Tallinn

By abbieredmon

Star 0

Comment2

I'm taking the overnight ferry/cruise from Stockholm to Tallinn, Estonia. You leave Stockholm in the evening, sleep on the boat, and arrive in Tallinn the next morning. After spending the day there, you get back on the boat in the evening, sail overnight again, then arrive back in Stockholm in the morning. I paid about 73 euros for a basic cabin, which I have to myself for the two nights — not a bad deal.

Until today, I hadn’t been on a cruise ship since 2006. And before that, it was 1999. Those instances are the extent of my cruising experience. I’m not a big “cruiser.” They bore me, and I find them stifling and a bit pedestrian, though I realize that makes me sound like an insanely snooty traveler.

At any rate, here are some things I had forgotten about cruise ships:

1. There are mirrors everywhere. I mean, everywhere. At the ends of halls, along the staircases, in the dining rooms, in place of windows, and just randomly on the walls anywhere.

2. They constantly play shitty elevator-music renditions of every popular mainstream song ever written — ever.

3. People think the ship is their house, and they don’t wear shoes anywhere.

4. The cruise ship buffet is pure awesomeness. Tonight, I ate four desserts.

5. DUTY-FREE! DUTY-FREE! DUTY-FREE! People get their panties in serious wads over duty-free champagne and cigarettes.

Anyway, cruising on it is not really the way I like to enjoy the sea. But getting to explore Tallinn for a day is a good reason to take one!

So, here we go.

Star 0

Comment0

Off the boat in Tallinn: a pretty brisk breeze. I walked from the port to old town, which is a pretty short walk, and once inside the old city walls, I smiled in delight: It's a charming place.

As I generally do, I spent my day in this new city simply wandering. I had heard there was a view from Toompea, so -- always a sucker for a view -- I headed up.

Along the way, I ran into several groups of school kids wearing reflective yellow vests and traveling in groups -- must have been field trip day!

There are a few different viewpoints of Tallinn once you get to the top of Toompea and they're... okay. I've seen better, honestly, but there are couple of neat churches at the top to look at, too.

I was happy to have some sunshine for my explorations -- wind and cold are made more bearable if you can bask in the sun a bit, too! It's funny, though: Here and in Stockholm, because of how far north the cities are, the sun never gets very high in the sky this time of year. Around noon or 1 p.m., the shadows are still very long, and it feels like evening is already approaching (which it kind of is, ha).

Star 1

Comment0

After checking out the Toompea views, this little spot lured me in with some cool jazz music and an adorable little courtyard, even though I sat inside, because… cold.

Their sign read: "kohvik, kauplus, stuudio." It’s a great concept: cafe, shop, and artists’ studio all connected. The shop sells the wares the artists make in the studio, and I suppose the cafe was added to bring them together because, why not?

They have three dining rooms: the main floor, upstairs, and downstairs. I was lured downstairs by the fireplace, which burns real wood, as evidenced by the big pile that was stacked up behind my chair. They offer a few cakes and pastries as well as a full cafe menu, so I ordered a big cup of fruit tea and a pancake with jam (oo-rah for continuing the crepe tradition!). When it arrived, I sat there happily at my table, candle burning, fireplace popping beside me, warm lamplight to write by, and enjoying a delicious snack. Does it get better? I felt like an old man should’ve been reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy out loud from a rocking chair in the corner.

Star 0

Comment0

After my tea & crepe, I wandered a bit more. I ran into a tour group near the main square and caught pieces of an explanation in English of how the center of Tallinn was bombed -- and mostly destroyed -- in the 1940s.

I walked. I saw more churches, more shops selling amber jewelry and wool, and more "kohviks."

...okay, I admit it: I mostly wrote this entry so I could share a few more photographs with you all. They're not masterpieces, but I think they help give a "feel" to Tallinn.

Star 1

Comment1

I found this lunch spot after failing to get a table at Sfäär, my first choice. I ended up being quite happy with this place — perhaps happier than I would have been at Sfäär (recommended by the NYT, I believe).

Arriving here, I was in a bit of a huff, because I fancied myself mildly snubbed by the waiter at Sfäär, who, when I entered, told me bluntly they had no room for one more for lunch — full stop.

So I exited and trudged along, sun shining right in my eyes, and the wind almost blowing me over. Although feeling quite sorry for myself, I calmed down quickly upon entering Sinilind: It is CUTE inside. And also deceivingly large. There is a front room, then through a small doorway is a larger room, then there is a third room even behind that. It’s very charming, with sort of mis-matched 70s decor and tables and chairs, and candles burning. There are really cute window seats in the front room as well as a teal spiral staircase by the door scattered with books, a bird box, and some pictures propped up. A nicely-lit pastry cabinet taunted me as it was directly in my eye line from my table.

I ordered carrot risotto with duck and was told it was a good choice. When it arrived, I understood why. Hot damn that was good risotto. Perfectly creamy, but not overly so. Just the right amount of meat to complement, a few greens, and they threw some sunflower & pumpkin seeds in for good measure (and a little crunch). It was pretty amazing.

(Of course, no photos of my food.) (Sorry.)

The staff here are really sweet, too! The power went out in the bathrooms while I was there, and they brought in a bunch of little tea candles and set them around, haha.

I'd go back!

Star 0

Comment1

Somewhere in my wanderings of the old city, I popped into this art gallery, which currently has an exhibit on called "Art Allmägi" -- on the Cold War.

It's a really stark exhibit that takes up the whole front room.

A barbed-wire fence, some bunkers, and a huge, rotating satellite dish -- all covered in (what is meant to look like) white dust and ash from a nuclear fallout. There was also a separate smaller bunker with a real radar screen on inside on it.

Very cool stuff -- I quite enjoyed it.

Star 1

Comment0

The menu boasts “Le Grande Cafe de la Ville, since 1937” — but this place also seems to be called Pierre Chocolaterie as well as Chocolats de Pierre. At any rate, it was the perfect place for a final hot drink after day of wandering Tallinn.

This place is tucked away in the courtyard of the King’s Cloister, I believe it’s called, and I almost didn’t go in, because they were redoing the paving stones at the tunnel entrance, and I wasn’t sure it was open. But I’m so glad I followed some other (more confident) people in, because damn is this spot adorable. Purple and green vines with tiny red berries crawl up the walls and string themselves in between the buildings. This cafe shares the courtyard with several small craft shops peddling jewelry and things made of wool and amber — the things to buy in Estonia, apparently — and all of the windows are warmly and welcomingly lit.

For the cafe, there’s some nice outside seating if you’re brave enough, with pillows and blankets and lanterns, but the inside is even more charming, if that’s possible. It’s a bit dark, but there are lots of lamps and candles and fabric making it feel super warm and cozy. Pillows, rugs, chair covers, tablecloths… I could fall asleep in this place it’s so comfortable. I sat at a table with a window looking out onto the courtyard, so I feel like I got the best of both worlds.

To drink, I ordered a truly incredible hot chocolate with candied oranges and ginger. It arrived looking a bit like a submarino from Argentina, in a milkshake-type mug with a long-handled spoon, except you don’t put the chocolate in yourself. It arrives already oozing out of the glass.

I spoon-fed myself happily and enjoyed the comfortable feeling of being surrounded by people having quiet conversations (in French, Estonian, and English) over coffee, wine, and nibbles.

This would be a great spot for a date!

(Wink, wink, nudge.)

(I mean, next time I'm in Tallinn, of course.)

SHARE THIS JOURNAL