Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tallinn, Estonia, Cruise Port of Call - Serenade of the Seas

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is situated on the northern coast of Estonia, on the Gulf of Finland, 80km south of Helsinki. Population is under 500,000. Tallinn's Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the best preserved and intact European medieval cities. The city was known as Reval from the 13th Century until the early 20th Century.

We arrive in Tallinn on the Serenade of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) cruise ship and would spend some hours in the city today. We did not take a ship tour, but we went about on our own. We relied heavily on Rick Steves Northern European Ports guide for how to walk, as well as navigated with my smartphone GPS.

In this part 1, I show you how we walk from the cruise port all the way to the Fat Margaret Tower, which houses the Estonian Maritime Museum. We didn't visit the museum today. The walk took about 15 minutes, max. It felt good to walk. The weather was gorgeous.

We continue our journey. Using the Rick Steves travel guide, we start at Fat Margaret Tower and walk along Pikk Street. Fat Margaret was built in the early 16th Century. Called fat because she was the largest part of the city wall's fortifications, and also built to impress visitors coming by ship. So we just followed along Pikk Street till we came to the town square. It was early, around 1000hrs, and many shops were only starting to open.

Continued from the previous video, from the Tallinn old town square, we headed in the direction of Olde Hansa, which is a restaurant featuring the medieval way of eating. This was a restaurant recommended by the cruise ship, so we came to take a look, though we decided not to eat here. Just outside the restaurant, there was this lady selling some spiced sweets/nuts, at 4 Euros per packet. She said it had medicinal value! Well, it tasted like sweet stuff to me.

We followed the walking directions in the Rick Steve's guide and headed up this smaller and narrow walkway, towards the upper part of the Tallinn. This would bring us to a place called the Danish King's Garden (with plenty of shade) and we took a rest near the flower bed. Then, we headed towards the Orthodox cathedral, called the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, went inside briefly to take a look. And we walked on.

Near the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, there were several very good viewpoints to see the lower city. We visited two of them, and to get there, you walked past many foreign embassies. This area was near the Parliament and the Government center of Tallinn. After taking in the sights, we started to make our way back down to the lower city center. We found a cafe that we walked past earlier this morning, and decided to stop there for some coffee and beer!

The Tallinn Old Town, including Toompea, is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Her old town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.

After doing the walk (as per Rick Steve's guide), we went to an info counter to figure out how to take a tram to the Kadrioru Park. Managed to find the train stop and we paid for the tram ticket with cash (Euros). It was an interesting ride, and not far. Kind people on board the tram told us where to stop. And we walked around the park a bit. There was some large playground with amusement rides, but we didn't ride any. The plan was to take a taxi back to the cruise port but we had difficulty finding one. So we ending up walking all the way back! It was a rather long walk, I think almost 3km, but we made it. All that exercise was good! Was the park worth going? Well, probably not. May be better to spend more time wandering around Tallinn old town. More charm.

And we reach back to the port gates after a long, long walk from the Kaidrioru Park. Plenty of sun to go around. There were three ships in port, and ours was docked closest to the port gates. Walking is good, stretch the legs. Be mindful of the sun though. It was very bright. Bring a cap and sunscreen if needed.

Back on board the ship, I didn't take any video of the lunch we had. Must have been too hungry! We probably had our lunch in the Windjammer, I can't remember. Anyway, the next video footage on my camera was this footage from the Park Cafe in the Solarium.

And then I stand on the sun deck looking at the port of Tallinn, and I decided to give you some commentary on how easy and convenient the port of Tallinn was to do, by foot! This angle gives you an idea of how near (or far, it is all relative) the old town is. Many cruise passengers do it on foot, as you can see the lines of people walking back to the ships.

Opposite us, in Tallinn, was the Holland America Zuiderdam. On closer look, her hull paintwork looked to be in a rather bad shape. I am not sure why they didn't paint the ship more professionally. It certainly did not look good in the sun!

This wraps up our day in Tallinn, Estonia. Thanks for reading!