Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Estonia surprises!

We have absolutely no preconceived ideas of what to expect when we reach Tallinn, Estonia. Upon approaching, we are able to see two distinct sides to the town ... the modern industrial sector with its high rise buildings and a quaint traditional quarter with its numerous spires from the many cathedrals. We decide to limit ourselves to the old town and are pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the cobble stoned streets which are lined with restored buildings leading to flourishing piazza styled squares. Clearly the tourist dollar arrived many years ago and free enterprise is now flourishing. There are plenty of market stalls, restaurants and shops, each with a friendly local eager to usher you in. We avoid temptation and continue to follow the numerous lanes that lead you in and around the old walled city, eventually reaching Toompea Castle. Perched on the steepest slope of the hill, it provides a panoramic view of the city and we are able to sit under shady trees and sip a nice cool drink while I complete a quick sketch. In the distance, we can see the docks and even more cruise ships arriving and as we walk back down, the lanes are packed. Tallinn has well and truly been discovered by every possible nation and is making up for lost time after gaining its independence from Soviet rule. It's not surprising that this picturesque old town has been given UNESCO World Heritage status as it is now clearly a major tourist hot spot.

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