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All Aboard (for Tallinn)

I must admit I was a bit nervous about the boat ride from Helsinki, Finland, to Tallinn, Estonia. My recent history on boats has not been too promising (it included puking over the side of a sailboat in Boston Harbor). After reading that the Baltic Sea can be rough I had to weigh options:

1 – Take a small catamaran that makes the journey in 1.5 hours, ensuring a shorter ride

2 – Take a larger ferry that makes the journey in 2 hours. Yes, I would spend more time on the boat, but the larger vessel, I hoped, would rock less.

I opted for option 2 and was glad I did. More than a ferry, this was what I would consider a ferry. There were 9 decks. We had a cabin  with bed, desk, private bathroom, and a large porthole. There was even a whole deck dedicated to shopping.

Despite the size of the ship, I was feeling the motion…a lot. But a patch my doctor prescribed, plus keeping ourselves busy walking around the ship helped me make it through until we docked in Tallinn…safely.

We walked to our hotel, which was smack dab in the heart of Old Town (inside the old medieval walls). The building was hundreds of years old, but remodeled a year ago. During the remodel, they discovered old wells and changed their plans slightly to maintain them (lighting them and providing glass floors).

The city was just beautiful. The weather mostly cooperated, with abundant clouds but some spectacular bursts of sunshine. The medieval layout of the town provided a labrynthe of interesting paths to follow, each one more fascinating than the past. The city it reminded me of most was Prague, which was definitely more polished.

But also more crowded.

Tallinn, like Prague a few years ago, has apparently become a popular place for the Finnish and British to go to get drunk. Liquor is definitely cheaper than in Helsinki (and England), but the streets felt deserted at night so I’m not sure where they all go. We did stumble upon the DM bar…a bar devoted to all things Depeche Mode. Seriously, the only music they play is Depeche Mode, there are Depeche Mode videos on screens, Depeche Mode posters on the walls, and even a Depeche Mode pinball machine. I love quirky things.

We spent our three days there climbing various hills and towers, eating delicious food, and, on the last day, visiting the Kumu Art Museum. We took a hilarious, bare-bones, Soviet-era tram to get there, then walked past the Presidential Palace (a rather accessible place where Randy just walked onto the lawn toward the driveway and took photos of some big-wigs exited a limo amid armed security.

Anyway, the 500,000 square foot museum was quite good, filled with great Estonian art. Much of it was surprisingly sexual in nature (because of being repressed under Soviet rule until 1991?). Images of women with their legs open seemed to “welcome” us at every corner.

There was also a fascinating exhibit about the role of women in during Communism and a section of interesting propaganda posters from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Unfortunately, it felt as soon as we’d arrived it was time to head to the airport for our flight to Belgium on Estonian Air. Sigh. All good things must come to an end.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Zach on September 30, 2010 7:12 pm

    This place sounds great. Why don’t they have Depeche Mode themed bars here too?

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