Our Baltic Trip 2016, Part 2 - Tallinn Posted on 18 Aug 08:28 , 0 comments
Tallinn’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a remarkably picturesque, medieval town with many 14th to 17th century buildings, beautifully preserved and maintained. I hate to admit that I slept much of the time while we were there. Between the jet lag and the long journey, I was really quite exhausted. Mike recovered more easily and “cased out the town” while I slept -- so I didn’t miss the architectural highlights. He would come back to our pretty hotel and talk of how crowded it was. However, when I would accompany him in the evening, the city was quiet, with a modicum of tourists for such a lovely place. Turns out that during the day the town is infiltrated by hundreds of cruise ship tourists, in gaggles following their banner-carrying guides. At round 5:00pm, they are marched back to their ships for (I imagine) their evening meals. Given the long evenings, that left us hours to wander the cobbled streets in relative calm. Given the dubious weather (it threatened to rain constantly), the skies were quite dramatic, which enhanced the pretty town.
Street scene in Tallinn Old Town
Steeple of St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn Old Town
I was particularly enraptured by the old abbey gateway -- one of the oldest surviving structures in the city.
Detail of arch, St. Catherine's Cloister
Our hotel was on a little plaza that had a gazebo in the middle. A few times a day, various groups of musicians in period costumes would play medieval music. It was a charming touch. We saw a number of street musicians throughout the town, playing everything from medieval recorder and bagpipe music to “Cotton Fields Back Home” (which the band on the ferry from Helsinki had played, too).
Street musicians outside our hotel
Many of the houses in old town Tallinn are traditional tall and narrow merchant houses. The top floor of these houses would have been used for goods storage with stored items moved up and down via a pulley system. Some of these houses still have the pulley rigging in place.
Merchant's house with pulley hoist
Above the old town of Tallinn stands the citadel hill, known as Toompea. This houses the town’s major churches, as well as the Parliament building. Some of the old fortress walls and towers are still standing, including one known as Kiek in de Kök, or “peek in the kitchen”, since those in the tower could spy on the houses below. Some of the lower town walls are accessible, as well, giving view down into the streets of the town. Some of the original town gates still offer passage between the old town and the new.
View of Kiek in de Kök
View from the lower town walls
Viru gate leading from the Old Town to the new.
One evening, we had a spectacular dinner at the Hermitage Restaurant (adjacent to our hotel). Having been very warm all day, we ate outside next to the gazebo. This turned out to be the finest meal of our trip. A highlight was my dessert, called a “deconstructed cheesecake”, served in a small fishbowl and looking like a miniature garden.
Deconstructed cheesecake at the Hermitage Restaurant
After a couple of nights in Tallinn, and jet lag recovery mostly completed, we picked up our rental car and set off for Haapsalu, the first fiber-focused stop of the trip…