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In fact, when you hear an, Estonians speak, you’ll see that they are fast talkers.
Estonian words are often short and have double vowels.
Struggling with long words and many consonants in the Russian language, they do come through as being slow but as soon as they switch to English or German they babble away.
Eastern Europeans often quip about Estonians as extremely slow people: there are countless jokes about this northern nation taking all the time in the world to do something or even say something.
When you land in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, you’ll see that it’s not true. In order not to get lost in this medieval city, it’s best to purchase a Tallinn pass which gives you access to all museums, churches, excursions and an opportunity to use public transport at certain hours.
Old Tallinn is often called a “limping city” because of the two picturesque streets – Long Leg and Short Leg.
Local legends say that a devil used to live on one of these Legs because an old icon, made of plaster and molded into a wall at the crossing of these streets, has at one point acquired tiny horns on baby-Jesus’ head.
If you are not afraid of heights, you can have a coffee right on top of the medieval wall that in the Town Hall and see a magnificent panorama of the city. To do that, you’d have to climb 34 meters up the circular stairs, which means that next morning you may be limping just like those old streets.
The view from the walls will prove that Old Tallinn is all about churches and cathedrals. But if you want to bring home a tale or two, make sure to visit the Dome Cathedral.
One of the greatest legends I’ve heard involves a promiscuous merchant who at the end of his life gave all his money to the clerics on the condition to be buried inside the Dome Cathedral. And indeed, there is his tombstone in the church.
Locals say that a woman stepping on the third marble stone from the entrance should make a wish. The sleazy merchant will be responsible for fulfilling it after he peeks under the skirt.
To celebrate the wish, head to Olde Hansa restaurant, where medieval recipes come to life in the kitchen without electricity or any other modern facilities.
Waiters speak in an old fashioned way, wear period dresses and light the halls with large candles. A menu includes fried bear meat, deer, beans in a dough sack and all kinds of other dishes popular in the old days.
Make sure to visit a bathroom here with its medieval closet and a wash basin with a kettle instead of a tap.
Another off-beaten attraction is Scotland Yard Pub where lounges look like cells and chairs are wired up like electricity chairs. Enjoy strawberry ale in this place but make sure to behave because waiters in police uniform may handcuff you.
Wondering around cobbled-stone streets, buy some almonds fried in various spices – they are a great snack. Modern museum Kumu Kunst is in every guidebook so don’t miss it, especially the room with artist Villu Jaanisoo’s metal busts of famous and ordinary Estonians.
With a recording system inside each one of them, they “talk” non-stop. Apparently, original voices of people commemorated in this installation have been recorded for this exhibit. Figures seem to talk louder the closer you approach.
There are a lot more places in Tallinn missing from tourist guides but definitely worth a visit. A small Mexican cafe Carramba with skeletons peaking through its windows, special deer sausage sold in supermarkets, Kalev chocolates and small old books stores with Soviet books, rare vinyl records and pins.
So if you leave your stereotypes at home and greet Estonians by saying tere, they will be quick enough to help you find their country’s attractions.