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Published: July 24th 2008
View from atop St. Olaf's Church
We arrived to sun. After the weather we had in London we were slightly relieved. Since we needed to take the bus into town from the airport, the first thing we did was stop at an ATM. The first one we tried wouldn’t give us any money. Luckily, I spotted another one which bestowed our money upon us without hesitation (thank you Hansapank!). Then, after breaking our large bills (I bought some postcards, and Alex accidentally bought a $2 pack of gum—she was a little confused on the exchange rate), we caught the #2 bus to the city center, and eventually found our way to the hostel. From there we wandered into old town, taking pictures along the way and stopping to look at the various merchant stands that were set up. Tallinn’s medieval old town, which is a world heritage site, is absolutely adorable.
I had planned on calling home; however, I was having a hard time locating a place to buy a calling card. One of the guys at the hostel had told us to go up the street to a place called Texas Honky Tonk where others had been able to call the States for free. After
walking around Old Town for a bit more, we decided to check this Texas place out. Adorning the door was a large Texas flag; it was definitely not hard to miss. Above the bar was a banner that read “Calls to the States free”. I asked one of the waitresses and sure enough, she handed me the phone. Amazing. We ended up buying a small thing of ice cream, which we split (we felt like we had to buy something), then we headed out in search of a cheap dinner. We managed to find one of the places that had been recommended by the hostel (the cobblestone streets can become slightly maze like at times), a place called EAT. We filled up on super cheap dumplings, went back to the hostel and ended the night by watching a couple of movies in the common room.
We began our day by climbing to the top of St. Olaf’s Church (about 273 stairs), which used to be a KGB surveillance center, and took pictures of the amazing view that it yielded. Next, we followed the Lonely Planet guidebook to a spot where you can get a good picture of four
of the towers lining up. On our way back we stopped by the former KGB headquarters where the basement windows are still bricked up (apparently this was done to prevent passersby from hearing the sounds of those being ‘interrogated’). Eventually we walked back to the #2 bus stop and hopped on to go to the main bus station. Once again, we weren’t sure of where to get off and ended up riding it all the way back to the airport. We then had to wait to catch the next bus, and this time managed to get off at the right stop. We bought our bus tickets for Saturday, made our way back to the old town, sat and people watched for a little bit, then walked around for a while searching for a new place to have dinner. We finally found this place called Kompressor which served the most enormous ‘pancakes’ (which are actually more like crepes) I’ve ever had. They were delicious and fairly cheap. When we got back to the hostel we struck up a conversation with one of the guys in our room, who also happened to be on the same plane from London as us. A
little while later and Alex and I were on our way back into Old Town with Simon (the guy from our room who was from Wales), Evan (another guy from our room who was from Boston), Sean (an Aussie who had lived in Galway), Karl (another Aussie), and a guy from Norway. We ended up going to The Bar with No Name where we watched some very funny dancers, and a bunch of Estonian people eat canned cat food (apparently they were doing Fear Factor). Yum. When we walked back to the hostel it was already getting quite light outside. No, this wasn’t because we stayed out for so long, but because there was only a small period of actual darkness in Tallinn, only like 3 hours. It was so strange to be heading back as the sun was already coming up. We basically bypassed the entire period of darkness that night.
The first thing we did was to make our way to our new hostel (the other one didn’t have any room for us-apparently a huge Stag party was arriving). From there, we set out to find a way to the top of Toompea which was this
sort of hilled area that contained a castle, the parliament buildings and the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral among others. It really wasn’t as difficult to make our way up as we had originally thought. We spent some time up there and then made our way back down. We did some souvenir shopping, made some final preparations before we left the following day, and ended our final day in Tallinn by splitting a pancake at Kompressor.
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