Wednesday 19 August Tallinn (Estonia)

Last night, we thoroughly enjoyed the BBQ and the crew singing and entertaining us, with the passengers singing along and dancing to all the old favourites. The chefs had gone to a lot of trouble again to prepare ornate dishes, including a peacock made from fruit and also another croquenbush for dessert.
During the night the Captain has sailed from Riga in Latvia to Tallin in Estonia through the Muhu Sound (Moon Sound) – the inside passage between Muhu Island and mainland Estonia. The strait is very narrow, the waters were shallow and a rare experience for us as the strait has been closed to foreigners for 50 years.
We woke this morning after a good night’s sleep – apart from a couple of nights early in this second cruise, we have been sleeping well and the rolling/pitching of the ship out in open waters, which has occurred occasionally, has not caused any issues. It is once again sunny and expected temperature of 23°.
We arrived in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia set on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Tallinn was named the European Capital of Culture in 2011 by the European Union, and its Old Town has achieved World Heritage status. The Olympics were held in Tallinn in 1980. Our guide told us that the main source of income for Estonia is Electronics, especially software programming.
We were taken on a guided tour of Tallin’s city walls and fortifications, the narrow medieval streets and the gateways, which remain remarkably well preserved. We drove past the “Fat Margaret Tower” and through the City Centre, where there were many modern buildings, old buildings being renovated, department stores, offices and hotels. We drove past Freedom Square with the Freedom Monument, which is a glass structure.
We drove around the outskirts of the Old Town up to Toompea Hill. We got out of the bus and walked past Toompea Castle, which was built in the 9th Century and today is the home of the Houses of Parliament of Estonia. The National Flag is hoisted on the Tall Herman Tower every day to celebrate the independence of Estonia.
We visited the Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral where we were allowed to go inside the church, along with hundreds of other people (there are three huge cruise ships in port with us this morning). The Cathedral was built in the 19th Century and the interior was quite ornate.
We walked on large uneven cobblestones to the oldest church in Tallinn, St Mary’s Church, which is called the Dome Church and was built in 1233, but some of the church burnt down and was reconstructed in 1684 and the Tower was rebuilt in 1779. We were taken on a tour of the inside of the church and were allowed to take photos. On the walls, there were wooden Coats of Arms from the families who lived in Tallinn and we saw the organ from the 19th century, the Altar from the end of 17 century with carvings and a new painting of Jesus, and the Pulpit, which was Baroque style.
Just a short walk from the Dome Church and we were standing on the top of the Old Town Wall, where we got an amazing view out over the red terracotta rooftops of the lower Old Town and the scene was punctuated by turrets, the spires from many churches and onion domes. We could also see the city centre and out to the harbour area.
We walked down the oldest street, referred to as Long Leg Street, into Shortleg Street where St Nicholas’ Church, which is a medieval former church, dedicated to the fishermen and sailors and is now used as an Art Museum. We then turned back into Long Leg Street and out into a small square, with the oldest running pharmacy (Apothek) in Europe, dating back to 1422. It is not only the oldest commercial enterprise but is also the oldest medical business in Tallinn.
We were then given some free time to wander around the cobblestoned streets, visiting a few shops and met up with the rest of our group at the Old Town’s Outer Gate Towers.
We found it interesting that public transport in Tallinn is free and that all schooling, including university, is also free – children attend school from 7 years old for 12 years.
Our walking tour this morning took us through a lot of narrow cobblestone streets with interesting buildings with a lot of character. The city and the old town were clean but crowded with sightseers, both local and international. Tallinn is nowhere near as opulent at Riga but considering that this country has been occupied by so many different nations, now that Estonia has become an Independent Nation, it has retained its unique identity.
We arrived aback at the ship for lunch and then spent the afternoon sorting photos, doing our blog, going to a lecture about St Petersburg and having a lovely dinner with Tony and Carol.
A lovely day in Tallinn!!

6 Responses to “Wednesday 19 August Tallinn (Estonia)”

  1. Maria Hughes says:

    Would have loved to have a wander inside the Apothek – how amazing to be so old. Love from us all here xoxo

  2. sandy says:

    Yes it is amazing to be so old! Love from us to all of you. xoxo

  3. Janet says:

    Wow, the photos of Tallinn are so different to my photos from our choir tour, where everything was covered in snow. I didn’t recognise a lot of it coz my memories are so different. But when I saw the first photo pop up of the Outer Gate Towers, I straight away remembered that we had a group photo there. It’s funny how places can be so different in different seasons!

  4. Gail Rounsefell says:

    Really enjoying following your trip and the photos are great.

  5. sandy says:

    We knew you would like the photos of Tallinn to compare to your Choral Tour ones. I am interested to see what you think of the Helsinki ones when I can get them onto the internet! 🙂

  6. sandy says:

    Thanks Gail. I have been enjoying following your travels too! 🙂

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