Our trip in the Baltic states continued with Tallinn, Estonia. We endured a 4.5-hour bus trip to get up here from Riga and boy was it worth it. There is something really special about this part of the world, they live at a different pace, so much more relaxed. There is so much to see and do here, these countries are just beautiful, in every sense of the word and it wouldn’t take much convincing for me to move here.
Our first stop in Tallinn was the popular party hostel – Red Emperor, home of the 1.50 euro beers in happy hour – or 1 euro during “super happy hour”. After some fairly solid partying in Riga I would like to say that it was a relatively quiet night in Tallinn but that wasn’t to be. We headed out to dinner at a quaint little Estonian Restaurant – Hell Hunt. A delicious meal later and we decided to explore a little of the old town. A beautiful part of Tallinn with so much rich history that we discovered the following day.
Catching up with the lads from Riga was the start of a big night, we explored a couple of little bars, the highlights being a bar call Labor – a science themed bar serving drinks out of test tubes and beakers with an incredible display of neon paint glowing in the bar – and our final stop of the evening Club Münt – popular with the international students for their 1 euro drinks.
The next day we headed into the main tourist centre to do one of the walking tours that have become a staple of our visits to different cities! This tour was incredible, our guide easily the best we have had, full of passion, full of energy and full of incredible information about the history of Tallinn.
Estonia was another country that has fallen under the rule of several countries including, most recently, the Russian Empire – as a part of the USSR. Touring the city, we saw some of the beauty of this amazing old town. The churches, the buildings, the laneways that will lead you on your next adventure.
We walked through learning the history of the trade, the city wall the parliament and gardens. We also got a few old ‘war stories’ from the times when the KGB occupied some of the hotels – one in particular which was said to be made out of “micro-crete” given the volume of bugs and listening devices throughout each room. Guests were not allowed to talk to each other and were given rooms depending on languages spoken and passports to drill these points even further.
We also got a great view of a few NATO jets flying over the city – although they were returning to an air base from exercises there were a few tense seconds wondering why 4 jets were flying so low over a tourist city, especially when we had heard so much in Riga about the…unpredictable geo-political climate that exists in this region.
Something I found particularly interesting was the attitude towards some of the politicians – the president for example is going to DJ a rock concert, and is very active on Twitter flying the flag for Estonia, not afraid to deal out a sledge or two if it is warranted – the regard in which he is spoken with was quite surprising given the calibre of politician that we have to put up with at home.
Later that evening we took a walk outside the main tourist part of the city to a more cultural ‘hipster’ area of Teleskivi with a new friend we had made kayaking the night before. It was the start of a series of incredible coincidences that would change the way we spent our time in Tallinn. We met Kristy – a pub crawl tour guide, out with one of our friends, who had some great stories about Estonia, and was able to point out a couple of famous Estonian actors and singers who were sitting and chilling at the same café as we picked for a drink.
The hipster area is a great little escape from the tourist area of Tallinn full of a real cultural, creative space that we were able to enjoy. We then enjoyed a lovely dinner at F Hoone with another friend from the states, sharing good stories, good food and good company.
We decided to venture out on Kristy’s pub crawl – The Epic Tallinn Pub Crawl. It was a great night out with a few lads from all over the world, Austria, Australia, Netherlands and one particularly interesting gentlemen from Norway – this story is entirely inappropriate but was a great source of amusement for the Aussies on the pub crawl.
We explored several of the cool bars in Tallinn including Labor Bar, Shooters (home to the famous cocaine shots) before heading to Hollywood Club which surprisingly or not is the hip place to be on a Thursday. Never fear we ended up taking a night out in some of the local bars, enjoying local music, meeting local people. After what was a pretty great night I enjoyed a beautiful walk through the city. The Baltic cities have an enchanting beauty that takes them over, and taking in the beauty of Tallinn during the sunrise was an incredible experience.
Our second day in Tallinn saw us head out to explore some more of Tallinn, wandering through the city, taking in the culture and exploring the city. One of our sights was an old soviet amphitheatre originally created for the Olympics, traditional soviet style architecture, abandoned for years and now home to a questionable night club – as told by our tour.
Next stop for us was exploring Patarei Prison, an old prison from the Soviet and Nazi occupations of Estonia and, a glimpse into some of the more brutal history that exists in Tallinn. The prison was eerily quiet, with as many as 4,000 prisoners held during the worst years in a prison designed to hold 1,000. It was interesting to look through but also to feel the atmosphere so much colder inside the prison. I am not at all superstitious – I will believe in ghosts when I see on – but entering the execution chamber was entirely different, a new layer of much heavier air, and so much colder than even throughout the rest of the Prison.
After exploring the prison, we headed back to our hostel for a little respite and an earlier night given we had a marathon 9-hour bus leaving at 8. It is funny how often we say that the night will be a quiet one when it turns out to be the opposite. Chatting to our hostel reception, we decided to try out the pub crawl for a second straight night and, was it well worth our while.
Before we went out partying we had an incredible dinner from one of the best restaurants in Tallinn, and unquestionably the best restaurant of the trip so far – Raskaevu 16. The food here is to die for, with such a rich combination of flavours, impeccable presentation and mouth-watering this restaurant is a must visit in Tallinn. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and extremely friendly. The elk is perfect, the pork is so deliciously succulent, this was a dinner well spent if you are heading here though – book in advance we were ever so lucky to get in.
Night 1 was good, Night 2 was incredible, we met an unbelievable bunch of people who brought the party, a number of local Estonians, as well as a couple of tourists, and one other Aussie legend who was keen to party the night away with us.
The significant difference from the night prior was the bars were much busier on a Friday, in particular the clubs that really know how to turn on a good time. Club Privee on a Friday night is a really happening club, and then Club Hollywood really turns it on for a Friday night (so much better than Thursday).
We danced the night away, everyone out with us had a great time, a properly incredible night – if anyone is heading to Tallinn this pub crawl needs to be a something that you do. We wound up around 5 or 6 that night (or is it morning) not going to lie – that 8am bus was a killer but more on that later.