There's No Telling What You'll Find In Tallinn
Tallinn Travel Blog› entry 39 of 94 › view all entries
After an overnight train journey from Moscow to St Petersburg, I got to explore this city with its mixture of architectural styles. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, he wanted to create a modern Russia including a new capital.
I found the St Petersburgians to be warmer than their Muscovite cousins, but this is not to say the smiles were free and forthcoming. Perhaps I have to admit defeat on the smile campaign I tried to install while in Russia – clearly the population wasn’t ready for the heady heights of this facial manipulation.
One of the highlights of St Petersburg was a night of culture, after all what sounds more Russian than watching men in tights performing ballet? I organised Swan Lake tickets for the three of us (Jacq, Naomi and myself) and after dressing up (I teamed my cargo pants with shoes AND socks – it was my best outfit and for the first time in months I hadn’t worn sandals), we spent the evening watching the dancers from one of the boxes.
After St Petersburg, there was a bus ride through Russian immigration where we said до свидания (goodbye) to Russia and ‘tere’ to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn.
Tallinn is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. There are two distinctive parts of the city – modern Tallinn (like most other European cities) and the Old Town. This old section of the city was a magical wonderland for a history buff like myself, and the fact that locals dressed in medieval costumes added to the experience, as did the smells coming from the cobbled streets, which were mouthwatering.
Founded in the 1219, the old town is easy to walk around to view the sights, but I also found it easy to forget what time period I was in. Buildings, being used continuously for centuries, were numerous and well preserved including one which has been an Apoteek (drugstore or chemist) since the 15th century. Most buildings within this town were clearly signposted in both Estonian and English with information relating to when they were built, who had lived there and other history regarding the structure.
Although I’m not staying many days here, I do know that I will be back. I find it a quaint and charming town and the town square reminds me of Northern Germany and Scandinavia. Perhaps this due to its history as it was under both German and Swedish control for a time.
But there is a reminder to its recent past – time spent under control of the USSR. Estonia became one of the 15 republics of the USSR on 21 July 1940 and change only came about under the Russian leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. Then on the 20 August 1991, the country finally freed itself and gained full independence and was recognised as a sovereign state.
So this is where I have found myself, in the town square of Tallinn, where on this very day 19 years earlier they completed the transition into full nationhood. I find Tallinn quite a surreal place; the Old Town of the middle ages mixing in with their communist past and blending with their democratic future. Yes, I like this place very much. Aitäh Estonia.