Finally an old town worthy of the name

Trip Start May 25, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of Estonia  , Harjumaa,
Saturday, June 2, 2012

Max and I got up around 9am and had until about 1pm to screw around in Tallinn before catching our 2pm ferry to Helsinki. Our hotel was right in the Old Town of Tallinn so we were all set to go as soon as we walked out of the hotel.

This time, instead of immediately gorging ourselves into immobility at an outdoor cafe, we did some touring.

The first place we went was an old defensive works that included a tower called "Kiek in de Kok." No, it's not a S&M place where they kick you in the personals. The literal translation is Peak in the Kitchen. It was named that because at the time it was built, in medieval times, the soldiers manning the tower could peak into the kitchens of all the houses. Imagine the plump little Estonian girls with flower in their dimples, making Estonian Rye bread, flirting with soldiers in the tower. I guess the fact that the soldiers couldn't get to the girls was in fact a real kick in the cock...

After getting Kieked in de Kok we did a longbow competition thing. It was pretty fun. We went two rounds and each of us won one. We're prepared to survive in the woods with a longbow as long as deer are willing to stand still about 10 yards away. 
We checked out Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an orthodox church from around the turn of the century. It's spectacular. A service was going on when we went in. It was all very reverent, the service in Latin or probably Russian, a fantastic male choir singing upstairs in the phenomenal acoustics, fervent adherents lighting candles, and one hell of a gift shop that you had to exit the building through. Maybe they'd have a better chance of eternal life if they stripped off some of the gilding and fed the poor beggars in the streets of Tallinn.

It was freezing in Tallinn today. The wind off the Baltic was like a razor slicing through the umpteen shirts and jackets I had on. We refused to give in, though, and ate outside like every other old town we've been in. Fortunately they have heating lamps and blankets, but none are really helpful. I was still freezing. The wind was blowing so hard that people wound up moving inside because they thought the umbrellas were going to fall on them. Sissies.

We spent the rest of our day in Tallinn wandering around trying to figure out where we were. These little towns are notorious for not labeling their streets well, the maps are approximate, and the clouds and rain obscured the sun so navigating was impossible. At one point I looked at a picture I took from a place I could see and knew what direction I'd taken it in order to figure out where the port we needed to get to was.

Max and I thought we'd left ourselves enough time, but it was another down to the wire experience getting to our boat. The last check-in time was 1:40, we made it there by 1:38. The ship sails at 2pm, but it's really based on that 1:40 time. As soon as all the people that checked in by 1:40 walk the gangway and enter this ship, it sails. Get to the window to check in at 1:41 and you're screwed. Go back to Tallinn and have a beer and take tomorrow's ferry.

Speaking of beer, this route between Helsinki and Tallinn is notorious for riotous drinking on the weekends, moreso on the Tallinn to Helsinki route. Alcohol is so much cheaper in Estonia it's worth the ferry price for people to take the ferry and party in Tallinn. On the way back they bring as much beer as they can. There are guys here pushing hand trucks full of cases of beer to bring home to Finland. The sea is a little rough today but it could be in a dry dock and the Finns would still be weaving all over like we're in a typhoon.

That's it for today. If we don't sink we'll be spending the evening and all day tomorrow in Helsinki. Until then!

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mom on

Interesting account of Tallinn ! Has Max shot arrows before ? He looks so professional !! I did not realize how close Tallinn was to Helsinki.
Now what are you eating ? Don't Finns eat a lot of fish ? do they speak russian , german or finnish in Estonia ?

sunburntcurt on

Hi - I think the Estonians eat a lot of everything because they've got the sea and lots of farmland behind them. They also have the best dark rye bread I've had. I'd love to bring some back but no room and it probably wouldn't fly through security. It seems like people in Tallinn speak all the languages you mentioned. It's a melting pot because it's been invaded by almost every other country in Europe at one time or another.

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