A Little Bit Of Tallinn

We had about three and a half hours in Tallinn. In contrast to our visit in October, the weather was sunny, and I was so glad to have one more opportunity to see the Old Town. On our way there, we passed this building:

It was erected in 1952 and probably symbolized the submission of Estonia to Russian occupation. However, it looks so grotesque with these tiny balconies, which do not go together with the imperial spear with the star on top, that it looks more like a caricature of the Soviet architecture.

It used to be a sububurb..
I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how they attached the trees to the streetlight poles πŸ™‚
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Estonian Maritime Museum

I just realized that I forgot to blog about one more museum in Tallinn – the Estonian Maritime Museum. The museum is relatively new, and its centerpiece is an old cog – a Medieval merchant ship. 

It was built at the end of the 13th century, and it sailed for quite a long time until it sank in the mid-14th century. The ship was discovered and lifted from the sea in 2015. Now, the cog, along with hundreds of artifacts discovered on the wreck, occupy the museum’s first floor.

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Tallinn: Getting Inside

The rain started shortly after 11 AM, as forecasted. At first, we could ignore the random drops, but later, the rain became more substantial, and we switched to numerous museums and cafes.

The first cafe we landed in was Maiasmokk, the oldest in Tallinn (in business from 1864). That was the first public space we entered in Tallinn, and there we learned that by city ordinance, proof of COVD vaccination is required to enter any place. Masks are still required.  

Tallinn depends heavily on tourism, and I was very happy to observe that this requirement didn’t impact tourism negatively and that the business owners were happy to comply with the city ordinance.Β 

This round pastry with cinnamon was heavenly good!!!
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I came home last night – a flight was a little bit delayed, but otherwise nice an comfortable, and there were very few people on the aircraft. I am on the CTA on my way to the office, and I have a detail appointment after work, and somehow I need to squizz in a conference call on a non-work-related topic.

I still want to post another hundred pictures from Tallinn, which I hope to accomplish in the next couple of days. Life goes on.

And here is… well, I had an “economy light” fare, which meant no luggage… but I know how to use my carry-on wisely πŸ™‚

Tallinn: Walking The Streets Of The Old City

Until it started raining, we walked along the familiar streets, and each turn made me happier and happier. It’s not like I thought that pandemic is forever, but for a while, I was thinking – will we ever have this freedom again?! And Tallinn… I really love Tallinn – for many reasons, not only because it is Boris’ city. 

Remember what I said earlier about going abroad in the time of the Soviet Union? To put it bluntly, we were not allowed to travel abroad, period. But the Baltic countries (no matter they were called “Soviet republics,” we knew better!) were our tiny windows to the Western World. We knew that “we” – Soviet Russia, were hated, and somehow that fact also reassured us that we were in real Zagranitza. An overnight trip to Tallinn by train on student discount cost 6 rubles – something we could afford, and going to Tallinn for a day was one easy way to stay in a fairy tale for a day. A night in the train car, a day there, and another night back.

When we entertained the German student delegation, one of the tours we offered them was a day trip to Tallinn. We even managed to book a tour in German! We endlessly walked around the city, and I can only imagine how our German visitors felt. During the day, we grabbed food here and there, but when it was time to have dinner, our German guests wanted to go to Vana Toomas. 

Now, Vana Toomas was (and still is) the restaurant on the Townhall Square, and it was the only “real thing” back then. And it was guarded against “invaders.” I almost forgot about this story, but yesterday, Boris reminded me about it when we passed Vana Toomas (not about the story – he was not a part of it, but how I told him this story).

We told the Germans that we could try, but they had to speak, and we would be silent. They agreed, and about fifteen minutes before the restaurant was to be open for dinner, we lined by its doors. In five minutes, several tall, muscle, and silent Estonians approached and asked one of the Germans in Russain what the hell they thought they were doing here. Following our instructions, the student replied Ich verstehe nicht. This answer created an instant miracle: we were cordially invited in, and the staff even moved the tables to accommodate our big company. We (three Russian female students) kept our mouths shut and whispered to the Germans when we needed something. 

We loved Tallinn, loved its unique Medieval spirit, the walls and the gates, and the towers. We loved their independence. We loved that they hated us. 

These times are gone. I had this feeling even in 2016, but even more now. We walked the streets of the city with Boris, and he told me that he felt this difference during multiple trips to the Baltic countries in the past several years. He told me: these countries parted their ways with Russia irreversibly and forever. And they do not hate anymore. They just not care. Pretty much like Finns.

Here is to our love and adoration for this unique place …

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Visiting Tallinn: The Ferry And More

On Tuesday, I took a day off, and Boris and I went to Tallinn for a day. Tallinn is a two-hour ferry ride away, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world if you ask me. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there were restrictions on travel within the EU to the non-EU nationals, but now I wanted to enjoy a newly acquired freedom: if you are vaccinated, you can go anywhere!

Another decisive factor was the option to get a rapid COVID test on the ferry- I still need it to enter the US, and that was, it was cheaper (39 euros) and fasted (no extra time). 

The ferry used to be pretty crowded, even off-season, but it’s not the case anymore. We decided to take a 7-30 AM ferry to Tallinn (9-30 AM arrival) and return on a 4-30 PM ferry. 

Of course, it was the only rainy day of all the days I stayed here! We knew about that forecast for a while, but I still needed my COVID test, so we decided not to change our plans. And the trip was amazing, even though it indeed started to drizzle shortly after 11 AM, and the rain became serious later in the day. But you know what – because of that we visited a fantastic maritime museum and spent some time in two of dozen tiny Tallinn cafes! 

For those of my friends who do not know yet: Boris lived in Tallinn until he was 15 (and then he moved to Leningrad to attend a specialized mathematical boarding school associated with the University). And the reason his family stayed in Tallinn was that his father was a Navy officer. This time, even more than before, we talked about how he and the adults around him felt back then in Estonia. 

That being said, he understands the Estonian language (although he does not actively speak it) and has a lot of cultural insights. Each time we go, I tell him that “that’s his city,” and although he says “not anymore,” I still insist on him deciding where we go and what we do. 

I do not know yet how many blog posts I will make out of this one day, but I am going to start πŸ™‚

We left the house at 6 AM, because we wanted to walk to the terminal (the public transport does not run so often in the morning, and there is no direct route to the port).
We bought the tickets with breakfast, because it was too early to have breakfast at home anyway, and because there is no other place to sit on the ferry except for the cafes. The breakfast selection was outstanding, and I liked that all the food was of a really small size to I could try many different things
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