Tallinn, The Capital of Estonia
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is schizophrenic. The old city, all terracotta roofed medieval towers, bastions and curtain walls is UNESCO recognised. The rest is very high tech, sometimes dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe, because it has the continent’s highest number of start-ups per head of population.
The delightful enclosed area is easily explored on foot, with a main drag between gates, guarded by more red wizard hatted towers. There are cobbles, dotted with medieval churches (up numerous flights of stairs for the requisite views, across town and out to sea), grandiose Hanseatic architecture, barns, warehouses, an impressive town hall and straw strewn half-timbered inns aplenty.
The Estonians are making the most of their heritage. Our hotel is a beautifully converted, wood and glass plate warehouse, just outside the old town walls. The hostels cater especially to the marauding stag party groups. There are plenty of these too, enjoying the ‘buxom serving wenches’ in their medieval costumes, serving beer in medieval drinking horns. It’s entertaining, if not very realistic.
It’s warm enough to sit outside in August, but it’s more peaceful indoors. We find a bar to have a quiet cocktail, until we are joined by the England Under 21 rugby team on tour.
Next stop Riga.