jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 106 [15 May 09] – Tallinn

Posted in Tallinn by jn82 on May 15, 2009

Got up extremely early this morning at 6.45am so as to catch the 8am hydrofoil to Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia located 80km and a one and a half hour ride away over the sea. The return trip cost 32.50€ for a day cruise, which was a reasonable price.

Linda Line Express’ “Merlin” hydrofoil.

As this was only a day trip, and a very short on at that, we only had just under five hours to spend in the city (3pm return hydrofoil cost 13€ less than the 5pm one). Based on that, we decided to do a hurried walking route around the old city, and take in as much as possible. The old city is located around a 10 minute walking distance from the hydrofoil dock, so it is pretty convenient to get there.

The initial walk was just down a Lai, straight street from the entrance to the old city at one of the city wall gates (Great coastal gate and Fat Margaret’s tower) to the centre of the old city, the town hall.

Great Coastal Gate and Fat margaret’s Tower.

Old buildings along Lai.


Upon reaching the centre of the old city, I was amazed at the number of tourists there. In particular, they all seemed to fit into the “50-80 year old American in a large tour group” demographic, i.e. there were a lot of old and older people in large large groups all over the place. It was terrible!

Holy Spirit Church in the town hall square.

Row of pastel coloured shop fronts.

Restaurents in the square.

Hoping to avoid the crowd and continuing with the walk, we headed towards the hilly portion of the old city, Toompea. In the middle of Toompea is where one of the landmarks of Tallinn is situated, the dome shaped Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. While I had seen some Russian influence on the cathedral in Helsinki yesterday, this one was a much better example.

The landmark Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea.

The not very impressive Toompea Castle.

Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin.

On Toompea, there are four look out/observation points: two along Toom-Kooli which face into downtown Tallinn and are totally useless because they are blocked by the trees, and another two which face into the old city below, which are pretty good. At the look out point somewhere toward the end of Rahukohtu, you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire lower part of the old city.

View of the old city below from the observation area towards the end of Rahukohtu.

Making our way back towards the town hall square for lunch, we walk past a couple of other Soviet style architecture mammoth buildings. It is quite weird to see these huge buildings painted in various pastel shades.

Green building.

Orange building.

Along Piiskopi. I actually saw a 1920s artist drawn post card of this exact scene.

Selling art along the city walls.

Had lunch in the town hall square at one of the tourist traps. Usually I would spend much less money on a meal, but I had lots of Estonian kroon because I accidentally changed too much money at a rip-off currency exchange place. I really HATE these damned currency exchange places, but in such a place where you only need a small amount of the local currency for a day trip, you do not have much choice. Still, you should walk around and shop for the best deal because they do differ very significantly, but I was surprisingly extremely lazy and literally paid the price for it. But I digress. My entire lunch that cost 261 kroon (S$34) consisted a Borscht soup, Estonian herring with potatoes and a latte.

Borscht.

Estonian herring. Tasted exactly like Danish, Norwegian and Swedish herring if you ask me.

After lunch, we walked around for a bit around the town hall square again, and had a look at town hall pharmacy, one of the oldest pharmacies in the world that has had a pharmacy on the site operating since 1422. Nothing really amazing.

This way to the pharmacy.

Town Hall Pharmacy.

After this, I went into a shop within the pharmacy complex that sold all sorts of Russian communist era stuff such as pins, medals, helmets and toys. It was a really cool place, and I spend 8€ on three small pins. Two of which were commie-ish pins: One with a picture of Lenin and some (farm?) machinery in the background, and another with Lenin again with the hammer and sickle symbol of the U.S.S.R.

No time to spare after this, and we rushed off to the hydrofoil dock and got there around 2.45pm. Although we arrived with 15 minutes to spare, there was a really slow queue to check in. We were actually the second last group of people to check in for the ride at 3.10pm, and were fearing the whole time that the hydrofoil would leave without us. Thankfully I think the staff realised their own incompetance and held the hydrofoil till everyone that had tickets for the 3pm ride had checked in.

It was a good day trip today, and I think Tallinn can be summed up on one short phrase: TOO MANY TOURISTS!!!

Will be around Helsinki tomorrow, and then catching the overnight sleeper train to Moscow.

Today’s pictures here.