"" Writer's Wanderings: Estonia--Tallinn

Monday, August 03, 2009


After visiting St. Petersburg, Russia, which I will write about later, we sailed to the port of Tallinn, Estonia. This is quite a city with a mixture of very old and very new. We explored the very old part--Old Town, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

It is a fifteen minute trek from where the cruise ships dock to the entrance to Old Town through the Great Coastal Gate. The stubby tower that sits next to the gate is called Fat Margaret. I can only imagine the number of stories that abound for the nickname of the tower which is actually named Roosikrants.

Cobble stoned streets wind around old buildings, some with emblems of the type of business they were or are. For example a bakery might have a large pretzel over its door. We followed the stone wall of the Old Town for a bit until it started to take us through some back alleys and we realized we were disturbing a fellow in his "bedroom"--a niche in the wall where he'd curled up for the night.

We exited to the outside of the wall and followed it there where it led to some beautiful garden displays. We soon realized it was an outdoor Home and Garden show although mostly garden.

At the town square, across from the town hall, we sat down at one of the sidewalk cafes for a couple of cappuccinos. (If you've been following my posts, you'll find we do that often). As we waited for our order to arrive, we took time to notice Old Thomas at the top of the town hall spire. The legend says Thomas was a poor peasant boy, a sharpshooter with a crossbow who won the springtime parrot shooting contest organized by Tallinn's elite. Because of his low status, he could not be awarded the prize but instead was rewarded the job of town guard for life.

What I liked about this visit to Tallinn was that we explored on our own and found places we hadn't seen on the excursion we'd taken the first time we visited Tallinn. Our own walking tour took us down an alley called Katherine Passage where we discovered an outside wall of the monastery lined with old tombstones.

Upon exciting Katherine Passage which also had lots of unique craft stores, we turned right and headed for the Viru Gates--two more stone towers along the city wall. Sure enough, in one of the old buildings just inside the gates was a McDonald's! Outside the gates was a row of floral booths with some of the most gorgeous bouquets I have ever seen. The flowers in Europe always seem to be of better quality than we get in the States.

We walked along the city wall again until we came to Fat Margaret. There we bid her adieu and headed back to the ship as dark clouds began to gather. Just as we entered our stateroom, we heard a loud clap of thunder and the rain poured down. For once our timing was good.

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