Having arrived from Riga by train, we soon found our impressive Airbnb that was right on Town Hall Square in the Old Town.
As well as a splendid view of the town hall & square from our window, we were also directly above a brightly decorated Christmas Tree.
We had arrived on Russian Orthodox Epiphany Day and this meant that all the Christmas decorations were still up despite it being mid-January.
Tallinn Old Town Tour
We had booked into a free tour leaving from just off Town Hall Square. These are a great concept. If you like the tour and/or guide you give a reasonable donation and if you don’t enjoy it or are impoverished, you pay nothing. Simple.
Our guide was an Icelandic chap called Jonas and he was excellent throughout, extremely knowledgeable and a good smattering of humour along the way.
A potted history of Estonia started us off. A tale of occupation by the Danes, Russians, Nazis & Soviets and independence from 1991.
Old Town Tallinn is a very pretty place with its cobbled streets, well-preserved walls & towers and interesting architecture.
We snaked up to the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, castle and Parliament building set high up on a hill. A couple of viewing points offered a great panorama out over the spires & rooftops towards the Baltic Sea, a ferry bound for Helsinki pulling out into open waters.
Thomas (Toomas) had won an archery challenge several centuries before in which he managed to hit a replica parrot perched on the same roof where his likeness now stood, saved in perpetuity (apart from when he had been split in two on one occasion by a lightning strike and another when he had succumbed to general wear & tear).
Thomas became one of the guardians of Tallinn and legend has it that whilst patrolling the old town he gave the local children sweets.
The original figurine dated from 1530, but the present incumbent is in fact the third edition and was erected in 1996.
All in all well worth a €10 donation each.
After lunch we set-off to tour the lower old town that we had yet to see. We took in more of the impressive walls and towers and some wonderful brightly decorated historical buildings, most especially in Long Street (Pikk tanav), which is where the iconic House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is situated.
Tallinn – Strolling, Eating & Drinking
Tallinn is perfect for strolling. There is picturesque architecture everywhere and very nice shops in which to browse. These included an ancient apothecary that still acts as a pharmacy today.
Thankfully remedies nowadays do not include sun-dried dog faeces, scorched hedgehog or dried deer penises as they used to medieval times!
Some of the window displays were also pretty bizarre.
There are also a plethora of cosy coffee shops with warming fires and tempting cakes.
Restaurant wise we went to the same place both nights – Von Krahli Aed at Rataskaevu 8 just off Old Town Square. The food was delicious, the waiting guys extremely friendly and the ambience pleasant and relaxing. After the first night’s experience we figured we couldn’t do better, so booked again.
If you are a fan of Depeche Mode (as Mrs Wilbur & I definitely are), you must visit DM Baar, which is situated downstairs in the cellar of a building just off the square.
They only play music from one band – Basildon’s finest of course. Thankfully Depeche have been around since the early ’80s and are still going strong, meaning that there is an extensive music catalogue to get through.
Finally, on the flight home on the excellent Air Baltic plane, we followed a very nice sunset as we journeyed west.