As Tallinn is 2 hours ahead of London we didn’t arrive in Tallinn until after 11pm. We knew that taxis are relatively cheap and the airport is very close to the city so we broke our usual tradition and got a cab to the hotel which was a fiver. (100 Estonian Kroon or EEK)
Radisson SAS was as expected, a high standard, high rise modern hotel in the business centre of the city. It attracts all nationalities and the staff are very helpful and speak good English. Our room was on 21st floor, with only one more floor and a bar on the roof, and along with neighbouring Eestipank they both dominate the city skyline.
Saturday was the day we had prebooked and chosen to go to Helsinki. Tallinn was raining heavily so we were a little worried about the crossing but in fact it was very smooth. We discovered that the dock shops have a better exchange rate to the euro. That evening back in Tallinn we walked towards the old town and the two huge medieval towers that were the original city walls looked amazing by dusk. In front of the city walls are a whole row of florists with beautiful colourful bouquets from as little as £3. The Lower town as it is called is medieval with well preserved and tastefully renovated buildings.
We had a lovely Italian meal which was really memorable served by medieval serving wenches and men in lederhosen.
We made use of a 48 hour Tallinn card to get around. This entitles the bearer to use the City Tour buses, and free entry into the city’s endless supply of museums and use of all transport systems.. It costs about £20 per person. We took the Green route to Kadriorg, a huge park just at the edge of the city. This is the Tsarist Russia part of the city. Kadriorg’s pink palace guarded by soldiers and beautifully preserved. Apart from that it is a peaceful haven away from tourists. Onwards to TV Tower an ugly grey Russian concrete structure built in 1980 and the highest point in northern Europe, once inside though there are stained glass windows and a nice, relaxing bar restaurant and viewing platform from which there is a clear view of the port, the airport, the beaches, Russian built tower blocks, another cluster of Scandinavian bungalows, vast areas of green forest and on a clear day you can even see Finland.
We ended up in The Beer House, a huge bierkeller style bar/restaurant where some nights there is singing and dancing, other nights just round the world music to please everybody and of course medieval serving wenches and men in lederhosen. Its great fun though and of course the beer’s good as they brew their own.
Sunday and we decided to opt for the blue tour going in the opposite direction to the shopping centre, Brigitta monastery, the Olympic village and monument and the Estonian Open Air Museum. This is a huge area of forest dotted with farmhouses, windmills and handicrafts from different eras and different parts of Estonia. It’s a great idea not only preserving culture but also showcasing it to the world. They also do childrens’ parties They were little wheelbarrows for toddlers and small children.
Back to Old Town and the yet to be discovered Upper Town Toompea Castle and the beautiful Russian Orthodox cathedral, Alexander Nevesky, with its black tiled onion domes, its glistening white exterior with gold leafed icons. The interior was also very beautiful, a lot of gold chandeliers and fabulous gold icons.
My overall opinion was that is it such a beautiful, incredibly diverse city in its architecture, its landscape and in its people. Unfortunately it is the tourist season and there are so many tourists, tourists on weekend trips, stag parties and Baltic cruises. Tallinn really plays on the medieval theme. The entire town dresses up as serving wenches or the men in lederhosen and there are medieval theme nights, medieval restaurants, medieval shops, a museum of medieval torture instruments and medieval stalls selling cinnamon smelling nuts and medieval costumes.
Tallin is suitable for couples, singles, families, stag and hen nights and families. Avoid it in the height of summer as it gets very crowded with cruise ship passengers