The Great Foot Rebellion Of 2011

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Aug 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Meriton Old Town Garden Hotel

Flag of Estonia  , Harjumaa,
Sunday, August 14, 2011

This morning I woke up tantalized by the wonderful smell of fresh waffles as it tickled my nose from the garden cafe below my window. It is my last day here and I have already walked every street in the city center.  There is however a whole new section just beyond the walls.  I was already on sensory overload way back in St. Petersburg but I have kept right on loading up my mind and soul with new sights and experiences even though.

So, today I just wanted to go around to a few little places outside the main center to see what was going on.  I started heading out of the Viru gate, taking pictures of the funny and very clever signage that hangs outside of each shop, first the pharmacy, a women's clothing store and a hairdresser's and then, as I turned, just outside the gate, I wanted to look around in the area near "Freedom Square" which I thought was a metro station but much to my surprise, it is only an underpass, but with a science museum for children just inside, along with a "Kiosk" store and newspaper stand.  Also noteworthy; when the area was being renovated, the remains of the ancient walls were uncovered which are now preserved under a glass display along the sidewalk on which the bricks are arranged to outline the old walls beneath.  Very clever and inventive!!

Well, I went under and crossed the street and was amazed immediately by the floral displays that caught my eye as I emerged from below. I then circled the block without direction but I had seen on the map a club, which I had never found in the night, and my curiosity got the better of me and I felt driven to at least know where it was before leaving Tallinn. I found it, after searching the area for a short time, located behind another club. Then I felt satisfied.

It was already noon and nearby was a modern shopping center that had piqued my curiosity as well because I had been able to see into the giant windows through out my trip and it appeared so animated inside, that I wanted to see. In addition, I wanted to see some interiors of the many modern buildings I had been seeing earlier.  Once inside, I found a nice buffet salad bar restaurant and since my feet are starting to hate me, I had no problem just sitting and enjoying a nice, healthy lunch.

 The prices here are so reasonable, I am constantly surprised at how little I spend on such things as food. In fact, a giant plate of mixed salad, with all the trimmings imaginable, was only around 2.00 euros.

Just beyond the shopping center and before the city gates was a perfectly shaped square park, which had many people sitting, reading and relaxing on this Sunday morning.  I too, just wanted to sit and rest my feet, but as I have mentioned, everything here has a historical significance.  This particular park was once a swamp, forbidden to be built upon for military reasons which were not explained on the plaque, but then became a market area, then the site of temporary theaters until finally a protest area in which a bloody massacre took place, when the army opened fire on the peaceful protesters within.  Something I have never understood is how an army can shoot at its own citizens, knowing they could be friends or even relatives...I was bothered by it but not for long, as I moved on to the next area, across the street, into another modern shopping center.

When I emerged on the other side, I found myself pleasantly dumbfounded yet again.  I was in an area obviously being re-developed. It was full of crumbling warehouses surrounding a plaza. The intrigue was that rising from within these old buildings were modern structures that were far beyond the call of innovative design.  It was as if the new buildings were literally growing out of the old.  This plaza was speckled with coffee shops, gift shops, designer clothing outlets and then, a big eye popping "junk shop" which was like a huge garage sale inside.  This was a big treat for me because it was filled with old maps, coins, stamps, clothing, army surplus items from the Second World War and treasures of all kind. There were even blueprints from city planners.  I was feasting on it.  Then, once back out in the plaza, I was stimulated once again by the way this plaza seemed to be developing. First, the architecture is as modern as can be, second it seems to grow right out of the older structures and finally, there was an amazing sense of creativity that overtook me, realizing that it was like a living and functional piece of art evolving right next to the old center, modern, yet preserving the older facades.  This is something I would like to see in many of the inner cities, that are falling into decay, that I have seen.  I was thrilled by it and again, washed over with my immense respect for the Estonian people.

Across the street was a real flea market, which I made my way through, before stopping into the nearby supermarket, grabbing some food and drink, before they closed for the day.

By now, after 10 days of walking all over 3 cities in Russia and northern Europe, my feet were beginning to rebel against me and I felt it best to end the day early and rest my tired dogs. Tomorrow morning I'll be taking a 5-hour bus ride down the center of Estonia and then along the coast into the Latvian capital of Riga.

In conclusion to this part of my trip, the first 1/3, I would like to state for the record that I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the people of Tallinn.  Their peacefulness, drive, artistry and gentility have impressed me in a way I can't explain. Of Tallinn itself, I can say, there is no corner, alley, street or park that can be missed when walking through this one of a kind city.  I have loved every square foot of Tallinn and would be honored to return here someday if the fates allow.

Thank you, Estonia. Well done!
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