reede, 1. mai 2020

How we didn't go to Zurich. Out of town.

To start in the beginning I have to mention the Chinese who considered it a great idea to eat the bat. After that there was January when we got ourselves tickets to Zurich for the labor day weekend. And form there the whole travelling went downhill. Anyway, by May we had spent seven weeks only at home or in nearby neighbourhoods within walking distance. So we rented a car and planned to get out of town on the long weekend. Or even within Tallinn to go somewhere that's not Shnelli park. We got the car on Thursday and first thing went to hardware store to buy some camping chairs. As we all know, it's essential to eat while daytripping and the roadside cafes don't seem like a great idea with the current circumstances. From the hardware store we went to see Kopli Lines and from there to Pikakari beach.

While planning the menu for Friday's trip Scott thought that nothing would be better than fresh hot bread right out of oven... Shared the tasks and started the dough on Thursday evening, Scott mixed it at 6:30am on Friday and by 9:30am it went into oven. Also known as the time we would have otherwise eaten croissants with coffee on our balcony in Zurich. We placed an order for some profiteroles by Ristikheina cafe and already at 12:30pm the bag was packed and we started our way to Tänavjärve lake.

On the way there we passed several barrios with sowiet era architectural highlights like Rummu, where after building the houses 50-60 years ago, nobody had even from afar shown them any paint or filler. Scott refused to give those buildings a second look and told that if he'd be forced to live there, he would be buried in that house as well. Once he's made his way inside, he would never step out of it again in the fear to have to see them from outside anew.

About an hour and 15 minutes later Google Maps told us to take a left turn into the woods, grab some paddles and row our car through the muddy puddles. We turned around and tried the next path. That worked better and we parked the car by Veskijärve lake, where we considered the lake view suitable for our sandwich and cake lunch. The bread had cooled down, but was still crunchy. Since we didn't have any disposable plates at home, we had grabbed some silverware and were dining now like in the best Arabian restaurants. Everything was peachy until the profiteroles. Ristikheina profiteroles are well known as a pound of delicious cream in the pastry. After the third bite the filling was running out of all the holes that even didn't exist. After lunch we sat there for awhile, me wrapped in the yak wool rug, Scott wearing flip flops... and enjoyed the silence and fresh air.

From the lake we drove to Nõva beach, where at first we thought that we had missed the beginning of the beach season, because the parking lot was more packed than the surrounding of the singing grounds during Metallica concert. But turned out that all the crowds had come to the beach to just grill their hot dogs next to their cars and the whole long sandy beach was totally empty. We walked some, skipped few rocks and made our way to Padise manor and castle. And form there to Rummu quarry also known as Estonian Blue Lagoon. We watched some heterothermics going for a swim, got some sticks to bring home and made a last stop before heading home in the Ämari Pilot's Cemetery, where instead of traditional tombstones they had used parts of aircraft.

esmaspäev, 27. aprill 2020

Isolation Gourmet. Vol. 3

And the isolation is going on. So the next menu from top left:
1. Easiest bread ever, where it takes 5 minutes to mix the dough and after 12+2 hours of rising time the baking will be appr. 40 minutes. The bread is gone within 15 minutes.
2. Orange and maple syrup chicken
3. French toast with fresh strawberries, bacon and maple syrup
4. Potato salad with egg
5. Alfajores - cookies with dolce de leche filling
6. Pasta with bolognese
7. Lemon and honey chicken
8. BBQ pork tenderloin with cabbage and green beans
9. Chilli con Carne

reede, 24. aprill 2020

Isolation Gourmet. Vol. 2

We keep eating. From top left:
1. Fluffy gluten free vegan pancakes. Eaten with bacon and maple syrup.
2. Fried perch with potatoes and fresh pickles
3. White beans cooked with tomatoes and bacon
4. Green chicken curry with veggie rice
5. Cookie cake with cherry jam
6. Slow-cooked beef
7. Sugarfree sticky toffee pudding
8. BBQ pork tenderloin with corn and Korean carrot salad
9. Lasagna

