I can’t spend my whole time in Europe hanging out with a pretty girl in Riga (as fun as that sounds), so today I headed off to the ancient city of Tallinn, Estonia. It promised all sorts of history and fun stuff to see, and it delivered in spades. In return, I acted like a drunken idiot.
I hopped on an Ecolines bus (just 16 Euro Spacebux) and it was an easy, comfortable trip. The outskirts of Riga are sparse and depressing, looking straight out the Cold War era, but soon give way to pretty farms and dense forests. While the ride between Latvia and Estonia isn’t the most incredible journey of all time, it’s certainly pleasant.
And it would’ve been a lot more pleasant if the angry Latvian dude in the seat next to me didn’t keep shouting sweet nothings at me while I tried to sleep. I don’t know what he was saying, but from the way his eyes were spinning in his skull and he kept balling his hands into fists, I’m guessing he wasn’t asking me out for coffee and croissants.
The bus dropped me off a couple of kilometres from my ultimate destination of Tallinn’s Old Town, and so my first impression of the city wasn’t the best – endless cement buildings stood sternly by as I trundled along to my hostel. Things improved as I made my way through the wide, open spaces of Freedom Square, and then I was overwhelmed as I stepped into the Old Town proper.
There are castles and churches and steeples and weird little buildings everywhere, meaning that stepping into Tallinn’s Old Town is like stepping into a time machine (although, if I actually did have a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and ride a dinosaur). There’s so much to see and it’s all so well preserved that it’s easy to spend hours just swaggering down alleyways and finding out what’s around the next corner.
Unlike Riga’s Old Town, which feels like a functioning part of the actual city, Tallinn’s version feels more like a tourist attraction, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are olde timey stores, historical music, and all sorts of idiots hanging out in flowing dresses and bonnets and shit like that. It gives a good impression of what this place was like before the Nazis and the Russkis got their hands on it. It’s such an inspirational city that I actually acted very sensibly, by which I mean I got drunk in front of ancient buildings:
and had a threesome with some sexy statues:
On first impressions, Tallinn reminds me of a much bigger, much busier version of Carcassonne, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. It’s bloody cold and the streets are confusing, but it has a good feel to it and I look forward to checking it out in more depth tomorrow.
Beer of the day:
It’s actually pretty tough to find a shop selling cans of beer in Tallinn’s Old Town, but I’m a survivor, and found a few cans of something called A. Le Coq Alexander (literally, Alexander Juice). It was cold and wet and alcoholic, but the taste was on holidays. Perhaps they should try getting the juice from someone other than Alex next time.
Kebab of the day:
I had a rough time locating a kebabery, too, but I’m happy to say that the mission was worth it. It takes a lot to surprise me, but my first kebab in Estonia did just that. Its unusual presentation and unexpected mix of ingredients and spices left a last impression every bit as awe-inspiring as Tallinn’s famous walled city. I bought it from a place called Grill Stop, it came with no wrap, but plenty of succulent meat, and it was awesome.