Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn was great. I had never even heard of it before my gig on the Voyager. Its picturesque medieval charm took me completely surprise. It was also interesting to learn a bit of the history of this part of the world which I had only a vague understanding of until my visit.

Below is the travelogue email I sent home.

Tallinn, Estonia is a storybook town where 13th and 14th century church spires dominate the cityscape and medieval walls with turreted towers still surround the Old Town. Strolling the winding cobblestone streets I felt quite certain that a Hans Christian Anderson character might pop out of an alley at any moment. Yet despite its old world charm, my first impressions of Tallinn were that of a very progressive city. Just two minutes off the shuttle bus from the cruise terminal I saw a gay couple walking hand in hand down the street. Also, a couple of blocks inside the medieval city walls a rainbow flag could be seen waving outside a local bar.

Having gained its independence from the former Soviet Union 15 years ago, I found it ironic how like an adolescent Estonia is trying out different personalities in a search for its own modern identity. This was particularly evident in the names of some the businesses in town. For example, a pub called "Olde Hansa" is so named to honor Tallinn's past while down the street is a "British Pub" advertising Tennessee Whisky. Around the corner from there is the Arizona Grill which is across the square from Molly Malone's. There is even a store called "Hoochi Mama", clearly targeting a certain clientele.

The pictures below are: The rainbow flag outside a local bar, a street where one of the many medieval church spires can be seen, two of those Hans Christian Andersen characters I mentioned (I believe one of these is the boy who cried wolf), The 19c. Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevski (a somewhat ostentatious and unwelcome reminder to Estonians of their Russian past), The Cathedral of Saint Mary's (the oldest church in Tallinn) and finally, one of the gates of the medieval town wall.

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