After arriving back in London Monday evening and finding out on Tuesday that we didn’t have any work lined up until at least the following week, we were left with 5 days to entertain ourselves. So of course we jumped on Google maps, picked out 5 or so countries we wanted to visit, compared flight prices and within a few hours we settled on Estonia and Latvia. The next morning we were on a flight and the rest is history.
We weren’t particularly excited about either country, particularly Estonia. We had some warped perception of it being a run down derelict city with lots of crime and hardly anyone speaking English – oh how wrong we were. Arriving at Tallinn airport we were immediately impressed by the efficiency and also how cool the airport actually was. Each gate lounge was sponsored by a different local brand which meant that there was incredibly colourful and themed furniture everywhere. We took a public bus into the city for a mere €2 each and within 20 minutes we had arrived.
We stayed in Old Town which is where most tourists stay. It is surrounded by city walls which had been partially destroyed during the second world war. Walking into the town we immediately noticed how colourful the city was and the buzz created by the thousands of tourists lining the narrow streets.
Now Estonia has had a tough history. Over the centuries they have been ruled by the Danish, Swedish, Russian Empire and USSR. They have only been an independent country since 1991. Roughly 30% of the population is Russian and whilst they are not considered to be a particularly religious nation, those who do practice are mostly Lutheran. A lot of the younger generation learn English at an early age so most of them are bilingual which makes in particularly useful for those working with tourists. A lot of their tourism comes from the over 50’s American and British tourists who come by the droves on humongous cruiseliners which often start off in Sweden.
During our limited time there we did manage to get a quick glimpse of the city and enjoyed it A LOT more than we expected. So what did we get up to in 24 hours?
1. Eesti Tervishoiu Museum
Had a nerdgasm here exploring this museum which went through interactive human body displays. Probably one of the best ones we’ve been to.
2. Pegasus Cafe
This is the sister cafe to the #1 Restaurant on TripAdvisor. It was here we had our first taste of Estonia’s famous ‘Black Bread’ and it was to die for!
3. XXXV Tallinn Old Town Days Festival
We coincidentally were in town during their annual Town Festival which meant there were thousands of people gathered in the main town square. We listened to an amazing choir who were singing as a an actor with a giant fake magnifying glass abseiled down the town hall building. Very cool vibe happening in the square and very glad we were there to experience it.
4. Sunset from the Upper Town
We made our way up to the ‘Toompea’ area of Upper Town, known to be a wealthier part of the city where all the viewing platforms are located. We went across a few different areas to catch a glimpse of the sun setting at 10.30pm
5. Free walking tour with EstAdventures
At 10.30am we started our fantastic tour of the city. Our guide was a local who knew plenty about the city and was able to give us a good insight into what life in Estonia is like now. A few interesting things we learnt were that a lot of Estonian students actually study in Helsinki (Finland) whilst still living in Estonia. They do this by commuting on the 1 hour ferry each day. The main reason for this is that education in Finland for Schengan Zone citizens are free and Finland is known for having an excellent education system.
So that completes our whirwhind visit to Tallin, would have liked an extra day here which may still be on the cards in the coming months.
Next stop, Riga!
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo