Medieval imagery in Tallinn's Old Town
In a period in which my ongoing travel plans seemed to be coming together in a regular and rewarding fashion, I contemplated a choice of destination for a 4-night long European city break in some depth, and, shunning more obvious choices, settled on the Estonian capital city of Tallinn
as a place I decided to visit over the Easter period in 2005. The flight took me via the Finnish capital city of Helsinki, only to be greeted at the end of the line with a waylaid suitcase I had to claim for, so that it could be ferried along to the hotel Mihkli in Tallinn the following morning. A few brief glances around me revealed Tallinn to be very much an up-and-coming destination, full of casinos, bars, restaurants, shopping areas, traditional buildings, and yet more casinos, it seemed! Setting off on foot brought me around the Medieval-themed Old Town area, and since this trip pre-dates my current protocol of pre-planning a route, I came across a number of ornate-looking buildings almost by chance, as it were, delighting in the fact that Tallinn successfully fuses the modern with the traditional without appearing like an unplanned mess of contradictions.
Tallinn's town hall in the town's main square
I had read on the internet prior to my visit about the unusual and unappetizing dishes on offer in Estonia, but my gastronomical experiences there revealed nothing of the repulsive side of the cuisine which seemed to suggest that certain dishes in Estonia are perhaps only eaten for a dare or as a result of losing a bet. The cobble-stoned market square of Tallinn is flanked by restaurants, shops, and buildings of note, the most prominent of which is the Town Hall, and the most photogenic building in the immediate area. Wandering the back streets at random led me to discover Tallinn's very own 'Depeche Mode' theme bar, leading me to wonder whether the synth-friendly boys from Basildon actually played any further role in the rise of Tallinn to a more global audience. A night out spent at a local nightspot, Parliament, saw me mingling with the locals, with my thoughts being drowned out by shrieks and screams as national superstar girl band Nexus hit the stage and performed one or two songs much to the clubbers' delight.
Shops and restaurants lining the main square in Tallinn
It became evident whilst working my way around Tallinn that it was very much a city on the rise, which is popular with stag parties, and produces what certainly tasted like a contender for one of the greatest unknown beer cultures of our time. I left Tallinn with a sense of personal resolve to sample as many European cities as possible on 3- or 4-night city breaks, and since this has been a trend I have pursued almost ever since, I suppose it is fair to give Tallinn an honourary mention for its role in how that ongoing stream of enjoyable and memorable city breaks was set in motion.