Friday, October 16, 2009
tallinn - day 4
Tallinn has a magical light.
The first day we were there it was cloudy and a bit rainy so I didn't notice it. We stayed at the Baltic Imperial (very convenient location, nice room, good breakfast and not as expensive as it would be expected) and were quickly in the center of Old Town. I have to say we played the 100% tourist route this time and didn't leave Old Town to explore the rest of the city. That's because we didn't have much time (just 2 days in all) and Old Town, despite being so touristic, is quite charming on its own.
at the Baltic Imperial hotel
We mainly walked during the whole day, stopping to check the crafts and artisans' shops, and sitting in several of the best cafés I've ever seen. Also, I couldn't stop photographing the doors ...
After taking the requisite tour of the main square we decided to go up to Toompea Hill.
We peeked at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the (remains of the) castle.
We stopped by Helena Tilk's shop and the crafty Bogapott
Rainy days are good for shopping and I had a whole list of places to stop by. Also, I did my research and knew exactly where to go for the best hot chocolate in town.
So we headed to Pierre Chocolaterie, located in a quiet little courtyard off Vene and treated ourselves to this ...
The café itself is cozy and quite quirky (as most in Tallinn, actually) and this was definitely one of my favorites.
After that we stopped at St. Catherine’s Passage (Katariina käik) where there was a celebration going on inside the church. We sneaked in and found out it was a celebration in honor of the first day of school.
This passage connects Vene and Müürivahe streets and it's lined with crafty shops. I was tempted by beautiful patchwork quilts in one of them, and leather bound journals in the one next door but managed to resist temptation.
However, when reaching Müürivahe and looking at all those woolen knits for sale at the stalls near the city wall I couldn't help myself. Estonia has a great tradition in knitting, of course. I'd heard of the famous Estonian lace but I'm (still) not that much into lace so decided on some of the traditional mittens, scarves and hats for gifts and a few for myself.
Not sure when I'm likely to wear this (certainly it's never cold enough in Lisbon) but we're planning a trip to Lapland soon so this might come in handy.
For lunch we went to Vanaema Juures (Grandma's place), which serves traditional Estonian food. It was ok, but not the best we had in Estonia.
Next we visited the Town Hall pharmacy, one of the oldest still functioning in Europe
We also went to the Tallinn Flower Festival that was being held outside the Old Town's walls.
The afternoon was spent shopping. Naturally I had to buy some yarn, but that deserves a separate post. Besides some fabulous yarn shops, Tallinn has a lot of other crafty shops, especially regarding amber and linen. I love linen, and couldn't resist a few small items, but my favorite items were the wooden handmade sheep we bought from a souvenir shop in Pik Jaalg. We found these in a few of the shops and at this particular shop the owner was quite friendly and explained to us that they only sell handmade items from Estonian artisans (she even showed us where they were from on a map she had displayed). These sheep are made by a young artisan called Vello Kaasen and we got a couple of the smaller ones.
We badly needed a cup of tea so we stopped by Tristan & Isold, located just beneath the church arcade, and sat for a while, watching the people go by in the main square. The weather was starting to get better and the sun was coming out, so when we it was dusk the light was indeed magical like I said.
That night we had dinner at Olde Hansa, which is probably the most touristic spot in town, but also a very fun experience and we couldn't help ourselves.
Since it was only the two of us we couldn't order any of the feasts on the menu, but ended up eating way too much anyway. The food is good actually, but the atmosphere is what makes this special.
the main square at night
The next morning the city was awash in sunlight, and since we had missed the viewpoints overlooking the city the day before, we went back up to Toompea for a second view. It's actually easily reached by going up the staircase next to our hotel and I'm glad we did it since the views are spectacular.
And on the main square there was a market going on ...
After that we went to pick up our rental car and drove to Riga, which was another nice surprise.
Vanaema Juures (Grandma's Place), Rataskaevu 10/12
Olde Hansa, Vana Turg 1
The Pierre Chocolaterie, Vene 6
More photos at Flickr