Realisations & Revelations in Tallinn
Day 2: Jess is a Wanderer is exploring Estonia's capital city and it's a fascinating spot...
After what was a truly terrible (no exaggeration needed) night's sleep thanks to Snorer, Smelly and Sniffy we stuffed ourselves with the free gourmet breakfast (cereal and toast) and headed straight out to explore some more. Today, our plan was to head to Kalamaja which is known as the 'hipster' district. Now, if you know me at all, you'll know that I'm not at all hipster but after a quick Google, it turns out that this area is one of the top 10 hipster areas in the world so we felt compelled to see what all the hype was about.
The super friendly hostel lady provided us with a map and very clearly circled the district for us. She told us we could take a bus but due to budget constraints (more about those later), we decided to walk.
Before all of that, however, there was business to attend to first. We had to go a few kms across town to the coach station to purchase all of our upcoming bus tickets. Of course, it wasn't a simple task as we went to the bus station and spent a good twenty minutes milling around lost. We then realised we needed to find the coach station. Another few kms later, tickets in hand and 36 Euros lighter we had tickets from Tallinn to the national park, onto Riga in Latvia and Vilnius in Lithuania. Oh how organised we were feeling!
With the map from the helpful hostel lady in hand, we set off in search of hipster-ville. And what an adventure we had! It was around a 3km walk through the old town and out the other side. As we passed through Freedom Square, we were greeted by some medieval folks making announcements and playing music to a hundred-strong crowd of visitors who were here to see the Guild House. Naturally, we joined the group (and group photographs) whilst taking our own pictures of the shenanigans. Not entirely sure why these people were here or what they were doing but it was a bit of excitement.
Continuing on our walk, we came across more than five hundred motorcyclists parading through the streets on their (sorry to say it if you're a motorbike fan) overly loud bikes. They zoomed past us up the street and then zoomed past us back down the street... how much zooming does one need to do on these quiet Estonian cobbles! Nonetheless, they were waving and cheering and one even did a wheelie to entertain the onlooking crowd and there were sooooo many of them that it was actually quite interesting seeing them all zoom past. The first time anyway.
Finally, we arrived into the district of Kalamaja and actually, we weren't entirely sure where the bars, restaurants and street art paintings that made the area so 'hipster' actually were... in fact, we were really rather confused and ended up walking over 8km around the area, along the harbour, past the seaplane harbour and the port and the abandoned warehouses and there seemed to be nothing to see. Nothing at all! And it had started raining!!!!! I can tell you that after having lived in the desert for 6 years, there's nothing that I hate more than the rain! And now we were walking in the rain looking for a district that seemingly didn't exist in the rain. And it was raining.
Admitting defeat, a chap was strolling past minding his own business when I collared him and asked where this so called 'area' might be. He directed us back (pretty much) they way we had come (another 5km away!!) and said we should be able to find everything we were looking for. Fortunately for us (our thirst, hunger and general fed-up-rained-on-ness), he was right. It turns out that a whole three hours before arriving at 'the place', we'd walked right past it and dismissed it as 'nothing to see here'!!! Why is it that we do this? We just assume that we know things about somewhere we've never visited before when actually, we have no idea! It was good exercise for us anyway and gave us the chance to explore (literally) the whole city.
That was when the magic happened and we found ourselves back at the train station and at Balti Jam Turg - the market we had previously dismissed. Here, an old warehouse has been restored to house supermarkets, fresh fruit and vegetable markets and a whole range of different foods from around the world. Having not quite come to terms with the fact I no longer live in Egypt I had hummus and falafel from 'Wrap and Roll'. It was only 4.90 Euros and a right bargain. So tasty too!
Anyway, onwards and upwards, even though the weather was a bit pants, we had finally found ourselves in the right place and this meant photo opportunities. My favourite! The street art was definitely to be admired and covered a wide area which was fun to explore.
Following our unnecessarily long (but highly enjoyable) walk, we went to a bar called Hell Hunt to sample some local Estonian beers and have a most-deserved sit down! 3.90 Euros for an almost pint... only had the one at that price!!
So far, we realised that Tallinn is much bigger than expected but the main things to see are definitely contained in the area within and around Old Town. Sadly, over dinner (traditional schnitzel at Schnitzelhaus), we also realised that our £800 budget per month actually only equates to £26 a day... TWENTY-SIX pounds a day!!!! We genuinely feel that we're living a very simple life (I mean, we're staying in a hostel, excuse me whilst I cry a smidge!!)but we've already been £10-15 over budget these last two days. It's going to be impossible to keep this up! Fortunately we are heading to the mountains tomorrow for some fun in Laheema National Park. Hopefully that'll keep the spending down... or will it?!
On a side note, just when we thought that the day was over, we realised that walking past a man in an alleyway might result in you getting a flash of his willy... let's hope this is only in Estonia as Wolvo was unlucky enough to get a right eyeful of the chap's one-eyed friend... and so another day on the road is done!