Tallinn Estonia

We arrived in Tallinn on the Viking XPRS without event and used Google maps to get oriented. The hike to Hotel Telegraaf from the ferry was about fifteen minutes according to Google. However we got off track a bit and it took us twice that long. Along the way I managed to drop my phone while doing the ‘Google map walk’ (you’ve seen people with their head down staring at their phone, shuffling along, with a confused look on their face as the voice assistant says ‘head north towards Slzyskivskiychy Street’ when they don’t know which way is north and what the hell the voice said for the street name) when my day pack slipped off my shoulder and took the phone with it. The phone hit the cobblestone pavement face down and cracked the screen. I panicked because a phone is pretty much essential for our travel (this wasn’t always the case but we’re hooked now). Kathy panicked because I had let out a couple of choice words and apparently appeared a little upset. I checked what I could think of and all the phone functions appeared to be working, at least for now, whew. We switched out of panic back to normal travel mode and continued on to our hotel. At the hotel I looked around on line and contacted Google to find that my service contract doesn’t cover overseas replacement, only in the States. I figured some kind of lens cover might help at least keep everything together so I asked the concierge for anywhere that might have something. He pointed me to the nearby mall. There was a line of telecommunications stores at the mall so I asked in the first shop. The two young women there just said ‘This is Estonia. There’s nothing here.’ They weren’t very helpful. And the next three stores were pretty much the same – all kinds of iPhone and Samsung accessories but nothing for Motorola and no one seeming to want to help. In the last store one young man at least was willing to work with me to try to figure something out (real customer service, finally). We looked at various thin plastic films for Apple and Samsung phones and found one that could be modified for my phone. So I bought the pack of two, borrowed scissors from the front desk when I got back to the hotel, and cut the cover to fit my phone. So far, so good (fingers crossed).

Moto phone takes a licking and keeps on ticking

Old town Tallinn is still a medieval city in 2018, quaint and cobbled with narrow winding streets all twisting and turning. Streets that are wonderful to wander around on. The weather could have been better for those four days but we still managed to sit in the square for a drink the first day (wrapped in blankets) and visit a lot of the sites in the city over the next three days.

bundled up in Tallinn’s Market Square (notice the red blankets)

So the beer in the market square that first afternoon did me in. I had taken two motion sickness pills before we boarded the ferry in Helsinki just to make sure I wasn’t sick during the crossing. That turned out to be totally unnecessary because it was really calm all the way. But alcohol and meclizine apparently aren’t a good match. I was really drowsy that afternoon and spent the rest of the day and night in bath and bed. At least we got to walk around a little and have a drink in the main square on our first day in Tallinn before I passed out.

Tallinn food – breakfast was great at the hotel, including eggs made to order (Benedict, yum) and a great spread of fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc. with lots of coffee (very important). That usually lasted us until late afternoon so we generally ate a lunner (?) instead of trying for a lunch and dinner.

Hotel Telegraaf Eggs Benedict

Our first full meal was at Restoran Vanaema Juuris (Grandma’s Place) on the recommendation of the very helpful Tourist Information office. We had herrings in cream sauce with black bread and chicken liver pate with crusty bread for appetizers, followed by mains of roast chicken breast with cream sauce and groats and beef goulash with potatoes and pickles. In our ‘research’ to try different foods and drinks we had to have a couple of Estonian beers – dark of course. They were excellent. Actually the whole meal was quite good and cost about $40 total. The next night we had a reservation at our hotel restaurant. Kathy wrote a post about our most excellent paired tasting menu in the Tchaikovsky Restaurant. It was a fantastic seven course meal with live chamber music and wine. Truly magic.

wine and great food in a fabulous setting

We ate twice in a brew pub, Olleklubbi, that had excellent dark beer (one of our weaknesses). The first time we had an extra large ‘snack’ platter served on a large wooden board so we could try various local specialities. It was good (except for the fried pig ear strips which may be an acquired taste that we weren’t interested in acquiring), especially the chicken wings, onion rings, fried rye bread, and sausage (well, except for the blood sausage). Okay our American stomachs weren’t up to task (or, as our parents would have said, ‘our eyes were bigger than our stomachs’) and we left quite a bit of food behind. But it really was good. Our other dinner there was grilled meat and that was excellent as well.

XL platter of beer snacks at the brew pub

speaking of pig ears

nothing like a good grilling

We did a few tourist things in Tallinn. We walked up to Toompea Hill, hanging out in the Danish King’s garden. We climbed two of the towers and ramparts, Kiek in de Koek (scary name, I know) and the Maiden’s Tower. We also did the underground/tunnel tour which was better than we expected. The guide walks you back through time in each section. It’s fascinating, highly recommended. We also visited the cells in the former KGB building. They were used for ‘prepping’ prisoners for interrogation in the offices above. Creepy but worthwhile. Another highlight of our stay in Tallinn was mailing home a box of stuff we had collected along the way. The post was inexpensive (like $25 for 10 pounds or so to the USA), at least compared to Finland. It’s always good to lighten our loads. We also enjoyed evening liqueur and cake at Cafe Maiasmokk, opened in 1864. It’s a beautifully maintained interior from that period. The drink of choice was Vana Tallinn with our honey cake – delicious. You won’t be disappointed if you go there.

in the Danish King’s Garden

a big {k}night in Tallinn

Vana Tallinn and cake at Maiasmokk Cafe

Our last day we attended the Estonian Veteran’s Day celebration, Veteranirock, in Freedom Square. There were several Estonian bands, military vehicles old and new for kids to crawl around in, soldiers, and a fly over. The music varied from heavy metal to 60s pop rock and Estonia’s Karl-Erik Taukar Band headlining. The music was good. The crowd was rocking, young and old. Everyone was singing along. It was fun. We chatted with an American Army officer in the crowd in an official capacity. Good to see the Baltic nations actively participating in NATO and embracing it, best for them and the West. They’re very aware of Russia’s aggressive tactics in light of the recent Ukraine and Crimea moves, and feel they’re always on Russia’s radar as well. Bus ride to Riga, Latvia coming up.

Veteranirock in Liberty Square

Go Army!

cool historical displays at Veteranirock

Market Square bench

Market Square

bag drag at the Bussijaam

2 Responses to “Tallinn Estonia”

  1. Annie Carter Says:

    Scout will be happy to take those pigs’ ears off your hands. 😉

  2. traveler1 Says:

    We sent a box of them to your address. It should take about three months to get there so they should be plenty ripe by then!