Friday, August 26, 2022

Tallinn, Estonia: Fabulous!

This morning we awoke in Tallinn, Estonia; not far from Russia, only 125 miles to the border. Other than a few signs, of speaking out against Putin, you would not even know that there was a war going on.

When I looked out of the window, to my dismay, I saw two HUGE cruise ships, and Joe told me that there was another one on the opposite side of the ship, too. I wondered how the day would turn out with so many people crawling around Tallin, but held out hope that many of them would be tired and heading back to the ship by the time we were ready to go, or that they would be off on bus tours.

My hope for a taxi was fulfilled, not far from where we got off of the ship, which was likely due to the fact that the old town "looked pretty close." Once we were in the taxi and started driving towards all of the fabulous domes and steeples, I quickly realized just how far away everything really was. That, coupled with the fact that I remembered my no taxi day in Dublin, and I was super grateful for our very own personal guide.

This guy, a very kind, older (than me) gentleman headed for the "upper old town", and knew what he was doing. He drove us past the Parliament building and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. In my mind, I was like....wait! Stop! But there were hundreds of people crawling all over the cobbled streets, so I just kept my mouth shut.

I continued to marvel at all of the medieval merchants' houses, charming shops and cafes, and cobbled streets, as we wound our way to St. Mary's Cathedral. located on Toompea Hill. It was originally established by the Danes in the 13th century and is the oldest church in Tallinn.

St. Mary's church is also known as the Dome Church, it is a Gothic architectural landmark, and was originally a Roman Catholic cathedral until 1561 when it became a Luthern church. It now belongs to the Estonian Evangelical Luthern Church.

The decor was not what we have come to expect in European churches, this particular church houses more than sixty medieval coats of arms from the 17th-20th century, and apparently, there are many noble bodies buried there, since the 15th century.

After traipsing around St. Mary's for a while, we hopped back in our taxi. Being the smart man that he is, we headed back up to the top of the hill where we saw the Parliament and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and guess what? There were hardly any people there!

First, we viewed the Estonian Parliament building, which is at the top of Toompea Hill and is baroque in style,  situated in Palace Square. It is salmon-colored and was the 13th-century Toompea Castle. We didn't go inside that building, but we did go into the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

This cathedral was built in a typical Russian-Revival style in 1890-1900. when the country was part of the Russian Empire. The interior has inspiring mosaics and golden icons. It was elaborate in style with lots of glitz and glam!

The ceiling was a bright blue, and they have been working hard to restore the cathedral since Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is quite a sight to see with its' eleven bells and five onion domes with gilded iron crosses.

When we were through viewing the Parliament building and the cathedral, we were driven down to the Town Hall Square, which is the marketplace and center of this old Hanseatic town since the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries.

It was fabulous, and I could see staying in an Air BnB right smack dab in the middle of all of the activity. The Town Hall proper is the oldest town hall in the whole Baltic Sea region and Scandinavia. The old weather vane, Old Thomas" on top of the town hall's spire has been there since 1530 and is one of the symbols of Tallinn.

I found the dragon-headed gargoyles funny, and many of the other signs picture-worthy. We were able to go into the old Apothecary, which is one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe. It has been a pharmacy, in the same house, since the 15th century. Part of the pharmacy is a museum, which was interesting but held no comparison to the Apothecary in Alexandria, Virginia.

Just down an alleyway, there was a lovely girl, playing some sort of violin, the sound drew me towards her, where I found a darling coffee shop that made one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had.
Around the corner was another church, not certain of the name, but it was lovely, with a concert of sorts going on. We were not allowed past the entryway but were able to snap a quick pic.

After our time in Town Hall Square, we (the girls) were starting to wear out. No surprise there. The guys sleep like babies, while we toss, turn, read and play games; chat with each other and share photos.
So, we were ready to head in the direction of the ship, when low and behold, our taxi guide of the day stopped at a lovely garden. I swear we must just be lucky, but there was another bride and groom! They were taking photos, and we enjoyed watching them dance around.

I am certain that the art museum, with many sculptures in it, would have been worth seeing, but we just used their bathroom, and poked our head into the exit of the museum, before heading out the door.
Our very last stop was the Russalka, a bronze monument sculpted by Amandus Adamson in 1902, to mark the ninth anniversary of the sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka or "Mermaid" which sank en route to Finland in 1893. The model for the angel was the sculptor's housekeeper Juliana Rottsi.


It was lovely, and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be with all of the lanterns lit at night.
Upon arriving back at port, to the tune of $130, including tip, for nearly three hours of personal touring, minimum savings of $260, we decided to eat at one of the booths set up near our ship.
We had a plate of delicious pork with cherry sauce, sauerkraut, potatoes, pickled onions, cucumbers, cauliflower, and pickle, and I had the traditional Kali (too sweet for me) and the boys had a beer. It was so good and gave us enough energy to walk to the ship and to our cabins.

Dinner is in a few hours, and then it will probably be bedtime! Tomorrow is another day!
Night, y'all!

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