Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wknd in Tallinn, Estonia

The summer weather in Finland has been amazing this year. Except for a few rainy days in the beginning it’s basically been blue skies, sunshine and 25 degrees every single day. Since we live pretty much next to a forest and a lake, it’s been a lot of swimming during the last few weeks.

When the weather is so great you become almost ignorant to the fact that just because the sunshine is where you are, that doesn’t mean it’s sunny everywhere else. Or at least if your name is Jonna. So, when we decided to do a spontaneous wknd trip to Tallinn, Estonia, and I saw a weather forecast that said 17 degrees and rain, I still didn’t believe it. In shorts and a t-shirt (and equipped with no umbrella!) I jumped on a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn.

The ferry took 2 hours and once we arrived my shorts felt like the most ridiculous choice of clothing. It wasn’t that it was raining. Oh no. It was pouring down. Literally pouring down. There was so much water on the road that the cars could barely drive off the ferry.

Slightly disorganized Tallinn harbour didn’t really come with a taxi line so we had to wait for the taxi war to end before we managed to grab a car to our hotel, which was located in the beautiful old town.

Once there (and checked in), a windy and rainy day followed. Residents and shop owners of tourist-Tallinn obviously saw the rain as a great opportunity to make shit loads of money out of silly tourists (like us) who hadn’t brought an umbrella, and sold some pretty basic stuff at 18-21 euros, which is around 200 rmb. Yeah, I don’t think so.

After some serious searching we managed to buy plastic raincoats from a small shop for 1 euro/each (that’s more like it!) and challenged the weather. Fortunately it stopped raining towards the night and we had a nice time walking around old town, checking out old buildings and cute little shops, bars and restaurants.

Tallinn's a very touristy place with a focus on the medieval times, and locals aren’t necessarily the most friendly people that I’ve come across. At one cute little restaurant, for instance, we were sitting at the bar having drinks when a countless number of people came in asking to see the menu. The staff kept handing them a menu, but then when the guests required a table they just said:

-Sorry, we have no free tables and are booked all night.

Hm... so why not tell them that before they start studying the menu?!

We did some bar hopping, enjoyed an average Italian meal, and saw some pretty drunk groups of tourists, which is probably one of the reasons why locals don’t love the visitor flow. The next day the weather was better and on the ferry back to Helsinki we even sat on the sun deck, playing card games.

Suddenly a guy came up to me, saying:

-Hey, you live in Shanghai right?

-Eh… yes I do!

-Yeah, I recognize you. We work in the same office building. You’re on the 15th floor! I’m on the 17th!

There he was, a Brazilian guy hailing all the way from Shanghai to the Tallinn ferry, and he was pretty surprised to see me there too. We are now officially elevator buddies in Shanghai.

I have a tendency to bump into people that I know on airports, no matter what kind of strange place I get to I often see someone I know. But on a Tallinn ferry on my way to Helsinki?! Turns out –it’s a small world.

Some pix from Tallinn:

Estonia has only been independent since 1991 (This memorial stone is for all the people that died when the boat "Estonia" sank in 1994). With a population of 1,3 million (Tallinn has 400 000 citizens) it's a small country.

In a 1 euro raincoat...

Tallinn by nite


KrisTi said...

Ouhh, I didn't know that you were in Tallinn:( I had made you great tour! Sorry to hear that you didn't like so much Tallinn..Because very often people fell in love to Tallinn. Mice old town, cheap bars, good food, interesting underground city tour, lots of green parks and people who are always up to party. Maybe just bad luck with the weather and touristic traps. Next time just let me know;)
Btw, I am now moving to Beijing for my studies! But maybe next summer Tallinn again for you?;)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Kristi- Tallinn was a beautiful city, we were just unlucky with the weather. As for the lack of friendly customer service, I can fully understand it. I saw so many drunk, annoying groups of tourists, if I was a local I wouldn't be friendly to them either. It often is like that at tourist destinations. I have heard from friends that Tallinn is at its best just before Xmas when they have Xmas markets in old town. I can imagine it being quite cozy then and wouldn't mind going back to check it out.good luck in Beijing!!

liz said...

When I used to live in Switzerland, every time I went back to Tallinn (my hometown) the customer service people seemed extremely impolite, and people overall looked quite unfriendly too. Now when I live in Shanghai and go back to Tallinn, it doesn't look that bad anymore – at least some customer service is ok and cars stop at zebra crossings:) So it all depends on the perspective...

Anonymous said...

The rainy spell in Tallinn was great after weeks of heat and sunny days.
Just a small comment, Estonia became free in 1991 on August 20. The monument that you have taken a picture of is actually to the sinking of a ferry called "Estonia". Many lives were lost on that tragic event in autumn 1994.


Anonymous said...

Are you a real blonde- C

黃愛玲 said...

You posted some great photos. =o) I've always wanted to visit. Thank you.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Liz - hehe, that's a good point. Customer service is non existant in China!

Maret - Omg, sorry for making that mistake!! I remember when Estonia (the boat) sank. I was living in Sweden then and it was constantly on the news. It was a tragic and horrible accident. I will change the photo byline.

C - nah, I wear a wig most f the time ;)

Anonymous said...

blondes are more friendly than dark haired people... and they have more fun too!!!!