when we threaten to walk away, we genuinely don’t care. I buy a lamp and N gets a big plate and some glasses. From here on we carry them around like our babies. After a well-deserved and necessary shower we head to town to eat at the food stalls again, since we know it’s our last night in the beautiful Marrakech. We eat shrimps and squid this time. Sadly we cannot find our sweets-selling guy who’s moved his trolley to someplace else. The little pastries here are teeth-achingly sweet but very tasty.

Bon anniversaire
It’s the birthday morning for me. N sings “Happy birthday” and we have another one of the many plentiful breakfasts. We eat rghaif – the flaky and buttery pastry. I just cannot get enough of Moroccan food. On our way to bus station we end up on a movie set on the street. I can imagine why they want to film there, the light is beautiful and the street and the colorful houses make up a great atmosphere. We take all out of this opportunity and make a lot of photos. People are probably assuming we’re part of the film crew with our impressive cameras and white skin. So, finally we can take pics with no one asking money for it and without being afraid of taking anyone’s soul away.

The bus to the seaside town Essaouira is not the most comfortable one and the bus driver waits for the bus to fill up before he finally takes off. That takes more than half an hour. This time we’re one of the very few white people on the bus, the rest are all locals. Essaouira should be a more laid back and calm city, with a bit of Cretan air about it. That’s exactly what I’m expecting of it. It’s not all quite how it’s advertised. It’s also a bit dirty, like the rest of the towns in Morocco, but it does have white houses with blue window frames and doors, so I can see the Crete reference. And there’s the smell of the ocean. We find our little hostel, which is nice but not as comfortable as the ones in Marrakech. But it’s cheap. On the way we’ve already noticed that even in Essaouira it’s possible to do some shopping, should we decide we need more stuff. Then it’s time for a bit of shower and some pimping up to go out and celebrate my birthday. This time we opt for some place nice and find a small, cozy and gorgeous restaurant named Chandelliere. The food is good and we even lavish on a bottle of wine and some Martini. When we get back to the hostel, where we actually have a TV, I fall asleep almost straight away. N still tries to talk to me, but I’m out like a lamp.

Silver delights
The next morning we eat some more of rghaif, bought from the street it costs only 2 Dh a piece. A man at the hostel has given us a tip where to go buy some silver with good price and of course we cannot say no to such an allurement. The place is truly worth checking out because the prices are reasonable and we can actually see how the young and old craftsmen craft the beautiful jewelry. We find some beautiful pieces and even though this is not really a bargaining place, we still get a 10 per cent discount. From a friendly sales guy we buy some spices for poulet and poisson and cous-cous and are now prepared for some Moroccan feasts once we get back home. For our final Moroccan delicacy we go for the grill stalls, which grill the fish you’ve chosen, on spot and offer it with fresh salad. It’s delicious, as ever, and we’re finally ready to head back to Agadir.

The ride
The bus ride, however, is an experience on its own. I think I’ve never been into a more uncomfortable bus. We’re seated into the narrow seat with all our packs – let’s not forget about the big plate and lamp – and once again the driver waits til the bus is completely full. This time, all but as are locals. A slightly cuckoo man ends up sitting behind us. He’s constantly talking and fussing about with everything he has. Wish I could understand what he’s saying. Everyone around is shooting glances at him and smiling or laughing benevolently. He’s a tall, good-looking kid, there’s just a bit too much going on in his head. At some point he takes a new football skirt out of his bag and puts it on top of the rest of his clothes, then he pulls up the football stockings – it’s like he’s getting ready to watch an important game. I also notice he has a football in his bag. He gets off somewhere half way, probably going back to his village, happy with all the new stuff he’s bought from the city.

Almost home
The bus ride seems to take forever. It has turned dark and we’re rather tired. Again there are several stops on the road, which are meant to last five minutes but never last less than at least 15. People are getting off and on the bus at various places. I am still trying to figure out, who ever was bold enough to name the bus company “ExpressConfort” – so far I haven’t experienced any of the two. But I don’t mind so much, the week in Morocco has made me so zen, I can put up with more than a long and uncomfortable bus ride. At last it seems to be the final stop and everyone gets off the bus. It takes a couple of minutes to realize we’ve missed our town. Yes, not our stop, but our town. The bus never drove into Agadir and we’ve reached the little seaside town 10 km further. We realize that because the petit taxis are not the right colour. Those taxis have certainly played a big role during this whole trip. A friendly monsieur police officer helps us out and we get a ride to Agadir in the grand taxi. The grand taxis take 6 people and can also drive between towns. It takes us to the border of Agadir, where we’re handed over to the local jurisdiction, which means we can already get a petit taxi to our hotel. Could it be that we’ve finally arrived, and it’s been what, only about 7 hours? We quickly finish the rest of the wine we didn’t drink the first night, take a look at our shopping booty and enjoy the abundance of clean clothes.

