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.

IMG_7623We left port from Stockholm at 6 pm on a Thursday and arrived in Tallinn on Friday at 9 am, (10 am Stockholm time). The walk to town was a brisk 20 minutes. Along the way we saw buildings like these…

IMG_7561IMG_7559IMG_7567…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. IMG_7781In 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.IMG_7592

 IMG_7601There seemed to be churches and cathedrals everywhere–Lutheran and Russian Orthodox.

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.

IMG_7588For 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). IMG_7598Inside 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!IMG_7641

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.)

IMG_7644There were many colorful doors throughout the city. Check out these vibrant colors…

IMG_7595IMG_7596IMG_7655After 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.

Starlight Palace

Starlight Palace

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.


  1. Thanks Lana. I’ll visit Tallinn one day again. I visited their outdoor museum and I love it.

    • Thanks Citania, I didn’t visit the outdoor museum yet. Sounds like I need to. Tallinn is one of those places you can visit again and again and still discover more–I love that!

  2. It looks like a Fairy Tale city. Would love to go there some day. Glad you had such a good time!!!
    Lots of Love!!!

  3. Lana, Thank you for this lovely post ! I took the cruise to Tallinn, too, and it was nice to see your photos and relive the “storybook” sites. I really enjoyed the ship too, and met ( and danced with ! ) some wonderful people. Hope to be back in Stockholm soon. Claire Driscoll

    • I remember all your wonderful stories of Tallinn. It definitely lived up to my expectations and more. Hope to see you soon!

  4. Yes, yes, our trip was every bit as magical, Lana! Thank you for the written and photo narrative (altho where are the darling pics of YOU?). I hope to never tire of the thrill of changing centuries by mere footstep. Or the even more exciting mix of the old and new architecture – I’m so glad you included that – done so cleverly and w/a bit of whimsy. There truly is something new to be discovered around every corner in Tallin…found out not ONLY because we may have been slightly lost…looking for the chocolate shop…for an hour… :).
    So, while folks around here run to Las Vegas for the “perfect getaway-weekend,” I have never prescribed to that variety of “entertainment.” I may be the luckiest gal in the entire world! And I haven’t even touched on the rockin’ cruise, the awesome cover band, and oh, the food! Or the fact that all of this would have paled, had I not experienced it with the most generous, most brilliant, most beautiful friend a girl could have. Thank you, again, Lana.

    • Thanks for waxing poetic (and maybe exaggerating on that last bit). It was the perfect trip, despite the fact we never did find that darn chocolate shop!!! Forget diamonds, YOU are a girl’s best friend. Couldn’t have rocked the night away without you. Thanks for coming all the way from Cali!!

      Sent from my iPhone


  5. I love ” traveling” with you! As always, you beautifully captured your little vacation with your friend–and I was right there with you, enjoying every moment thanks to your narrative. Lovely.

    • Thank you Polly! Had I been writing while in Greece I would have captured in words our lovely afternoon at the taverna in Plaka. Still one of my most treasured afternoons!!

      Sent from my iPhone


  6. Just came across your blogpost.. perhaps because my name was mentioned and it turned up. You had stopped into Haus gallery in Tallinn old town and seen my exhibition as well as Tuuli Mann’s works. Glad you enjoyed. Here is more of my work – http://www.jaanikapeerna.net
    all best in your moves in life –
    Jaanika Peerna

    • Thank you so much for posting. I really enjoyed seeing your work and appreciate you posting the link to your site. I look forward to visiting with friends!

      All the Best,

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