Tallinn was founded on June 7, 1238, by the Teutonic Knights who were looking for a bit of respite from the Crusades, for cripes’ sake! What can you really say about that? It’s a bit different than cruising in the good ol’ US of A where a ship captain’s house from the 1800s is, like, wicked old. Except for the sea wall. Interlocking concrete stones are pretty new.
Love the cobbles. And the graffiti. And the authenticity of the place. Sure it’s got its tourist appeal, but like Visby—one of the other walled cities we visited during the ARC Baltic—on the Swedish island of Gotland, it’s also got real people who live and work and do politics—NATO, Euro, EU democracy, 18 months of maternity leave, etc.—there too.
Tallinn, like many cities in Europe has a main square where people have hung out and traded and been pilloried for centuries. And these also make for great places to have outdoor cafes—and bike tour meet-ups. And it’s also on a hill. Interesting.
Here’s a fine little fixer-upper in the lower part of the old city. This was to be my first introduction to the utterly captivating decay that can be found in some parts of former communist (willing or not) republics. If these walls could breathe… I think they’d have emphysema.
No self-respecting walled “old city” can function without narrow, cobblestone streets, thick stone walls, and multiple “observation towers” that provided an effective defense for only a brief moment in time.
And then there’s this utterly crazy “observation tower” that greeted us upon our arrival in the marina. Is it really any different than the ivy-covered tower that is still guarding the main entrance to Tallinn? Umm, no, except for the orange paint and the communist-era “design.”
And speaking of “design.” What can you say about this “Spa Hotel” near the marina? Um, nothing, except………blech. Talk about kooky communist architecture. I’m still scratching my head a bit about this one. It’s like a spaceship went all loony tunes in a concrete factory.
But enough about all the tourist stuff. When is comes to cruising, the customs man always holds a weird and wonderful power of the rubber stamp. These Estonian “Politsei” were nice enough, but they were not going to let us out until they’d checked us out. And they only had one stamp, so we queued up for the privilege of departing Estonian waters with smiles on our faces and plenty of photos and video in our own personal “clouds.”