Logo Black Blue and Green

Tallinn, History and Creativity

by Véronique

25 August 2015 • A new day, a new destination. It was busy in Tallinn harbour. Our neighbours were the COSTA PACIFICA, VIKING STAR and later an AIDA joined too. Consequently it was full house in the cobblestoned old town (listed as an UNESCO world heritage site). It made me laugh when I saw the many excursion guides and their groups struggling in the narrow streets to get through and not to loose anybody of their groups. I saw a local cursing while she wrestled, making her way through her own city.

Tallinn does things right. Still within the port area there is a tourist office where a friendly guy welcomed us and gave some city information. There is also a shop with local products and tourist guides. Outside there are market stalls, a bike renting shop and bus tours.

It only takes 15 minutes to walk to the old town. However, it might have been a good idea to rent a bike, as I had the impression to have walked kilometers. Normal, since I did a lot more than visiting the old town of Vana Tallinn. 

Tallinn is Estonia’s capital. The Danish conquest of Estonia in 1219 marks the beginning of Tallinn’s history as a town. Between the 13th and the 16th century Tallinn was booming as a hanseatic town. From the 16th to the early 18th century, Estonia was under Swedish rule. The Swedish improved the town defence system. The Russians ruled from 1710 until 1918, introducing the railway system. During the Soviet occupation Tallinn flourished as the cultural metropolis. Estonia’s independence was attained in 1991 after a wave of peaceful protests known as the singing revolution. While focusing on the future the city never forgets its rich past. (source Visit Tallinn website).

I passed the oldest café in town, Maiasmokk, and decided to have coffee there. I was happy to discover that Tallinn is also known for marzipan, one of my favourite sweets.

Tallinn counts numerous churches, one of the most distinctive ones being the Russian one with its onion shaped towers.

I had a smoothie in BogaPott probably the cosiest place in town. Here they use sour milk, kama (a traditional Estonian milled flour mixture) and berries.

Maiasmokk interiorInside BogapottMy smoothie on the Bogapott terrace

Discovering a city is more than doing the tourist part. Although time was limited I ventured to the other side of the railway station. The contrast with the picture perfect old town could not be bigger. I passed a local market; Balti Jaam Turg, back to soviet times with old barracks selling all kinds of stuff, ranging from second hand stuff and underwear to fruit and vegetables. 

In this part of town you can also see the old simple wooden houses that were built to accommodate the workers brought in to for the many factories around the, at that time, new railway station.

I like to get a taste of how people live and eat. A good starting point for me is the supermarket. A nice variety of fruit and vegetables, fish and meat and lots of attention to organic food. 

I read about the creative hub in Telliskivi Street. So that was my mission to find and I’m happy I did. In an old factory they created a kind of Chelsea market with interior shops, organic cosmetics, clothes and more.

I’m a big fan of former industrial sites redeveloped into creative places. This is also a good example of changing industrial archaeology into a new place where everybody is welcome. A bit like DOK, one of my favourite places in Ghent to hang out during summer. Teleskivi Creative City offers a mix of outdoor spaces, ping-pong tables, creative companies and hip restaurants. It is the largest centre of creative industries in Estonia and made possible solely with private investments.

Asian cuisine in Lendav Taldrik

Mike joined me and together we ate at F-Hoone, a large restaurant with an industrial look and a young, friendly and hip crew, catering for everybody, even if you are vegan and want to eat gluten or lactose free.

Veggie food @ F-Hoone

We walked around, enjoying the graffiti, being outdoors, checking out the painted cars, and taking a peek inside the Art Academy where there was a presentation of Kokoon, an architecture contest for bike parking garages.

On the way back we stopped for coffee at Boheem.

While the city centre was overwhelmed with all the tourists, the surroundings and parks where peaceful. There are so many places in this city to relax and enjoy the sun. 

On our way back to the ship, we discovered other cool places, far away from the hustle and bustle of the busy old town such as Kalaturg, fresh fish market and café (closed when we passed) in the port. Or the Contemporary Art Museum EKKM, also closed but I could get a glimpse of some art in the garden. Next doors they were working on the grounds of another creative hub; Kulturi Katel, without a doubt another hip and fun place to spend time. Mike was more tempted to make pictures of the harbour and the ships on top of the Linnahall Concert building, with its brutalist architecture. What a fascinating building, and probably one none of our fellow passengers have seen. 

'Soundcheck' by Johnson ja Johnson @ EKKMTerrace @ EKKM

Okay it’s time to pack our bags and live in Tallinn. What do you think Mike?

Text & photos: Véronique

More info: visittallinn.ee

We travelled on board VOYAGER with Belgian cruise tour operator All Ways, discovering the Baltic Sea and St-Petersburg. Mike often joins the excursion, while I mainly go explore myself. In the evening we gather our stories and share on the blog the things we loved most.