Tallinn, September 2007

Tallinn Travel Blog

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fat margaret

i changed my plans slightly and decided to spend an extra day in tallinn rather than carry my pack to a remote area of estonia, which was a shame because i was really looking forward to heading out to the lake andim sure it would have been worth it.  never the less, it seemed to work out well and i was thankful for the extra day in tallinn as there is so much to see.

i arrived in the capital on monday around lunchtime from tartu.  i grabbed the express bus so i was here in no time.  i got pretty lost from the bus station to the hostel which wasnt great as i was down weird and wonderful back alleys without a clue where i was.  i finally made it to the hostel which was really nice, the book describes it as midrange so i guess i was in for a treat?  the place had a mad decoration but was clean and tidy.

main square
  i was in a dorm for 6 but there was only ever 4 of us the room which was great.

i took off for a walk around the old town after id checked in and the place was very similar to riga-bright and colourful although it did seem a lot more tourist orientated and a lot busier.  i seemed to cover loads of ground in the few hours i has just roaming around, the city seems so inviting it would be rude not to get lost!

i walked down the street of the hostel and came across the viru gates, built in the 14th century and the surviving towers are just a small part of the original gate.  this was a nice opener to the place.  i followed the line of the old city wall, in many places it still stands.  i headed up the hill to where fat margaret stands, a very round 16th century bastion which once protected the city entrance.

  apparantly the walls are over 4m thick.  at the back of this there is a view over to the port which is nice.  there is also a big memorial there which is dedicated to the victims of the estonian ferry that sank in 1994.  down the hill there is another monument with all the names of the 854 people that died.

the streets here are cobbled with loads of shoots off in all directions.  i ended up in the main square of tallinn, raekoja plats.  this is where the town hall is (obviously).  its a bustling little square with cafes and resturants surrounding it.  it has a lot of character and there is always something to watch.  back in the day this was the centre of tallinn and local markets were held here regularly.

old city walls
  the town hall stands tall to one side.  it is the only gothic surviving town hall in northern europe, built  between 1371 and 1404.  also in the square is one of the oldest running pharmacies, serving as such since 1422.  just off the square is a small alley way with some old tombs which was different to see in the centre of the capital!  through the alley way i came across holy spirit church.  on the side just before the entrance is the oldest clock in tallinn, painted blue and gold.  i nearly missed that it was a clock as it just looks like a painting.  i headed out to st olarfs church which can be seem throughout the city.  it was once one of the tallest buildings in the world until it was burnt down and they decided to build a smaller spire as a replacement.

i walked over to an area called toompea which is set on a hill which hold loads of the turrets and the city wall.  the views from certain points up here are breath taking.  i passed the virgin tower, where postitutes from the medieval time were held in prison.  i came across pikk hermann which is one of the castle towers and holds the nation flag on top.  up near here is dome church, the oldest in tallinn and alexander nevsky cathedral, the biggest orthodox church in tallinn both of which are equally beautiful. 

once i had covered pretty much what was on offer i decided to head back to the holy spirit church where every monday they play a classical concert with local musicians.  i just caught the end of this but it was still nice to get there and mix a little with the locals.



i woke up really early with people snoring so decided to head into town.  the hostel was only a 5 minute walk from the town hall square which was great.  i had planned to head out of tallinn to a place called paldeski but the bus times were al over the place and i ended up having to wait a few hours for the next one.  in the mean time i bought a tallinn card and ended up taking a few bus tours around the city instead.  like berlin, although i had covered most of the area the day before it was good to get a commentary to add to the info in the book which can be very basic.

i started with the blue line which headed out to rocca al mare which is a short distance out of town.  there was little that interested me on this tour but it was nice to hear the history.

i grabbed the green line which was far the best tour to get and headed out of town.  i jumped off at the tv tower (every place seems to have one of these) to admire the views across the gulf of finland, luckily the weather was good so the views were amazing.  the viewing platform stands at 170m.  we passed the song festival ground which is a famous part of estonian history.  it is an open air ampitheatre and has held public singing revolutions during the struggle for independence.  we followed the pirita river which again was beautiful and nearby lined with trees.  we passed the botantical gardens which was more clear from the tv tower.  the olympic centre was a good place to have a look round.  the village was created for the 1980s games and brought a lot of attention to the area and resulted in a lot of new buildings which were heavily soviet influenced.  we saw the yachting centre where there were plenty of very expensive boats in harbour.  the day was great weather so areas like this were shown in their best light.  just out of the village was the convet of st brigette who is known as a saint in the area for the work that she carried out during her lifetime despite having a large family of her own. 

after the bus tours had finished i decided to take a walk over to st olafs chuch and climb the spire for the views over the old town.  god this was scary the steps were so small and so steep im suprised anybody even attempts it.  ill pretty much try anything once but never again will i climb that.  i was a nervous wreak when i got to the top.  the views made up for it though and the rooftops of tallinn were beautiful.

i took a lazy walk back thorugh the old town and took a rest in the holy spirt church, luckily the organ was playing which was great.  the music was fabulous, the vibrations all around and the peaceful atmosphere.  i just love stuff like this.

i had a drink in the town hall square again watching the sun go down.  its amazing what things you watch here, there was a little boy having so much fun throwing his bag around with his brother.  it really was funny to watch.


i decided to take a tour out to lahemma national park.  the park is an unspoilt section of rural estonian land with all different things to offer.

the weather was pretty bad but it was one of the things that had originally drawn me to estonia so it had to be done!  we were a real small group, 5, which was probably easier and better.  we headed out to a few manor houses in palmse and sagadi and were guided around.  palmse is a restored manor house is the main attraction of the park. the house was a former nunnery before being taking over by several family during periods of war. 

sagadi house was built in competition to the one in palmse as a status  competition in the area.  we spend less tim eat this house but even so it was beautiful, i might say that because it was painted pink and i love bright colours like that.

to be honest although they were interesting i just wanted to head out to the forest or the coast line to admire the views from there.  after the manor houses we headed out to a small fishing village called altija and pulled up for some lunch at the tavern there.  the drive back to tallinn was nice as we took a more scenic route through the forests.  it was a nice day trip out but i was a little disappointed we didnt hit the coastline as they look stunning.  the area is only accessible by tours or private transport and i didnt fanny taking a car out myself.

overall opinion of tallinn- i  really liked this place it reminded me a lot of riga which i loved.  it has so much to offer and the soviet history is pretty interesting.  i would recommend anybody to visit.  there is still a lot of places around the capital i would like to vist so perhaps one day i will come back to cover it all.

TIP: try a vanilla vodka mixed with apple juice, great drink (tastes like apple pie)

next stop london baby...

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fat margaret
fat margaret
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main square
old city walls
old city walls
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photo by: Chokk