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Adventures of a short vet

Two Days in Tallin

ESTONIA | Wednesday, 8 June 2011 | Views [257]

A new day and a new country. I caught an 8am bus to Estonia and arrived in Tallin around 12:30pm. Gidic Backpackers is an Australian owned hostel in an 1881 restored building and has a nice laid-back feel inside despite the dilapidated outside appearance. On the way to the Old Town I detoured past the ferry terminal to pick up a ticket to Helsinki as well as my day ticket between Turku and Stockholm. I entered the Old Town through the Great Coastal Gate and passed Fat Margaret’s Tower (unfortunate name I thought) and St Olav’s church, whose tower was used by the KGB from 1944 until 1991 as a radio tower and surveillance point. Wandering through the city I checked out the restaurants with their waiters all decked out in peasant garb, and bought some unhealthy but delicious smoked salted nuts from a “peasant” stall. 

I spent the morning wandering about town, visiting the Toompea Castle grounds, Tall Herman’s Tower (what a stupid nickname) and the “Million Kroner Toilet” (a tin toilet made to look like marble that apparently cost a million kroonen – for a million kroonen I would have expected it to be made out of real marble!) before meeting yet another walking tour group. This time it was led by a very young, slightly annoying blonde girl. We started the tour off at the War of Independence Victory Column – a massive glass cross consisting of 143 glass plates erected for those who fell during the Estonian War of Independence, and which apparently cost a few million euro to build. We then walked back around to the Castle where parliament meets and through the Duke’s Garden where the flag of Denmark was said to have fallen from the sky. We passed the Alexander Nevski cathedral and walked down the short street that connected the upper and lower towns before they were joined. She also told us about the guy who won all the archery competitions but wasn’t eligible to win the prizes as he wasn’t a noble, and instead was “awarded” the position of sitting up in the tower as a watchman. The kids used to love him as he gave them presents and so when he died apparently the parents didn’t want to break the news to the kids, so they erected a weathervane of him up on the tower. After the tour I went back to the Old Pharmacy that’s been open for hundreds of years and owned by the same family for at least eight generations. There were some pretty funky medicines on display, including dried deer penises and a mummified hand. I don’t even want to know what they were supposed to be a cure for! It’s still a functioning pharmacy but with more modern medicines these days thank goodness.  

Tags: fat margaret, ferry, tallin, toompea

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