Finland, Estonia · 1 Days · 9 Moments · April 2017

2017: A dayjourni in Tallinn, Estonia

13 April 2017

Before long it's time to leave Tallinn and head back to Helsinki and home. I would have loved to stay longer as Tallinn always has a special place in my heart. Luckily it's so convenient and easy to hop to a cruise liner and come here. My preferred choice is Tallink (which we used also on this trip) because of the convenience of choosing your times: they offer departures almost every other hour and you can pick the one which is most convenient to you. There are also other companies such as Viking Line and Eckerö Line who also offers day cruises but their departure times usually are too close to arrival times to my liking. If you are headed to Tallinn just to pop to the shop at the harbour, then these two might be better. During summer months there is also Linda Line which offers catamaran travel to Tallinn. It's faster and quite smooth, and definitely something to try. I used to use them a lot during the time we lived in Estonia and I worked at Helsinki Airport.
For the first time we stumbled here by accident, and ever since the first time we've come back deliberately with friends. And so did we do this time as well. The place is scarcely lit by candles and well hidden lights making the old Town Hall cellar look special indeed. There is light food and pies on offer, and also beer and non-alcoholic drinks (like my favourite: lingonberry juice!). The staff is dressed up medieval and many of them keep up their roles also when discussing with the clients! This is definitely one of my favourite places to eat in Tallinn! PS. BYOS ;)
Climb up to Toompea Hill in the Old Town to enjoy the best views in Tallinn (excluding those from the KGB museum in Viru Hotel)! There are several viewpoints where you can enjoy different views over the whole city. In Toompea there is the Toompea Castle, which houses the Riigikogu, which is the Parliament of Estonia. From the castle's balcony Estonia was declared re-independent in 1991. Opposite and across the road from Toompea Castle is Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral, which is a sight both inside and outside. I often like to visit churches and mosques as there is a special feeling of peace and tranquility inside. Some of the Holy places don't have that (like St. Peter's in Rome), but this Cathedral definitely has. That's why I'm extremely rigorous to remind everyone to remember to act accordingly inside!
Niguliste Museum is actually an old church that used to be used to house hay during the Soviet occupation time (as religions were banned during communism). During that period of time, the church fell into disrepair and has been restored painstakingly. The interior is quite plain but informative, and during summers there are concerts. If you manage to be in Tallinn and there is one, get tickets. Worth experiencing the acoustics and the atmosphere of the place.
If you want all the make-believe medieval things, head to have lunch in the Olde Hansa restaurant. Let your "I can't do that, people will stare" attitude drop for a moment and enjoy the extravagant service! And remember: every time you gulp down a schnapps, you are supposed to cry out VIVAT! Pricing is high for Tallinn standards, but not too high, which was a pleasant surprise. Obviously there are places to eat cheaper, but it's also the atmosphere that counts in my opinion. If you are not keen on pork meat, there is very few choices for you here, but adequately so.
Viru Keskus and the KGB Museum (at Hotel Viru) If you have the time and interest in history of the Soviet Union, James Bond movies and strange facts this is something to experience! Tickets are 11€ (12€ between 1st of June and 31st of August), and there are tours on different languages. More information can be found in here: I do suggest that you make an advance booking especially during the summer months when Tallinn receives a lot of visitors!
There is a slight thrill when Tallinn comes into view from the ship's windows. I still feel, even though it's been about 5 years since we lived there, like coming home. This time around it's somewhat new; apparently the terminal and the bridges are being renovated and suddenly the whole place feels more spacious somehow. But the familiar alcohol and casino adverts all around the place. There is also a Hop On, Hop Off bus stop next to the terminal, which we don't need this time. Instead we opt to buy a local public transport card from the kiosk inside the terminal and top it up so that we all can travel. The card is very handy - you can keep it and use it again on your next trip! The distance between the ferry terminal (D) and the Old Town is walkable, but as it's snowing heavily, we decide on the bus which takes us to Viru Keskus as that is our first stop.
Länsisatama, in Helsinki, has got a brand new second terminal now. Currently it's used only by the Tallink Shuttles but in near future also Eckerö Line will move their operations there - and it's a good thing! Personally I think that the Harbour of Helsinki should concentrate more of the passenger ferries to Länsisatama terminal. As the terminal has been opened only a week ago, the HSL's Journey Planner doesn't find it (a minor thing, apparently - except to those going there!), the spaciousness and the fact that one doesn't have to walk for 900+ meters to reach the ship are definite pluses! Did I mention it's new and fabulous?! It makes me feel like we're at the airport somehow, and at the same time I'm completely thrilled! Whee!
4:30 in the morning. Really. 4:30 in the morning. Or the night. And it's time to wake up. I can't even get up this early to go to work! But today, it doesn't really matter; it's been long enough since the last time we went to Tallinn! Three hours of sleep under my belt (and two night shifts before that really don't make things any better) I drag myself from the bed, and shortly a group of zombies greet me at the kitchen - none of our group today has actually had a proper night's sleep. We doll up and head to the train station. And it's snowing. A lot. Very much a spring weather.