Monday, July 11, 2005

Tallinn

In Eastern Europe at last. In some ways, it doesn't feel much different but in others it's very clear. One of those latter ways is probably just the Russian influence here and the slavic features in a lot of faces.

We spent two days in Tallin and it was a good introduction to the region for us as well as a needed chance to organize and actually plan ahead a little (something we hadn't been able to do up to this point).

The ferry from Stockholm arrived about 11, and after mastering the art of buying and using a phone card, we were off to our hotel. Danielle and Ryan had recommended it to us (much of our itinerary and lodging for the next few weeks will be based on their recommmendations and experiences here a month or so ago. Thanks again R&D!!!!) though they warned that the website made it look nicer than it was. No kidding. The website showed a fancily dressed doorman ushering you inside. Actually, the hotel itself is through a regular door off a grungy hall on the third floor of a soviet looking office building. Though once you get onto the floor it's clean and nice and our room is large and clean and very crisply Scandanavian looking. (Brian points out that instead of a doorman or porter bringing you to your room, we had the drunk Finn trying to get into our room for 10 minutes, convinced that it was his room despite the fact that the key didn't work and in the door said a different number than his key. Brian finally convinced him of his error and sent him toddling unsteadily back down the hall)

We spent the afternoon making a walking tour of Tallin's old town, evidently the most historically accurate medieval town in Northern Europe. We enjoyed exploring and really getting the feel of a medieval town. One of the things that helped that feel was the fact that most of the folks working in the service/tourist industry were dressed in various medieval/renaissance/old costumes. I couldn't decide it that was too precious and touristry or whether it was a nice touch. It had the most impact in the town hall square, where there was a bustling market set up, complete with old fashioned craftsmen (potters, fortune tellers, blacksmiths, etc) among the stalls for old-looking souvenirs. In the background there was live costumed folks singing. It definitley created an atmosphere.

For the rest of the time, however, we focused on planning our movements for the next two-three weeks, trying to make hotel and bus reservations and also updating the website. Hopefully that'll give you all a lot to read while we're off having all the fun.

2 comments:

Elaine said...

France -1960, we were staying in a hotel in Verdun, on the third floor. A drunk kept knocking at our door. We told him to move on. He proceeded to try and open the cage door to an open air elevator. Luckily it did not open or he would have gone down three flights the fast way. Instead, he stumbled his way down the circular stairs that wrapped around the elevator.

wadE said...

Chelle and I loved Tallinn. We weren't there very long, but the old town is fairly small, so we saw just about all we needed to see in that short time. We even hiked up to the top of St. Olav's Church (the giant steeple).

The old walls that are still up are amazing, with the raised wooden walkways on the inside where you can just imagine the guards patrolling hundreds of years ago.