Old Town in Tallinn – December 3rd & 4th

Old Town in Tallinn – December 3rd & 4th

So right after my algebra class ended on Wednesday December 2nd, actually 30 minutes before, John and I left for the train station for our trip to Tallinn, Estonia, and eventually Helsinki. We made it to the station early enough to get a pizza and learned about our English speaking waiter who had worked in the Peace Corp in Kyrgyzstan and then in northern Russia. Now he says being a waiter at this pizza place in Moscow is the only job he can find here. He certainly was an asset to the restaurant as John and I would not have eaten there had he not helped us out.

We only had seats on the train this time and even though they were supposed to recline, mine was broken and so stayed in the upright position. Luckily, it was a window seat and I was able to lean against the window for what little sleep I got. We arrived around 8am in Tallinn, to the sun rising over what looked like to be a nice cloudy day.

I don't think we're in Russia anymore.

I don’t think we’re in Russia anymore.

Wanting to free ourselves of luggage we walked to our hostel first. On the way we saw what the Tallinn Old Town was all about. At first I thought I was at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World. But it was missing the uncountable masses of people, so I realized Epcot was a different place.

Olde Hanse, one of the two oldest pubs in Tallinn.

Olde Hansa, one of the two oldest pubs in Tallinn.

Old Town is all cobblestone roads.

Old Town is all cobblestone roads.

After dropping our stuff at the hostel we resumed our sightseeing, by first finding an ATM and then getting some pastries at the delicious pastry shops we saw on the way in. Then we let our eyes feast.

The townsquare brightly lit by a Christmas tree.

The townsquare brightly lit by a Christmas tree.

Curious, we walked closer.

A Christmas market! Complete with Christmas music. The first sign of Christmas I had seen this year. It was wonderful.

A Christmas market! Complete with Christmas music. The first sign of Christmas I had seen this year. It was wonderful.

Up to the parliament building and the panorama spots.

Up to the parliament building and the panorama spots.

The parliament building. Unfortunately, we couldn't get into the inner courtyard through the archway. Well, we didn't try hard, but there was a car gate and we didn't want to push it.

The parliament building. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get into the inner courtyard through the archway. Well, we didn’t try hard, but there was a car gate and we didn’t want to push it.

Plus there was a castle tower and small park to the left. Wayyy cooler.

Plus there was a castle tower and small park to the left. Wayyy cooler.

Our first panorama spot. We didn't venture into any of these parts as we wanted to keep the old town aura about us so that our only memories of Tallinn were of a medieval town.

Our first panorama spot. We didn’t venture into any of these parts as we wanted to keep the old town aura about us so that our only memories of Tallinn were of a medieval town.

This building was for sale and the exchange rate was pretty good so we bought it. I'm moving in after Christmas break.

This building was for sale and the exchange rate was pretty good so we bought it. I’m moving in after Christmas break.

A Lutheran church that attracted me before I even saw it. Out of nowhere I began to hear faint organ sounds. I told John we had to investigate. Inside, the organist was practicing and it was relaxing to hear him/her play while we walked around inside. The church was a fresh change to the usual orthodox churches we had been visiting. Instead of the round domes we were used to, everything came to a point: the tops of the pews were shaped like /\ except the lines had a little curve to them. So it was sort of like a semi-circle squished to a point. I vaguely remember this being associated with Puritan churches?

A Lutheran church that attracted me before I even saw it. Out of nowhere I began to hear faint organ sounds. I told John we had to investigate. Inside, the organist was practicing and it was relaxing to hear him/her play while we walked around inside. The church was a fresh change to the usual orthodox churches we had been visiting. Instead of the round domes we were used to, everything came to a point: the tops of the pews were shaped like /\\ except the lines had a little curve to them. So it was sort of like a semi-circle squished to a point. I vaguely remember this being associated with Puritan churches?

Then we headed down this narrow alleyway. I thought I was in Italy for a second. But this was way cooler (literally, I'm not traveling again without my new coat).

Then we headed down this narrow alleyway. I thought I was in Italy for a second. But this was way cooler (literally, I’m not traveling again without my new coat).

Looking down on lower Old Town. This sight was my favorite in the whole city. I acquired a background for my computer of a Swiss skyline wishing that I could see something that resembled it and now I have. The tallest church tower belongs to St. Olaf's. To my disappointment, all the doors were locked both days we tried to enter.

Looking down on lower Old Town. This sight was my favorite in the whole city. I acquired a background for my computer of a Swiss skyline wishing that I could see something that resembled it and now I have. The tallest church tower belongs to St. Olaf’s. To my disappointment, all the doors were locked both days we tried to enter.

Walking around the building to our right we were able to get another shot of lower Old Town.

Walking around the building to our right we were able to get another shot of lower Old Town.

On our way back to lower Old Town I saw this mansion aside the road through an archway. We ventured into the front yard to snap this photo. What an amazing house.

On our way back to lower Old Town I saw this mansion aside the road through an archway. We ventured into the front yard to snap this photo. What an amazing house.

