I haven’t been a very good tourist here in Tallinn, just kind of settling in quickly given my extended stay. I’m nearly 20 days in, and I’ve done a ton of walking around, but not a lot of going inside to see things. I can appreciate the reserved Estonian mentality, everyone keeping to himself/herself and more or less ignoring everyone else. Fitting just in, I’ve managed to go this entire time without having a conversation with anyone, despite everyone speaking good English.
That isn’t to so say people aren’t friendly. I’ve had nothing but positive interactions when I wander around from coffee shop to coffee shop. And I like that I can go into a store and look around without being bothered by a salesperson. What has been problematic is going grocery shopping, as I can’t read. I’ve been eating things with the same universal names, so basically I eat quinoa for every meal.
The cafe style here is similar to that of Iceland – coffee and pastries in the mornings, then alcohol later. But most of these cafes serve a limited menu of salads, soups, and then a few entrees. Due to this versatility, it’s basically how ALL of these shops do things. Every restaurant is a coffee shop, so I’ve got to work out which ones I can sit in for a while, and which ones are most of a restaurant-style.
Reval Cafe – This one is my go-to. They have several locations, good breakfasts, a vegetarian soup, and there’s usually plenty of space to sit around and hang out to do some work for a couple hours.
Caffeine – There are a few of these as well, the coffee is good, but there is limited seating. On the plus side, it’s the only place where you can sit down with a computer that’s just a coffee shop (no pressure to order food and such).
Must Puudel – I like going here because there is a lot of space, and they have the whole cafe + light lunch stuff going on. This place gets busy for dinner (and I hear at night too), and is overall a great place.
Kehrwieder – This coffee shop is also cool, and right near the square. Maybe I’ll try to get a picture of it next time.
But honestly, there are just too many to list, so I’m quitting there for now. But there are coffee shops in the malls and business district too with easy seating… so overall a good city to be in if you want to just jump from coffee shop to coffee shop to do some work.
So here are the highlights.
This is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. I don’t know anything about it, because the one time I started to do the free walking tour, I quit after 30 seconds because she said it would take 2 hours and it was cold out and none of the people in the tour looked cool.
This is another building. They have a lot of them, since this is a city. Many of the old ones have a similar style to this one, although they aren’t quite as cool.
And this is Toompea Hill, frequently lauded as the “best view in Tallinn”. It probably is, because there are a lot of people taking pictures here.
One day, I took a walk down to Kadriorg Park. It’s pretty big, and I would describe it as well-maintained. I have evidence of that here:
And this is Kadriorg Palace. In total “me” form, I did not go in it. But judging from experience, I bet it’s full of old furniture and portraits of dead people.
Then if you keep walking for a while, you get to the Japanese gardens. Here is what part of those look like.
And then if you keep walking even farther there’s a walkway along the sea. It’s one of the few places I saw people running. Why doesn’t anyone run here? My guess is because the people are just naturally attractive so they don’t need to bother with physical fitness.
In the other direction is Telliskivi Creative City, a little hipster paradise near the train station in Tallinn. And as annoying as that sounds, I’ll be the first to admit it’s pretty awesome. It’s basically just a bunch of run-down buildings and warehouses they decided to turn into a location for “creative” professionals.
There’s a ton of graffiti, if that’s something you’re into. Here’s a picture of a girl gazing at a wall.
And here’s the outside of one of those buildings in this section. Looks a bit boring and run-down, just like the rest of them.
But wait! Look inside! It’s the best place in the world!
It’s called F-Hoone, another one of those coffee shop/restaurant/bar places. Pretty quiet during the day, but again it gets busy around dinner. But I’m able to chill out in here and work, have some lunch, maybe some quail eggs, etc.
I walk through Old Town so much I actually didn’t take very many pictures of it. But here are a couple I guess.
It’s all cobblestone, so you’ve really got to pay attention or you’ll twist an ankle. I simply can’t believe part of this old town area has a hoppin’ club scene. The last thing I’d want to do is walk down these streets in heels.
This is Tallinn town hall in the main square. They’ve had things going on here a couple weekends. One was a Russian music festival. Another one was just a kind of open market.
Ok so yeah, didn’t take a lot of pictures of the old town. I’ll try to do better there next time.
But this is the National Library of Estonia. Which looks basically the same as the old soviet jails and some of the other old buildings. But it’s a nice library, and it’s just a couple blocks from where I’m staying (which was one of the reasons I picked it).
You might be wondering what kind of tourism they have here. Soviet gun tourism, of course. Look at all the types of things that you can shoot here!
Speaking of old soviet stuff, you could probably see it coming, but the hipsters are taking that over too. In this case, a gigantic Soviet Prison. So there’s a prison/beach/bar/food truck/DJ, which is a totally normal combination of things.
Here’s a better picture of the prison, DJ, and food truck. I don’t even think it was an event.
I’ve never invested much time in imagining what a run-down Soviet prison might look like, but if I had, it would probably pretty much be this. It’s called the Patarei sea-fortress prison (awesome). So here’s a couple pictures of an overgrown prison covered in graffiti.
The courtyard is actually quite nice.
So it’s pretty big and you actually can’t even go inside most of it. But here’s another picture of the outside.
The prison is right on the water, so you can wander back down into the old town along the coast.
Hmm, what else. They have a McDonald’s here, but I haven’t been there even once! No need to visit “the embassy” yet. They also have H&M. Besides those two, I don’t really recognize anything. Rye and pumpernickel bread are staples here, something Mom would have appreciated.
Also, I really like their flag.