"In the bleak midwinter ..." Top 5 Page for this destination Tallinn by CatherineReichardt
Tallinn Travel Guide: 1,967 reviews and 5,481 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?
St Olaf's church must have been the first sight that Hanseatic merchants spotted on the skyline on their approach to... more travel advice
I know that run the risk of provoking the ire of all patriotic Estonians, but despite its noble history and powerful... more travel advice
- See All Guidance on church photography: Homer's...
- Clean, comfortable and well located
- Karaoke in Estonian (or was that...
CatherineReichardt's Related Pages
Tallinn Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "A medieval marvel"
- "Shades of Grey"
- "Tallinn - A Great Mixture of the Old and the New"
- "Tallinn - medieval spirit city"
- "In the bleak midwinter ..."
- "Towers and tiles and spires and cobbles."
- "TALLINN ESTONIA"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Tallinn
- Hotels in Tallinn
- Transportation in Tallinn
- Nightlife in Tallinn
- Restaurants in Tallinn
- Shopping in Tallinn
- Warnings and Dangers in Tallinn
- See All...
Badges & Stats in Tallinn
- 41 Reviews
- 71 Photos
- 8 Forum posts
- 13 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (140)
Have you been to Tallinn?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Tallinn
- Posted in Travel Uganda Forum "Re: safety in Kampala under the..."
- Commented on one of CatherineReichardt's Tallinn travel pages
- updated a Tallinn Travel Page "In the bleak midwinter ..."
- Uploaded a Photo to "In the bleak midwinter ..."
- Wrote a Review Guidance on church photography: Homer's Rules in Tallinn Warnings and Dangers
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Johannesburg Intro, 210 reviews, 288 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Cape Town Intro, 88 reviews, 115 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Pretoria Intro, 70 reviews, 113 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Mauritius Intro, 78 reviews, 100 photos
- Paris Intro, 69 reviews, 94 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Uganda Intro, 75 reviews, 86 photos
- New York City Intro, 72 reviews, 83 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Rwanda Intro, 69 reviews, 85 photos
- London Intro, 57 reviews, 77 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Lesotho Intro, 58 reviews, 69 photos