Monday, March 14, 2011

Tallinn – 12- 14 March 2011

Sitting in a hotel room in the picturesque 14th century city centre in Tallinn, Estonia watching the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake on the BBC and CNN is an amazingly surreal contrast. While Japan, and the world has been reeling from the effects of nature unleashing the power of 17500 nuclear bombs, we have been peacefully wandering around one of the Baltic's, and Europe's most attractive treasures.

We arrived here mid-day Saturday after a 2:20 hour flight from Luton and a short bus ride from the airport brought us to the old town of Vanalinn, in the centre of Tallinn. While it is possible to see the modern glass-clad tower blocks from viewpoints in the old town, one is not really aware of the modern world while wandering around the centre which was saved from destruction by the Soviets primarily because they never actually got around to completing their 1960s plans.

A hill called Toompea close to the sea was the reason the old fortified town was located here and now Toompea provides a wonderful series of viewpoints which overlook the colourful roofs and buildings below encircled by the remains of the old fortified town walls.

After spending a wonderful afternoon simply wandering around taking the sights we went to one of the more touristy restaurants near the town square. Olde Hansa is done out it medieval style complete with troubadours to entertain the guests. After an extremely filling meal in good hearty style we treated ourselves to their delicious rose flavoured desert.
The St Olav's Hotel provided a wonderful breakfast which lasted us through the day as we took the tram out to Kadriorg Palace and the nearby ultra-modern Kumu Art Museum. The Palace dates from the time of Peter the Great and has housed several Russian royals as well as their Soviet replacements and is now an art gallery of old masters. The more modern art is housed in a modern purpose-built gallery located nearby.

The tram dropped us back near the Rotermann Quarter where old industrial buildings have been converted to a shopping area complemented with modern buildings and shopping centres. The harbour is nearby with the inner marina totally frozen over but the ferries and cruise ships were still busily coming and going.

From the harbour we traced the path that any one on a Baltic cruise would take as they walked from their ship to the old town, passing the old KGB Headquarters where the basement windows are all bricked up to muffle the screams from those inside “assisting the KGB with their enquires”.
Dinner was at the Peppersack, where again we enjoyed wonderful cuisine.

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