A MEDIEVAL STORYBOOK: TALLINN ESTONIA
A 15-hour (overnight) ferry ride east from Stockholm, across the Baltic, will take you to the storybook town of Tallinn. The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, is a charming, well-preserved medieval city that hints at both its Nordic roots and post WWII Communist Era Russian control.
…very modern structures incorporating the new and old Estonia. In 1991 when Tallinn gained its independence from Russia, the city of 428,000 began rebuilding and modernizing, mixing brick and mortar with glass and steel–very hip.
The shopping, while not cheap, was reasonably priced in Euros, (Estonia became part of the EU in 2004). There were lots of great places to browse, including extremely fashionable clothing boutiques. Here’s a dress I bought for under $80.00 in a blend of soft wools, perfect for winter. In Tallinn you can buy almost anything made from pure lamb’s wool: gloves, children’s stuffed animals, sweaters, skirts, hats.
In 1997 UNESCO added Tallinn’s Old Town to their list of World Heritage Sites. As the oldest capital city in Northern Europe, Tallinn, once known as Reval, dates back to the 13th century. Here’s one of 26 watchtowers surrounding the Old Town.
Pictured below is the Gallerian Haus and the work of Jaanika Peerna. The gallery was in an old village cottage, but the inside was über modern.
For lunch we stopped at The Olde Hansa. The smell practically yanked us in. Outside the restaurant stood a girl in a tunic and floor length skirt wearing a head scarf, roasting fragrant cinnamon spiced almonds, (yes I bought a kilo to take home). Inside the wait staff maintained the Old World traditions of service: kneeling table side, regaling us with tales of gossip, speaking in Old English as we perused the 12-page parchment menu. As you can see (pictures below), the ambiance was Old World too–no electricity, just candles. I almost tripped on the uneven stone floor on the way to the toilet. Thank goodness they added modern indoor plumping!
We feasted on Forest Mushroom Soup with Herb bread, followed by a plate of wild boar, onion jam and lingonberries. (I think most guests washed it down with a pint of Honey Ale.)
After nearly eight hours of traipsing around town, we headed back to our ferry–the Baltic Queen. Ten decks high, the 4-year old ship had a supermarket, 6 restaurants, a disco/bar and a two-story stage called the Starlight Palace. We spent the majority of both nights at the Starlight Palace, enjoying the 8-person Hungarian band performing American pop/rock tunes. They were amazing!! And so was the UK Live Performance Band headlining both evenings with a tribute to Lady Gaga (the first night), and Robbie Williams (the second night). Mind you I could have done without the LG cone bra, but that’s my personal taste.
My friend and I had a fantastic girl’s trip get-a-way. While the rooms were tiny (like most cruise ships), the accommodations were clean and the food was excellent. We were gone long enough for the kids to miss us (and more importantly, for us to miss our kids), which is a storybook trip.