Monday, August 22, 2016

Rainy Day in Tallinn

I had heard from others that had taken this cruise that Tallinn was a disappointment, so I tried not to be too excited about it. But I was really excited to go here. In college I read a book called War in the Woods: Estonia's Struggle for Survival as part of a History of Civilization class. And I found Estonia's history really fascinating. When I first met Rob, he randomly owned a clock decorated with the Estonian flag,  a roommate had given to him, and he was interested in Estonia as well.  The city of Tallinn was founded in 1248 and was originally called Reval, but the earliest settlements in this place were about 5,000 years ago. Also, Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.

It was raining pretty hard when our ship arrived (and off and on throughout the day,) so we altered our original plan of walking and hailed a cab to take us to the furthest point we wanted to visit.  We then worked our way back throughout the day, visiting things on our way back to the port. Our first stop wasn't open yet, so we roamed around the block and saw the National Library.
And also this church.  It isn't noteworthy or historical, just a nice looking church.

In front of our first real stop, The Occupation Museum, stands a piece of the Berlin Wall.  Apparently it was gift from Germany about ten years ago... a sort of, "sorry about that whole occupying your country and then leaving you behind the Iron Curtain for nearly 50 years" gift.

Estonia has had it rough for the last 80 years.  In 1939 Stalin took control of Estonia as part of an agreement with Germany, who then in 1941 invaded Russia and said, "thanks for hanging on to Estonia for us, y'all."  When World War II ended, Estonia was re-occupied by the Soviets and was made part of the USSR. Fully a quarter of the population of Estonia died in World War II.  Through the 1950s the Forest Brothers (a band of resistance fighters) continued to fight against Soviet rule, expecting that at any moment the Western nations would come to their rescue.  But that never happened.  It wasn't until 1994 that Soviet troops finally left Estonia.

The Occupation Museum is small but interesting.  They also had hot chocolate for only a Euro, so our kids were happy there.  Amelie is standing in front of a boat used by refugees attempting to flee Soviet rule.  Between her and the boat is a Naval mine.  In addition to the frigid water temperatures, the Soviets used these to discourage people from leaving across the sea.

After the museum we headed into the Old Town. The first sight we came to was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.  This Russian Orthodox church was built around 1900, when Estonia was part of the Russian empire.

Charlotte posed like that, and then Jake and Amelie copied her.
St. Mary's Cathedral with the Estonian flag in the foreground.  St. Mary's was built by the Danes in the 13th Century.  It is the oldest church in Estonia, and was the only building to survive a 17th century fire in this area.

From the top of Toompea Hill, you can see our cruise ship.  
Also the highest steeple in this picture is St. Olaf's church.  It may have been older than St. Mary's originally but apparently the tower has been struck by lightning at least ten times, and the entire structure has burned down and been rebuilt three times throughout its history.

Toby near a little waterfall by the city walls.

Estonian wet hair selfie.

Charlotte is always cold, so a day in the drizzle was a little torturous for her.  She ended up buying a wool scarf as a souvenir.  (With polar bears on it.)

In the market square.  Mostly these were tourist stalls selling woolen items.  Along one side of the square though we found an Indian restaurant with a lunch special.  It was so good!  And the kids enjoyed eating naan bread and watching the tv.  It was a wonderful break from both the drizzle and  mediocre cruise ship food.

In front of the town hall.

On our way back to the ship we passed by a part of the city walls that could be climbed.  Rob and the boys went up to see the views while the girls and I shopped for souvenirs.

Toby patrols the perimeter.

Another one of Toby because he is such a cutie.

On the edge of town we stopped for a photo in front of Fat Margaret. All of the towers have names that sound funny to us, (Kiek in de Kök for another example,) but this one is named because the walls are up to 5 meters thick.  It was built in the 1500s.

So long Tallinn! We were not disappointed.  In fact, we kinda loved it, even with the drizzle all day. 

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

Walking along the wall! So cool! Didn't even know that was there! Love that you adventurous souls are not bothered by a little drizzle.

Those woollen stalls came in HANDY on the 39 degree day (in JUNE) we spent there. Ella is my little polar bear (impervious to cold), Annie was cozy in the ergo, but Kate was as miserable as Charlotte!