Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hippo in the Baltics - Final chapter - Estonia the Nostalgic

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:34 PM
Sped through the latvian-estonian border, again with no checkpoint. But I've already got the estonian stamp years ago when I ferried over from Helsinki.

Parnu

Small picturesque town, with only 1 main cobbled stone pedestrian main drag, lined with stores and restaurant cafes. Here I bought an orange wool coat. I've been looking for these woolen coats all through the baltics and tried a few in Riga that either didnt fit or didnt have the color I preferred. Here in Parnu, I've tried one on, didnt feel quite right, didnt like the light brown color, and then on impulse, picked up an orange one and the minute I put it on I knew I have to have it. Not the latest cool 1 button style but it fit me perfectly. What's more, it's short and stylish and accentuated my petite figure. 55 euros. not bad. very happy with the purchase. Next we had pasta and pizza at a restaurant, sitting outside and watched the few towns people passing by. Small town, few locals, no tourists. Love it. tourists usually go to Tartu, the bigger university city. I prefer Parnu any day. Lovely churches, old houses, cobbled lanes. Intermittent sunshine and cloud, cold and warm. We had a lovely time in Parnu.

Tallinn

The outskirts had nice big houses with gardens and young people walking. But suddenly traffic, crowds, neons on buildings, 2 shopping malls, and we arrived at our hotel the Park Inn, not far from the harbor. My room faced the Narva Mnt but I dont mind the traffic and noise as I got to observe the trams coming and stopping, people going about their daily businesses and buildings across the hotel. H&M, Zara again. I even saw the Hurtigruten office sign in the building near the hotel and reminisced the lovely water journey through the Norwegian fjords and fishing island villages. Nostalgic! The hotel room had the tiniest bathroom and the tiniest sink, even smaller than the ones in the airplanes. But room was OK size and very clean. Lovely pillows and thick dovet again. Love these European dovets. They were thick enough but not too heavy and very warm. Salmon dinner was OK. it came with some veggies so we were happy with that. A brief walk on the Narva Mnt after dinner, long blocks, old buildings, lots of shops. Although Tallinn is not the biggest Baltic capital in size, it felt and looked more metropolitan than the others.

The next morning, we drove through Tallinn in the cold and rain. We've visited the 1980 Summer Olympics Sailing park (didnt know it hosted an olympic here), where the olympic hotel had the shape of a boat and across from it, a church for all religions. Next we paid a visit to the Russalka monument and the outdoor song festival hall. Really nice place with the oval open roof stage, green belt and the strange statue of Gustav Ernesaks, sitting facing the stage, papers on his hand, one hand resting on his skin, meditating? ugly statue.

Last time I was here in 2001, I've only been to the Old Town. I remember driving through many soviet apartment blocks. This time I didnt see any. Tallinn looked very big, with many districts, and hills. hills finally as both riga and vilnius were pretty flat.

Our bus dumped us in the Old Town just when the rain started to come down hard. The driver had to return to Riga, so he kicked us out. Soaked we walked through the nostalgic Old Town. Nothing had changed here. Same spires, same turrets, same city walls, some lookout viewpoints. I love this Old Town, my favorite of the 3 Baltics. It had everything an Old Town should have. Walls, turrets, churches, up and down cobbled lanes, tons of souvenir shops and cafes.

We had elk pies and soup at a local joint in the town hall building at the square. the soup felt nice in the cold rainy weather. After lunch some of us had garlic ice cream in a fancy restaurant, sitting on fancy sofas, with white table cloth and silverware. Took a bite, was very garlicky just as good as the ones in the garlic festival in gilroy. slowly walked back to our hotel which was only 15 min away on Narva Mnt. lots of shops to browse through. Bought some smoked moose sausage because the sample tasted so amazing.

Peter took us to the Restoran Peppersack in the Old Town, right on Viru st. The interior was like being in an old castle hall, tall chairs, long wooden tables, wooden barrister, chandeliers, stone walls, stone hearths, tapestries, and dinner even came with a mock sword fight comedy. The ambience was fantastic. medieval. The menu tho was out of this world. garlic and cherry sauce everything. I couldnt decide bewteen the "Pepper sack" Hans recommends" Spicy stir-fried beef fillet pieces, or the "Alderman Johan Möller's special" Grilled rib-eye steak, or the "Philipp Crusius's musings" Roast duck breast fillet with potato puree, roasted winter squash and blackberry sauce, or the "Swordsman's feast" Roasted leg of pork with beer-stewed sauerkraut, potato wedges, gherkin, marinated pumpkin salad, mustard and horseradish, but finally decided on the "Merchant Gerke's delight" Grilled rack of lamb with garlic, oven baked potato with herb butter, warm vegetable salad and cherry sauce which came with half of a bulb roasted garlic. So yummy I finished the whole thing. So full, couldnt swallow any dessert after this. Carol got the marinated wild mushrooms, with pickled garlic that was so good, she took the leftovers back to the hotel. the very peppery digestif left my mouth, throat and stomach burning. Although the meat pie and pork in Vilnius was a very good dinner, this one topped all the dinners I've ever had. Loved it.

Gosh, I've loved Tallinn the first time I was there. Loved it even more this time. Best Old Town in all the old towns I've been. Nostalgic!

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