One week, three cities, three countries I’ve never been to before. The organization Scanbalt offers a trip for students that takes me from Stockholm to Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia) and Helsinki (Finnland). Here are my first impressions of our trip to Tallinn.
To be honest, not a lot of people in Switzerland know exactly where Tallinn is and what the city looks like. There aren’t even any clichés or known places of interest. Then again isn’t it the perfect way to discover a new city – without any prejudices or expectations?
My first impression of Tallinn was surprise. The medieval old town is incredibly beautiful – which makes me wonder why this city is not famous throughout the rest of Europe. Maybe its fame is suppressed due to Estonia’s history of suffering. Many emperors occupied this Baltic country because of its geopolitical situation with its important port for trade; from Denmark to Germany over to Sweden and Russia.
In 1918 Estonia was declared an independent state – but just for a couple of years, as with World War II the Soviets took over the country. It is only in 1991 that Estonia got its final independence.
Even though Tallinn was extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the World War, much of the medieval Old Town remains and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Also today, you can find signs of the different influences in the city. A Russian orthodox church (Alexander Nevsky Cathedral), an old German artillery tower (Kiek in de Kök), and a Danish cathedral, (St. Mary’s, which happens to be the oldest church in town) all of which give the city its interesting shape. When you walk to the part of Lower Town with the old city wall, you will have a view over Tallinn’s skyline – a mixture of old and new, medieval and modern.
Hot wine and boar meat
There is another reason to visit this part of the city. In the tower of the old city wall, you can find the café «Kohvik Dannebrog Café» with an incredibly cozy room in the top of the tower, with couches next to an open fire. Having a glass of hot wine with some very nice people – and you can feel the heat of the fire even in your soul. There is no doubt why it was rated best café of Tallinn in 2013.
If you look for a place to have lunch or dinner, I recommend the Estonian restaurant called «Vanaema juures» which means Grandmother’s place. Typical for the north is the elk roast with tomato and leek sauce or the wild boar roast with red wine sauce – both are very delicious. If you want a classical Estonian dessert, you should go for Kama. It is a dish made of rye-, oat-, barley- and pea meal by mixing it with sour milk – what sounds really weird is in fact really good! Add some drinks at the alternative and urban bar «Red Emperor» and your day in Tallinn got a perfect end.