It’s my second day here in Estonia, and I still like the city a lot. I still consider Stockholm to be my favourite city so far, but Tallinn is pretty charming as well! There are less tourists here, but unfortunately there are still Americans who in their twangy accent asked “So there are no Starbucks around here???” to a local girl who wanted to sell them some decent coffee. (I also managed to find the McDonald’s in the Old Town – no, I didn’t eat there!) 😛
Well, my day started by getting up really early at 6.00am, because it was very bright already – I then went back to bed and ended up getting up at 9.00am. I then had breakfast and had a walk to Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) and went inside the Town Hall to learn about the history of the city. I managed to find Vana Toomas (Old Thomas), “a 16-century weather vane in the form of a stout, spear-wielding sentry”, that was described in my guide book. Afterwards I walked to Toompea, the upper-hill part of Tallinn and went up to Kiek in de Kök – despite the funny name, it means “Look into the Kitchen” in Low German. Kiek in de Kök is a mediaeval tower that was used to watch and guard Toompea. It is quite bizarre as well to see an old lady guarding each floor in the tower, just listening to a radio, doing a Sudoku, or just staring into empty spaces. It felt like a remnant from the Soviet era! I also walked through the Maidens Tower and then over to Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, and even watched a Russian Orthodox wedding!
At 2.00pm, I met my friend in front of the Parliament House, who then invited me to walk inside the Estonian Parliament House along with him! He belongs to one of the political party in Estonia so he has access to the building. I still had to go through security and metal detector to get in – it felt quite surreal to have coffee in the cafetaria where the politicians usually have their meal. A place that’s usually off-limits to tourists! They’re currently having their summer break so the place is deserted – I did meet the Secretary General of his party and even watched him being interviewed afterwards.
After the Parliament House, we went to the Occupation Museum to see how life was under the Soviet rule. Pretty basic and pretty grim indeed. After collecting the car, I then met his wife and son at their apartment. From there, we went to see the Open Air Museum which is located to the west of the city. It’s similar to the Norsk Folkmuseum in Oslo or Skansen in Stockholm, where tourists can see historic buildings from all over Estonia that were replanted in the museum ground. It was pretty interesting to compare the buildings that I saw with those that I observed in Sweden. I also got to taste Hop Cake at the canteen there!
Leaving the Open Air Museum, we drove along and passed Paldiski, an area full of Soviet-era buildings and decays, on to Tuula, outside a town called Keila, to meet my friend’s in-laws. I had my first real Estonian dinner, with home-made apple juice, barbeque chicken with blackcurrant sauce, and I even ate Kilu – their salted fish! (Raw?). The meal and the company were great – I even had homemade Pear Cake for dessert. He then also drove around to show me some parts of northern Tallinn that were full of crime and decay – well, such areas exist in every city, don’t they? It is still sad though to see folks milling around with Vodka in their hands …
One last remark before I close off — my friend’s son thinks that I’m a ‘Red Indian’ (Indiaanlana) since he thinks that Indonesian and Indian are the same. Hahahaha. 😀 It’s probably appropriate for the look that I had after I drank the wine that was served!! Hahahaha.
Time to go to bed now and face my last full-day in Tallinn …
PS: Mark, I haven’t had dijon sandwich here so you won! Haha. As for Aussies, the Estonians regard Australia as somewhere very exotic and Aussies very well. I wear my Kiwi All Blacks’ polo today though – good disguise! 😀