May 5, 2009
Ferry: Viking Line, Helsinki - Tallinn
Hotel: Old House Hostel, Tallinn, Estonia, $5.44
Today I was planning on heading over to Tallinn in Estonia via ferry. After breakfast I caught the metro and tram (with 2 minutes remaining on my 24-hr transit pass) to the Viking terminal. Several ferries make the short crossing over to Estonia every day; they are very popular for the locals as the ships have duty free alchohol sales. The deck class fare was 32EUR one-way but they make up for it in booze sales! Everyone was there with lots of empty carryon bags/rollaboards; most don't even get off in Tallinn and just come back on the return ferry.
Some of the passengers came already pretty well lubricated and it was only 10:30AM. The ferries are floating hotels with restaurants, free wireless internet, a Wii room for kids, a casino, and of course the duty free store. Some ships also offer cabins, but I didn't see the need to pay extra for one for the 2.5 hr trip. On my trip last year to Scandinavia, my friend and I had taken Viking from Stockholm to Mariehamn (Aland Islands) and liked their ships.
I had already booked a hostel online in Tallinn. The great thing was it had shown up on Expedia and I was able to use a coupon on it.. which meant I only ended up paying $10.88 for two nights in a hostel dorm bed.. the cheapest rate I've ever paid for a nights lodging! The hostel was at the edge of Old Tallinn just a short walk up from the ferry terminal.
The hostel was in an old building, but the room was clean and had 5 beds. There was a British guy there in the room, talked with him for a few minutes before heading out to explore the town. Unfortunately it started pouring rain just a few minutes later as I huddled under an archway until it stopped. I already liked the look of Tallinn though, the old compact town had cobbled streets and quaint old buildings. Most of them had already been restored and converted into shops, hotels or museums. I have been to the other Baltic capitals in Riga and Vilnius so there was some similarity there as Tallinn had also been a Hanseatic League town. Most of the old city wall here was still intact, including the towers and bastions.
The sun finally comes out and I continue walking through the old square, up past the Olde Hansa Restaurant where people were dressed in medieval costume and selling roasted nuts from a cart.
Great smells! I was able to change some Euro to Kroon; though the rate of exchange at the places in town is atrocious. I found a Tex-Mex place; they even had chicken fried steak, but I was afraid to try it. Can't get real CFS anywhere but in Texas of course. :D I wandered up to the upper town, the Nevsky cathedral is here which is Russian style with onion domes. The Klek-en-kok (look in the kitchen) tower unfortunately was closed for repairs so wasn't able to have a look. I found a travel agents where I was able to book my bus tickets to Kaliningrad; I knew there was a bus that left in the evening connecting in Riga. They weren't able to see that itinerary at first, but then they called Eurolines and were luckily able to get me the last seat on the bus to Kaliningrad. I should have booked the tickets online earlier! I headed back to the hostel where I passed out at 7:30PM & slept for almost 12 hrs!