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Baltic 3 – Estonia

Flag of EstonianJuly 30, 2013: Tallinn, Estonia

We spent one full day at sea in route from Germany to Estonia. If I had to pick just one of the six ports we visited in which to spend a summer week, I think it would be Tallinn. Though we spent our time in Old Town Tallinn, the city is modern and progressive, its people are friendly and it is of a manageable size. It has been called a “hidden gem” on the Baltic, and I believe it.

Baltic 2013: Part three of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

Our tour guide, Julia (pronounced Yulia), met us at the pier in a large comfortable bus. There were 31 of us aboard, but she explained that we would meet another tour guide at “the top of the hill” (the beginning of our walking tour) and split into two groups. Alla Tours’ policy is to keep tour groups to a maximum of 16 persons.

We stuck with Julia. Joann claims I have “a type” and that Julia is that type: perky–by which she means “has a perky personality.” But isn’t “energetic, friendly, intelligent with a lively sense of humor” everyone’s type? Julia had all of these attributes. Mostly, though, she laughed at my jokes. So of course I was sweet on her. Joann liked her too.

Click here to view photo albumBut my real sweetheart on this day, as always, was Joann. She’s a perky type, too. Moreover, she carried a backpack containing everything we needed, including a light, folding three-legged stool from REI that she deployed for my use every time we stopped for more than a few minutes. I surely could not have done the three-hour walking tour without her. Nor would I have wanted to do so.

Our walking tour commenced at Tallinn’s highest point, in front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. I knew of Alexander Nevsky from a favorite piece of music, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky Suite, but didn’t know much about him. Turns out he’s a big Russian hero and a saint in the Russian Orthodox church. Estonia was a part of greater Russia from the time of Peter the Great (ending its time as a part of the Swedish Empire) until it became an independent country in 1918. Of course, it quickly became a quasi-independent part of the Soviet Union. Finally, it gained full independence in 1989 (its “Singing Revolution” was a peaceful one). The Nevsky Cathedral highlights its deep Russian roots.

Skype logo.The medieval walls and towers of Tallinn, we were told, are some of the best preserved in Europe. They certainly are impressive. The cobblestone streets do not date from the medieval period, but they are old and feel older. Building after building, as Julia pointed out, dated from the 15th or 16th century and earlier.

After we reached the bottom of the hill that marks the extent of Old Town, Julia left us to our own devices. We could have spent the next three hours exploring on our own, but we were content to have lunch (at Kaljas Restoran), do a little shopping, and catch a bus back to our ship. I was gassed, but not as gassed as I thought I might be after all the walking. While Joann met up with our friends Tom and Lisa to enjoy some shipboard entertainment, I turned in early with a Nook to rest up for our upcoming two-day visit to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Baltic 2013: Part three of six
  1-Denmark  2-Germany  3-Estonia  4-Russia  5-Finland  6-Sweden 

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