Tallinn

Utterly captivating.  Once again, we found a parking site close to the Old Town and all of 200 yards from where we’d driven off the Helsinki ferry.  We had a day of blazing sunshine to explore the small but perfectly formed Old Town and what a joy it was.

The streets were largely empty as we set off around the place and since it was a Saturday morning we could only assume that all the stag weekend/Friday night/party animals were all still sleeping off the effects of the previous few hours in their pens.  Hoorah.

One particular tower along the old medieval walls of the town had for many years enjoyed a reputation for being haunted.

This didn’t seem to worry either Kate or the dog.  I’d love to know what was inside that empty hooded figure, but I suspect the reality would be far too uncivilized to catalogue here.  Moving swiftly on, we inevitably found ourselves in the old Town Hall square, which was surrounded on three sides by cafes and restaurants, so the next step was clear – we should inspect them all at a leisurely pace before settling down for an extended lunch in the sun.  Here we are, just after coming to that pleasing conclusion:

The rest of the day passed in a pleasant haze and I’m glad to be able to report that we found our way back to the vehicle without too much trouble.  Kate took a few minutes along the way to try and persuade the dog to play its part in some urban art, with limited success:

The next day was altogether rainer and so we bought a second hand phone for Kate (as you do on a rainy Sunday), whose own phone had given up the ghost not long after leaving the UK.  The other customers at the time were three dodgy looking Russian coves, who had a total of six rather battered looking phones between them and were negotiating for new simcards.  Our imaginations ran riot for a few minutes but in the end we could only suppose that they were minor league crims – Mr Big and his acolytes wouldn’t be seen dead with such ratty looking phones.  Turning our backs on the tawdry evidence of modern Russia, we sought solace in Soviet achievements of the past and went for a look at the sailing centre that the USSR had built for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.  It hadn’t been touched much since, at a guess, 1981.  Most of the concrete was falling apart, the only people to have used it recently seemed to have names like Czar and Smek if the graffiti and tags painted on the walls were to be believed and the whole place had an air of decayed grandeur.  The edges of the Roman Empire must have had a similar feel in their day.

Not far away, though, was another relic that had been carefully restored and then turned into a museum.  The old seaplane hangars had once housed (British made) Short Seaplanes.  Eight of them, in fact, which made up a fair part of the might of the Estonian Air Force.  The hangars were made from huge free standing reinforced conrete domes of around 100 yards diameter.  The concrete at the very top was no more than 4 inches thick.  It was a mystery how they’d survived, but survive they had and now they housed a maritime museum with ships, a seaplane and even a (British made) submarine from the inter-war period.  We could have spent all day there, but time, tide and the dog beckoned us back to the vehicle to resume our southward journey.

And just as the sun had set on the Soviet empire, so it set on our last day in Tallinn.

Cliche, I know, but sometimes I can’t resist them.