When travelling to several cities, and if you have a limited number of days devoted to each of them, then there is nothing like visiting small cities that are close to each other. That’s how we found ourselves in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage city.
While most of Europe is fantastic for that, the Baltic States is what comes mind immediately. Getting from city to city take about four to five hours by bus. Each of these capital cities is also accessible in a day or two, leaving you with ample time to chill and take it easy, or simply soak in the atmosphere at a favourite watering hole or diner, which I am sure you will figure out quickly.
So, one afternoon a few summers ago, after journeying from Riga to Tallinn by bus, checking into our hotel and freshening up, we decided to venture and see what this city has to offer us. Never mind the squally weather.
It didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I loved exploring this city, especially the Old Town. Walking on cobbled streets and peering down alleys to try and discover new sights and sounds takes on a new meaning all together. That’s when I also figured that the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. I’ll bet one of the reasons for that is thanks in part to the way they have preserved it. It feels like you are stepping back in time; the medieval era to be precise.
The Old Town is divided into two parts. The lower town and the upper town, also known as Toompea. While they form the town as we know it today, in the days gone by, there were two different cities. According to Estonian mythology, when King Kalev died, his grieving widow Linda erected piles of stones over his tomb, which eventually formed the hill as we know it today. In time, it came to be known as the tumulus mound over the grave of Kalev.
Walking from the lower town up Toompea Hill, we chanced upon Patkuli viewing platform that sits on a limestone cliff. Turns out it offers the best views of this fabulous city, including the town wall and towers, St Olav’s church in the foreground, with the Gulf of Finland and the port in the background. Walking down was a simple affair. You can walk down a winding step, all of 157 of them, that lead to Nunne street and Shnelli park below.
By the way, don’t bother asking those seagulls for direction. They’ve got their mind on other fishy matters.