Scene one: Early spring. Carcassonne, France.
A couple of alcoholics wanted to find a cognac in the supermarkets of the city of Carcassonne. They were nearly dead after a whole day of storming the ruins of the Cathar castle, Peyrepertuse, in the mountains of Pyrinees. Cold and tired, they needed medicinal help—a good French cognac. The first supermarket. There was no cognac. The second—also none. “Darling, are you sure we are in France, the only country where cognac is produced?”
The third supermarket. There were a couple of kinds of cognac, but they were cheap and unknown. The alcoholics bought one and tried it. Bad idea. The cognac was awful. How is it possible not to find a good cognac in France?!
Scene two: Autumn. Tallinn, Estonia.
The same two alcoholics (my wife and I) wanted to buy some fruit and cheese in Tallinn’s supermarket. Supermarkets in Estonia are almost the same as in France, but with one big difference—they have dozens of kinds of cognac on their shelves. In that moment, these travel bloggers/alcoholics recalled how they searched unsuccessfully for a cognac in Carcassonne, France. It seems as if France exports all its cognac.
Scene three: Summer. Tallinn, Estonia.
This time in Tallinn, the two fitness enthusiasts/hikers/alcoholics/travel bloggers decided to explore not the old town of one of the Baltic capitals, Tallinn, as they usually did, but rather, some interesting places around it. For example, one day they had breakfast and went out to explore Tallinn’s new promenade along the Baltic Sea. The promenade starts from the monument of RUSALKA.
The stony mermaid stands on the shore of the Baltic Sea. This is the monument to navy men who died as a result of the sinking of the Russian battleship RUSALKA (Mermaid) in 1893. All 177 members of the crew perished when the ship was caught in a storm after leaving the port of Reval (the old name of Tallinn).
It is four kilometers from this place to Pirita Rand, Tallinn’s famous beach with golden sand and pines.
When the fitness enthusiasts reached the first marina of Pirita, they could hardly walk. Did they need their traditional medicinal aid? Yes, but not a cognac, because it was +26 and there was not a tree to be found in the two-hour trip from the monument to the marina. They needed Prosecco.
Prosecco is a light sparkling wine manufactured only in one province of Italy, Veneto, and only from the one variety of grape, Prosecco. Irina (one of the alcoholics) first tried Prosecco during our staying in Venice for the carnival, and fell in love with it (the wine, that is). Since that time, she drinks only Prosecco whichever country she is in.
To be precise, she tries to drink it everywhere, but she is not always successful. For example, it is very hard to find Prosecco in France or Spain. Can you imagine our astonishment when we found that every cafe, restaurant, or even museum in Tallinn had Prosecco?
A tiny wine shop/cafe/hostel in the marina of Pirita had Prosecco as well. We fortified ourselves with a glass of Prosecco each and went to explore the ruins of Birgitta Convent nearby. Two hours later we need fortification again. We entered the nearest cafe and asked with trepidation, did they have Prosecco? Yes, they did. God bless Estonia and the Estonians. They knew we were on a diet.
Yes, in Tallinn, we invented and tested a new diet for overweight people:
Breakfast: plenty of salmon (salted salmon is wonderful here), greens, and black coffee without sugar.
The rest of the day: only Prosecco and fruit.
Results? The lady lost 700 grams after the week in Tallinn and was happy with it. The gentleman did not lose anything and also was happy with it.
Then there was a long way back (5 km again) and a big bottle of Prosecco with plenty of fruit for recovery at home. With some variations, every day of our stay in Tallinn was very similar to the first one, but we were able to change our route and turn to a museum, for example, to the Palace of Ekaterina I in the park of Kadriorg in the historical district of Tallinn. Emperor Peter the Great built this palace for his second wife, Catherine. Since those times, many members of the royal family of Romanov stayed there in the summer.
Today this is a museum of arts, and it has a tiny cafe with—you guessed it—Prosecco. How wonderful it was to sit there alone (ordinary tourists don’t know this place) in the air-conditioned coolness and relax with a glass of Prosecco. You will ask: did we visit that palace every day? Yes, almost every day, but we have been to the halls of the museum only once. The rest of the time we spent in the cafe.
