Tallinn, Estonia

When I got home from a five-day trip in Tallinn with my friend Lillian, my husband asked me what was my favorite part of the trip.  I answered “The ferry ride to Helsinki and back.” What about Tallinn itself,  the husband prodded. “Ummm…I’ll think about it tomorrow,” I replied, exhausted and a bit jet-lagged.  It was around 11 pm here in Prague, which meant  it was already midnight in Tallinn, way past my bed time.

Almost a month later, here I am writing about that trip and I still don’t know how to answer my husband’s question.  Tallinn was okay but that’s how far I would say it was for me.

The thing is, it’s not the city’s fault that I categorize it to just okay.  To be fair, its Old Town is charming with lots of interesting buildings with  interesting doors, beautiful churches and narrow cobbled streets.  The locals were friendly and quite helpful.  The problem is me and the fact that I live in Prague.  If you have been to Prague,  you know what I’m talking about.  The aesthetic meter of Prague is difficult to match and it can spoil you rotten.

Lillian in Tallinn’s Old Town.

Maybe another factor why I have nothing much to say about this trip was because of the weather.  It was mostly around 17 – 19°C but the wind from the Baltic Sea made it feel like 7°C.  Lilian and I were constantly  huddled in our layered outfits.   This somehow made us not want to stay out long to explore every nook and cranny of the city like we usually do on out travels together.  Funny how we chose to go there to kinda escape the summer inferno that was hitting Prague few weeks ago.  It’s true what they say:  Be careful what you wish for.

One of the things I noticed there was how interesting the doors were.  I mean, yeah, you see intricately designed and painted doors all over Europe but there was something compelling about the ones in Tallinn.  It was as if they told a story of their past or of unspoken dreams for their future.  At the airport before our flight back home,  I saw some bags for sale with pictures of Tallinn doors on them.  So I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Speaking of noticing something,  one thing I disliked about Brussels when I was there also with Lillian few years back was the disarray of old and new buildings thrown together to create a massive eyesore.  It was only recently when I learned of  the term “Brusselization.”  I don’t think they have that in Tallinn, not even close, but it somehow gave me a similar vibe especially when you view the city from one of its vantage points.  There’s just something off about putting the old and the new structures in one frame.  Then again, maybe it’s just me.

This side of the view is pretty, but I didn’t like the sight of the old and new concrete in one frame down below.

I’ll probably rephrase my husband’s question to what makes Tallinn different from other European cities I’ve been to?  Well, if you couldn’t live without a fast internet connection, this city is for you.  There’s free and very fast wifi at almost everywhere.

If you’re also into windsurfing and kitesurfing,  Tallinn is it.  Pirita beach is just a few minutes bus ride from the city center.  The beach is beautiful but we couldn’t stay past 10 minutes there.  I was really excited to get there especially when I saw how fine the sand was  but the wind was biting cold.  One piece of advice when you’re going to visit Tallinn:  Always bring that warm jacket you shoved at the back of the closet thinking you won’t need it in the height of summer.    Trust me, honey bunny. In this part of the hemisphere, you will.

Quick tips and facts:

  • Stay at a hotel in the Old Town.  It saves you time since the harbor, tram and bus stops are within walking distances.  We stayed in Rija Old Town Hotel.  Most of the reviews about it are true.
  • You can get a transport card at any R-kiosk stores to get around the city.   You can choose how many days you want it valid.  Lillian and I bought a three-day card for €5.
  • No need to buy or print a map of the city ahead your visit.  The one made by the locals is accurate and has lots of tips about the city’s sights, eats and sounds.  You can get it at your hotel reception and yes, it’s for free.
  • Taxi to and from the airport is around €10.  The airport is not far from the city center and its Old Town.
  • Take time to sit with the locals and the tourists at the harbor to watch the sunset.  It’s probably not as spectacular as in some other places but it’s always a calming experience and a great one to end a hectic day.

Date visited: August 1-5,2019
Special thanks to Lillian for my “door series” shots. 🙂

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