Today we spent another wonderful day in Tallinn. We had to move from the apartment, so we thought we would head out early and have a walk around before all the crowds appeared. Wrong! Even at 9am the whole city was buzzing with coaches and tour groups. We walked up the Toompea Hill to the viewpoint, and it was immediately apparent why. From this vantage point over the town, we spied six huge cruise liners docked in the harbour, which had not been there last night. Everywhere we walked, there were predominantly South Korean and Chinese groups, being led along by tour guides holding flags in the air. One French group had a particularly bossy tour guide, who herded her group along like sheep, and counted them at regular intervals …. thirty seven, thirty eight, thirty nine.. where’s forty? Apologies once more to cruise ship aficionados, but Howard and I couldn’t help but laugh. At one point, I stopped to take a photo, and when I turned round, there was Howard, Lonely Planet guide book held aloft like a flag. When I caught up with him, he loudly shouted …’one, are you with me?!’
I know a lot of people glean great pleasure from cruising, and I’m sure we would also contemplate doing it, albeit on a very small boat, but I cannot advocate independent travel enough. If you are able and fit enough, then in my opinion, you are able to get a much better feel for a place by travelling on your own, or in a small group. I really cannot see the pleasure in being herded around en masse, and not being able to stop when you want to, or divert off down a side street when you see something interesting. Indeed, one of the joys of this trip has been that we have had no fixed plans, apart from our ferry booking to Iceland. In that way, we can go as we please, skipping on from places we don’t like, and staying longer in places we do. On that note, we had originally only planned to spend one night in Tallinn, but loved it so much, that we decided on staying another day. Our apartment room was already booked for today, so we opted to transfer to a hotel.
So after a walk round in the early morning sunshine, and after stopping for some freshly squeezed orange and pomegranate juice, followed by a coffee and pastry, we packed our stuff back into Oscar and headed for the hotel, just a short distance away on the other side of the Old Town.
Tallinn is a city that is a fusion of old and new. Situated around the periphery of the stunning UNESCO Old Town, there are a profusion of modern glass-fronted buildings, some offices, and others hotels. Our hotel came with the promise of parking. We pulled in outside, to discover the parking was underground. I investigated the car park. A height barrier of 1.90 metres was accompanied with another sign saying 1.60 metres. Howard went to the reception to investigate. We were reassured that we should be able to get our 1.90 metres vehicle inside, but that due to pipes, some of the bays were only 1.60 metres. I walked into the car park, with Howard driving behind. Boy, was it close!! Oscar had about 2cm clear on the awning. The first ten places indicated heights of between 1.60 and 1.80 metres. Eventually we found a 1.90 metre space, and very slowly edged the boy in. At least he would be secure – no-one else would dare driver him out of this space!
The lad settled, we ventured off into the Old Town once more. We had a wonderful day just wandering around and pottering. We did climb up onto the city walls and up a very dodgy watch tower to see the views over the rooftops. Health and safety would have gone berserk!
We found a charming little cafe for lunch, which served delicious fresh food – our second brilliant meal in less than twenty four hours. Afterwards, we walked up to Toompea Hill again, and then skirted around the periphery of the walls, where they were holding the Tallinn Flower Festival.
In the evening we went in search of a restaurant for supper. There was plenty of choice, but in the end, we saw nothing that compared with the RIBE restaurant we had visited yesterday. Yet again, we weren’t disappointed. We made different choices from the menu, and were very modest, in view of the fact that we had eaten out at lunchtime too. As we sat outside on the terrace, the sky slowly turned a magnificent shade of pink, casting a glow across all the old buildings. Had I had my camera with me, the photographer in me would have wanted to run up to the viewpoint and take a photo, but instead, we sat and took in the vista.
It was a brilliant end to a wonderful two days in Tallinn. I would thoroughly recommend it as a city to visit. It is small, compact, and easily walkable, and the people seem charming, not yet worn down by the masses of visitors the city attracts. We hear it has a reputation as a venue for Stag Parties, but none were in evidence. The only thing we saw as we sat eating our meal, which made us chuckle, was a group of girls, all dressed in white, probably on a hen weekend, following behind a very attractive girl in a long red dress. They were all riding Segways – but the procession was silent and orderly, maybe because a degree of concentration was required. About half an hour later, they passed going in the other direction. It seemed pretty tame to me for a hen party, but I’m sure it was fun.
So Tallinn definitely gets our vote. I just hope we can get Oscar out of the car park in the morning!