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Monday, 20 October 2014

Tallinn, Estonia

We arrived just gone 9 o'clock this morning.  Not that you could tell that we'd arrived, or that we were at Tallinn, or even what time of day it was.  It was so foggy we could hardly see the dock alongside.  AND we'd got up especially to see the place as the ship came in to port!

So, a disappointing start, but the fog lifted........ mostly, and we did get to see the World Heritage site that is Tallinn in wonderful dripping wet glory.

Tallinn is described as a "beautifully preserved medieval city of castle, moats, red-capped towers, bastions and gable, tile -roofed houses".  Old Tallinn consists of the Upper Town and the Lower Town, with a Gothic Town Hall, numerous churches, a cathedral, the House of Parliament and the House of Government and about two thirds of the original town walls.  Quite impressive.

It was a short day today though, and we didn't get to see everything, but what we did see was lovely.  The real downer of the day was the rain.  At one point it was seriously chucking it down which was very disheartening.  Never mind - here are the pictures.

First stop was one of the towers on the wall - Fat Margaret.  There is a museum here too, except it was closed today.

Next we came across the Church of the Holy Spirit - a pretty old church at a guess, quite dark inside, with lots of painted wood, the one thing that really caught my attention was the broken bell.  I couldn't find any information to tell me why it was there, I'll have to look it up on the internet when we get proper broadband.

Getting wetter all the time, we continued up Pikk (street) and Pikk Jalg, heading for the Upper Town. 

First the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. 

The cathedral was built during the 19th Century Russification period and was so disliked by the Estonians that it was scheduled for demolition in 1924.  Fortunately it survived, and now, as you can see, it's being renovated.   We weren't allowed to take pictures inside.  It's very, very ornate.

I like the name of this one.  The Hermann Tower is one on the towers in the Upper town and corners onto what was Toompea Castle and is now used by the Parliament of Estonia.

We walked on a little more, there are a couple of viewing points in the Upper Town where you can look over the Lower Town.  The tall, square tower, slightly left of centre is the tower of St.Olavs Church - we go there later. 

The drizzle started as set off to have a quick look at parts of the wall.  

Drizzle turned to rain as we followed one of seven streets leading off the old town centre,

We headed down Viru, to see the Viru Gate.  Can I just say that at this point it was absolutely chucking it down.  We sheltered in the arch as we added extra layers.  At this point all we could think of was a warm dry ship.

We set off in the direction of the port, with the intention of looking at St Olaf's church on the way.  We were getting wetter and wetter, so we were pleased to get inside. 

So Olav's is a plain church, (although I did love the high arches in the ceiling).  Its claim to fame comes from the tower.  It's been struck by lightning around ten times and the whole church has been burnt down three times.  The tower was the tallest building in the world between 1549 and 1645 when it was 521 ft high, but it kept being burnt down and rebuilt, and it's now a mere 403 ft high.

Peter and I decided that we wanted to climb the steps of the first 300 odd feet and go see the views from the tower (€2).  We went round and round and up and up, then round and up some more. Then there was a straight bit.  And then we went round the other way, and up, and round and up and round.......

Eventually we got there. Out of breath and dizzy.  But it was worth it.  The tower on the left is St Nicholas' Church and Museum, in the middle you can see the domes of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and to the right is the tower of Dome Cathedral of St Mary.  I love red roofs of the buildings, they even paint the lead red to match all the tiles.  Very striking.

And it had finally stopped raining when we left the church and headed for our last "tourist attraction" of the day. The Tallina Linnahall was apparently a concert hall built in the 1980's as a Soviet monument.  I don't think the Estonians like anything Russian, and this place is definitely unloved, overgrown and covered in graffiti as it was.  It's not really a tourist attraction despite its mark on the tourist map, an interesting insight in to the Estonian mind though.

And that was our short day in Tallinn.  It would have been nice to have spent a little longer there, maybe had a chance to look in all the tourist shops and mebbe see a little more of the walls and stuff.  It would have been nice to see it in the dry too.

Tomorrow we get to St Petersburg and the highlight of the cruise. I am so excited. 

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