I couldn’t wait to open the curtains and see where we were this morning and as soon as I did, I had to rush for my camera, for the light was gorgeous.
A little later, we’d had breakfast and the city was looking tempting. We’d booked a walking tour and were ready and eager to be off.
It was still early and this little chap was on his way to school. We liked his cap!
So, we met our guide, Raul, cellist with the Estonian National Opera orchestra. His dry sense of humour appealed to us immediately – what a contrast from the serious Russians.
We set off through the old streets, this one named “Pikk”.
Raul made frequent stops to point out the features of these old buildings and to explain how the original structures of Tallinn have survived: basically, the residents here have never been wealthy enough to replace them. This has turned to their advantage now, because they have a complete medieval city here.
The streets were quiet right now, but surprisingly, every time we stopped in the middle of the road to look up, a vehicle would appear from nowhere!
And we did have to stand back and look up pretty often!
We enjoyed walking with Raul, smiling at his wit and noticing things which would have passed us by. This is a great way to see and learn about a city.
As we walked along this street, he pointed out the old KGB office, now under renovation having stood empty for years because people believed it still to have been bugged. We stopped by the building on the left with the red flags outside whilst he popped in to ask if we might take a look inside.
It’s now the office of the local theatre company and once inside, we could see what made it special.
Painted ceilings for a start.
The door had opened onto a large open room with a small living corner by the fire. It was quite dark inside, though sunlight was streaming in through the windows.
We stopped again a little further down to admire this doorway, just as the car pulled up outside it. The driver and his companion got out and went inside, waving as they did. I was rather irritated that they’d parked right there until they reappeared with all kinds of things – it’s the local philharmonic office and for the next five minutes or so they were carrying signs and other equipment out to the car.
Anyway, it used to be the local hall of the Blackheads – reminding us immediately of the Blackhead hall in Riga, so many ports ago. Young, unmarried craftsmen, in the Hanseatic league ports traditionally joined the Blackheads, named after the face on their coat of arms above the door,
When they married, they became eligible to join the Guild and meet in the Guildhall, just over the road.
It’s funny that on reviewing my photographs from today and comparing them with those I took when we were here in 2000, there are quite a few similarities – in particular, this building, which clearly caught my eye then just as it did today.
The same is true for this clock. I needn’t have taken this picture – the earlier version is almost identical.
Raul offered a few ideas as we walked, for places we might return to when we had some free time. Maybe we’d come back for Estonian marzipan – a little different from the Lubecker sort we love so much.
Once we arrived in the Square, we had some free time to explore. We had a couple of things to look for and yes, we rather fancied that idea of some marzipan too.
Though we settled for the plain, chocolate covered variety rather than the painted animals.
I could have been tempted by a pair of furry boots, but when would I wear them?
We met up again in time for Raul to take us to a former monastery.
It was situated down a side alley which we recognised as somewhere we’d been before.
The sides of the alley, or rather, the wall of the former monastery was lined with old gravestones, found on the site.
Inside, we were treated to a performance of early folk music, played on original instruments.
It was all rather interesting, especially since we’d never seen a hurdygurdy up close before.
OK, said Raul, I’ll meet you in half an hour by the yellow awning – which was our cue for a last scuttle around, to make sure we didn’t miss anything.
We found the wool market where I had bought my navy blue Estonian cardigan sixteen years ago. These days it’s less authentic and though the women are indeed knitting, whether they are actually knitting the things they are selling is questionable.
With a last wave to old Thomas, up there on top of the spire, it was time to go. We thanked Raul for a great morning out and returned to our ship to pack.
Goodbye and thank you, Estonia!