After Munich, on to a new country. I go to Estonia to try something entirely different in a Baltic state and it starts with Tallinn, the capital.
Why Estonia, a country located right next to Russia? Because it is my kind of destination. It has a rich history, a unique culture and it is well out of the typical tourist circuit.
Estonia spent much of the 20th century occupied: first by Soviet Russia, then by the Nazis, and again by the Soviets. It stubbornly preserved its traditions and has emerged as a modern European Union member since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989-91. It even offers e-residency to people who want to run their businesses with local bank accounts.
May 8 to May 10: medieval Tallinn
The best way to describe Tallinn is a well preserved city that was especially strong in medieval times. It was a part of the Hanseatic League, acting as trading and entrepreneurial pole. Its historical sites are almost intact, having mostly evaded the bombings that marked the Second World War.
In terms of sights, this city feels very medieval, with cobblestoned streets, pastel colours everywhere and old defensive walls that made it a bit of a fortress.
I also loved the foodie scene. Everything is cheap in Estonia, except food. A meal will cost you €15, which is as much as a bus or train ticket between two cities.
However, the country is shedding the “pork and potatoes” tradition to adopt varied, high quality and tasty modern food. You don’t just find exceptional coffee and craft beer almost anywhere, but what one could describe as “designer plates” that are as fun to photograph as to eat.
For those who are into the countryside, the city brings it to you. A few minutes away from the midtown, you can check out an open air museum. It is basically a reconstruction of a rural/fishing village that gives you a clear idea of what a Estonian peasant’s life used to be. Not very glamorous, but authentic.
Coming to Tallinn at this time of the year is a bit challenging when you travel, though. The temperature when I was there was sunny, but at best 4 degrees Celsius! No snow and no humidity, but the air was chilly. Welcome to the North of Europe, I guess!
Thankfully, there were plenty of places to stop by for tea, a beer or coffee between sites. The hostel staff was also very friendly, helpful and chatty with guests, making the stay pleasant. People are shy at first, but break the ice and they quickly open up.
Talling also has its share of young, urban workers from international background. A decent place to live in, it seems.