When I was looking at the map of possible places to go on this trip I looked at these Baltic countries and thought about how no one ever really talks about going there. So I decided to go there.
I found a place to stay in the Old Town near where our ferry was to depart two days later. The bus from Riga took us within a few miles away and as we walked through modern Tallinn the buildings from shiny glass high rises (actually reminded me a bit of parts of downtown Salt Lake City) and then things began to be made of stone and colorful stucco.
We dropped our stuff here, the Airbnb was built right into the ancient city wall. It was a beautiful flat with sleek modern artfully mixed with history.
Right away Justin and I took off exploring to see what Tallinn had to offer. This city is like a fairytale. We didn't expect this so much but it really was castle and turrets and spires at every turn.
I can only imagine how old everything here is and the battles this wall has seen. Everything in the USA is just a baby, only a couple hundred years of history - nothing compared to these places!
Before leaving the states I went to the Illiad Bookshop near my home to see if they had any travel books (and to pet the cats that hang out there). The guy said he had just put what was left of their travel books out in a box in front of the shop free for the taking because they don't sell well, and there was one for Estonia! Amazing luck.
I learned from the book that Old Tallinn was once divided into two kingdoms. This view (same as above, we went back in the morning) is of the lower kingdom which was constantly bickering with the upper portion of the city for power, where I was standing.
Crazy to think about the hands that built these city walls and towers to keep out the citizens of the lower portion of the city as well as enemies approaching from the coast. This is not a set for Game of Thrones, this is real life.
I liked how the guide book told the names of the towers, this one is Fat Margaret. Obviously fat because of the way the structure was built, but I can't help but wonder how Margaret felt about that.
I mean, it was probably an honor to have a tower named after her but can't help but wonder if she was cool with going down in history as "Fat Margaret".
This is from the little pub/cafe across the street from our flat. Enjoying hot chocolate on a chilly day! Our place was through those blue doors which opened into a courtyard, much like our place in Riga.
Just as everywhere else so far, Europe wins for most intricate doors ever.
The fairytale illusion slowly faded as we wandered the city. It became apparent the the USSR had a big presence here once upon a time. A lot of Old Tallinn has been restored but the facades of some buildings are still a work in progress.
Interesting enough, it was the upper portion of the city that was the most pristine.
This clock, reminding us to keep our feet moving because the sun would be going down in two hours!
Tallinn is full of old churches, this one had biblical scenes painted into each frame along the walls.
A broken bell from 1577. All I could think about was how heavy is must be and I hope it didn't drop onto anyone on the street below.
The old KGB headquarters. This place has a lot of unhappy history to it. Notice the windows bricked up in the basement where torture interrogations took place.
The town square gearing up to open a market for Christmas.
The old architecture beginning to mix with Soviet influence.
In the middle of this medieval land, a giant Russian Orthodox church was built to let the citizens know who was really boss.
This structure is MASSIVE. It was difficult to get the whole building into one frame. I needed a wider lens.
And next to the the church is a baroque palace built as an addition to Toompea Castle. It is now where Estonia's parliament meets.
Out back this guy was about half way done with blowing leafs off the lawn... he still had a long way to go, poor guy.
We scaled town the castle city walls to the lower portion as it started to rain.
Evidence of past destruction and war is a lot more obvious here.
BUT restoration is actively taking place and we saw these guys work on fixing the cobblestone street.
Justin wandering down some tiny side street. The roads are not uniform at all and bend and twist in unpredictable ways.
This is our favorite piece of graffiti that we saw :)
I love how the tops of the tall church spires would disappear into the fog.
Here you can see Old Tallinn, New Tallinn in the back to the right, and our ferry off to the left that we were are our way to board.
Tallinn was special to us I think because this was the most (coherent/not jet-lagged) time we had in any city so far. We went into it with zero expectations and walked out big fans! This last photo is as our boat is pulling away leading us to Sweden.