Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tallinn Magic

Step into the old town of Tallinn and it's like stepping into another century: narrow cobblestone streets, stone buildings that haven't been touched for centuries and the bustling air of a market town.


Everything from the old town square to the Russian Orthodox church reeks of medieval mystery and intrigue. Some of these buildings carry a decidedly sinister air and it is easy to believe that spirits of evil witches and macabre guillotine-ers still haunt these  narrow streets. If this is the sort of thing you dig, then there are tonnes of medieval torture theme tours which will send a chill down your spine. 

Walking around old Tallinn and taking in the sights is a fabulous experience. View the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, stroll across to the place that invented Marzipan (or so they claim), walk up Toompea Hill for some great views, take a lazy walk along the old walls, grab a coffee in the Raekoja Plats and finally climb up the Olaf Tower to get a breathtaking view of Tallinn. 

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Pretty clocks
The view from above

The Old Town Square
If you are bored of the charms of the Old Town (why?!), then hike across to the Kadriorg Gardens. See the presidential palace or if you are feeling more lazy, settle by the seaside to catch a fiery sun setting on the Baltic Sea. 

A Baltic sunset

If you are looking to shop here, then you can't but notice the profusion of amber shops. Amber is incredibly popular in the Baltic states and Tallinn's streets are overflowing with the stuff. Be careful though, a lot of them are selling fakes. 

Amber, Amber, everywhere

For all its charms, Tallinn sometimes overplays the medieval card. There were one too many costumed shopkeepers for my liking. If you are spending a few days in the city, the act can get a little tedious. Estonians are incredibly nice people and the most helpful I cam across on my trip. They went out of their way to help us out. 

I must also admit to you that Tallinn is a two faced city. By day it is populated by sedate, photo loving, old tourists on their walking tours. By night the place is brimming with drunk stag parties who flock to Tallinn for the cheap alcohol and the gorgeous Eastern European women. It can get really loud and tiresome. If this is not your scene, I highly recommend not visiting the city on a Friday/Saturday night. 

If you are looking to catch meal in Tallinn, head to Ole Hansa. It's slightly on the expensive side but worth every cent. Give their desserts the miss though. 

After indulging yourself there, you can head to the quirky Draakon (in the Old Town Square) for some quick eats and drinks. They have yummy puffs, refreshing soups and nothing here costs more than two euros. 

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Tallinn is a beautiful, captivating city. It may not be on your list of 'grand European cities to visit' but I think you should make the time to visit it. It's worth it.  

A huge shout out to Karan, Annesha and Krithika for making this trip happen. 

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