Tartu vs. Tallinn: The CouchSurfing Creep Reach test
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Having lived in both Tartu and Tallinn, I’m asked all the time which city I like better. And like all loaded questions with an obvious best answer, I simply tell whoever is asking what I think they want to hear. I don’t feel qualified to judge the cities against each other because my opinion is biased: in Tartu, I lived as a student in a brand new apartment with a balcony overlooking the Emajõgi. In Tallinn, I spend eight hours a day in a cubicle, and my first apartment was located next to a whorehouse.
But the truth is, I have never considered which city I like more because I like both cities and have no stake in the rivalry. All I know is that, in Tartu, I get applause on stage when I say the suit-wearing, club-hopping, pill-popping Drum n’ Bassholes in Tallinn didn’t get that last joke. And in Tallinn, I get applause on stage when I say the overall-wearing, sheep-marrying, mouth-breathing rednecks in Tartu didn’t get that last joke. I guess I learned a lot from my previous neighbors at the whorehouse.
Being knowingly biased but wanting to contribute to the debate, I decided to compare both cities using a standard
for measurement that only a paranoid foreigner would find useful: the CouchSurfing Creep Reach Test.
CouchSurfing is not a dating website. It’s a casual hook-up website.
CouchSurfing is a social networking site where people search for free accommodation when they visit a city. It’s kind of like Facebook, if everyone on Facebook was a cheapskate and the CEO of CouchSurfing was a messianic nerd. When you want to look for a host on CouchSurfing, you do a search for people in the city you’re visiting and send 100-150 generic messages begging for a spot on a futon and a blanket or hemp quilt. But CouchSurfing also has Group Messageboards, usually organized by city: so if you were visiting, say, London, you’d announce your trip on the London messageboard under the delusion that anyone cares about you.
The messageboards are where the magic happens: when dudes visiting a city are (inevitably) rejected by every host in that city — because every host is also a dude — they post to the city’s messageboard in a desperate attempt to meet up with non-dudes (of which, across the entirety of CouchSurfing, there are 7).
A lot of people have the misapprehension that CouchSurfing is some sort of magical portal where like-minded nomads share their tales of traveling and experience new and exotic cultures without having to spend money. And maybe, years ago, it was. Today, however, it’s a cesspool of creeps looking for free accommodation and minimal-effort hook-ups: less On the Road than The (Creepy) Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So why not use CouchSurfing as a gauge of creep infestation for both cities to decide which is superior?
As a RyanAir hotspot, one would expect Tallinn to start from a disadvantage. And a quick glance at the Tallinn group messageboard reveals that this is probably true:
Six topics posted by women, fourteen by men: if this was a party, I’d have my hand over my drink at all times. Let’s explore a little more, shall we?
Clearly Tallinn’s status as a 2011 European Capital of Culture has attracted the most sophisticated of travelers. I hope the museums can accommodate so many new visitors!
Off the beaten path, Tartu is less prone to finding itself on the average creep’s radar screen. The first page of the Tartu CouchSurfing group supports that:
This screenshot almost implies that women travel as frequently as Southern European men! If the Tallinn Group screenshot was a Georgia O’Keefe painting, by comparison the Tartu Group screenshot is a Norman Rockwell. But that’s not to say that Tartu is free of the reach of all CouchSurfing creeps:
The debate is settled: By the CouchSurfing Creep Reach standards, Tartu is the superior city. Just make sure to avoid Club Atlantis.
Disclaimer: This article is (mostly) in jest. I have attended CouchSurfing events in both Tartu and Tallinn (I even organized a CS Tallinn Pub Crawl once) and have hosted CouchSurfers before. I’m both a hypocrite and a creep, and I hope no one would ever be foolish enough to take me seriously.