First Posted: 5/10/2012 11:25:37 AM | Last Updated: 5/10/2012 11:25:38 AM
When we read on our sailing itinerary that one of our stops was Tallinn, Estonia, our first question was, “Where’s that?”
Well, Tallinn is the Capital of Estonia and is located in Northern Europe, south of Helsinki, Finland, east of Stockholm, Sweden, and west of St. Petersburg, Russia.
This lovely little place was part of the former Soviet Union, and in August of 1991 was re-established as an independent, democratic country.
Many people who had traveled there previously, told us that no tour was necessary here, so we opted to do our own thing in Tallinn. Upon arriving at the harbor, we boarded one of the buses provided for transport into the city for a small fee. It was not a very long ride, and we were told to wait for the shuttle at the same place when we were ready to return to the ship. It was all very easy.
A short walk transported us to the Old Town, a picturesque gated section of the city. This area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, and has been restored beautifully.
As Old Town is best seen on foot, we began walking through Lower Old Town with its shops and restaurants, and up the narrow, cobblestone lanes to Upper Old Town. The views are glorious, and sites to see include the 13th Century St. Mary’s Cathedral, the St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and Palace Square (home of the pink Parliament Building).
We then re-traced our steps back down to Lower Old Town to visit Town Hall Square, where a local folk dancing competition was being held. In the short time we had remaining we did a little shopping in some very nice local stores where we found craft items, souvenirs and lots of very tempting and current fashions. Many of the shops feature locally-made products, as well as Russian-influenced items.
As you can see from the photos below, the inhabitants try to keep the history of the area alive, and appear in the streets in medieval dress to heighten the experience for the visitors.
It was an easy city to navigate, as most of the tourist spots were located in the small area of Old Town, and virtually all of the shopkeepers, restaurant workers, etc. spoke English very well. Other areas of the city are quite modern, and Estonia is, in fact, a great information technology center, where Skype originated.
Unfortunately, we had only a short time for this pleasant stop, and then we were back on board and on to another destination.