We prefer travelling by train but the railway connection between Riga and Tallinn is long and we have to change trains in the border; a faster (and cheaper) way of transportation between these two cities is the bus so… let’s go to the bus station. After the 22 hours from Krakow to Riga, 4 hours to arrive in Tallinn were easy!
Once in Tallinn, it was simple to get the bus to go to our hosts place: they live in Mustamäe, 30 minutes far from Downtown. It’s a residential area built in soviet times. Since we arrive in the former East Germany we really wanted to get into one of these buildings that we can see all over on Eastern Europe. We had a better deal. We could ‘live’ in one of them!!! In comparison to “European scale”, everything is huge: each block has almost 100 apartments and the streets are real roadways. We experimented that the first evening: we went to have diner in a Georgian restaurant close to the apartment and we walked about 20 minutes. We felt a bit disorientated for a while, but when we sat at table we felt like home: good food and satisfied faces around us!
Sindy and Maksim, our hosts, gave us a lot of precious advices. We felt in love with Tallinn and we decided to stay one more day to enjoy our time here and sightseeing without any rush. Instead of going straight to the Old Town we preferred to go see the Baltic seaside and to have a look on the Olympic Sailing Center: the Olümpiakesku. It was built in the late 70s to host the sailing venues of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games; it has the shape of a boat, it’s a little bit crazy, but interesting as example of late soviet architecture. While we were walking on the sea side with a continuous wind, we wandered how the landscape should be in winter times when the sea is frozen and the icebreakers have to open seaways to the boats.
After a nice walk on the seaside, we turned left and arrived to the Kumu Kunstimuuseum (Art Museum) which presented a permanent collection of Estonian art from the 18th century onwards and temporary exhibitions. We had an overview of Estonian art history and we saw the very interesting exhibition of the photographer Irving Penn. The Museum building is a master piece itself. It was designed by the Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori and constructed from 2003 and 2006. Set on the top of Lasnamäe Hill it inserts perfectly well on the landscape. In our way to back we passed, without knowing, just beside of the Kadriorg Palace, built by Catherine I of Russia. We missed it!
Summertime in Tallinn means very long days with a sunset that never ends. For us it meant that we could keep walking and we decided to go for a tour in the ex-industrial zone behind the railway station. When we got out of the tram in Kalamaja we had the impression to arrive in an abandoned area. Wooden houses on one side, old industrial buildings on the other. However, following our hosts instructions, we have discovered a ‘hidden’ world with many cool bars, nice restaurants and interesting design shops. We had a bear in the Tops bar with its Soviet retro design that conquered us (of course we came back the other day).
The exploration of the city continued the day after with a long walk in the Old Town. We were lucky. We avoided the cruise tourist’s invasion and we could enjoy a relative calm in the small streets inside the walls. We saw Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Katariina Käik passage. From the Toompea Hill we had the best view of the city: green and blue mixed with red roofs and glass buildings.
Another part of the city in which we would have spent more time is Rotermann, in the east side of the Old Town, behind Mere puiestee. We found there a lot of contemporary buildings, bars and hype restaurants but we did not have time to enjoy because we MUST go to Seasoon restaurant. Its menu includes delicious international dishes with elements from Scandinavian countries and flavors from Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. We loved it!!!
Our stay was too short to do more than this! We really enjoy the company of good people that live in a great city and we will return there!
TO DRINK! : Kohvik Tops, Soo 15
TO EAT! : Seasons, Rävala puiestee 3