Tag Archives: Tallinn

Tallinn

2 Dec

I arrived in Tallinn with a sickly stomach and feeling shattered. We hopped off the ferry and were greeted by graffiti and a grubby looking, torn about city. I remember saying: ‘I like it already’ and grinning and feeling much better as I plodded along the glass-splattered pavement into the city centre.

Sadly, this feeling was not to last.

Tallinn was a bizzaro, fake-feeling, tourist-populated city and sure it was pretty, but if you punched through the cardboard cut-out scenery all there was to see was guys with duffel-bags behind the scenes, blinking in the light.

The architecture was interesting, very medieval and quaint, and good to look at. The cobblestone pavements reminded me of my university city and I thought that this might bode well. But the streets felt claustrophobically narrow and uncomfortable after a while, as they seemed to have no regular pattern, and it was a relief to finally find our way through them and arrive at the hostel.

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This place was interestingly decorated, and I was incredibly pleased to find that tea and coffee were free. I was, however, disappointed to find a great cloud of flies hovering about the tin box. I made myself a cup to be polite but I didn’t drink more than a sip.  It’s was called the Alur hostel and it cost something like 16€ a night to stay. The weird thing about this place, apart from the slightly obnoxious, slightly spooky long-haired girl at the desk, was the fact that no lockers for our bags were mentioned but yet we found a couple of rows of them upstairs. We were early and ended up having to wait for our rooms because we didn’t just want to leave our stuff at the desk. Anyone else who goes should inquire and get back to me on this maybe I’m just paranoid but I got a bad vibe from the place.

After we had our rooms we headed into the city center and decided to use the last couple of hours of daylight by walking around the city. We saw so many souvenir shops that I lost count, a couple of churches and many, many Russian tour groups. No one in the shops seemed very pleased to see us or serve us and it was very disheartening whilst I was so tired. Everywhere we went seemed to lead to nowhere except more tourist shops and more dead ends. The next morning, in an attempt to enjoy the city on my own I went for my usual early morning walk. I was disappointed to find a dark, empty city, save for a few men in shadows who seemed to watch me a little too carefully. I was really scared and got spooked by a homeless guy watching me from the alcoves, so I headed back to the hostel as early as I could, stumbling through the winding streets.

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Despite my largely negative view of Tallinn there were some highlights though:

1. The Peppersack –  A great medieval restaurant, in which all the servers were dressed in medieval clothes. The place was huge inside and the food was really cheap – I think this was a gimmick used by the place which said that everything was 50% off, when I’m sure that the food was actually this cheap regularly, but anyway it tasted good. They had this incredible honey beer which tasted great, but sadly was only sold on the premises.

2. Draakon – Another medieval eating place, but this one was much smaller and darker, because it was mostly lit by candlelight. It gave it a great atmosphere – even if it was hard to see your money in the light. The pies were delicious an only 1€ and the drinks were only 2€. Great place to get breakfast before a long journey home. Be warned though, if you buy soup you have to sing for your spoon!

3. The viewing platforms – They gave the best view of the city – but don’t try the warm beer or glogi that they sell up there, it’s disgusting! It was nice to watch the sun set over the city, and I would have liked to catch the sunrise, but hey ho.

602558_10151270006599090_2060148392_nThese were the nicest pictures I took from the place, and I took them upon leaving the place. Kind of sums up my Tallinn experience. However, many people have loved their time their, so maybe it just depends. Perhaps its’s one of those things which everyone has to try.

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This concludes my Helsinki trip series as we spent a couple more hours in Helsinki while we waited for the train, time which I spent walking on my own through the city, then took the long seven hour journey back to Oulu.

I just got back from a week in Lapland too, so stay tuned!!

Also, thanks to all those who are following me, old and new followers! You guys are awesome =)

 

 

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Helsinki-Tallinn

14 Nov

I survived my first big trip! In Finland and in Europe. I have never travelled with friends and stayed overnight anywhere. For the most part I had a great time, I loved Helsinki to pieces and after only a day there I had decided that I would live there once I graduate. Maybe I got a little caught up in the city-induced euphoria that I often experience, but we’ll see how it pans out…

Helsinki

The current World Design Capital was founded way back in 1550, to compete with Tallinn for Baltic Sea Trade. The marina is still filled with boats and the market square and market hall still lie near the water’s edge. The capital of Finland was originally Turku, but it was moved to Helsinki after Finland became part of the Russian Empire, because it was thought that Turku was too close to Sweden.

This year it celebrates its 200th anniversary as the capital of Finland. According to visithelsinki.fi it has a population of 600,000, 72 museums, 1053 restaurants, 53 hotels and 14 universities.

Helsinki is the third European city that I’ve visited and I was very pleased with my experience there. I’m going to write up the reviews of the places I went so keep an eye out for those. We spent two days in the city and I spent around 10 hours walking through the city on Saturday.

Our first sunrise on the first morning of the trip

Helsinki Cathedral

Alexander II in the Senate Square

Happy 200th Birthday Helsinki! (shame about the construction though eh?)

Tallinn

Another important port town Tallinn was a great trade link between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. Like Finland, it was under Swedish rule for a long period of time, followed by a period of Russian rule. It has a tumultuous history of invasion by Germans and Russians, and it suffered extensive bombing during the war. It was only declared an independent democratic state in 1991, not that long ago at all.

On Sunday morning we took the ferry to Tallinn from the port. I must admit that, although the Old Town of Tallinn is very pretty, it’s not somewhere I intend to go again if I can help it. I didn’t get a very good vibe from the place – any charm had been erased and plastered over with ‘souvenir’ signs. We only spent one day there and I was glad to leave, sadly. I expected a lot more from the city.

This was our first (slightly unimpressive view) of Tallinn

One of many similar streets near the hostel

Fat Margaret’s Tower

All in all the trip was an experience that has further changed me and I feel as though something inside me spent four days rapidly developing, something good and promising. The constant fear which nags me is continually shrinking and I feel as though this weekend blew away a big dirt clod of it. I spent so much time by myself, map in pocket, asking questions and generally just exploring in my own time, something which I have only really done once before.

It’s nice to be back in Oulu though (although it seems much smaller) and I have a ticket for a concert in Helsinki in a few weeks in case I get bored.

Hopefully the reviews will be of some use! I hope everyone else had a good weekend too!

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