Never judge a book by the cover and most certainly don’t judge a port of call by the name. When I first read this on the port list, I was thinking what is the big deal. Well, I was definitely blown away.
Like the past posts on my stops, we must first set the stage with some background information. So, where the heck is Estonia – the northern most and smallest of the Baltic States – lies on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, between Russia in the east and Latvia in the south. Only 18,000 square miles and a population of 1.5 million folks. On August 20th, 1991 Estonian independence from the Soviet Union was declared (with the United Nations recognizing it as a Sovereign State). Currency is the Estonian Kroon. Tallinn is the capital and is situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. Only 53 miles by sea from Helsinki. Tallinn has a population of 400K.
After walking around all day, I felt like this port of call was just outstanding and a solid surprise. Many of the folks that I talked with were equally impressed with this stop as well. Everything is easily reached from just walking around the city. We landed early, before many of the businesses were open, so my wife and I got to walk all over the city with no distractions (the ships handout had about 10 must see stops – we got to all of them). Once stuff started to open up, the city came alive. Many of the locals were dressed in their medieval dress to really give the tourists a feeling of true Tallinn back in the day. The streets were buzzing.
My overall impressions:
- The town square was filled with local vendors and crafts – not just for the tourists, but for everyone. Which was
fun to get a true sense of how Tallinn is. The costumes were a nice touch as well.
- I sampled the local beer, Saku. A true test to enjoyment is would you drink it again, yes. On hot summer days, this was very refreshing. During the trip, I had local beers from almost every stop – and this is the first one that stuck in my head. (I guess, I will have to got to Whole Foods to see if I can locate some).
- Shopping – for those that like to shop. Nothing really different than other places along the trip. Of course, if I had some room in my suitcases, I could have gotten some of the medieval clothing. Too bad, no room left in the suitcase.
- We ate in one of the local outdoor cafes (no hot dog stands to be found) – the local cuisine is now for the jellied veal (sult) and roast stuffed breast of veal served with herring and beets (Taidetud Vasikarind). I had none of that – stomach was not in the mood for exploring too far away (the lunch in Russia was still not sitting well, I guess).
If it is still not clear how much I enjoyed this port – let me say it again. I enjoyed my day in Tallinn, Estonia.