The next day we leave Morocco and it takes a bit more than twelve hours to complete our journey home, which leaves me less than 5 hours of sleep before heading back to work the next day. Back to life, back to reality! Thanks Morocco, and thanks N, I’ve had an absolutely fabulous week!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Morocco travel letter: Marrakech-Desert

Land Rover
At 7 we meet the Brazilian guy Vittor and our Land Rover driver Mohammed. We’re really in luck with the Brazilian because he speaks good English and also has a considerable command of French, which means he can communicate more fluently with the driver. We can just eavesdrop on their conversation and as it is simple French, pretty much understand everything. Sometimes Vittor also translates for us. It’s not the most comfortable of rides as the car is built for endurance and not for comfort but we see a lot of the country and the changing landscapes – from stony desert land to palm groves and snowy mountains. We make stops to take pictures of the Kasbahs and occasionally talk to the locals. There’s a cute and very polite small boy with an iguana, which at first sight looks dead but is very much alive when the boy scratches its back and holds it by its tail. We give the boy a chocolate bar and he thanks us politely.

Egon, Lennart & Tommy
We have lunch in Ouarzazate, which is the Hollywood of Morocco with several major movie studios and which also has a beautiful kasbah. From there it is still several hours to the destination - Zagora. Altogether we drive for about eleven hours. In Zagora Mohammed hands us over to a man with 3 camels and we get to experience an hour-long ride on the camel. We name the camels, mine is Egon, N’s is Lennart and Vittor’s is Tommy. For some reason I get the biggest one and poor little Tommy has to carry Vittor. I’m amazed how high up I am. I can already anticipate the muscle pain I’m about to get after a full hour of balancing on the camel.


When we get to the small Zagora dunes it’s already gone dark but as the moon is almost full it lights the desert like a huge lamp. We’re seen to our tent and soon after our cook – also Mohammed – arrives with a pot of mint tea. “Berber whisky,” he says as he pours it out, then taps the glass against the tray and passes it to us. We drink the tea and just wait for what will happen next. Our camel man, Lahsen, tells us there will be food and after, fiesta. He speaks a bit of English and French and has picked up phrases in other languages from the tourists. As we’re waiting for the food, the conversation enrolls, not much different from what you’d have with people you’ve just met at a bar. We talk about weather in our respective countries – he can’t imagine we can get minus 20C, query if any of us has kids – no, and guess one another’s ages. It’s rather hard to guess the berbers’ age as they seem to age faster with all the sun and often their teeth are totally ruined by excess smoking. Lahsen, however, seems to be rather young, his teeth are also in good shape and I notice that in fact he doesn’t smoke. How he manages to keep it this way is beyond me. Practically all the men here smoke nonstop and it’s definitely the favourite way to spend time. Lahsen is 28 and Vittor is only 20. We conclude with N that for a berber, Lahsen is rather good looking and that even his moustache becomes him. When we ask Lahsen about how long camels live, he answers without hesitation: “Thirty three, then teeth gone, camel dead”. I have a hard time believing it but who am I to argue a berber.

Soon, Mohammed arrives with our food – tajine with chicken and vegetables – and this is without any doubt the best meal I’ve had in Morocco. We screw open the wine we’ve bought from a hotel bar and enjoy ourselves. After the table is cleaned the guys re-appear with djembe-like drum, there’s a third man accompanying them but I don’t catch his name. They start singing – using the drum, an empty plastic canister and their hands as instruments. The singing sounds like chanting and they sing in canon, with one beginning and the other joining in soon after. It’s a good concert and pretty soon we’re all clapping along. The drum is passed on to Vittor – or Doctor, as the berbers call him – and he sings a Brazilian song. In terror, me and N look at each other. There’s no way we are going to sing something. We insist that Estonians have no rhythm, but the moment we say it, the pride rises in us, and we don’t want to leave the berbers thinking there’s no music in our country. However, not one song springs to our mind and there has definitely not been enough wine to get over the barrier.