In summer heat, the best thing you can do is go to the sea. Right? But when you’re a little over 40, you start to understand that the Baltic Sea has become a bit more attractive than the Mediterranean or China seas. This time, our choice fell on Tallinn. It is not the fact that in summer in Estonia you will be lucky enough with the weather for swimming in the sea, but we were ready just to enjoy some walks along the yellow-white beaches of Estonia with their fine sand.
For daily walks along the sea we changed our rule of living in the old center of Tallinn and chose a hotel in the coastal area near the Kadriorg and Pirita. Hotel Euroopa is located opposite the passenger terminal of the port of Tallinn. It was very convenient for us. Half an hour walk to the old center of the Estonian capital in one direction and the same amount of walking to the Mermaid in the opposite direction. A new seaside promenade, which leads to the most popular beach in Tallinn, the Pirita beach, begins in 15 minutes of walking from the hotel.
Of course, you can assume that the Baltic Sea is not the best place for a summer vacation. I’m not even going to try to change your mind. The fewer vacationers that come here, the more comfortable it will be for those who came, sailed, or flew to this awesome Baltic capital.
Yes, in summer it’s possible to sunbathe and swim in Estonia, and simultaneously strengthen your health. Small and cozy resorts are located along the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Pine forests on dry sand dunes and the fresh sea air create a special healing microclimate. Of course, the Estonian summer is unpredictable, but I assure you it is as charming on a sunny day as it is in bad weather.
To those of you who will follow us and go to the Baltic Sea for vacation, we would advise you not to trust weather forecasts. The average depth at Pirita beach is only 1,35 meters. People say that due to the shallowness of the water in this part of the Baltic Sea, the water warms up quickly, and in July it reaches temperatures of 20-24°C. Do not believe it. The absolute maximum temperature of the water was recorded in Pirita in 2011 and it was only 19,9°C, while the minimum was 13°C. So the average temperature of the water in the middle of the swimming season is near 16°C. We took our bathing suits with us, just in case, but did not dare to use them.
So, even if you don’t stay in Tallinn Old Town (it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), but choose the coastal areas like Pirita and Kadriorg with its palace of Catherine I of Russia, your excursion program will not be in vain.
The palace in the style of northern baroque built by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I is small, but it’s worth visiting. Restored rooms remember the beginning of the 18th century, the last king of Russia and the first all-Russian emperor, balls, and formal dinners. There are some interesting paintings on the walls. The daughters of Emperor Nicholas I, Maria and Olga, whose huge portraits adorn the walls of the palace, are just beautiful.
Kadriorg Park was developed under the influence of the traditions of the Russian royal court, and today it is one of the most prestigious districts of Tallinn. The residence of the president of Estonia is located near the former royal residence, the Catherine Palace.
It is four kilometers from here to Pirita beach. The concentration of glamorous ladies here reaches its maximum in summer season. Blond, slender, smiling Estonian girls are very good! Add thousands of people to these beauties, and it turns out that finding free space here is becoming a challenge on a hot summer day.
Near the magnificent sandy beach surrounded by pine trees, you will find the St. Bridget’s Convent ruins. Two kilometers of walking and you will reach the Tallinn TV Tower with a restaurant at the top, and Tallinn Botanical Garden at the bottom. The staff of the hotel recommended us to make a night tour of the Botanical Garden during the summer blooming of roses, but after 15-20 km of walking every day we did not have a strength for such a feat.
I assure you, there is something interesting going on in Tallinn every day: the nautical days, gastronomic festival, beer fair, or medieval weekend in the Old Town. As Estonians say: in our small country, you will find adventure on land and on the water, and even underground (there are Bastion Catacombs under the Old Town which were built by the Swedish king in the 1600s).
Tallinn has one more beautiful and romantic thing: sea cruises. The Baltic Sea is very calm. There are few strong currents here, and storms are rare. There is almost no pitching, therefore even those travelers most sensitive to seasickness can afford a sea voyage.
We were glad to find Tallinn, our favorite seaside city, comfortable as always for living and vacationing. Estonians are flawless in serving guests. They speak several languages, and here you can always count on the highest level of service.
We invite you to Tallinn, one of our favorite capitals on the Baltic Sea!
You will not be disappointed.