Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baltics Part 3: Tallinn, Estonia

A view of Tallinn from our balcony

If you'd even told me I'd make it to Estonia, I'd never have believed you. What an amazing and unusual city Tallinn is. The medieval parts of the city are so well-preserved (and restored) that it literally takes one's breath away. It has it's roots all the way back to the 13th century when it was first called Reval. In fact, it was called Reval up until the 1920s when the Estonians FINALLY won their independence from several occupying countries (Russia and Germany among them.) Unfortunately, that independence only lasted until the Iron Curtain came down after WWII. They again regained their independence in 1991 and recently joined the EU.

The girls had a rough beginning to this day, so we quickly settled into a cafe and ordered chai, coffee, and one of these awesome fruit pies. That sure hit the spot and we were ready to roll again.

We passed several markets in the old part of town where many items to buy had curious similarities--they all had to do with keeping warm. Scarves, hats, sweaters, shoes, dresses, etc--all warm and cozy. It was so hard not to stop and look at everything!

Here are the girls, playing on the cobbles (or the "bumpies" as we call them). We purchased two pieces of art from the sellers behind them. Come on over to our house and see them!

We visited two churches in Tallinn. One was St. Olaf's, which is undergoing extensive renovation. Here's another amazing altar piece--dating from the 14th century (again!) There we are in the picture to the right, just to give you an idea of the scale.

 The other church was the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, built in the late 19th century (by the Russians, obviously!). This striking building sits directly across the plaza from the Estonian parliament building, just like a finger in the eye to the native Estonians. In fact, the Estonians hated this building so much that it was scheduled for demolition in the 1920s, but lack of funding and effort (besides the huge size of the church) deterred the movement. Now it's been restored and is a focal point for many of the population (almost half) who are native Russian.

Parliament building across the plaza
Another interesting custom we observed was the "alms for the poor" outside the Nevsky cathedral entrance. All the ladies standing on the street facing the church are begging for money. Definitely something I'd never seen before. However, it's a logical spot for a handout because the church was packed with worshipers and tourists alike.

After a busy morning of touring we stopped in the Town Center for lunch. They had "patio seating" fully equipped with heaters and blankets. Yes, please!

Ellie BEGGED to try Daddy's beer...and of course, realized she didn't like it. :)

Hands down the BEST garlic bread I have ever had. Bar none.

Such tasty food!

Other views of the wall (and you can walk up on the catwalk) and of Fat Margaret, the large round tower near one of the city's entrances.

It was quite the memorable day not only because of our wonderful and unique location but because both Ellie and Kate nearly met with disaster on this day. Kate narrowly avoided being hit by a car and Jon was carrying Ellie on his shoulders and his ankle turned, pitching Ellie forward with Daddy catching her only by her ankle before she it the ground. Thank God for His mercies!! Both girls were ok--rather shaken as were their parents!!!--and we counted MANY blessings as we safely headed back to the ship. Lots of tears shed, but thankfully, very few in actual injuries. And Mommy will be the first to admit it wasn't just the two little girls who shed tears!

If you ever have a chance to go to Tallinn, we highly recommend it. Just don't walk in front of traffic and be sure to watch those cobblestones. Next stop...St. Petersburg!


Anonymous said...

Oh, my, thank God for His travel and adventure mercies! Guardian angels. What a WONDERFUL post, what a BEAUTIFUL place to be able to visit. A truly unique experience. Love all the photos of places you saw, people doing life in those places and family fun. Lifetime memories and a blog that is capturing it for us and for the the girls to see for many years to come. LOVE Estonia. LOVE you all...thanks for making our day...G+P

Anonymous said...

Love you, A& J

Nana said...

Oh my, what a beautiful city and country. What was the temperature when you were there? Does a warm summer ever come to this part of the world? The buildings are beautiful so picturesque! The colors and the bumpies are fantastic. And indeed, thank God for His mercies. I bet you were happy to be back on the ship. We love you and miss you so much! What a memory!