Well just prior to leaving Helsinki, the group I was traveling with had a introductory meeting and dinner. Its always a somewhat daunting experience as you never who what sort of people you will be living with for the next couple of weeks. Luckily on this occasion it was all Aussies and one US person. The Leader is Stefan who is German but is basically an Aussie anyway. So it looks like it should be a fun group.
Next day we had a reasonably early start to get to the ferry terminal for our cruise to Tallinn. We were quite taken aback when we saw the ferry we were taking was quite a reasonably sized cruise liner. I guess this is our brief moment of luxury. Loved how our tickets advised ‘it would be worthwhile buying your duty free limit.’ With an offer like that how could we not take that up. I ended up buying some Estonian vodka as well as a huge bag of Haribo Gummi products. If you have had them, you will know how good they are.
The cruise itself was for about two and half hours and was very smooth, so happy no sea sickness eventuated. The ship did have a karaoke bar but only songs in Estonian or Finnish. We went down and had a walk through and it was pretty funny. Even if they had English songs I still would not have got up.
On arrival in Tallinn, we found our hotel and headed up to the old town for a quick guided tour with Stefan. To be honest, the beauty and history of this place blew me away. It would have to rate as one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. It also had a medieval history and the buildings and architecture were fully represented of that period of time.
The only problem with enjoying the town square was the constant singing and chanting of the Irish Soccer (football) fans who were visiting for the World Cup Qualifier against Estonia. I used to think the Barmy Army (English Cricket Fans) were annoying but at least the English songs are somewhat humorous. If nothing else they kept the local police busy.
After the tour our plan was to have a couple of relaxing drinks in the square but that had to be reconsidered due to the Irish. So we ventured down the road a bit and stopped at a place where we could sit outside and drink 500ml beers for the equivalent of $2.50. What we didn’t realise until someone went to the toilet is that the establishment was in fact a ‘Gentleman’s Club’. It still didn’t stop us continuing to enjoy a few beverages as the price was too good to refuse.
That night for dinner we ventured to a traditional Estonian restaurant where I got to try blood sausages. I really had no idea what to expect but gave it go anyway. Much to surprise I wasn’t grossed out when these black sausages arrived in front of me and they did taste really good once I added some pepper to the meal. After that we headed to Hell Hunt (Estonia’s first pub) for a after dinner drinks and couple shots of Estonian vodka. It ended up being very much a sports bar so I didn’t hang around long.
The following day was a free day so I joined a few members of the group and just wandered aimlessly around the Old Town and around the fort walls. One pleasant surprise was the Tallinn Flower Festival we found by accident. I guess sometimes you just get lucky. Following the wall around we found a beautiful little bakery where I found the Estonian equivalent of the Aussie party size sausage roll. It was ridiculously cheap but so good. We then took in a view from on top of the wall where a small cafe was located. This was the time to be somewhat touristy and bought a Vana Tallinn Milkshake (Alcoholic) for 10 Euro. Yes it was expensive but oh so good and the view over looking the garden towards a cathedral was worth it no end.
Once we managed to make our way down the giant sized steps in a very narrow passage way a couple of us decided to visit the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments. Well that was something I never really expected and gave me great ideas on how we can improve tax debt collection at work (only kidding). One expected to see the rack, stocks, etc but having seen what they did with the saw and pyramid made me feel very lucky we don’t do that sort of punishment today. Though for some people, it would be a justified penalty for crimes they have committed.
From there it was time for a late lunch and we found this really cool ‘underground’ pub which claimed to be Tallinn’s first pub. As opposed to Estonia’s first pub we went to the night before. Yeah, I didn’t understand it either. Where the beer was cheap and appetisers were so cheap and filling as well. For one of my appetisers I had beer cheese (I didn’t know such a cheese existed) with lemon pepper. Let me tell you, you must try cheese with lemon pepper as it was one of the nicest combinations you could imagine. The place had a really cool vibe and given the cheap prices we hung out there for a while. For 5 of us, we spent a combined 33 euro and given what we ate and the number of drinks, that was a bargain in anyones language. We then went back to the ‘Gentleman’s Club’ to enjoy a drink in the sunshine as their prices were still better than anyone else’s and it was far enough away to not to hear the Irish Football Supporters.
That night most of us were pretty tired and given we had an early start the next day at 6:00 to catch the bus to Riga we just had a very light meal from the above pub with a drink before heading back to hotel to crash for the night.
No doubt Riga in Latvia will provide a few more cool moments.