Second part of our Tallinn tales

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After a necessary break for lunch we carried on wandering around the city, bumping right into the happy chimney sweeper statue, which we hugged for good luck and took some shots of before leaving him be and get on with our exploration of the city. We realized we were in need of coffee and Catherine was in dire need of a sweet dessert as well, therefore, as we came across a pretty looking cafe, we entered the place, ordering our usual cold coffees – Estonian style on this one, and a dessert, which contributed to Catherine’s happiness.

check out the first part of our exploration of Tallinn here

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Having that taken care of, it was Catherine’s turn to make a small stop for purchasing some accessories, before continuing our walk away from the town’s center and into an area called Kadriorg, where many attractions are to be found. That was a pleasant break from Tallin’s Medieval atmosphere as we found ourselves walking through more modern buildings and Kadriorg had more of a 19th early 20th century scent.

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Our first impression of the place was pretty pleasant since the park emanated a much needed to us sense of relaxation. After walking around the busy Medieval center’s alleys for hours, it was imperative that we loosen up for a while. The site was ornamented with some impressive artwork and we liked the swan pond that was harmonically adorned with pieces of modern art that maintained the thin balance between old and new.

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The main building was also impressive and we had fun as we thought the name stood for Catherine’s palace (it actually stands for Catherine’s valley). Then we had some more laughs since we came across the presidential residence and we conceived of a master heist, that was pretend to be the Italian prime minister and Italy’s first lady and crash into the place for a while eating and drinking. We laughed our hearts out speaking Greek in a comic Italian accent occasionally for the following days and we left the place still joyful and ever jubilant hanged around the park for some time before eventually dragging our steps back to our hotel, that stood midway through Kadriorg and the old city for a small break.

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After this refreshing and brief stop, we returned to the city inside the walls and near Katarina kaik, we stumbled upon a small workshop, that was open to visitors and it seemed as if it was situated inside an ancient church building. I have to say that this was the best experience we had regarding Tallinn’s past. The artist seemed devoted to his craft and we were able to explore the candlelit basement admiring the paintings and the decoration. We felt obliged to buy a little something as a small token of supporting this work and – had our budget been a little more elevated, we would definitely purchase more.

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We continued our walk for a while, until we decided to make another small stop for a bite and a beer and then we approached one of the carts that sold almonds in order to try that snack. We only regretted that we hadn’t made our move sooner. Those are probably the best almonds we’ve tasted and they seemed to be a mix of roasted almonds alongside sugar and cinnamon (?). We also hanged around a medieval store for a while, making some more purchases before venturing onto DM baar, which was empty at the time since it was too early in the evening.

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All I ever wanted, all I ever needed…Precious and fragile things…

The place was established by a devoted fan of Depeche Mode and a couple of years after the opening, some members of the band visited the place to party, thus adding their some of their fame to the place. We liked the place, all the drinks are named after the band’s songs (Blue dress and Personal Jesus were the drinks we had), the decoration is about the band and the music is, yeah you guessed it – Depeche Mode’s greatest hits (which is all of them).

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Well, that was fun but after a while we decided to leave. We walked around for a while and we felt the need to see some more places, but we felt as if we had run out of options. Everything seemed as if we had been seeing them since forever and we got bored. It looked as if that was all about Tallinn (although that is not the case) and our guess is that we got tired by the Medieval fair atmosphere of the old city and the drunk people that began to make their presence noticeable (one of them was even carrying a sign claiming he needed money for beer and although we thought it was a poor beggar’s trick, that was not the case). Still, we would gladly visit Tallinn once more, only this time we would focus mostly on places like the open air museum and Pirita convent and also on the pretty Estonian countryside. For the first time in days, we returned to our hotel refreshed and we were eager to carry on with our journey, exploring Riga and nearby Jurmala…

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Catherine was happy to find this small and colorful shop, where she acquired some lovely accessories

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On our way to Kadriorg we passed by some lovely houses

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While enjoying the park, Catherine also encountered a couple of her beloved dogs

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I was secretly hoping that we would make the rest of our trip on this rather vintage means of transport, but we boarded a modern day comfortable bus instead…

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Our tale continues in Tallinn

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As the ship was about to dock, we got a chance to enjoy some great views of our next stop on this journey, the lovely city of Tallinn, capital of Estonia and one of the most attractive places in the Baltic. The 300 meter high TV tower easily overshadowed the city, a reminder of the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow as well as a hint of Estonia’s past under Soviet occupation.

