Old Town Tallinn,Estonia in earnest

Estonia's flag
Europe » Estonia » Tallinn
July 6th 2013
Published: July 11th 2013
Edit Blog Post

Another hard night on the sofa bed,we wished we had read more closely about the bed in the apartment before we booked it on Air BNB and another night to go.

It is hard to know what the time is when we wake up without looking at a clock as the dawn comes so early and for the last week or so the sun has been up and shining for some time when we have opened the curtains.

We had found bacon at the supermarket when we arrived and so we have another breakfast of eggs and bacon this morning which always sets us up well for the day.

The planned walk today is amongst the sights of the lower Old Town and we set out mid morning taking the same route from the apartment which we have done on our previous two visits to the old town area.Sometimes it is best to stick to the trail you know than trying something new which can lead you astray from your target.

The market just down the road was in full swing and its a wonder that the supermarkets bother stocking fruit and vegetables when you see what is on offer at these markets and what the locals are walking home with in their carry bags.And the prices are always lower than the supermarket.We noticed the market was still going late in the afternoon yesterday so rather than carry produce with us all day we will call in on the way home after our walk.

The Tallinn skyline is similar to that of Vilnius with a number of modern,glass faced tall buildings and a couple we have passed in the last two walks downtown have been the SEB building and the Raddison Blu hotel.Interestingly,although there appears to have been a lack of wind elsewhere,whenever we have walked between the new tall buildings the wind has funnelled along making us hold onto our sun hats.At least with the sun out it hasn't felt cold in this little micro climate but what is must feel like in the winter when any sun would be weak does not bear to think about.It is little wonder that one of the city centre bus stations is underground giving some protection from the weather for people waiting for their transport.

This morning we followed the old city wall north towards the port area.Some of the old town is located outside the very thick,solid city walls although most of the buildings of interest are within the walls.All along the interior wall there were stalls selling local handicrafts and we found that the prices were cheaper for the same or similar articles than in the main market square where we were yesterday.It seems like to walking a little further afield than where the bulk of tourists and especially cruise ship passengers congregate is worth the exercise.

We called into the Orthodox Church of St Nicholas built between 1820-27 with some stunning looking iconostasis and twin bell towers and a copper dome.We couldn't get in via the front door but spotted a side door open and so went in through there.We discovered why the front door was closed off when we noticed that the interior of the church was full of women holding babies!There was either a mass baptism underway or someone baptising their baby had lots of friends with babies.It appeared as though the service was either over or they were waiting for the priest to arrive.

In these situations one doesn't like to take video but there were a number of people with cameras in the audience so we chanced our arm and did take video, noticing on our way out of the church the sign with a cross through a picture of a camera!

The buildings in the Tallinn old town have been very well maintained and it deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status and would have to rate as the best of the old towns we have explored.

It was a day for celebrations in the old town and the BBA V2 was coming across them as we continued our walk.A short distance away after leaving the church having the christenings we rounded a corner and picked up the sound of brass band music.So we picked up our pace in the direction of the music to discover a newly wedded couple being played to by a 4 piece brass band.The music was almost mariachi style and something you could tap your toes to.

Although the wedding party and their guests packed themselves into cars and headed off to the reception quite quickly after the band we weren't able to get into the church to have a look around as it was still closed off with a sign saying wedding in progress.We were to find out later that St Olaf's church was obviously a popular church to get married in as we came back twice to take a look at the interior of the church only to find that weddings were in progress.They must have had them lined up at hourly intervals and that was the reason why there was no hanging around outside once the happy couples had been married.

All these celebrations and we felt like something to eat too and as it was lunchtime we found a quiet restaurant away from the hordes of cruise boat passengers.We had intended to have something Estonian for lunch but we discovered that the place we had chosen was in fact Russian(there is a lot of Russian influence in the old town when you look closely).Gretchen had pancake baskets with mushrooms while I had blinis filled with meat.Both were very tasty and as always it was relaxing sitting under an umbrella in fine ,warm weather doing some people watching waiting for our meals to arrive.We still haven't got used to the fact that you wait an age for your bill if you don't push the waitress for it.We always feel that once you are finished its time to move on!

We took a street that had us outside of the wall and then strolled in the warm afternoon sun through a lovely park with bright coloured flower beds taking in the very solid fortifications from the outside.

Returning inside the wall we dropped into the Church of the Holy Spirit,a small and rather ornate church built in 1531 with connections to Britain from the late 19th century.The carving of the dark wood of the interior was very intricate and the altar was unique in design in that it was in three pieces and could be folded up and removed if need be.

The market square was as busy today as it was yesterday and it is fair to say that the square is the focal point for the old town.

We felt we had seen all we wanted to by the time we headed home picking up dinner at Stockmanns, another supermarket we discovered on the way from our apartment to the old town.It was very much like the 'Kirkcaldie and Stains'(those of you who know the Wellington department store will understand this expression) of supermarkets and just had that air of superiority about it and the prices were not out of competition with Maxima and Rimi.It was another mystery meat dinner with roast potatos and vegetables.

We will be sad to leave Tallinn as it is a lovely city to visit and walk around.However,we won't miss the sofa bed of the apartment and we hope that tomorrow night we will be back in something more comfortable!

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


11th July 2013

European yet different!
Interesting to see the photos you have taken of the locals and to recognise that while they are European looking there is a distinct Slavic influence both in build and facial features. It actually makes you wonder how these features evolved originally! Its a bit like spotting an American in Wellington who has just come off a cruise ship!
19th July 2013

Think the married couple were Estonians but it was hard to tell.

Tot: 1.873s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 20; qc: 88; dbt: 0.0548s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb