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Tallinn: Day Three

Posted on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Dave!Estonia is a country I've wanted to visit for about a decade now. The reason is a rather odd one, so I'll leave that until a bit later in the entry.

And so...

If I was going to ever visit Estonia, now would be the time to do it considering that Tallinn is just a 2-hour ferry ride across the Gulf of Finland. Of course, St. Petersburg, one of my bucket-list dream destinations is just 4-1/2 hours away by train, but the visa requirements are a bit crazy on that one...

Finland Gulf Map
Map taken from Google Maps!

There are a few options for the crossing, but I went with Tallink Silja Line because it seemed to be the most reliable. It also looked to be the most comfortable, being more like a cruise ship than any ferry I've ever been on (seriously, there's a supermarket on board!).

The weather in Tallinn, which I checked multiple times, was forecast to be 78° so I didn't bother taking a jacket. I just jumped on an early tram (which was driven by somebody looking suspiciously like Thor, God of Thunder!), jumped off at the West Terminal stop, and away we go...

Leaving Helsinki

Tallinn's Old Town was a quick (though somewhat confusing) 15-minute walk from the harbor. After walking up a cobblestone path you reach the city gates, which are right out of medieval times...

Tallinn Old Town Gate

As far as medieval cities go, the illusion here is shattered almost instantly because this is what you see the minute you enter...

McDonald's Tallinn

Oh well. It's not like you're getting an authentic experience anyway. McDonald's aside, Old Town Tallinn is very much like Disneyland. It's mostly crowds, restaurants, and souvenir shops... with a few attractions sprinkled in. Mostly churches. Some museums.

Now, as you can see, the weather was hardly the warm paradise I was told. I kept thinking that it would warm up as the day went on, but it never did. Apparently weather forecasts are just as useless here as they are back home. I was fairly comfortable as it wasn't freezing or anything... but I sure wish I would have brought a jacket. Lesson learned.

My first stop was Holy Spirit Church so I could see their beautiful clock...

Tallinn Holy Spirit Clock

It is indeed beautiful, but... crooked. As is just about everything in Tallinn. Nothing is quite straight here, which is enough to drive a photographer crazy. Add that to the very narrow streets which necessitates using a wide-angle lens that just exaggerated how crooked everything is, and I was pretty much a basket case by the time I left. Still, it's a pretty kind of crooked, and I love the stone streets that run through it all...

Tallinn stone Streets

My second stop was the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Since I wasn't going to make it to St. Petersburg, this was about as close as I was going to get to seeing a Russian Orthodox church this trip. Unfortunately, the cathedral is undergoing restoration so it has green webbing all over it, but it's still quite beautiful...

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Not really knowing what else to do after seeing the clock and St. Nevsky, I ended up just wandering around for the five hours I had left. Tallinn has a lot of randomly cool things to see, so it was easy to kill the time.

The defensive wall that surrounds the city has numerous towers, but I only saw one which looked like the castle towers I expected (you know, the kind that look like rooks in a chess set)...

Tallinn Tower Defense

There's a trio of old houses called "The Three Sisters" that I passed as I walked to the Maritime Museum. I'm not quite sure what makes them any more special than the hundred other houses in the city, but tourist groups were going nuts over them, so here you go...

Three Sisters Tallinn

The Maritime Museum is housed within the city's biggest tower, called "Fat Margaret." The building itself is kind of boring, though the museum inside is very nice. But the biggest attraction for me was the terrace at the top. From here you can look out on the entire city, and the view is pretty cool...

Tallinn Fat Margaret Terrace

Of the half-dozen churches I visited, my favorite was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place called "Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of the Mother of God with Three Hands." It's very... shall we say... rustic in appearance, but a lot of fun to visit...

Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of the Mother of God with Three Hands

As I was walking along the walls of the city, I saw a sign for the Tallinn Flower Festival. Thinking this might be a cool thing to see, I stepped outside the gate and saw... this...

Tallinn Old Town Flower Festival

I'm guessing it must continue on somewhere else? Back inside the wall, I started photographing a bunch of crumbling buildings because the textures were just so amazing. Who knows when I might be able to use such beautiful decay as reference material for a project?

Building Texture

Not everything beautiful is falling apart though. Tallinn is filled with little secret alleys and courtyards that are fun to wander around...

Hole In The Wall

Street art break!

Darth Money

And a couple of nifty signs I added to my photo collection...

Hell Hunt Sign

Piss In Drinks Sign!

There were quite a few "American-style" restaurants in the city, but the Texas Honky Tonk Cantina was my favorite concept of them all...

Texas Honky Tonk Cantina

And now, at long last, is the reason I wanted to visit Estonia's capital for all these years. Tallinn is home to the Depeche Mode Bar! That's right, it's a bar devoted to my favorite band! The decor and music is all Depeche Mode all the time...

Depeche Mode Bar Tallinn

Depeche Mode Bar Tallinn

I don't think that this is the original location, because the photos I saw years ago looked different, but it's still pretty cool (they have a Pin-Bot pinball machine!). If you're a DM fan, then it's a must-visit place.

And, just like that, my seven hours in Estonia were over. Time to head back to Helsinki...

Helsinki Isles

All in all, a great way to spend the day. If you're in Helsinki for a while, it's a day-trip worth doing.

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  1. The Three Sisters houses probably get so much attention because the owners have greased the palms of the tour company owners. 😉 Bless your heart. This is why I love you. Estonia = Depeche Mode Bar. 😀

    • Dave2 says:

      I did see that it is possible to get a 72-hour Visa-expemption… but the ferry is 28 hours round-trip which wasn’t possible given my short time in Helsinki. If they offered a similar package for TRAIN travel, I would have jumped at the chance… but you have to arrive via sea in order to qualify. I think this is meant for people on cruises so they can have a shore excursion with minimal hassle.

  2. B.E. Earl says:

    Did a quick search on the Three Sisters and the entire thing is now a hotel. Looks kinda cool and kinda…touristy.

    LOVE the signs for Hell Hunt and Noorus. Love!

  3. I love it when Dave travels! Lots of great pictures and trivia about the destination(s).

  4. “Hell Hunt” made me think Helen Hunt riding a wolf….

  5. can you sent up a closeup of the exposed brick area in the decay photo? like the two windows on down? would love to see that crop sometime.

    also, i adore that you went all the way to estonia for a depeche mode bar. fucking fantastic! then again, you came all the way to pittsburgh for pins, so i know your dedication. at least you didn’t go there because you heard of estonia in encino man. ha! 🙂

    i say this in most of your posts so obviously i can’t stop myself…thank you for sharing these photos. they are spectacular.

  6. also, i totally love that the place is all crooked. for some reason that makes me smile.

  7. Sarah says:

    I love the pictures! It looks like such an awesome town to visit.

  8. martymankins says:

    DM Baar… I had no clue there was such a place until now. And I’m just as big of a Depeche Mode fan as you are. I will add this place to my list of must visit locations in the world.

    The other areas of the city look incredible with all of the colors and character.

  9. Poppy says:

    Love the DETH STAR art and the McDonald’s. All photos are beautiful. This isn’t the same/right post, but that pastry that had anise in it looked so yummy… and then you mentioned the anise. I would eat it anyway even though I’m not big on the licorishiness.

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