Our expectations weren’t high for our weekend getaway, traveling to Tallinn (Estonia) with our friends Shaun and Lottie. Under Russian and Soviet control for hundreds of years, we were prepared for a somewhat depressed and developing country. We counted on the lackluster cuisine you might expect from eastern European countries, served up in the soviet concrete architecture to match.
But we found a treat. Tallinn’s café culture rivals Paris and Vienna’s, and the bars, clubs and variety of cuisine make it a great town to eat, drink and be merry. And it is all packed into a charming old town with city wall fortifications, towers, churches and, of course, the central square.
Like London, Tallinn offers a wide range of cuisine. So, we weren’t stuck with the local fare of pickled herring and jellied eel. We instead sampled Estonian, but also enjoyed delicious Russian, Indian, French, African and even Tex Mex. And it was all surprisingly well done. We mixed in some locally brewed beer in an Austrian style beer house, a fine bottle of European wine in a fantastically cozy wine cellar, and, of course, a few drinks sitting on the town’s main square.
To satisfy Shaun’s craving for ugly Soviet-era concrete blocks, we took the street car to the outskirts of town. Much to his dismay, we came up empty. We weren’t much help in his quest as we pointed out every pretty building and park we passed along the way. While the town doesn’t boast the grandiose style of Prague, it has its share of iconic elements and fine architectural touches. The entrance, through the main gate, made for a stunning first impression followed by the imposing town hall tower of the main square. The onion domed Orthodox church reminded us of Moscow and also made for a great photograph.
Tallinn’s unique mix of Scandinavian, Russian and eastern European influences proved to be a great recipe for a great weekend with good friends, fine wine and tasty food.