esmaspäev, 20. aprill 2020

Isolation Gourmet. Vol. 1

Isolation gourmet part 1. Starting from left:
1. red currant milk shake - blend frozen red currants, a splash of maple syrup and milk
2. tartlets with caramelised onion, balsamic, walnuts and blue cheese
3. lime & thyme chicken with veggies
4. homemade little burger patties according to Gerli’s and my mom’s recipe
5. first ever deep dish pizza made by me for Scott - the crust is formed like for a quiche and filled with lot of tomato sauce and cheese. And pepperoni.
6. Fried halloumi salad with roasted chickpeas, fried tomato, onion, zucchini and broccoli
7. lasagna with homemade pasta
8. creamy salmon pasta with homemade tagliatelle - I usually make the creamy sauce from scratch, but this time I used the ready made creamy lemon sauce
9. Cheesy bread pudding

pühapäev, 12. aprill 2020

New normal

Four weeks and corona, quarantine and isolation have become new normal. Watching movies and reading books I'm surprised that people are elbowing on the streets, there's no keeping distance with strangers, in checkout people are just breathing on each others necks. They travel and eat in restaurants like there's no tomorrow. I read a book and the author is visiting a doctor's office with urinary traction infection and the small waiting room is totally packed. My first thought was: How is this possible, they can't keep the two meters distance? Couldn't they have consulted over the phone? As first reaction it just seems so irresponsible and unbelievable. By now we go (if we go at all) to the grocery store right before closing time and if someone is already in an aisle, we back out there and go for the next items on our list in the overnext aisle. That we would pick up a package form the locker at 2:05pm doesn't even cross our minds. That we would go for a walk after lunch when sun is shining, is not even considered. We try to schedule our walks for later hours in the day, because then we can at least hope that the rest of the people and mainly bicyclers are home. I'm still uncertain, where were the Tallinn cyclists when Traffic Law was adopted several years ago and the 2+2 restriction implemented now. While it's more or less possible to keep distance with other pedestrians, the bicyclers just speed up from behind so quietly on the sidewalk that you can't notice them until they almost run you over. And then I look at the empty and carless street and wonder why they are on the sidewalk in the first place. Scott, the one of us, who often doesn't keep his opinion to himself, has asked others sometimes to keep the distance and gotten comments like "Seriously?" in response.

They days are spent eating and planning the meals, working, running and planning the running times, walking and calculating the best time for that and scrolling Facebook, Instagram and online shops. Do you remember the underwear we had as kids, the ones with names of the weekdays? Those would come handy right now, at least we'd know, what day it is.

Around 1,5 months ago, when walking to the office I saw some lilacs on the way and its buds so big that seemed to be greening any day now. Well, at the moment, mid of April, they look exactly the same... But at least we have found some pink blossoms that we now check out and take pics of every two days.

Scott wants some sugary cereal. The ones they always have on breakfast buffet in the cheaper hotels (where the night is "only" 100-150 USD) in US. Where the sugarcoating is thick like the caramel on creme brulee and you have to bite your way into the filling through that sweet layer. However, pretty unexpectedly it has turned out that the online stores only carry the "healthy" or expensive gourmet. Offering us muesli made from the oats grown on the Southern Estonian fields with nightingales singing softly on the trees and with freeze-dried berries from auntie Millie's garden in Saaremaa. Or some fake-healthy whole corn flakes from Kellogg's. Anyway, we managed to find a box of Cheerios that was at least covered with honey. In the next blog post I'm going to give an overview of our isolation cooking and gourmet.

Time is otherwise well spent with puzzles, trying to figure out the board games Gerli sent us (Scott is convinced that Gerli was laughing all the way while packing the games for us) and watching movies. We are already so good in assembling the puzzles that currently the last one, Positano on Italian coast we finished within 2 hours and 40 minutes without even getting up from the table. With the 1000 piece Manhattan one we spent way more time and sweat tho.

laupäev, 28. märts 2020

Gaili of all Trades

Losing the normalcy. I think, that's how I would describe the current situation. Nothing that used to be taken for granted, normal and daily, is it not anymore. And I'm not talking about not being able to travel or that the economy is f*cked up or we can't go to H&M anymore. I don't think Netflix is human right. But what I do consider human right to go outside. And it's not the newly found sports enthusiast in me talking, but I've always preferred walking over taking the bus or just walks, hikes. I've always sort of disliked sports - I can still remember how much I hated the dodge ball in school and how until this day I'm not able to climb the rope to the ceiling or do a somersault or cartwheel. But 3,5 years ago, when I moved to Munich I started to run. Which has become a habit now. Mostly 2-4 times a week with the exception of October, when it happened 5 times a week. And now my only option to go for a run is early morning, in the hope that all the people walking dogs or pushing baby carriages are still asleep. Where did all of them suddenly come from? Where did they keep their dogs and babies until now? Merely few weeks ago I could run whatever time I wanted to and saw one dog, if even. Now, during my 35-minute morning run I see around 6 baby carriers and 8 dogs. The later it gets, the higher the number. Also, most of them don't understand the rule of two meters.

