Via Baltica – Tallinn

Aug 1, 2012

Sea breakfast- checked. We were on an early ferry to Tallinn, the beautiful Estonian capital or the medieval pearl. We thought it’d be good to catch the earliest crossing in order to enjoy a full day over in Tallinn and in addition, of course, we wanted to benefit from the all you can eat breakfast buffet on the boat. That’s a decent way to start your day and prepare for the long day of wandering!

Just in time to have enjoyed the breakfast, we arrived to the harbor. A short drive later, we got to the gates of the Old Town, where we had an apartment waiting for us. It turned out to be a super charming apartment with more than a convenient location. The good thing about the old town is that it’s pretty small-sized area and easy to get around by foot. After settling in, we were off to the must-sees of this UNESCO’s World Heritage site, and wanted just soak in all the medieval vibes of it. In effect, Tallinn is not a place like Paris where you can’t go through all necessary sites in a weekend, but on the contrary, you can really see a lot in just one day (if you talk about the famous landmarks). For us that was good news and it just made our short visit that much better knowing we didn’t have to spend the entire time running from one place to another without actually grasping what Tallinn really is about- the intriguing ambience.

We started out with getting around the area called Toompea, which is the other major part of the old town and located on a hill, offering great views down to the rest of the old town. It’s a perfect way to get swept away by Tallinn and be enchanted by all the historical monuments such as the castle, cathedral, and the parliament that all reside there.

For me, one of the most typical and distinct features of this city must be the city walls and particularly its multiple towers with the red brick roofs- they seem to pop out every time you see or think of an image of Tallinn. The Viru Gate is probably one of the most notable one and functions as an entry point to the city. Other prominent sights includes the elegant Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which unfortunately was under some façade reconstruction at the time, making it downright impossible to get a good shot of it. Aside from that, we just loved walking around the area near the cathedral, mostly admiring the architecture and colorful buildings that were all around. Every now and then they had those little boutiques with lots of typical handcrafts and cute souvenirs, and surely we couldn’t resist. Later on we made our way down to the Lower Town through the passage known as The Long Leg, which connects the two town parts to each other.

As we walked along, we finally came to the Viru Gate. There is a place nearby where you can actually walk on the ancient city wall (against a small fee). If you follow the little street with woolen handwork stalls, you can’t miss it. Just a few steps away we stumbled upon this beautiful alley St. Catherine’s Passage, which was also filled with handcraft workshops and galleries: everything from glass- to wood arts. Definitely places to check out if you are keen to see some local products at their best.

Following the passage further we ran into many cozy looking restaurants and café shops with inviting outdoor terraces, that for the time being were totally deserted due to the rain that had just started to fall. We wanted to make our way to the central town hall square Raekoja plats, and look for some hideout from the rain. Around the main square it’s not really hard to find places to sit down, as it’s literally bulging with restaurants, bars, terraces- you name it. We got in to this restaurant that had just the most amazing medieval theme going on- everything from decorations to menus, waitress costumes, and even to the actual presentation of food! We truly had a blast drinking beer from the past! And that’s not all, in the end of it; we were able to pay with medieval coins! (It’s actually just a tourist thing they do outside the ‘medieval’ restaurants; they give you these coins that let you get some traditional homemade drinks for free in any of the surrounding restaurants…)

Somewhere in between of getting lost in the olden days and the delicious bite we were having, the rain outside had diminished and we were able to get on our feet again. Life around the town square was immediately back on track after the rain, and all the terraces were as full as before. People didn’t seem to be bothered by a little harmless summer rain, and neither were we as we moved along taking pictures and enjoying all the pretty details around us.   

Later in the evening we came back to one of the restaurants we had seen around the main square, a place called Estlander. As the name already suggests, it had (at least from the looks of it) a very typical Estonian cuisine with different meats and vegetables in every shape and form- plates of food to share with everyone. Boy was that delicious! 

Afterwards the elderly headed back to catch on their sleep while me and Denis wanted to check the lively town at night. Just around the corner from the main square there are plenty of bars, and we wanted to ask some locals where to find the good one. We were advised to go to Hell Hunt (no, not to hell- Estonians are pretty nice people after all…;)), the allegedly best spot around. We followed their orders and went for it, and were throughout pleased with the place. We each had a good pint of beer before heading back to the apartment in pouring rain. Regardless, we did one last stop at the town square namely a photo session! Tallinn by night- checked.

The next morning we were ready to hit the road and get our Via Baltica route properly started. We were on our way, and the navigator was showing our next destination- Riga, Latvia.



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