Friday May 25, 2018

QUESTION: WHAT SMALL CITY IS WIDELY REGARDED as the most stunningly-preserved walled capital in Northern Europe?

Answer: TALLINN.

And, when we woke up on Friday morning, Tallinn, in the tiny Baltic state of Estonia, is where we found ourselves.

Like many small nations in this region, tiny Estonia (pop 1.5 million) got unfairly pushed around (by the Danes, then the Swedes, then the Germans, then the Russians) before gaining its freedom in the early 1990s. You’ve probably never heard of Tallinn – right? – but for over 700 years, this one-time coastal fortress guarded the Baltic approaches to Russia from behind thick defensive walls. And today it’s a medieval jewel that simply oozes with atmosphere!

Our route took us, first, around the coast for a look-see … then back into the cultural heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site … along narrow cobblestone streets to St Mary’s Gothic Cathedral, crammed with hundreds of really old Coats of Arms … around those ancient stone walls with their fairytale turrets (two of them nicknamed Tall Herman and Fat Margaret) … into the Upper Town’s Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, famous for its gorgeous domes, mosaics and icons … then up Toompea Hill to the Palace Square where we peered over the Lower Town rooftops.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the flowers were blooming, and a top Tallinn day was had by all.

Oh, a word about the weather: we’ve been exceptionally lucky thus far, with blue skies and warm days everywhere we’ve been. Not bad when you consider that this part of the world gets only 30-50 sunshiny days each year – and freezes rock-solid in winter. One of our guides summed up their weather patterns as “nine months anticipation followed by three months disappointment”. And another guide reckoned their weather was “like a baby’s bottom: you never know what will come out next!”

COMING UP: Our much-looked-forward-to weekend in Russia, featuring the spectacular highlights of St Petersburg. Don’t miss this, whatever you do …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

1 thought on “MEDIEVAL TALLINN

  1. Hi Coons. Spectacular. Brilliant. Amazing.
    Word cannot get close to describe this trip you are on. Wow. You are just so so lucky. Rapt that the weather is being kind too.
    Love you both heaps. 💕💕 The Kerks.

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