Photos from Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is a peaceful city, or at least the old town seems so. There are plenty of tourists and activities, but the cobbles and focus on tourism mean there are few vehicles allowed in the old part, and strolling round it is a pleasure. After North America, where architecture is certainly newer, and often mostly functional, these old buildings, alleyways and characterful stoneworks are a lovely change.

Have some photos, so I can share it with you. Walking around is a pleasure. Though it is also the Black Nights Film Festival, and I have been indoors, taking full advantage of that.

Viru Gate, Tallinn
Viru Gate, Tallinn.
Cobbled street and market stalls
Cobbled street and market stalls.
Tallinn Old Town
Tallinn Old Town. Many of the businesses play up to the medieval aspect.
Cobbled streets
Cobbled streets.
Freedom square
Freedom square.

Christmas market

Restaurant in an alleyway
Restaurant in an alleyway.
Tourists on a cobbled street
Tourists on a cobbled street.
View from the old city wall
View from the old city wall.
View from Hellemann Tower and old city wall
View from Hellemann Tower and old city wall.

For 3 euros – which is just about the right price (my ticket said 4, so perhaps that’s the peak season price) – you can climb some steps up to the old city wall, and then some further ones to the top of the Hellemann tower. The views are pretty good, but there isn’t much else to it.

View from Hellemann Tower
View from Hellemann Tower.

There is a door in front of this grid, at the top of the tower. It opens, if you want a clearer photo.

Estonia, proudly flying their own flag and that of the EU
Estonia, proudly flying their own flag and that of the EU. And why wouldn’t you? Oh.

Seeing countries flying the EU flag is tinged with sadness (or blind fury and argumentation) for a Brit, at the mo. Paying in Euros is also tinged with sadness, though mostly of the “crikey, how much is that today?!?” variety.

Tallinn old town
Tallinn old town.
Another part of the city walls
Another part of the city walls.
Hungarian embassy and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Hungarian embassy and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

But which films did you see? I know you want to know:

  • The Favourite.
  • The Nagano Tapes.
  • Anote’s Ark.
  • Island of the Hungry Ghosts.
  • Social Animals.

Ferry, Stockholm to Turku on the Baltic Princess (Silja line)

Ferry journeys to Finland are great. Inexpensive, and known for their party-friendly overnight timings, but with inexpensive cabins in case you want to ignore all that and sleep through. I did, and booked into a shared cabin for €24. The cheapest are around €20, which perhaps are more likely to be grabbed by the partiers. But even then, if they are out all night, they’ll hardly disturb you. The ferry left promptly at 19:30, turfing us out of cabins at 6:30, ready to dock at 7. I had a slight shock at that, as Finland is an hour ahead – beware, one hour fewer than you may be ready for.

Stockholm City hall, from the water
Stockholm City hall, from the water.
Waiting room, ferry. Ships are 'fartygen'
Waiting room, ferry. Ships are ‘fartygen’.

Check in is straightforward, and the whole process uses digital technology for convenience. You can go to one of the windows, shown in the window above. But you can use technology. There is a bank of machines, and a quick scan of the QR code sent via email will check you in and give you a boarding pass. In Finland I caught two trains, this ferry and went to an ice hockey match and museum, only needing paper for the museum and ferry, and even then those pieces of paper were scanned by machines. There are still plenty of staff standing around to help, or just to greet you, spared scanning duties.

4 person cabin
4 person cabin – only two of us in there, it was still cosy.

There is nothing behind the curtains in this cheap cabin, but they do the job of making it look like there is more to the place than there really is.

Boarding pass and key
Boarding pass, wifi code and cabin key.

I clicked the link in the email I received on booking, and that sent me to a webpage with the QR code on. Nothing I couldn’t have got from the email itself, but using the webpage version to check in meant I got further info. As soon as I had checked in, the page updated, telling me my cabin number (also on the boarding pass), its location and other info. That page then updated itself as the journey progressed, giving directions to town as the boat docked.

Silja line booking information, updated on check-in
Once checked in, the webpage updates to show boarding time, cabin number and so on.
Docking in Turku
Docking in Turku.

We docked in the dark. Buses were available right outside to take people into town. Passengers disappeared as I got my bearings, choosing to walk into Turku. It’s about 3km, through a quiet park and along quiet streets.

Turku in early morning light
Turku in early morning light. I walked there, so you could get there in the dark on the bus.

Not believing everything could be on time, I had booked the 1pm train, so had time to pass in Turku. I walked along the riverfront for a while, then headed for the public library. It’s a good place to pass some time, and even has some English-language books (graphic novels, at any rate). Turku itself has everything you need and is an easy place to stroll around. It was a little cold to explore too much, but I still enjoyed my view of the place.

Graffito with name of the city, Turku
Turku graffito
Turku public library
Turku public library.

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