We are still trying to go for a walk once a day. Usually around 8-9pm to see as little people as possible. And it still feels like trespassing. Our usual long leisurely walks have turned into speedy nordic walks (just without sticks), where the route is decided on every street corner and the street with least people will be chosen. And it's not until we're back home that I can breathe out again. It would be a great deal better, if the rest of the people would also keep the two meters distance and not saunter around with Saku six pack in hand in the MIDDLE of the sidewalk! And then there are the kids with scooters and bikes. A little older ones (so like 10yrs maybe) hang around in groups and do their tricks and the younger ones are just escaping their parents, who are not the least worried about the kids getting too close to other people.

Considering all that I should adjust my daily step goal. At the moment instead of the usual 11.000 steps 800 seem like a decent challenge.

Once all of this crap started, most of the people were saying that "Your grandparents went to the war and you tell me that you can't spend two weeks in your home, on your couch with Netflix and wifi to save the world?" Well, as of today, the two weeks are over, can I return to the regular life? And as a side note - during those two weeks there are still people, who have not understood the difference between quarantine and isolation. It seems like most of them have recently returned from trips or are having some symptoms, because according to their social media, they are all quarantined. Although isolation and 2-meter distance should be enough for them. And frustratingly big number of people are still in guarantine...

And suddenly everyone is a world famous virologist. All those who used to be politicians or real estate lawyers. Now they all know for sure that the virus doesn't reach beyond 2, 3,5 and 6 meters. Or it sticks to the surface for 72 hours, a week or 17 days. There have been miraculous recovering among MMS consumers and according to them everyone in Estonian Health Organisation should be fired and way more competent Jacks and Janes put in place.

I was putting on some make-up yesterday morning (some mascara and eyebrows that is) and felt myself like a decent muslim woman, getting herself all fancy just to stay home and please the husband. Didn't bother with any jewellery tho.

I ordered a package from Apollo to be delivered to the first floor Smartpost lockers. Since I didn't pay attention to their text that those lockers are full and they'll bring my package to the second floor lockers, a few hours later that's exactly what they did. Just so nobody would think that I'm trying to split the hair here, because how far can the second floor be from the first one, I'd like to point out that from the first floor one I can collect my stuff until 11pm, but to the second floor one the access will be closed at 9pm and currently I have no desire to go into a shopping centre that early. Anyway, I called Smartpost and asked to bring my package to the first floor lockers:
Girl from Smartpost: It's already been delivered to the locker, we can't bring it somewhere else.
Me: Yes, but unfortunately I can't pick it up there, because I don't go to the shopping centre before 9pm.
Girl from Smartpost: The we have to contact the company.
Me: Which company?
Girl from Smartpost: The seller, Apollo.
Silence in my end, because it's difficult to talk when you're speechless.
Girl from Smartpost: We will contact Apollo then.
Me: Ok.
Girl from Smartpost: But it will all take more time. Once they confirm it, we can pick up the package from the second floor, bring it to our warehouse and once there is an available locker on the first floor, we can deliver it. At the moment they become available very slowly, because people are not picking up their stuff and extend the storage.
Since I was in no hurry, I kindly approved the process. All the while not being able to understand, why now, when online shopping has been skyrocketing, they even allow extending. I'd say it would be more reasonable to bring those overdue items to their warehouse and not delay new shippings.

And I also have a package coming via Omniva. I got a paper notification that I can pick it up in their post office in Kristiine. In the light of the current situation the post office is open Mon to Fri from 10am to 6pm and on Sat from 10am to 3pm. Also known as the time, when I definitely won't be visiting the shopping center. And I can't also see any possibility to keep 2 meters distance there. So I asked them to reroute it to the lockers. Omniva informed me that under current circumstances it will take more time than usual, but will be done. So, now I'm waiting.

And actually we should be in Georgia right now. Hiking in the mountains around Khutaisi and eat all the gourmet there. Honestly, if we would have been able to get there, considering the current situation, we would have stayed there until the crap is over. Seems more reasonable than on the western front. But instead we are enjoying the beautiful sunny spring through the window and make plans, what time would be the best to go out to see as few people as possible. Dear reader, can you recall when it was the last time that we had such a nice sunny spring?

laupäev, 7. märts 2020

Boring sand and empty field. Guest of the Day.

