”What? You’re from Australia and live in Estonia?”
”Yes, I live here in Tallinn.’’
”I wanted to try something different.’’
A local’s reaction? They simply laugh!
It seems exotic to live in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, but not in the way of beaches, cocktails and sunshine. Tallinn is a hidden gem tucked away on the far east side of Europe, and when people come to visit, they are pleasantly surprised with what this small yet thriving seaside city has to offer.
Every day I get to live out my Disney Princess fantasy. Dubbed the ‘medieval pearl of Europe’, the city is home to one of Europe’s best preserved old towns, a UNESCO World Heritage Listed and protected site. It is almost inevitable a visitor will spend a day getting lost along the cobblestone streets and soaking up the surrounds of sprawling architecture from the 13th to 16th centuries, colourful houses, hidden courtyards and spectacular churches, all neatly consigned within a fairy tale city wall studded with guard towers. It is easy to spend a day getting lost along the cobblestone streets of Old Town and soaking up the surrounds. A favourite afternoon past time is to sit in Town Square and and unwind with a traditional fare of Estonian food – Elk soup! And don´t forget the moose pie too – it is delicious!
Along the outskirts of Old Town, there are various oddities and sights to visit. The Russian market sells anything and everything, from Russian delicacies and items from the Soviet era to tombstones. Abandoned building Linnahall, the site of the 1980 Moscow Olympics rowing competition, is a local favourite spot to watch the sunset and track ferry liners departing to Baltic Sea destinations Helsinki, Stockholm and St Petersburg.
Showcasing old fashioned wooden architecture, the hip and happening area of Kalamaja oozes coolness with its bohemian charm and fast-art scene. Telliskivi Creative City is a centre of progressive culture in the Kalamaja district, with former old industrial buildings converted into trendy restaurants, bars and cafes. Nearby, an old converted factory is home to shops filled with designer items from local artists.
Outside the city of Tallinn itself lies abandoned buildings from the Soviet era including manors, submarine ports and castles – most of which left in a forgotten existence, suspended in the past. The unmissable Laheema National Park stretches out from the picturesque coastline to the encompassing inland forests, rivers and lakes as well as cultural attractions such as restored manors.
And this is why I live in Tallinn. It is completely different. There are so many unique things to see and considering its challenging and interesting past, the overall vibe of the place is peaceful and perfect. Perfect for me to live out my fairy tale dream.