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Tallinn #11

The lovely Vete Kitchen in Stockholm is a well-known cafe I was planning to visit but only passed by on my last day but I had a quick glance at those delicious-looking creamy cakes as I rushed back to grab my bags to catch the flight to Tallin.

I was sad to leave Stockholm, it really has a nice atmosphere even though there is so much construction going on, the tree-lined streets are clean and safe, there’s no homeless and everyone looks healthy, and many indeed look quite stylish. Arriving in shabby Tallin my heart sank, why did I want to come here? The hostel was so hard to find being in a precinct of buildings rather than at a street address. The receptionist covered in tattoos looked bored and there were laminates of ‘the rules’ on the counter, nothing charming or welcoming like my hostel in Stockholm with pastries on the counter and free tea and coffee. I hated the room, not like the website pics at all, and I just wanted to check out next morning. But strangely, next morning I bumped into two New Zealand travellers in their 40’s. Frank said he was pretty happy with the place compared some of the dives he’s been to, and the other, Ben agreed and suggested I give Tallin a chance, ‘it will grow on you’. Everywhere there’s hard-looking Russian guys with severe haircuts taking loudly. The other hostels are in the Old Town, Ben said to check them out but they’re all a bit run-down in comparison, and a quick look at Booking.com confirmed it with often-repeated comments about broken things and dirty facilities. At least this place was clean and modern if a little too functional
This morning I checked in for a 2.5 hour cycle tour, the sun came out and the Old Town started looking quite fascinating. Edmund, the young Russian guy taking our group spoke pidgin English with a heavy Russian accent, the others in our group were Dutch and Germans. Edmund tried but he didn’t know much about anything. I have met a few Estonians today and they were genuinely friendly and have the time to chat – they seem different. I found the local tea shop and bought some Assam and returned to my accommodation for a cuppa and a lie down. Only 5 days to go. The singing Festival is on Sunday, I’ll take the free walking tour tomorrow and next day I’ll get an electric bike to cruise to the old prison and the beach. During the commmunist era the Soviets killed a fifth of the Estonian population – I got a pic of myself by a statue of Stalin, now part of a sculpture garden. Estonia only became independent from Russian in 1992 but they still don’t feel entirely comfortable. The Old Town is actually quite incredible with surprisies down every little cobbled lane – it’s growing on me.

By Tony Richards

This is a travel journal for family and friends interested in my stories that I've continued as a general blog now I'm back at home. I chat about design, music, pastries, the people I meet, and new thoughts and ideas – I hope you'll tune in.

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