"In the bleak midwinter ..." Top 5 Page for this destination Tallinn by CatherineReichardt
Tallinn Travel Guide: 1,786 reviews and 4,814 photos
In case you're wondering about the title, it is taken from my favourite Christmas carol ('In the Bleak Midwinter): a melody that was running through my mind for our entire time in Tallinn. And, although, "in the bleak midwinter, frosty winds may moan", I'm delighted to report that - despite the weather - you can still have a cracking great time in Tallinn!
Our Christmas gift from my family was that they would babysit for four days whilst we scampered off for a ‘parents only’ long weekend in Tallinn. We adored Latvia and Lithuania when we visited in 2005, but didn’t have enough time to make it to Estonia, so this is both a chance for us to revel in some Ostalgia and a chance to ‘reccy’ Estonia for potential future forays in that region (a future Estonia/Helsinki/St Petersburg trip has a very attractive ring to it!).
Tallinn must be the ultimate 'city break' destination as it is compact, enchanting and affordable. Even though we went with high hopes (and well prepared based on antistar's tremendous Tallinn page), the city exceeded even our lofty expectations and proved to be a gem of a Hanseatic city that well deserves its status as one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2011. There had been snow storms in the week before we arrived, so the city was blanketed in snow and festooned with icicles which made it look particularly festive. One could question the wisdom of visiting a Baltic city in winter (although so long as it’s not raining, it’s probably one of the most atmospheric times to visit) since the warmest it got over the entire four days was -8˚C - at night, it was closer to -20˚C - but we had decided that it was preferable to be warm nerds than cool frozen people (not sure that this was ever an option for us anyway!), and went kitted out in ski attire!
Like other countries in the former Eastern Bloc, the juxtaposing of Estonia’s proud and independent history with the trauma that they experienced under occupation in the 20th century is poignant, and I am still struggling to get my head around the fact that a third of the entire population turned out at the annual singing festival as an act of defiance against Soviet rule the year before Estonia finally achieved independence to celebrate their Estonian heritage.
We found Tallinn to be an intriguing between mercantile seriousness and eccentricity. We were charmed by posters of storks bearing Euro coins (Estonia proudly joins the Euro zone on 1 January 2011, arguably at a time when other members are debating the value of being part of the common currency), bamboozled by the Greek Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Three Hands (understandably, only a very small building) and enchanted by a quirky exhibition of folk art forged entirely out of gingerbread which is sponsored annually by a local cake manufacturer! And you've got to love a city that gives the towers along the city walls people's names!
Despite the sub zero temperatures, my husband was in his element clambering over a vintage ice breaker and a submarine at the Maritime Museum, and we celebrated meeting travelchili with a jolly evening at the brilliant Olde Hansa medieval restaurant.
Quite simply a magical few days, and a brilliant Christmas present – thanks sis!
- Pros:The perfect 'city break' destination - reminiscent of Prague before the tourists took over!
- Cons:Could be miserable in rain, and treacherous for those of limited mobility in icy weather, so plan accordingly
- In a nutshell:Tallinn has it all - what are you waiting for?
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CatherineReichardt's Related Pages
Tallinn Travel Guide
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