People say, “Never come back to the places where you were happy”. I think it does not always that way. We were waiting for this visit to Tallinn for many years and it was not in vain.
The city is the same good and it feels even just you leave the airport: this ravishing, salty marine air – the Baltic. The chain of taxi, ceremoniously waiting for each turn, a short ride to the Tallinn’s Old Town; so much glass and concrete raised in here, but still, the pure blood of the city is shown, it is the real European.
Both of us have been to Tallinn before, in the childhood during the Soviet occupation, but now many years after we came here together, in first time. It was so nice to see Tallinn again, to evaluate the city with an adult eye, to get sure that our feelings were so true during all these years. The city is still filled with the fresh baking flavour, and they serve several sorts of local herbal liqueur Vana Tallinn.
When you are going to write a new story, you always plan to give a maximum of practical information, but the emotions always make their own allowances.
This time we were living in the “Barons” hotel only a few steps from the Town Hall Square; this is a pedestrian zone, and the famous Tallinn restaurant called Olde Hansa is located across the street. From time to time Irina is trying to persuade herself for the reasonably priced vacation and rest, but it doesn’t work out well for now. She likes to live inside the antiquity, rather than nearby. Our window overlooks the side of the Town Hall Square, but seems she like it.
The building of the hotel Barons belongs to the beginning of the previous century. The elevator of 1903 is sure enough upgraded, but it operates properly and the spirit of the place is definitely kept. It is always nice to stay in such places. Do you know how am I going to characterize Tallinn? The city of all ages lovers and at the same time the city of the cruel invasions of hordes of Scandinavian teenagers. Yep, it is between these two extremes.
It’s impossible to perform a night photo-shoot without people in Tallinn. Don’t hope to leave your window open for the night if you live near Town Hall! Our “Ваrons” kindly proposed ear plugs to all the guests. It was really hard to get asleep in the close neighbourhood to the central square until three o’clock in the night.
Frankly speaking, these Scandinavian boys and girls are not that violent, but they are always smashed and yelling; and “Ваrons” is located between the two streets full of night bars. These descendants of the glorious Vikings do not take off hotels; they arrive on the afternoon, hell around the whole night and finally load onto the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki.
I was impressed with the operation of the janitors. We came outside when it was 7 o’clock in the morning and the cleanest Tallinn was ready to please the newcomers’ eyes with its beauty. Just for the comparison: early in the morning, the Gothic quarter of Barcelona greets you with the used syringes, broken glass and some other attributes of the nightlife.
There was no special excursion program. Both of us have been to Tallinn before, so we were just wondering around the historic Old Town, excited with the recognized places.
We climbed to Toompea, took a look to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral…
Welcoming old Tallinn is always eager to propose a cup of good coffee and a tasty pastry; every foodie may gladden themselves in the city. We did not go to the famous Olde Hansa as we have chosen the similar restaurant called Peppersack. There is a big sack hanging above the entrance; however, the restaurant was named in honour of the founder.
Waiters in medieval costumes, styled dishes and furniture, home brew with honey; even we have drunk half-liter every one. We ordered a dish for two Pikemen`s feast. This is a smoked pork leg with beery sauerkraut, dill pickle, pumpkin, oven-baked potatoes, mustard and radish sauce. Recommended wine is Gabriel Meffre La Chasse Cotes du Rhone. I wish there were four of us; it was huge and extremely tasty, we gorged ourselves.
But Goodwin Steak House on the Viru street has become our favorite one. The chief is a real ace, he cooks perfect steaks; I said to the waiter, “Just yesterday we have returned from Provence, France (probably, our unexpected impressions from the cuisine of Provence will be interesting to everyone), and finally, for the first time in ten days we have such a great cuisine.”
The only essential point of our program of the visit to Tallinn was the Broken Line Memorial near Fat Margaret tower, and, may be, to take a dip in the Baltic. We slowly came to the Broken Line. There were a guy and a girl sitting right at the monument.
“Where are you from?”
“Do you know what it is?”
“Yes. It is a grave of the ship, which carried away lives of 852 people! It is a shame you make to sit here and eat!”
They left. The girl emotionally explained of their conduct, but I was not listening. Probably, this plate should be put on all sides of the Memorial.
Irina continues the story.
The tragedy with the ferry “Estonia” shocked the whole Northern Europe. We also had a personal reason to visit the Memorial, and I guess Victor emotionally prepared himself for this meeting.
I stood behind a bit, but I saw a frail old man with a newspaper in his hands, which came up to the monument right before Victor. And I thought he will disturb us, but he unfolded the newspaper and got a small white rose. He put it at the very edge of the granite and sat nearby. And now I felt that we disturbed him.
Victor called me below one’s breath, “I found,” and told looking at the old man, “Why did not we bring a glass of vodka or a piece of bread?”
Victor’s son-in-law served and died at this ship.
We left, and the old man still sat at the edge of the cold granite.
On the next morning, we came back to the Memorial and put our two white roses next to the rose of that old man.
Old Town is amazing. You should definitely visit Tallinn if you wish to get acquainted with this unique city. Tallinn is like a gentle Livonian knight: proud and beautiful, and the citizens are very hospitable.
We only failed to swim in the Baltic. Although the water seemed warm by the touch, we never dared to go into. There were no other volunteers on the beach as well. Victor commented the situation, “Today was the especially hot and crowded day at the Laulasmaa beach near Tallinn”. :-)