Check out was supposed to be at 11:30am and the bus to the airport at 7pm. Since we had no desire to spend Saturday in the hotel lobby sitting on our luggage, the convenience travellers as we are, we had booked the late check out and could use the room until 8pm. During our trip to wifi I found an empty picture frame in lobby "Guest of the Day". For a second I thought that we should go and have our picture taken with the frame, but then remembered how we raised no issue having to change our door card three times a day, or when they closed the beach at 5pm, or how the quality of the food was more like a roadside motel one than Hilton and was certain that they'll bring out the "Guest of the Week" anytime soon too.

For the lunch we decided to choose fresh pasta form a la Counter. We had the choice of two sauces: red tomato sauce and white, sorry transparent, probably no-fat milk sauce. There were also different veggies, you could add to your sauce, like tomato, onion, parsley, garlic. And without even having to ask, every portion got two generous tablespoons of oil. One to heat the sauce and the other one as garnish on the ready food. The pasta was already cooked and right before serving they threw the portion into boiling water again and mixed with the sauce after that. Considering my impressive reaction time I got away with just half a tablespoon of oil and the pasta ended up pretty good.

We spent some more time on our balcony, napped a little and at around 6pm made our way to the lobby to spend some time in wifi, check out and wait for the bus. As planned, the bus arrived at 6:45pm, but not as planned, one of the couples was still in the Italian restaurant. Probably enjoying the creamless Creme Brulee. At 7pm we finally were ready to leave.

After we had picked up the rest of the tourists, the drive to the airport started. On the way there our tour guide introduced us the local traditions. Apparently they have this "beautiful tradition" here to tip the bus driver. And to make it really easy for the tourist, who wants to throw money left and right, the jar is right next to the exit door. We thought that there must be more beautiful traditions in the world and didn't follow this one.

First document and ticket check was on the entrance to airport, because no-one without the ticket should be able to get in. We showed our passport and ticket, got in and took a place in the waiting line for the first security inspection. According to the best practice of the Islam country they had different security checks for men and women. And since there were 3 for men and only one for women, the waiting line was dragging like the slobber of a cow on a hot summer day out of a bottleneck. At some point it seemed that we can start moving to our check, when a guy stopped us to see our passport. Probably to double-check the gender. After that it was straight to our checkpoint. Bag and shoes on the scanner belt, myself through the detector. The lady patted me down, asked to remove the belt and walk through again. Next time it was my watch that had to be removed and through the detector again. It seemed that now I had removed all the dangerous items, the lady touched me more thoroughly than the newlywed spouse his wife on the wedding night last century and I could start collecting my stuff. The security guy yelled in Russian that we have to bring the boxes back. Since Helena replied that he can do it himself, thank you very much, she was called aside and could unpack all of her luggage for the Ahmeds to inspect. Luckily my Russian skills are lacking, so I didn't bother responding and walked away.

We collected our boarding passes in check in and could move to the next step. Right before passport control we had to fill our a form with our name and nationality and few more things. Passport check, got our passports stamped and on the way to the final security check. However, before that, right 5 meters after the passport check, there was a guy standing, who, what a surprise! wanted to see our passports. Next security check, bag, shoes, belt and watch on the scanner belt, another rehearsal of the wedding night of the 19th century, the security guy yelling to put the boxes back and already we were in the waiting hall.

Luckily we had grabbed few bananas from the hotel, because the second biggest airport in Egypt had to offer one waiting hall, a smoke corner without walls and two bakery joints, where you could choose croissants or slices of very sad looking pizza for 5 euros. No wifi. But at least the passport control was up to the standards and we could fly out from the second biggest airport...

Boarding started, we took our seats and looked around very pleased seeing all those empty seats in our row, because the steward had just announced boarding being completed, everyone's onboard and we can close the doors and take off. Lovely, we can use all three seats again and have a decent nap. And then, the other steward told that half the passengers are missing. Damn, had the pilot been a bit quicker, we'd have had so much more space on the way home. Anyway, I was slightly puzzled on what were all those people still doing in that amazing airport. Chewing on those stale pizza slices? Anyway, we still managed to take off before official departure time and turned out that some passengers were somewhat confused regarding the type of the vehicle. Namely they had decided to stand in the aisle during the whole flight, like it was a tram in rush hour. We made it home an hour earlier than scheduled.