E shkoori
As it happens, technology comes to our help. I’ve got my ipod with me and if I remember correctly, there should be a folder with Estonian songs on it. The Brazilian guy has a portable speaker and in a minute we’re already singing along to Tanel Padar & the Sun. The berbers are extatic, because finally this is turning out to be a real fiesta. “Dancin, dancing,” they shout when “Welcome to Estonia” starts playing. We’re in a circle, holding hands and moving around the pole in the center of the tent. It’s a simple dance but it’s more fun than I’ve had in a while. To Genialistid “Täna ma ei skoori” all of us – the Estonians, the Brazilian and the berbers – are singing along: “E shkoori, e shkoori, e shkoori…” This moment I am storing in my heart for the rest of my life.

The night in the desert is very cold and at some point I can’t wait for the sun to rise already. The cold and my full bladder get me out of my bed right before sunrise and in a pretty soon Lahsen appears to wake us up. We eat some breakfast and take some photos. The dunes are indeed rather small but with the magnificent morning light we get some good pictures and with the previous night I am definitely not disappointed. There will be other times in future to go and see the big dunes in Merzouga. We pack up and climb on our camels again, soon it’s time to say good-bye to Lahsen and start our long ride back to Marrakech. It goes faster this time, with only a couple of stops. We’re back at around 5 p.m.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Morocco travel letter: Marrakech

In Marrakech we want to take a petit taxi – they’re beige here – but 2 or 3 in a row refuse to turn the meter on and ask for too much money. It’s time to start bargaining. We settle for 30 dirhams with one driver who at least seems to know where to take us and we have no idea how far we are from the Medina or the old town. When we reach the place it’s clear we’ve paid too much, since the ride is not long. At first I’m not sure we’re even in the right place, it looks like a ghetto. For some reason I’ve imagined Marrakech to be bigger, more pompous and cleaner. We make our way through the dirty street in search of our guesthouse. The kids are running around and staring at us, men in jellabas pushing carts, there’s a stall selling vegetables and another one selling raw meat. Our guesthouse is on a small side alley and nothing from the outside indicates there could be this beautiful place waiting inside, that we’ve seen on the hostelworld pictures. However, the Riad Dar Badra is truly beautiful with its small and cosy in-yard (the riad) and the colourful Moroccan furniture. The hostess offers us tea and we’re shown to our room, which is also very pretty and almost as big as my flat. She also assures us that despite all the hecticism Marrakech is a very safe place with police everywhere, also in civil clothes, keeping watch.

We head to town for our first fix of shopping and bargaining. Marrakech can be truly overwhelming, if not shocking, when you first come to contact with it. Everyone’s shouting and trying to get you to come and buy something off them or use their service. It takes a bit of learning of how to deal with their intrusive manners. A woman wants to force a henna tattoo on N’s hand but we manage to escape and head for a terrace café overlooking the main square Jemma El-Fna to set the game plan. After a coffee we’re ready to tackle the souqs – the endless maze of streets turned into market. We get loads of attention. “Fish’n’chips”, the salesmen yell, thinking we’re English. Everyone keeps asking where we’re from or offers their own guess – English, Polish, German, Australian, Finnish, Swedish. None of them guesses Estonia, so we’re really putting our country on the map here. “Nice eyes,” they shout, even if we’re wearing sunglasses or the guy is staring about a foot lower than where the eyes are or even if we’ve passed them and all they can see is our backs and the fair hair. Slowly we get the hang of it and get some shopping done.

We head back to the guesthouse for a bit of rest before making our way back downtown for the famous food stalls and storytellers’ market. The Jemma El-Fna is now filled with about a hundred or so food stalls, with about 5-6 men in white overalls fussing around each one. One of them is an agent getting the people to sit down at the stall’s tables, the rest take care of the waiting and cooking. The stall counter is laden with vegetables, shrimps, squid, French fries and different meat on spits – brochetts they call them. Everything is cooked on spot and it all smells delicious. We take the mix of brochetts and different salads. Actually, the salads are just brought to the table without anyone asking us. That they all cost separately, we’re just about to find out. Nevertheless, the meal together with the drinks costs approximately 60 Dh per person. It’s not expensive but still the food here is not cheap, compared to the prices of lodging and transport. But it’s all worth trying, for they’re masters at using the spices here. And in any case, you never leave hungry, even if the meal is small, as it’s always accompanied by a lot of bread. We head back to the riad, completely satisfied.

