Yesterday I left Riga and caught the Luxexpress bus and sat in the back in “Lounge” class. Basically more legroom, only 3 seats in a row and all seats had seatback entertainment, so I watched a couple of movies on the 4 1/2 hr bus trip. I got out of the bus in Tallinn and there was a chill in the air. Brrrr.
Rather than be ripped off by a taxi, I decided to try and catch the tram. I managed to buy a three public transport ticket and caught the tram to the edge of the old town and walked to my apartment. I had a list of instructions to follow to get my keys, which was easy when I’m in the foyer and can see everything. I walked into the main square about 100m from my apartment and was blown away by how beautiful it was.
Today I headed out to explore the old town of Tallinn. It takes what Vilnius and Riga offered and just betters in in so many ways. I headed for the part of the old town known as Toompea hill. I walked past the wall and fortifications and came across the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. There were also a few tour groups here, unfortunately so I went in a different direction to them. I headed to the Piiskopi viewing platform and the view from there is great, but its looking away from the old town. I crossed over to the Kphtuotsa Viewing platform and it looks over the old town and has some great views, but was also packed. I had plans to come back after dinner, however the weather took a turn for the worse during the day so cancelled those plans.
The last viewing point at Patkuli, was by far the best from the Toompea hill area. Visible were turrets and the old wall plus the St Olaf’s Church with the spire reaching over 100m high. I also had read you could climb to the base of the spire at around 63m up for some great views. So I headed back down the side of Toompea, at this point it was more a cliff face than a hill.
I had to wait a few minutes for St. Olaf’s church to open and I paid my 3 euros to climb to the top of the tower. It went something like a tall spiral stair case, folloed by a straight staircase, foloowed by another spiral staircase and a traverse before the last spiral staircase to a wooden platform, just below the base of the spire. Somes wooden steps led the roof top and a narrow platform went all the way around the base of the spire. It was windy as anything and I can tell you I was shit scared. The views back to Toompea hill and Old town of Tallinn though were worth the money, the effort and the almost brown underwear.
I was wandering the streets and stumbled apon the old KGB jail which is now open as a museum as of just last year. The museum is quite small and took less than 30 minutes to go through and read everything. What I hadn’t realised is that the three Baltic states didn’t become part of the USSR until 1940, whereas the Caucasus countries were all post WWI. It probably explains why the three Baltic states were the first to leave the USSR in 1990. I have memories of this in high school and I remember asking a teacher about the chances of Ukraine and other Soviet republics leaving the USSR and she said, not likely. Of course a year later the rest of the Soviet republic s gained independence also and more recently there have been issues with the Russian majority areas in several of these countries, like Ukraine.
The skies were getting greyer and the wind was biting hard. Unlike in Kazbegi, Georgia, where I expected to be really cold and it wasn’t that cold, Tallinn today got really chilly due to the freezing winds. I had lunch and continued to wander until I needed a coffee break and headed back to the apartment to warm up a little.
Tomorrow I’m heading out of the centre of town to a park that my guide book and the tourist info office suggested. If I get time and the weather is nicer I’ll explore the town a bit more in the afternoon.