Footloose in Tallinn
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THE BEST PORT ON THE BALTIC
Footloose in Tallinn
~ Travel & History DVD
Estonia's window on the west ~
An Estonian tram will take you to the once aristocratic seaside suburb of Tallinn, Kadriorg. This is the start of our trail back into the old fairytale turreted city centre. Before stepping out you can gaze across the sea at the wonderful spires of Tallin's old town and the huge cruise liners bringing thousands of visitors across the Baltic Sea to its deepest and best ice-free port. Kadriorg Palace in the park is well worth a look, built by Peter the Great at the start of the first Russian occupation of Estonia three centuries ago. His cottage nearby, houses a very personal little museum and gives an insight to the character of the young Russian Tsar.
A short walk away takes us to the impressive Song Bowl Grounds, so important to Estonia's identity, where, during Russian occupation, cityfolk were allowed to sing their own nationalist folk songs. Song festivals are still a tradition today. When you have had enough of this elegant suburb it would be time to take the trail into the heart of Tallinn. The 3km walk through leafy streets lined with wooden houses, changes quite quickly. You can now witness the contrast between the old Soviet concrete monstrosities and the shiny new symbols of modern Estonia. They like to call their downtown Manhattan.
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Clear Skies and Cobbled Streets...
Our trail leads us to the magnificent medieval walled city gate, and from here it's just a wander on a delightful haphazard trail through the Upper and Lower Towns, admiring the countless spires and red turrets.
Dozens of superb Hanseatic merchants' houses rise above a web of cobbled streets. A number of them are authentic restaurants like Old Hansa, serving traditional dishes with even bear on the menu! In one such house you can find Pille Kivihall. In our DVD she tells us about the gothic workshops of the enterprising Katariina Gild, and her imaginitive leather business, this and other businesses are based down a very historic Katariina Passage.
Russification surrounds the Old Town, and the sinister KGB HQ at 59 Pikk, and the Museum of Occupation are stark reminders that it has only been since 1991 that Estonians won their freedom. St. Olav's church has a lookout balcony below its massive pointed spire.
The upper town, or Toompea, is home to the Estonian government buildings and many embassies. Toompea castle, in a bright shade of pink, houses many government offices. Right opposite, and still dominating the hilltop, is the ornate Alexander Nevsky Russian Ortodox Cathedral. There are two lookouts where you can gaze over the city and its all-important harbour.
A delightful walk through parkland outside the Rapunzel-turreted city, then on through housing, leads you to the dock where there is a flotilla of museum ships, and a chance to go inside an ice-breaker, or 'Lembit', a British-built submarine for the Estonian Navy. Finally it is just a kilometre or so back to toward the Old Town and its port, Estonia's window on the west - here you can look back on the fairtytale towers of Tallinn at the end of our city trail.
As a side trip, and only a short bus ride away (get on at the Railway station), you can take a visit to the Estonian Open Air Museum, with many period thatched rural houses. Here and there are museum staff in costume, depicting a much simpler way of life.
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Climate ~ Tallinn
MAP OF TALLINN
Our Tallinn trail plotted on GoogleMaps
Museum of Occupations
http://www.meremuuseum.ee Maritime Museum (Google translated)
http://www.linnamuuseum.ee Old Town History Museum
The city's airport is situated just 4 Kilometres away from the centre, and a short bus ride (line2) takes you into town.
We recommend hotel bookings by www.expedia.co.uk
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