Perhaps you’ll remember (probably not) that after the spectacular Christmas fail of 2015, I decided to spend the next Christmas abroad. Despite having spent a large chunk of the summer in France and South Africa, I brought this idea up to my husband, Double D, some time around October. He enthusiastically agreed; we needed to do something different for the holidays this year.
Like any good travel planners, Double D and I pulled out our laptops and got to work. On that bottle of Woodford. Then we turned our laptops on. And maybe watched some TV for a bit. Then definitely worked on that bottle of Woodford again. All joking aside, we had no idea where we wanted to go for the holidays. So I did what any reasonable, slightly drunk, woman with a web connection would do. I Googled.
Where should I go for Christmas?
The results came pouring in. London. Berlin. Paris. Asia was out; it was a bit too far for the time we had off. South America was in summer and pricey. Then I stumbled across this article, Best Christmas Markets in Europe. We scanned the list for places we had already been and settled on number seven, Tallinn, Estonia.
Neither one of us knew anything about Estonia, except it had once been part of the USSR. We did a little more Googling and discovered it was a mere four or five hour drive from St. Petersburg, Russia.
As residents of St. Petersburg, Florida, we couldn’t resist pouncing on this. We could tell people we were staying just a few hours outside of St. Pete, without clarifying whether that St. Pete was in Russia or Florida. It’s a narrative we stuck with for weeks. When grilled by friends about our holiday travel plans, my husband and I would nonchalantly say, “Oh, we just rented an AirBnB about five hours from St. Pete.” When pressed further, we’d furl our brows and say, “Somewhere on the north coast. Right on the water. Hope it’s a little cooler up there.” We continued this deception up until the moment we arrived at our AirBnB in Tallinn, the point at which I sent my mom a Glympse to let her know where we were.
My mom’s reaction, well, see for yourself. From the moment we decided to keep our trip a secret, Double D and I had gleefully talked about how she would respond. We imagined her, glasses at the end of her nose, looking at her phone, laughing, and saying, “What?” And again, “WHAT?!” Then a few minutes later, “Walter! Do you know where your daughter is?!”
Now, of course, we did let some people know where we were going, on the off chance something happened.
But overall, it was the best secret Christmas trip I ever openly, deceptively talked about.
For some of my favorite scenes from Tallinn, click here.