The next morning we’re sure we like Marrakech, a lot, and decide to stay for at least another day. The preview gave us a pretty good idea that there’s a lot of shopping to be done. Everything has to be bought in Marrakech, as there’s nothing there back in Agadir. We have an abundant breakfast on the riad’s terrace, catching the first rays of morning sun, which gradually gets warmer. The night had been rather cold, since the houses are built to keep cool in summers when the temperatures reach higher than 40C and have no heating system. And of course we forgot to use the luxury of air conditioner. Our room is not available for another night, so we are moved to another one very near by, called Riad Badra . This is another gorgeous riad, if not so cosy as the previous one.

The joys of shopping
Soon it’s time to head to town again. This is going to be a serious shopping day. And so it is. Having some experience already, I believe we’re making some good deals. I buy a jellaba, some scarves and jewelry for gifts. N buys a tea-pot and also some scarves and jewelry. We eat lunch on another terrace. This time we try tajine (or tagine) and couc-cous, which again are very tasty. N also buys freshly pressed orange juice from the juice stalls, which costs just 3 Dh a glass. I take a sip but refrain from the whole glass, since I still can’t be sure if the horrible allergic reaction a few years back in Madrid was not from fresh orange juice.

We’re in luck
Then we try to organize our trip to the desert. It’s not easy, since there aren’t any goers for the 2-day trip and just for the 2 of us it would be too expensive, not to mention, slightly boring. Everyone opts for the longer one, to go and see the bigger sand dunes, but we don’t have 3 days to spend. We’re told to come back at seven in the evening to check the situation. After some rest at the guesthouse we hurry back and find out there is indeed a Brazilian guy who’d like to go with us. He is in even more luck, because they wouldn’t make the trip with just one person. The deposit is paid and the meeting is set for 7 in the next morning.

Ville nouvelle
In the evening we decide it’s time to check out the ville nouvelle or new town. Not that we really want to leave the medina – it’s already grown on us – but there’s supposed to be a good bar, highly recommended by Lonely Planet. The bars mostly are located in new town with the medina being pretty much alcohol free. The new town is quite a contrast. It’s like stepping from the middle ages right into today - big houses and roads and less and less people in jellabas. The petit taxi drops us off at the beginning of the right street, which looks spooky, with no people and not much light. However, our plan is to find the bar, but there doesn’t seem to be any and the women at a little shop tell us it’s been closed for three years. N promises to write to LP about it. We get offered some hashish by a man hiding behind a car and we can’t be quicker in leaving the place and getting back to the comfort and security of the medina and the riad.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Morocco travel letter: Agadir-Marrakech

The next morning the alarm clock wakes us from the wine-induced death sleep and we pack for the journey. We’re not sure for how long we’ll be gone but pack some things for a couple of days – some clothes, hygiene stuff and most of the Estonian chocolates we’ve brought for handing out as gifts. The summer dresses and shorts and pretty much most of the luggage is left behind. We plan to return to Agadir at some point and maybe head south, to see the different parts of Morocco. The bus ride is indeed comfortable, with air conditioning and just about 6 more people on the bus. During the first stop I buy 2 apples and some mandarins. It costs too much, but it must be the apples, as the mandarins literally grow on trees here. They’re everywhere – at the sides of the roads, in the cities – and they taste deliciously sweet and fruity.

Morocco travel letter: Tallinn-Helsinki-Agadir

This year has a good start for me. I get to add another country to my collection. It’s 28th by the world66 and 27th by the facebook count. I don’t have very high hopes for Morocco though. It’s in Africa, but is an Arabic country and I’ve been to Egypt already twice and expect the two to be rather similar. Plus, I remember well enough how tiresome the excess attention can be. However, it’s about how you travel and not where you travel, right.

We start our journey Wednesday evening with N. This must be the only positive aspect of her changing the jobs – it’s been years since we’ve been able to travel together. We take a fast ferry to Helsinki and the plane from there to Agadir early in the morning. It’s a full tourist package but with lastminute price it’s cheaper than just flight. All around us the Finnish mummos and ukkos start ordering drinks – wine, beer, gin tonics, rum colas – it is holiday and they intend to enjoy every bit of it. The middle-aged overweight man next to me fixes himself a rum cola and offers the rest of the coke to me. I don’t like to drink fizzy drinks on plane but I accept it. After all, he does it out of the kindness of his heart when he sees I’m not ordering anything. The poor Estonian girl, he must be thinking. They’re friendly, the Finns, always trying to make contact and talk to strangers. It’s hard to believe it, considering the way Estonians are, but it’s true. The 6-hour flight goes rather smoothly, despite N’s paralyzing fear of flying, especially during take-offs and landings.

