Across the Baltic to Tallinn

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Tallinn trip happened on the run. A few days before the trip to Helsinki, I was looking at a map of Europe and I realized was Estonia was so close. Some quick research later, I decided that Tallinn was an easy manageable day trip.In fact St. Petersburg, Russia is only about 5ish hours away and I've always wanted to visit St. Petersburgh. However, I did not dare test the Russian visa process at such a short notice.

Of course with my India passport I needed a visa even for Estonia. I was told it would take 2 weeks but decided test my luck and applied in person a few days before my flight to Finland. I got lucky and the visa arrived in time with no hassles.. They must have looked at my passport filled with so many stamps and visas and thought if I didn't seek asylum in any of these I probably wouldn't bother with Estonia. I also took the risk of booking the ferry trip cost £60 return in advance of obtaining my visa. Not cheap but what the heck I thought. Luckily it all worked out.

The 2 hour trip across the Baltic is an experience in itself. Tallin is quaint. Covering a area of 159 sq. km and a population of just over 400,000, it is one of Europe's smallest capital cities. Talinn was a key member of the Hanaseatic league.The architecture of the city is full of Russian influences. The Orthodox churches reminded me of some of the Orthodox churches in Kerala. I walked around town for a few hours taking in the architecture, visiting a few churches/museums and markets. There were some lovely knits on sale at the local market. I also happened to visit a boutique store that did fabulous shoes. I bought a cool pair of furry boots which I love!

By 2PM I was ravenous. I'd done a bit of research and a placed in the town ( City) square was recommended. Olde Hansa was a medieval themed restaurant serving old style Estonian food. I loved the decor and the staff. I tried a tasting platter which included quail eggs, wild boar, root veg spiced with juniper berries etc. The price while a little steep was worth every penny and the service was awesome. Definitely recommend it if you ever visit Talinn.

I had to walk off my heavy meal and thankfully had a good few hours before the ferry to do so. I headed out to the shopping complexes in town which were so-so before heading to the big complex near the ferry port. It was a strange place that sold strange clothes and accessories. It seemed like fashion ( Russian style) froze in the 1980's and just stayed that way.

The sail back was just as pleasant and I loved the views across the Baltic sea. I can't think of too much to do in Talinn but definitely worth a weekend/day trip if you are in Helsinki or St. Petersburgh.


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