Medieval Tourist Tallinn

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
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Trip End Sep 30, 2010


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Where I stayed
GIDIC Hostel

Flag of Estonia  ,
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tallinn is a city of ghosts. Although I think that is more a comment on Estonian beliefs than the city itself, but there are legends about every single building and tower in town. The most haunted is the virgins tower, used for locking up (prepare to gasp in horror) promiscuous women. Anyone attempting to stay overnight in the tower is apparently reduced to a gibbering wreck... those ghosts evidently have a lot of revenge left in their system. The tower is now locked and boarded up and no, we didn't see the ghosts.
The old town is very medieval themed, mostly because of the old buildings and city walls, but also partly because of the sheer number of Estonians dressed in medieval costume trying to flog anything from medieval beer to medieval postcards to a skinny soy latte. Well, whatever marketing works I guess.

Tallinn also seems to be a city struggling with the balance of old and new. The old town has a new square and monument celebrating Estonian independence complete with brand new underground carpark. During construction, parts of the city defensive wall were discovered. Frustrated that they could not legally destroy them (hey, they are probably only 500 years old or so) the car park was built around them.

We joined a guided tour of the system of defensive tunnels that snake their way under the city. Originally built for secretly moving troops around in the event of a siege, the tunnels have also been used as a prison, bomb shelter, Soviet bunker, studio for anti Soviet punk rock jam sessions and most recently as shelter to homeless people.

Tallinn is surrounded by wooded parks (I would say leafy, but the trees still haven't grown summer leaves yet). We visited the ruins of St Brigids monastery with its enormous Cathedral as well as Kadriorg park, with the Russian palace built by the Tsar for his wife, Catherine I. (Nothing quite like a whopping great pink palace to say happy anniversary).

Not yet having had enough of local buses in Estonia, or lack thereof, we decided to try and daytrip to Lahemaa National Park. 50km from Tallinn - can't be that hard, surely? Ha. All I can say is that it was lucky that the national park was full of stunning scenery - boulder filled bays in the Baltic sea, forested islands and peaceful spruce forest. Our day started at 4am when we got up to catch the one daily bus to the town of Vosu - 'National Park' here seems to equate roughly to 'large areas of farmland and villages, with the occasional stretch of protected forest.' Not quite able to face a hike, we instead went for a 20km meander around a forested peninsular where in 8 hours we saw about 3 people and a dog. The return bus ride took 3 hours and 2 buses (a  speedy average of roughly 16km per hour).




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