We arrive in Agadir in the afternoon and are greeted by the bright and warm sun. On the transfer the guide with hypnotic voice tells us about the excursions we can buy and what there is to do in and around Agadir. I don’t pay much attention since we’re going to do everything on our own. The hotel is a monstrosity and reminds me of the hotel we stayed in Moscow – the spooky and ragged kind with long corridors, where you can easily get lost in. Seeing the rest of Agadir, we’re more than happy that we have the room already booked in Marrakech for the next night. We intend to leave early in the morning, so we have to get the tickets from the CTM office. CTM costs almost half as much as the small local bus companies, but with the help of Lonely Planet we know where their office is and at least it should be comfortable for the long 4-hour ride.

We have our meal at a seaside outdoor restaurant and drink our first sweet mint tea. Just before the bill arrives the waiter presents us with 2 roses. That’s a first! A petit taxi takes us back to the hotel. The petite taxi system is genial, they’re different colour in different cities (orange in Agadir), take up to 3 passengers and cost next to nothing. It feels good to pay less than 10 dirhams for taxi. On the way we see a MacDonalds, which has a MacArab on the menu. The rest of the evening we spend playing dice and cards and getting drunk of the wine we’ve brought along. The second wine shows a lot of resistance when we try to open it but has to surrender to the strength and willpower of 2 real-life McGyvers.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Keef halek?

I am back from my short but extremely satisfying trip to Morocco. During the 8 hours i've been back (out of which 5 were spent sleeping), already about 6 people have asked me how come i'm not tanned. Let's make this clear now:) I didn't spend even one minute laying by the pool and i never had the reason to wear my bikini. Instead i travelled a lot and experienced loads. It was a really good trip. I promise to write more very soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Roisin Murphy - You Know Me Better

"You know me better" is gonna be the next single off the brilliant Overpowered album. Here's a sneak peak of what it'll look like - the photo shoot for the single artwork and probably the concept for the video.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nice book

So, i did not buy this book....but N did:) And that's the next destination:)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

My wonderful year 2007

Oops, January 6th and no yearly summary yet! Naughty, naughty! Here it comes - important events, trips and new people.

New haircut, birthday, went to London, saw my first stand-up comedy

Nothing, it seems.

Got a new side-job, writing for a magazine.

Went to Reamonn concert – perfect, met Nk and R again in Prague, had a great time, met M and the rest of the kiwis. Trouble in Tallinn,

Trip through Catalonia, Placebo concert

Big TM birthday, trip to Cannes.

Trip to Tuscany, the prison party, the perfect weekend in Pärnu, Kokolo concert, met R. Trip to Switzerland, met up with M.

Learned wind-surfing, TJ was back in town, creativity training.

Not a good month, death of a relative. Fragilidad.

Took up learning salsa, best thing against bad mood, lost my car in an accident, the universe starts screwing me.

Great weekend in London, my sis got a new job.

Not a good month, bad times at work, N not my colleague any more. Universe is still a bitch. Marilyn Manson concert.

Summary: seems all was just perfect up to end of September, then several things started going wrong. Like in economy, decrease should logically be followed by increase. Work woth me here, universe!

Oh, and 3 of the visited countries were new additions to the list - Czech Republic, France and Switzerland. Can i top that in 2008?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Sending off year 2007 proved to be an amazingly good party. I guess that's what happens when you don't expect absolutely anything.

With the mood being on the ultimate low for several reasons, donning a glitter dress seemed a bit of a stretch, however, when the mood's bad there's only room for improvement. Off we were to A and K-s place. We started off at 6 p.m already. Many people of the regular gang were away somewhere, but G was back in town and cooking for us again, A and K as our hosts were the best and all the rest of the guests were just being the excellent party crowd. There was lots of good food, loads of alcohol, a lot of dancing, getting the greetings from New Zealand and some point the New Year arrived...and for the hundred millionth time i had to realize that the people around me are the best in the world and ALWAYS a recipe for a good time.
Edit: Some great pics of the event HERE and more if you ask me.