After non stop travel we were looking forward to a ‘rest’ which means 8 days staying in the one spot. Estonia is very affordable compared to Sweden and Finland so we booked an apartment in the Old Town Tallinn and looked forward to the recharge. It didn’t exactly work out that way!
We chose the fast boat from Helsinki to Tallinn, it takes about an hour and 20 minutes. You don’t get assigned seats so it’s a mad dash once on board. We luckily got a booth right near the bar, only afterwards did I notice you face a 100 Euro fine if you eat anything not bought from the bar (yikes!). Luckily no one seemed to notice (or care maybe) the kids were eating bananas and biscuits not purchased from the bar.
We chose to walk from the boat to our apartment, about half of everyone on the boat chose to walk the 10 minutes into the city.
Very nice apartment, the manager gave us the apartment facing away from the street to avoid noise. It was missing one important thing though – hot water. On the second day we noticed there was nothing at all, spoke to the manager who took Rohan into the basement and said “ah do you know anything about this sort of stuff.” No luck there so she returns that night to say the council had shut off the hot water because of road works and wouldn’t be switching it on again for five days. Awesome!
I pack to leave, she returns telling the kids she had an amazing solution to the problem. The owner wanted to pay for us to attend a spa just around the corner which apparently had an amazing kids pool and “there isn’t much to see in Tallinn anyway, why not take the kids to the pool wear them out and then they’ll go straight to sleep.” She backs this up by buying the kids some chocolate to ensure she’s completely won them over. I pointed out that showering around the corner was really inconvenient let alone with 3 small children.
She gave us the option of a hotel room across the road (yep the building opposite had hot water!) but it would be a smaller room. We could have got a refund and booked another apartment but the thought of packing up again when we intended this trip to avoid that meant we stayed. The manager went into great detail about the amazing spa but left the part out that the showers are communal and it’s all about the nudity. Communal nude showers are awkward when you have inquisitive children with no awareness of how loud they are talking.
What we did
“Game of Flowers” Flower Show – Located near the Old Town Walls this was pretty interesting I thought and flowers for me aren’t usually that exciting. The underwater theme was particularly impressive and the kids loved all of it.
Getting my hair cut – Inspired by Rohan’s bravery at getting one in Poland I decided to be brave in Estonia. I’m sure both places do amazing haircuts but the prospect of a language barrier is a bit nerve racking when the person you can’t communicate with is holding scissors to your head. I googled beforehand and took the fact I could book the appointment in English as a good sign. I’m happy with the results and got to have a nice chat with an Estonian in the process.
Markets – Rohan had read about these markets just outside Old Town that give a “good insight into how the locals live.” It was interesting, not sure if it gave insight but what I did see was older Estonian women going nuts for cheap clothes, people appearing to negotiate very passionately over prices and towards the back of the market past the fruit and veggies we spotted quite a bit of nazi memorabilia. The last part aside, it was nice to be amongst the locals.
After the markets we found an industrial area with really awesome cafes for cheap prices. We picked one that had a playground and sat down for a relaxing lunch. Then Charlie busted his lip open and that fantasy was done. He was fine after a minute, Amelie was more hysterical at the sight of him. We dealt with Charlie and then tried to order food but the staff kept serving everyone else so we left and found a cafe called Frenchy that came with 2 French kids for our kids to play with. Perfect!
Kadriorg Park – Easily our favourite place in Tallin, so much to see and do. The playground was obviously the kids favourite, we weren’t so keen on the water feature which meant very wet and very sandy kids with no spare clothes. Kadriorg Palace and the Presidential Palace is within the Park, apparently the President is known for hanging out the front a lot but sadly we missed him on the day we went. We did meet some Australians from Brisbane though who couldn’t mistake Amelie’s accent.
Kumu Museum, also in Kadriog Park, is great but we were followed through the exhibits for a long time by some of the staff, which was weird and hilarious. My only thoughts are they were concerned about Rohan bashing the pram into the artwork, or his new haircut makes him look super dodgy. Most likely both.
Once we hit level 5, the contemporary section, there was a whole lot of completely unexpected R rated cartoon drawings which I had to divert Amelie out of before the inevitable awkward questions started. Level 1-4 were completely kid friendly and really interesting. Just if you happen to see the artist Marko Maettamm, a heads up maybe not one for the kiddies.
The Cathedral of Saint Mary – Beautiful inside and out, set on top of the hill overlooking Tallinn. It’s free to go inside but no photos allowed. Just near the Church there a few lookout spots to get an excellent view over Tallinn.
As we flew out of Tallinn I was sitting near a lady who was returning to the UK after visiting her parents in Tallinn. When I told her we were in Tallinn for a week she was shocked that we would spend so long there, saying that there isn’t much to do. Tallinn is beautiful and we never felt bored, I think it’s a shame the majority of tourists (from the cruise ships) only spend a day there. I think though the Industrial area with the cafes and galleries popping up shows that things are changing.
We flew back to London for a few days, took a train to Bristol and await the next adventure – Iceland!