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Baltic Sea

Tallinn, Estonia: Town of Mulled Wine & Rain

Wow, what a great city Tallinn Estonia is! I never would have imagined this little European Jem. Estonia has been surrounded by major forgein powers and has recently reclaimed their independence between 1918 and 1940. Tallinn today is vibrant and progressive. It was here that the so-called “Singing Revolution” began which was the catalyst for the shedding of Soviet dominance since the end of World War II and the emergence of Estonia as an independent state in 1991. Estonia has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and adopted the Euro currency only this year.

It is the smallest of the Baltic states and is no emerging as very prosperous and lively. The first written account of a settlement here dates to 1154 when a castle was built on a high ridge offering a commanding view of the coastline and surrounding landscape. This fortification was to endure and formed the nucleus around which a thriving medieval town developed The availability of roasted sugared almonds by street vendors is a tradition which has continued unchanged since the 12th century when Tallinn had become an important Hanseatic town and among the exotic commodities traded were these nuts which were imported into the Baltic from the Eastern Mediterranean. Girls clad in medieval style costume invite would-be purchasers to sample these mouth watering treats, which smell delicious.

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is a huge tourist destination with the medieval history which dates back to the 13th century. There are many buildings, merchant houses, churches, and other public buildings that have survived remarkable degrees despite ravages of fire and war. I was able to visit the outskirts of Tallinn and see the Song Festival Grounds, and area that was very important to Estonians for national unity. There is even a singing bench that recites cultural tunes all day! The town boasts a total of seventeen churches and cathedrals. The dominant religions are Lutheran and Orthodox Russian. One we visited was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which houses an impressive array of medieval icons and is lavishly decorated. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Many residences and warehouses of the town’s wealthy merchants have been converted into quality restaurants, cafes, bars and shops and combined with the numerous medieval buildings form a rich, engaging and photogenic architectural tapestry.

I also walked around the famous old town center, both the Upper Town (Toompea) and Lower Town.  I had some magnificent views of city that gave a good overview of how small the capital is. I saw the famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which not going to lie, looks much more impressive in photos than in real life. Though, the building is an example of fine architecture. My favorite part of the day was just wandering the streets and petite allies on my own. I went to a cute café in the middle of the square and enjoyed coffee, some kind of Estonia berry cake, and some delicious mulled wine. Estonia is full of mulled wine. It’s a hot wine beverage that is made from real wine then infused with all sorts of other flavors such as cinnamon, raisins, almonds, and who knows what else. I’m in love with it and wished I could have found some to bring home, although I don’t think it would have been the same. Throughout the afternoon of wandering on my own I encountered hints of rain, some down pours, and a few sunny skies. It was excellent, exactly the relaxing afternoon I needed. The town is quite scenic, lots of greenery and parks, and many adorable buildings. I really enjoyed photographing the different vibrant and colorful unique doors, as they were all different. I ate lunch outside at another café in the central square which could have been one of the best meals of my trip, or even life. I had some salmon, ratatouille, and then potatoes that were cooked in some way that made them soft, almost like mashed. I don’t know what it is about Europe, but their potatoes never fail to blow me away. Of course I completed my meal with another mulled wine glass and then went of exploring some more. Estonia has been one of my favorite Baltic States thus far. Not much to do as far as entertainment, but the town is very lively, even if it is mostly tourists. Many cafes and bars blast American music all over the main area and if you’re able to wander out to the alley ways you can find some quite time alone, wandering the cobbled paths, and viewing the incredible historical buildings, churches, etc.