June 7, 2013

things to do, places to see

The reason for traveling to Estonia was a wedding. We planned to arrive the week before the festivities for exploring and touring. One of our first real adventures after meandering through our immediate neighborhood and Old Town, was accepting the invitation of the groom's parents to their home outside Tallinn for dinner. We travelled by car to the seaside village of Kelvingi. I was bursting upon finally getting my first good look at the Baltic Sea. We lucked out with a breezy, sunny day. After unlocking the gate of the back yard and having a wander in Rohuneeme woods, we worked up a thirst with a little bit of kiiking (on this actual kiik - I didn't manage to get my own picture). Upon returning home, we enjoyed Lambrusco, al fresco and later, some homemade apple wine with dinner of grilled chicken and pork and fresh fruit and salad.

A couple days later the groom's brother was good enough to take us around Tallinn for some touring in areas we hadn't been to. Rotermann Quarter, near Old Town was a neighborhood of shopping, restaurants and cafes marrying old industrial buildings with new glass and steel refurbishment very reminiscent of Philadelphia's own Piazza. From there we jumped a bus to Kohvik Park and rambled by the Swan Pond, Kadriorg Palace and The Presidential Palace. Before a summer storm rained down on us we were on the bus again, this time heading out of the city to spend the evening at the Viimsi Tervis Spa. After paddling through the pool, soaking in a jacuzzi, steaming away in mineral salt and juniper saunas I was positively content. That night I slept like a baby.

post spa bliss

The wedding was Saturday afternoon in Old Town and was held in the Brotherhood of Blackheads. The building was just lovely and the wedding was a straightforward, elegant and festive affair. The ceremony and reception both took place under one roof. After vows were exchanged the guests were given champagne to toast the newlyweds and shortly after, dinner and dancing commenced in the room downstairs. Fueled with a tasty buffet and Estonian vodka, we celebrated into the early morning.

The day after the wedding was our first time exploring the waterfront in Tallinn. We strolled the park near our apartment and came across the Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour. We didn't go in for the official tour but instead popped in the gift shop after a having a coffee on the terrace upstairs. Plenty of old boats and maritime effects to see here, all directly by the water. We followed the coastline and walked on a path that took us behind the old Patarei Prison. A little further down we stopped where a bit of beach crept out from the sea and sunned ourselves while watching locals share picnics and conversation. A seemingly crazy man exercised on the sand and repeatedly jumped in the the frigid water. Boats and cruise ships came and went. We stood up, stretched our legs and continued walking back towards the city in search of cold beer.

If you find yourself in Tallinn, I recommend all the locations and activities mentioned in this post. I do regret not planning ahead for a day or over night trip out of town. While we were there we had the urge to see a bit more of the country but it was getting complicated. If I could do it again I would definitely like to check out the city of Tartu and even more, the quaint seaside town of Pärnu.

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