Psssttt… We have a secret to tell you. A secret that all of Europe won’t share with you. This is an amazing secret. This about a hidden gem, which goes by the name of Tallinn, Estonia.
Arriving in the most calm and tranquil airport, where everything runs smoothly, we made our way to town and what would be a sensational 4-day stay at the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel. The Old Town was constructed during the medieval times. And the view from our room looked out to this magical, medieval wonderland. Fitted with limestone castles, cobblestone walkways and spiraling church steeples, Tallinn is picturesque and postcard ready in so many ways.
Walking through lined archways of limestone, flower stalls, rugged pathways, everywhere you look a pub or candlelit shop lies before you, which seems to have the majestic motioning of a finger inviting you in. But then you get distracted by the sudden smell of cinnamon where a young lady is selling warm nuts in a full on, hair-braided, long skirt getup. There is so much wonderful happening, how do you begin? That was our introduction to this splendid city.
After a trying few months in some serious warm weather and dense populations, our arrival to the city of Tallinn was like a warm hug. Settling into our hotel where the staff and people were so welcoming, we figured this city was too good to be true. How can one place ooze so much charm, yet so few know to enjoy it? Sure, the cruise ships dock at the port and let out a handful of tourists who are determined to jam in a day's worth of sightseeing in 3 hours, but luckily for us, we had four days to bask in this awesome part of the world.
Our first full day of touring the city found us hoofing it up what seemed like enough steps to get to the top of Jack’s Beanstalk at the church of St. Olaf’s – a 12th century masterpiece. Come to find out it’s only like 250 steps, but we swear the narrowness and two-lane foot traffic makes you think it’s triple that. But it’s great preparation for when at the top. Amongst epic views of the city, you have maybe two feet of real estate to maneuver, as the steeple engulfs most of the area. Putting the tall in Tallin, St. Olaf’s is the tallest building in the city and rules have been implemented so that nothing can be built taller. Pretty cool for a building that’s also withstood several lightning strikes, not to mention a war or few. Rounding out the day we wandered back through St. Catherine’s passage and Master’s Courtyard, two of the more historic walk streets in Tallinn.
Of course we were parched and found a subtle doorway that opened into an enchanting courtyard garden. It was maybe five minutes in before we began mingling with the owners who were super cool, groovy and offered hours of interesting conversation. We should also note that in the summer, it doesn’t get dark until close to midnight, and even then it becomes more of a dusk. So when you’re out, the concept of time vanishes and what you think is an hour turns out to be around four, which is what happened to us at this place where a quick afternoon snack easily turned into evening drinks.
You can’t be in a medieval city and not expect to be amongst ghosts and spirits. Naturally we let our curiosity escape to a haunted tour that took us around the Old Town during which we heard several stories of mysterious deaths and folklore about the streets and buildings that still occupy part of the medieval center. It was fascinating and is the kind of stuff you just can’t get back home. At the end to calm our nerves, although it wasn’t all that scary ‘cause we’re tough like that, we were treated to probably the finest hot chocolate on the planet. Imagine the best chocolate bar you’ve ever had mixed with some Tinker Bell pixie dust to enhance the flavor, then put it in liquid form. We know, right!?! That recipe must be stuff of legend, too.
We were fortunate enough that our hotel provided an escape to have drinks by the fire or on their rooftop terrace known as Lounge 24, which offered unparalleled panoramic views of this gorgeous city. That presented the perfect sanctuary to strategize our future plans and on our last we day we strolled through the grounds and gardens of Kadriorg Park and the Presidential Palace – we must add, painted a lovely shade of pink. We were also able to check out the beach at Pirita, which even in mid-July, was much too chilly for us to take a dip. Maybe next time.
Those were some of the fastest four days of our entire trip. When it came time to leave we almost threw a similar tantrum to that of a child when their toys are getting taken away. This warm embrace had come full circle. We can’t recommend visiting Tallinn enough, but just remember, it’s our little secret. Shhhh…