Why I Fell in Love with Tallinn, Estonia
I have a passion for traveling, photography, eating, and cruising. Imagine how happy it made me when all my passions are combined; I feel like I have hit the jackpot! This most recently happened, to my surprise, when my Norwegian Baltic Capitals cruise pulled into the port of Tallinn, Estonia.
I would be lying if I said I had heard of Tallinn; it was foreign rolling off my tongue. I did not know one single person who had ever been to Estonia. My friend, Jo, and I traveled together on a cruise, which had a packed itinerary for large European cities.
On our trip, we visited St. Petersburg, Berlin, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. We were so tired from traveling and unfamiliar with Estonia, that we almost stayed on the boat to do nothing. At the last minute, we found a walking and food tour that caught our interest, so we booked it and left the comfort of our boat. I am so grateful for that tour because I fell in love with Tallinn.
The Gorgeous Town of Tallinn
Tallinn is a proud and gorgeous country that has been claimed by many other countries. It only became independent in the year 1991. Jo and I left the boat and began our walk to the center of town to meet up for our tour, Food Sightseeing Estonia.
Walking on the cobblestone streets around the quaint Old Town felt magical; interesting and ancient buildings with bright orange roofs toppled over the people and us. The crowds were laughing and happy. We passed by trendy boutiques and haute couture clothing and handbag stores, as well as the cheesy tourist traps that sold reputable souvenirs.
I loved that people gathered, with no sense of purpose, simply appreciating being outdoors, wandering the twisty streets, enjoying coffee at little outdoor cafes, or catching up with friends.
Tallinn’s people were polished and sharp dressed, very metropolitan for what I would have expected in an “Old Town”. Cafe workers dressed in vintage clothing embraced their heritage and stood proudly as they ushered guests into Estonian restaurants and pulled them to their fragrant almond kiosks. Shop workers invited visitors to partake in their local traditions, such as having a shot of Pepper Schnapps (I do not recommend) as if we were old friends.
Bottom line, I felt wanted in this town and like my visiting meant something to the town and its people, and it felt good.
Super Fun Food and Walking Tour
Our excursion through Food Sightseeing Estonia, took us on a 3-hour gastronomic foodie tour of the city. One of our stops featured tomato chutney and black bread which was filled with nuts and raisins.
At other locations, we sampled pumpkin soup with giant pepitas, and kama, a local drink that was creamy and interesting. We explored the Viru Gates, Town Hall Square, and ancient churches. We climbed to a rooftop for panoramic photos of the splendid city.
Tallinn’s architecture is amazing and you will not want to miss the dozens of photo ops at every twist and turn. Catherine’s Alley was a great place to stroll and watch the artisans painting pictures and selling their wares.
The tour concluded with a visit to an old pharmacy, where it is rumored that marzipan was invented. At the Luscher and Matiesen Wine Museum, the shopkeeper shared local lore and tragedies, healthy snacks, and unpleasant local wines. Even though we did not care for the wine, we still gave the tour the thumbs up.
Tallinn is regarded as the medieval pearl of Europe. After spending the day in Tallinn, I can say I fell in love with this country and its culture. I hope to return there again some day. In fact, I loved it so much that I must continue exploring all these Baltic States that might offer a bit of the same fascination. Next on my agenda will be Lithuania and Latvia.
Cool Info: It is rumored that Peter the Great fell in love with Tallinn and had St. Petersburg not already been under construction, he would have chosen Tallinn to place his empire instead.
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