Baltic Cruise: Tallin, Estonia

Before this cruise itinerary, I can’t say I’ve heard of Tallin, and Estonia sounds like a fairy-tale town that some Netflix Christmas films are set in. The part of the town that everyone talks about is contained to its fortress walls, the old part of town, similar to Old Quebec (in Quebec, QC). The other parts of town seem modern enough, with its light rail trains and concrete buildings. One particular concrete building sat eerily vacant in the rain and wind; we went up the steps of that building and discovered that it seemed to lead to nowhere, other than to give a pretty nice view of our ship in the distance. It wasn’t until after we left that we learned about the fascinating mystery of Linnahall, an Olympic-era building that is almost as old as I am, which held crowds of people at its peak that now sits empty and abandoned, indicated by chained fences blocking its entrances and graffiti markings on its walls. It must have been the grey skies and the concrete, but it somehow reminded me of SFU in Burnaby.

Although it’s quite normal to get rain on this cruise itinerary, we didn’t really have to deal with much downpour or all-day rain, which was nice. Tallin was the first port that we encountered rain, and that didn’t really happen until the end of the day anyway. In case we missed the warning on the ship, the city made sure that you were cautioned about pickpockets, with its warnings painted on the walking path from the dock into town.

We spent most of our time exploring the old town, and I was charmed by the spirit of the locals who dressed up in medieval garb, and the craft work they sold – we couldn’t help but pick out some natural wooden pieces: some uniquely shaped small buttons that came from different trees (so they all had a different woodsy scent), a wooden cup, and a wooden cutting / charcuterie board. A family had told us about Old Hansa, a medieval restaurant earlier, which seemed rather touristy as the servers were all in their medieval clothing and playing the roles well, telling about the stories where the game / meal came from! But, we tried it anyway and sat down a bit earlier than lunch (thankfully, as it was full by the time it was lunch time), and I was quite surprised at the quality and the flavours of the food that we had with many mouthfuls of mulled spice and minced game (because tourist traps in my mind tend to serve medicore food at best) – and it probably was one of my favourite restaurant stops. Even the washrooms had a neat touch with a tipping pot as the faucet. After lunch, we spent some time exploring a segment of the many towers around the fortress; it seemed that depending on who managed that segment and how many towers they had control over, the admission price to the towers were different.

Side note: j.w saw on Google Maps that there was an escape room nearby (perhaps GetAway Zone?) but we didn’t end up doing one since it was over $30 per person, and it was puzzling to find, and somewhat odd in the quest of finding it itself.

Next up: Berlin, Germany

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