Feb 2017 – Tallinn

Tallinn – Estonia (Feb 2017)

We are not great fans of the sun and heat, so Estonia in the middle of February sounded a good idea.

On most of our holidays we normally fly with KLM from Aberdeen via Schiphol, they are great.

This time, when booking the holiday on Expedia the option was SAS, flying via Copenhagen then on to Tallinn; we had never flown on SAS before, so we took it.

The flight was meant to leave Aberdeen on the Thursday morning at 9.45am. As we had no luggage to check in there was no rush, so we left the house at 7.00am.  On arrival at the airport we were told our flight had been cancelled and we had been moved to the 9.00am KLM flight to Amsterdam then onto LOT Polish Airlines bound for Tallinn.

The flight to Amsterdam was the usual KLM…excellent.

When we arrived at Schiphol we really struggled to find a desk that had even heard of LOT…this worried us a bit! However, we finally found the gate which was tucked away, quite literally at the end of the airport…talk about the “cheap seats”?!

The trip was fine, but during the flight we were only given a cup of coffee, food was extra! I was a bit miffed about this and was already drafting a complaint to SAS for fobbing us off on a budget airline. Little did I know that we were in fact upgraded on the KLM flight out of Aberdeen as SAS charge for food as well!   Oops…delete letter of complaint.

One of the things we love about travelling abroad is using public transport. Unlike in Aberdeen and around the Shire, it is usually frequent, reliable and inexpensive – why can’t we learn from this?

Before we leave on holiday I research the area, print out the transport maps and plan our bus/trams to the hotel.

Therefore on arrival in Tallinn, as we didn’t have to wait for baggage, we went straight to the number 2 bus stop…immediately on leaving the terminal it hit us – it was freezing. Seriously cold. We were expecting it to be a bit nippy, but this was something else…it was great!

We had to change buses to get to the hotel, but we spotted a supermarket so nipped in for some supplies to take along with us. I suggested we just walk the rest of the way, but I cocked up reading the map and it turned out to be MUCH further than I thought!

We arrived at Hotel St. Barbara around 8.00pm, the hotel was nice, nothing fancy just a nice clean room and bed, with a gloriously heated bathroom floor.

We went straight to bed and slept through till 8.00am.

 

The next morning we went down for the buffet breakfast, the meatballs were something of a surprise but when in Rome…….

After such a hearty breakfast, we walked into the Old Town, it was COLD but crisp and super dry.

My Aberdeen winter hat just wasn’t fit for purpose.

Got a cracking bargain on a Tallinn-proof hat.

Next we stopped at Maiasmokk Kohvik tea room, it was lovely. One of the good things about visiting a cold climate is that it provides regular excuses for pit-stops, so we exploited that to the fullest.

We tend to walk miles on our holidays, this time I thought my feet were a bit chilly, it was only then I realised my boots had actually burst.

Carol had (panic) read a few reviews on the vegetarian restaurants. As a country with a predominantly meat based diet she’d been a bit apprehensive about what would be available on menus that would be suitable for her hippy-dippy requirements, the Von Krahli Theatre was excellent!

That night we went downstairs to the bar for a few beers, there were heaps to choose from.

The weather the next day was milder, only -1c, but you actually noticed the difference. It felt positively balmy.

Having reviewed TripAdvisor, we decided to try one of the “must dos” when in Tallinn, Ill Draakon

It gets great reviews, but we thought it was a dump!!!

We both had a tea, served in big clay mugs with chips all round the rim. When Carol asked if it was just loose tea in the cups, the woman told her, “yes, it’s the old traditional way, they won’t kill you”. Old traditional way…as she filled the cups from the state of the art stainless steel urn

We found, as with most tourist centres, if you shop or eat in or around the Old Town square, be prepared to pay for it (Café Vana Toomas).  But go a couple of streets back and the food is better and the price is much more reasonable. (Kompressor)

Took the bus out to the Outdoor Museum.

As it was off peak, most of the houses were closed, but the price was the same, we didn’t get the reduced rate?

However, it’s a great place to wander around. The staff we spoke to in the houses were very friendly and informative with one chap making us a cup of traditional chicory-based coffee. A great concept for a museum, offering an immediate historical experience.

Visited the Telecom TV Tower.

It was ok, but nothing too special.

€10 each to get in, not sure if it was worth that! Unfortunately the restaurant at the top, which we had hoped to eat in was closed for refurbishment, so we left hungry and a bit disappointed!

Last day, we caught the number 4 tram, then the number 2 bus to the airport.

We arrived in plenty of time, the airport was nice and we just sat and relaxed and gave our feet a rest!!

The flight to Copenhagen was ok, the planes were very small! (City-hoppers)

Less than an hour in Copenhagen airport, which is just as well as the place is EXPENSIVE! But at least now I can add Denmark to countries I’ve been in – almost catching up with Mrs M!

 

Pros

Hotel St. Barbara

Uhiskaart travel card

Maiasmokk Café

Von Krahli Theatre

Kompressor

Outdoor Museum

 

Cons

Ill Draakon

Telecom TV Tower

Café Vana Toomas

 

Tallinn is a fascinating, vibrant city to visit where old and new sit side by side in perfect harmony. The people are well-mannered and helpful and if you like wandering about taking in the local atmosphere this is the place to see. If you have more time to spare make a point of visiting the National Library and Art Gallery, it’s excellent but when we visited we were pushed for time and didn’t get a proper look around. Avoid the Russian Market which was slightly scarey and the only time we felt like vulnerable tourists. Be prepared for the Helga’s serving at the counter to scream loudly if you attempt to take any photographs!

Otherwise – enjoy the ice sculptures, the disco music from the open air ice-rink and the quaint cobbled streets and architecture of this beautiful Baltic city.

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