Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tallinn, Estonia: A Travel Recommendation

And for our last city this trip, Tallinn.

From Copenhagen, we flew SAS to Helsinki, where we spent one night (I posted earlier about our Helsinki leg...). Then from Helsinki, we took a two hour ferry across the Baltic sea to Tallinn, Estonia! The ferry was so, so cheap.. much cheaper than we anticipated considering we'd been in Scandinavia for almost a week (not so cheap). Also, completely painless. The port was right by our hotel, so we walked the morning of our departure, bought two tickets, and immediately boarded! The ship had free wifi, cheap food and drinks, and surprisingly, the people on board with us were not too obnoxious! Couldn't have been better.

All the advertisements we saw for Tallinn said, 'only a short 10 minute walk to old town from the port,' however, we google-mapped it and it was a strong 2km. So... we taxied.. first time all trip. We usually use public transportation. We do. But it just wasn't worth it here. Estonia is SUPER cheap and it was just much more convenient to taxi. So we got off the boat and strolled right up to the least friendly taxi driver we could find. Seriously, he didn't say a word, didn't crack a smile, nothing. A broke out the iPhone to give him the hotel name and address (mistake). BUT it was I think 4 euros... yea, you can't complain. A only had a 10 spot, so he got a good tip.. and of course cracked the first smile... Maybe we made his day. 6 euros.. that's some big bucks in Estonia. Sidenote: I always look at the taxi driver's name/company when we get in a taxi. Of course this has never once come in handy until this trip.. His name: Sander. So back to the story...we get out at our hotel, grab our stuff, taxi driver smiles and dreams of all he can do with his 6 euro tip, and we check in the hotel, which has free wi-fi... So naturally, I go to take our the iPhone to see if we need a password.. might as well get it while we're checking in. No iPhone. I search my bag. Oh yea, A had it. He gave the address to the driver. "A, give me the phone, I'm going to see if we need a password." He says, "What? I don't have it." Yes you do, no you don't, yada yada, you can imagine it. Must've fallen out of his pocket in the taxi. I never lose anything :) So, we ask the front desk lady who we are still sitting in front of, to call the company. She asks if we know the company name. Yes. And she looks surprised when I tell her I know the cab driver's name! 3 minutes later, Sander and my iPhone return! Guess that 6 euro tip was really worth it!

So anyhoo, we check into the Baltic Imperial Hotel (dirt cheap, nothing special, but great location IN old town, recommended by a friend who stayed there - good choice!) and have the rest of the afternoon to walk around, have dinner, etc etc. Tallinn had some awesome weather while we were there, so we managed to steal some chairs in the sun outside, read our books, have some local Estonian beer, and just hang out til dinner! What a day. While we were there, we had some REALLY awesome food with even better people watching... The Gastro-Pub = Superb. As well as La Bottega a Trattoria/Enoteca... to die for!! And all for cheap.. not 130 euros like Oslo... and we managed to eat... a lot... and drink... a lot. Fabulous. Just fabulous.

The Old Town of Tallinn is super small. You could see everything in a day, no problem. We, however, were there for 3 nights, 2.5 days. Since our weather luck was SO awesome, it was perfect. We spent lotttts of time outside reading, soaking up the sun, eating and drinking... that IS how we vacation, afterall! But for the normal go go go tourist, one full day is enough.

Tallinn is known for their linen and amber... skip. Actually, I did try on some linen pants, but they were a no-go. We did, however, successfully add to our magnet collection (!) so the trip was a success!

The only MAJOR disappointment we had were the women. I know, sounds odd. But Todd and Sally, our friends who have been basically everywhere in the world, looove Tallinn. It's one of their favorite places. And Todd (and Sally really too) just RAVES about how beautiful the women are. Tall, blonde, thin, super model status. I was really hoping to people watch...yes, maybe only for a few minutes before I felt like Shrek, but still. A, of course, was REALLY hoping to people watch. Well, we people watched.. and no beautiful women. I mean, really none. They're not heinous. But not what we were anticipating after all the stories... Maybe all the beautiful women moved out of Tallinn when it became a tourist spot. Who knows. We did see beautiful women, lots, in the Tallinn airport. So they do exist... but where do they live? Oh yea, and A said he read something about Tallinn being the #1 spot for European men to have their bachelor parties... yea... gross.

As for the sights, I'd recommend going to Town Hall, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Toomkirik, Oleviste Church, Toompea Castle.. you know, the main tourist-y stuff. If you're there for more than a day, you'll have PLENTY of time to see it all!

Don't go to a medieval dinner. I can't say this because we went to one, only because you see them all throughout Tallinn and they just look annoying. Plus I heard the food is terrible.

 Local brews - Saku. The one on the right is this pear fizz beer thing. Girly, I know, but delicious!
 Some sort of fried fish on fresh rye bread. GOOOOD. 

 The most amazing soup I've ever had in my life. Unfortunately for me, A ordered it. Cream of archtichoke and something else. OH MY GOSH. Seriously. Unbelievable. I have to find a recipe for something similar. Have to. (Gastropub)
 Baked goat cheese with pine nuts, balsalmic, pesto. WOWzers (Gastropub). 
 Red curry soup with tomatoes. Delicious. But would have loved it even more if I hadn't tasted A's... (Gastropub)
 I could not even smell this. WAYYY too much meat for me. Some sort of sausages and potatoes. A loved it. Me.... ewwww...not that I tried it. (Gastropub).
 Cheesecake with strawberry sauce (gastropub).
 The most amazing Italian food we've ever had. And we've had some pretty awesome Italian food. This includes the food we've had IN Italy.. Unfortunately, no pictures of the food.. I don't think. I'm going to have to go back and look to make sure. Great selection of wine and everything is even!
 Main Square Tallinn, Estonia

 A being artsy... view from our room at the Baltic Imperial.

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