Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Scandinavia 2008 - Tallinn, Estonia

(+59° 26' 58.53", +24° 45' 46.38")
I had never thought to visit Estonia but I thought it was cool that we were. Tallinn’s claim to fame is how preserved of an old city it has; and even though it was our last city we visited it is true that it impressed us with how medieval it looked. Since we didn’t have anywhere in particular to see we started out trying to do the walking tour but that quickly just gave way to us riding around on our bikes.
We started at the city wall. There was really no escaping riding on cobblestone here so instead we tried to choose our path to the smoothest possible cobblestone. This path led us up the the high city. It was beautiful. We were able to ride around deserted streets since it was still early morning. It was like we had the whole town to ourselves. Of course we had not out-paced the tour groups by much and soon we were surrounded.
We went into the “Old church” and like many churches it has a sign for no photos and to be silent. There were tour groups in there and it was obvious that the tourists didn’t care they were in a church because they were snapping away with flash pictures and talking loudly. I was about to tell someone off but the tour guide beat me to it. That lasted about 30 seconds before people were taking pictures again. We left quickly trying to get away from the tour groups.
We went into the Russian cathedral. There was a service going on so a small group was huddled on one side chanting and singing. There were also bee’s wax candles everywhere that were lit adding a smell somewhere between honey and incense. L. bought and lit a candle (4 Kroon ~ $0.40) for her grandmother who she had just found out was getting a stint in her heart that day.
From there we rode the the Parliament building and castle (One building) It was funny to see how they had just glommed on extra building to the castle as they needed more space. For how official of a building it was I like how hodge-podge it looked.
We rode back down into the lower town and decided on lunch at Olde Hansa, a German medieval building in the middle of town. The food was delicious but it took forever. After waiting an hour the waitress warned us that the desert took some time. We didn’t want to be the rude Americans but after signaling for our check and waiting a half hour we went inside and paid for food so we could leave. I would have like to stay but the deadline of the cruise ship put us under a deadline or we would end up buying a plain ticket back to Dover.
Part of the city wall was used to sell woven clothes. It is known as sweater wall, and looked just like a Renaissance Faire except these people were not dressed in costumes. We also visited a pharmacy that has been in operation since the 1300’s. They had shelves full of old remedies. I can only wonder what current medicine will look like in a few hundred years.
When we headed back to the dock we took a different way with me thinking that it would save time. As it turns out it put us on the wrong side of the dock. With all the other cruise ships hiding ours it gave us a skip that ours had already left. Our bikes came in very handy once we saw our ship. Otherwise we would have had a lot of running to do to get to the other side of the dock in time, As it was it was just a normal bike ride that gave us plenty of time to spare.

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