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Our trip from Helsinki proved shorter than we expected and we took our first steps on Estonian soil towards our hotel, situated between the old city and Kadriorg palace. Unfortunately, our room was below our standards but we didn’t let that ruin our mood. We left our luggage and swiftly walked to the old town, where the city’s most reputable attractions can be found.

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Our first stop was the broken line monument, a memorial to those perished in the Estonia ferry catastrophe in the 90’s. Lots of young people were climbing atop the structure standing on its edge (we didn’t find this amusing, although these youngsters were clearly enjoying themselves). Right next to that monument we encountered fat Margaret who greeted us cordially as we entered the old city gate, in the same manner she did with every guest arriving by sea over the city’s long history. Fat Margaret is part of Tallinn’s medieval fortifications and stood as its faithful sentinel over the past, while nowadays she guards Estonia’s maritime history.

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We passed outside the Great guild and continued onward to the old town center, which is very small and it doesn’t take long to discover Tallinn’s main attractions. We turned our attention mostly towards the main plaza, Rakoja platz during this first evening and wandered around the place checking out the views of the Town hall and people watching. The place didn’t seem to be overcrowded at the time and that enabled us to enjoy a relaxing walk, which made us aware that we hadn’t eaten anything during the day.

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The plaza was filled with plenty of available dinner choices and we were impressed by all these girls and guys wearing medieval costumes, a sight which although was fun at first, we later got used to after a while.

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So we picked a table near the town hall and ordered a pizza and a couple of beers that were greatly blended with honey. Thus, having our hunger taken care of, we left the place, walked around for a while and marched of to bed, so as to view the rest of the city more refreshed in the morning.

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After a good night’s rest we were ready to experience what the Estonian Capital had to offer and we headed once more to the touristic heart of the city, after a brief stop in a bookstore, where we bought a comic adaptation of Kalevipoeg, the Estonian epic for my collection. Since that was settled, we continued to the main square passing through Viru gate, where we noticed many small florist shops lined up outside the gate.

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Then we found the Katarina kaik, a small street bearing Catherine’s name, so we definitely had to walk over its pretty cobbled stones and under some lovely building antefixes (?) made of stone that shaded the small alley a liittle, giving the place its distinct medieval character. We even found a small workshop run by a guy who was selling some crafty handmade products and our visit to the place was one to a distant past. At the end of the street, we detected some tombstones lining on the outer wall of St Catherine’s church and they contributed greatly to the medieval scent of the city.

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Further ahead we kept encountering carts run by girls dressed in medieval costumes and we even saw some sort of mechanical device that was some sort of automaton. Our walk was briefly interrupted when I noticed another bookstore and I decided to purchase another Estonian book. So, I got me a selection of short stories from Juhan Liiv. Didn’t know the poet at the time, but I later found out that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, as he thought that he was the son of the Russian Czar and he died of pneumonia, as a result of a two week exposure to freezing temperatures on account of him being thrown out of a train because he had no ticket.

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Finally, we moved ahead to our next point of interest, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church, crowning the Toompea hill alongside the Estonian parliament. We bumped into hordes of Russians on our way, as the temple seemed to be a very popular attraction to tourists originating from Russia and for good reason as it is undoubtedly a very beautiful architecture. We entered the temple but we were not allowed to take pictures and we also noticed a small room next to the door which was actually a souvenir shop. Now, I’m not a religious person but that brought to my mind Jesus casting away the merchants from the temple: “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. Of course one might claim that profits go to some good cause, but I’m always skeptic when I notice religious places resemble mini shopping malls.

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Anyway, we left the place and made a small tour passing by Pikk Hermann (tall Hermann, wouldn’t they make a great couple with fat Margaret?) and Kiek in de kok, a tower whose name expresses the alleged ability of its occupants to take a peek in the kitchens of nearby houses due to the tower’s height. I would probably be constantly starved if I had to look at food all the time as they did and indeed we were both hungry by the time we started walking back to the center. All this sightseeing and gift shopping was demanding fuel for our bellies and we complied rather hastily, as we entered Pizza grande, a small and cozy place with great food and prices that really contributed to as having a great time. That was a much needed break before venturing forth to our exploration of the rest of the city…

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