Baltic Sea Ports Trip - Day 13 (Monday, June 11, 2007)
The ship made it to Tallin in time, despite the delay leaving St. Petersburg. This meant we had an early start and went for the casual breakfast buffet on deck 11. I took in the view of the Estonian capital from there. We then got our tour number and boarded a bus. Our guide started with the basics of Estonian history. He made sure to note injustices done by the Soviets. We then reached one of the places of national pride, the Song Festival grounds.
I heard that Estonians feel that their musical traditions kept their culture alive through times of occupation. We saw the amphitheater along with a big statue of festival founder Gustav Ernesaka sitting on the hillside. The ground by the stage looked somewhat messy. Our guide said they recently held a monster truck rally there. We boarded the bus after the talk and then stopped at the ferry terminal for a toilet break. Old Town later would have limited facilities.
Our tour first took us next to the round Tall Herman Tower, then we walked over to the lovely Nevsky Cathedral with its domes topped by Christian orthodox crosses. We had a little bit of time to look inside its beautiful interior. Outside, we saw old ladies begging that our guide said were actually helping to run a scam. Near there stood the pink Estonian parliament building, also known as Toompea Castle. Our guide told us stories of oppression while there.
Our walk continued to a viewpoint overlooking the lower parts of the city. We saw many roofs, including multiple spires and domes. We next checked a second viewpoint for another angle. On impulse, my dad bought a book about Tallinn from a man hawking them. The guide then gave us some time to explore Old Town a bit more. My brother and I entered St. Mary's Cathedral to look at the many family crests hung on the walls. I then got postcards.
Our group could go to the lower town by the Long Leg or the steeper Short Leg. We chose the Long Leg, starting from a restaurant sporting a long leg sculpture. The path ended up going under Pikk Jalg Tower at the bottom. In the lower town, we looked at the Town Hall and its public square. We then had more free time to wander. My brother and I just walked around and peeked inside the Church of the Holy Spirit, avoiding the fee by not entering.
Our group reconvened for lunch at the Maikrahv Restaurant by the Town Hall Square, eating a set meal at a group of tables in a dim and comfortable subterranean setting. After a good fill of food, we went over to the Dominican Monestary. Its stone walls and dark halls surrounded a brightly lit courtyard made an ideal setting for the medieval music concert we received. Two people played old songs and sang, using a hurdy gurdy, lute and bagpipe at times.
After the little concert, the tour guide gave us free time to roam around Viru Gates. My brother and I went up to a small city park to check out the view then returned to the street, passing a flower market before passing between the turrets that mark the open gate along the town wall. Our group met near there then walked over to the bus which took us back to the cruise ship, which departed soon afterwards. It was only early afternoon.
When I got back to the cabin, I took a nap. Later, I wandered the ship then ran into Leena at the shopping area. I hung out with her then went to the Grand Restaurant for dinner, where I joined my family and their two friends. For evening entertainment, I headed to the Celebrity Theater to watch a violinist. I found Leena and sat with her through the performance. At one point, the violinist invited Steven's friend Brie onto the stage.
I enjoy playing classical music on the piano, but I do not usually go for concerts. I did enjoy some of the violinist's more lively, difficult pieces. After the performance, I stopped by the art gallery to guess the price of a Dali painting and claim the free small lithograph. I then hung out with Steven and the other youth, just grabbing some snacks from deck 11. Finally, I returned to the cabin, prepared for the next day and slept.
Contact me if you have any questions or comments about this trip.