While I was in Finland around 8 months ago, I decided that it’d be nice to pop into Tallinn, Estonia for a day. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that prior to arriving in Helsinki, I had no clue that Estonia was actually close to Finland (I had some uneducated impression that it was south near Spain). A day there was a bit too short, but it did give me a tiny taster of a country I literally knew zilch about beforehand! And fun fact, Skype originated from Tallinn, Estonia – so it’s literally the little country that revolutionised the way the world communicates! Don’t ever underestimate the small 😉
The trip between Helsinki and Tallinn is undertaken by ferry and takes around 2-2.5 hours. There are a few different companies that do daily trips; I opted for Viking line for price.
What I was expecting was a normal ferry – what I got was a cruise ship! It so happens that the trips between Helsinki/Tallinn are on repurposed cruise liners, complete with onboard entertainment. You could imagine how surreal it felt being on a cruise at 10am on Tuesday morning sitting in the “nightclub” surrounded by dancing retirees with 4 men in naval suits singing the Love Boat theme song (http://youtu.be/m_wFEB4Oxlo) on stage- My god that song is catchy.
Once we hit land, I headed straight to the historic, UNESCO heritage listed Old Town.
The town reminded me of Prague, minus bustling crowds and tourist traps. In fact, the streets were refreshingly quiet, with only a handful of tourists and locals walking about. And yet while some things felt reminiscent of Prague, Tallinn kinda felt really … Russian. But of course, this was just a vibe I was getting whilst ignorantly walking about with no prior knowledge of Estonia – now as I do a quick google search, it so turns out the Russian influence is huge haha sorta wishing I was a bit better researched there. oops.
As I write this at 2.30am, 8 tardy months later, I’ve realised I’ve lost the notes I jotted down for myself when I was there in real time 😩 So, here are the few things that stood out to me about Tallinn – and take this as a reflection on my poor memory and current state of late night hunger, rather than any kind of notion that Tallinn is not a memorable, interesting place (COS IT IS!):
- people: really really nice
- Hand knitted things and babushka dolls, popular in souvenir shops
- Architecture: awesomely medieval
- Finnish people come by the ferry-load to stock up on trolleys and trolleys of alcohol, notably cheaper in Estonia than in Finland.
- Verdict – completely worth a longer visit
(Pretty lacklustre verbiage on my part – hopefully the photos can give this place the credit it deserves)