John has this thing where he poses sideways in all his pictures. There are a bunch of old walls and towers here so we got to walk the ramparts of one.

John has this thing where he poses sideways in all his pictures. There are a bunch of old walls and towers here so we got to walk the ramparts of one.

Walking back through lower Old Town we stopped inside the Tallinn City History Museum. It is by far the most interesting, detailed, and informative museum we have been in so far. With four dense floors and a cafe on top, this museum seemed to never end. But I learned all about Tallinn history and it was fascinating. From before the Danes conquered it and called it Reval all the way up to the 1980s we learned about Estonia’s struggle for independence from the Soviet Union, earning it prior to WWII but then being annexed by the USSR and then welcoming the Nazi’s who pushed the Soviet Union out. Then, during Nazi retreat, USSR recaptured Tallinn. It remained this way until the fall of the USSR gaining their independence in 1991. We learned about the peaceful protests: day of singing, which loosened Soviet rule on Estonia. It was fascinating. They even had an old Steinway piano (I stole playing a note on it, I didn’t believe it was real).

We continued walking around Tallinn afterward trying to hit all the tourist spots on our map in one day (We pretty much accomplished it).

Catherine's Passage. The first or second door on the left leads down a couple steps to a glass maker's forge. We stood and watched him make some shotglass and small glassware by hand for a few minutes, while we walked around the store and admired his artwork.

Catherine’s Passage. The first or second door on the left leads down a couple steps to a glass maker’s forge. We stood and watched him make some shotglass and small glassware by hand for a few minutes, while we walked around the store and admired his artwork.

The widest tower in Tallinn, it's called "Fat Margaret." There's a naval and boat museum inside it that we were able to visit the next day.

The widest tower in Tallinn, it’s called “Fat Margaret.” There’s a naval and boat museum inside it that we were able to visit the next day. It’s just past 2pm right now and light is already fading fast.

The House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads. A bachelor's fraternity that emerged around 1399 and this is their house. They are called Blackheads because their patron saint is dark.

The House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads. A bachelor’s fraternity that emerged around 1399 and this is their house. They are called Blackheads because their patron saint is dark.

We went back to the hostel to chillax and wash up before heading out for dinner. Deciding on an Irish pub we saw earlier in the day: St. Patrick’s, we put our coats on and attempted to find it again. We did and the food was delicious, and filling. But we still wanted to try the pancake place the girl at the hostel had recommended. So we dropped by for dessert. I ordered this amazing piece of deliciousness:

Pancakes for dessert! This delicious blueberry jam pancake with cottage cheese (which here is really like sweet blueberry yogurt) on the inside stuffed me. We should have listened to the hostel manager and ordered one for the two of us.

A delicious blueberry jam pancake with cottage cheese (which here is really like sweet blueberry yogurt) on the inside stuffed me. Hand is included to show size. We should have listened to the hostel manager and ordered one for the two of us. With 3 bites left I couldn’t bring myself to lift another piece into my mouth.

Beautiful streets at night, but nobody to enjoy them.

Beautiful streets at night, but nobody to enjoy them.

It was weird. Tallinn seemed way too empty while we were there. We kept getting the feeling there was some party going on somewhere else in the town and that we were left out because we didn’t know about it. Because we definitely got the feeling that Old Town was a party area. Especially at night. All the lights on, pubs open, cafes dimming their lights, the Christmas market still open. It would have been better had more people been walking around. Instead, an eerie feeling accompanied us all the way home.

But no matter, we tried the sauna, read for a little, and then I conked out until morning. I haven’t slept that deeply in a few months. Next morning we got kind of a late start so we only had time for a few things. We chose the museum at Fat Margaret.

Fat Margaret from the other side. The museum entrance is right at the end of the white columns.

Fat Margaret from the other side. The museum entrance is right at the end of the white columns.

Just inside a sign read: “The sea separates continents but unites nations.” This museum was also very detailed and filled with interesting history. Three floors of history about the man’s connection with the sea from Estonia and Scandinavia.

The museum had some really cool stuff, like the first scuba suit.

The museum had some really cool stuff, like the first diving suit.

Even a mast and sail from a real ship.

Even a mast and sail from a real ship.

After checking our watches, we quickly walked back to the hostel to grab our things as we were running the risk of missing our ferry to Helsinki. We eventually did miss the ferry as we went to the wrong port, but we got on another one that sped us over just as well. I went outside for a bit to experience the weather. It was getting colder, nice.

And off, we were on our way to Helsinki. It was really windy above deck and pretty cold so I only stayed out here for a little bit.

Saying goodbye to Tallinn, already far behind us. It was really windy above deck and pretty cold so I only stayed out here for a little bit. Then back inside to warm up before arriving in Helsinki.

One Responseto “Old Town in Tallinn – December 3rd & 4th”

  1. Nana says:

    George & I both enjoy looking at the photos & reading your comments. The picture of the pancake made me hungry!

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