Tallinn for the Weekend – Day 1
The city of Tallinn in Estonia is the perfect destination for a weekend – small, (fewer than half a million inhabitants) but perfectly formed. Most sights are easily within walking distance, and many of these are within the walls of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I went in spring and the weather was glorious – blue skies and sunshine, and although it was still chilly enough to need a jacket most of the time, it was just perfect for wandering about.
The airport is only 4km from the city, and in fact, I walked there from my hotel for my return flight. However there is a local bus stop right in front of the airport, and buses from here go to the city centre and only cost a couple of euro.
To get to my hotel, I had to pass through the Viru Gate, a pair of little towers apparently guarding the entrance to the city, and a small example of the architecture and history to come.
My hotel was only a few minutes stroll from the town square, Raekoja Platz, which was a most impressive sight. It is a very large, empty square surrounded, in the main, by restaurants and bars. All these places have large outdoor decking areas which are comfortably furnished and include blankets in the colder weather.
Also in the square can be found Raeapteek, a working pharmacy dating back, it is thought, to the 15th century, and still on the same site. While the actual pharmacy is modern, attached is a small, and fascinating, pharmaceutical museum showing implements used and amazing recipes for medicines.
Adjacent to the square is St Catherine’s Passage, a narrow lane with small rooms all along, built in 15th – 17th centuries. Currently these rooms are home to various artists working in glass, fabric, ceramics and the like, who can be seen working, and from whom crafts may be bought. The organic gemstone amber is found in Estonia, and some of the jewellery fashioned here from it is absolutely beautiful.
I spent the rest of my first day wandering round all the little alleys, looking in shops and finding my bearings. In the late afternoon I returned to the Raekoja Platz, took advantage of the good weather and had a glass of wine at one of the outdoor bar areas.
I found it a very pleasant place in which to relax and people watch, and also found that people were very friendly, and many were able to chat in English. (Yet another city where my ignorance of foreign languages is embarrassing!)
I finished my day with dinner at a nearby, very touristy, but none the less enjoyable, restaurant called Olde Hansa. Here the interior is olde worlde, with practically no lighting, staff in peasant type costume, and an amazing menu offering such things as dried elk meat, honey beer, orange tongue jelly and smoke grilled salmon. I have to say I found the food excellent, and the atmosphere very enjoyable.
Fully sated, I returned to my hotel looking forward to the next day.