Stopping by Estonia!

Again, we apologize for the intermittent posting. Wi-fi is limited and absurdly expensive on the cruise ship, so we’re only able to post whilst at port.

Behold! Beauty!Salutations from Tallinn, Estonia! As our epic Baltic Capitals cruise continues to sail across Northern Europe, we docked in Tallinn and spent the better part of today in Estonia’s biggest city situated smack dab on the coast. Our oh-so luxurious and comfortable boat was only in port from about 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, so we endeavored to make the best use of our short time. Tallinn is yet another city that we knew virtually nothing about prior to visiting. Our trip has been extraordinary in helping us fill in these giant gaps of knowledge we have about a ton of places around the world like Estonia, Singapore, Vietnam, etc.

Tallinn is one of the smallest cities in one of the smallest countries that we’ve spent time in thus far. The entire nation has a population shy of two million. It doesn’t take long to discover that due to it’s small size and “favorable geographic location”, this is a country that has been invaded, occupied and controlled throughout its history by nearly every major European nation including Sweden, Denmark, Germany and, most recently and most notably, Russia. The more we see of Europe, the more it dawns on us how the history of these European nations is so intertwined. Estonian is the local language, but you won’t hear it much outside of the country. It’s unique to be in the midst of a language that only 1.5 million people speak among millions of Europeans.

Rocking it in the older part of townA large part of Estonia’s history involves being resilient while fighting seemingly endless oppression by much larger nations. In fact, in the last 800 years, Estonia has only had 40 total years of true independence! And twenty of those years have been since 1991. That’s crazy to wrap your head around. The country continues to grow on its own two legs and recently joined the E.U. and converted to the Euro just two years ago. Our lunch bill had the price in both the old Estonian currency and in Euros since locals are still adjusting to the conversions. In some ways, Brooke and I were exploring an entirely new nation comprised of a centuries old culture and people. We’re seeing parts of the world in a changing time with some counties experiencing independence and peace only in recent years. Estonia has a remarkable story and it is a remarkable time to for us to visit.

Also, please refer to me as the Baltic Fox moving forwardOnce again, the ever-present Hop-on Hop-off tour bus served us incredibly well. We’re on the cusp of writing personal endorsements for these buses.  When we only have a short time to dig in and see a city, these double-deckers are perfect. For just ten Euro a pop, we enjoyed a guided ride on two different lines covering a solid chunk of the city. Plus, the bus provided transportation to and from to the cruise port. We learned about the Estonian singing culture and their giant outdoor amphitheatre that can accommodate thousands of singers (Estonians apparently love to sing), Tallinn’s role in hosting water sports on the Baltic during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and we got a good look at a scary looking seaside prison turned museum.

Since our Norwegian Sun was one of four, count ’em four, giant cruise boats clamoring for space in the port, our first sight in Old Town was tourists and more tourists. At first impressions, you might think that Tallinn’s main population is nothing more than confused looking middle-aged tourists with cameras and fanny packs. We explored old town for a bit which was made up mainly of beautiful old preserved buildings and churches and surrounded by an ancient wall that has large parts still in tact. Old Town itself has an authentic Medieval look and is quiet, sterile and only used now for historically preserved buildings, government buildings and souvenir shops. Wandering away from the crowds and down the hill, we ambled around the corner and we discovered this great Army-Navy Antique Store. The place was a wonderful mix of antique store and history museum with Soviet and Nazi era flags, metals, propoganda posters, busts of Lenin, Matchbooks and more. Just around the corner, the Estonian History museum was one of the best we’ve seen on this trip so far. The small but mighty museum included an exhibit on a recently merchant’s chest dating from 1350 which was unearthed from the Baltic Sea just last year.  The museum also has a very entertaining, tongue-in-cheek video that gives a colorful, brief informative history of the country. On top of all that, the museum has a bathroom that talks to you. I’m pretty sure the toilet was trying to teach me Estonian one word at a time.  It was a little creepy at first.

Around 5:00 PM, Brooke and I marched proudly back onto the boat satisfied with the job we had done. We hit the city hard and fast. Our reward? A quick history and taste of Estonia. Today was a good day: spending half the day exploring a brand new country in Estonia and the other half keeping busy on our giant boat. Speaking of our time on this massive rig, cruise living continues to treat us very well! We’re meeting friendly (mostly American) new faces around every new corner, kicking tail and taking names at trivia (particularly Name that Tune Movie Trivia) and we even managed to catch a Sunday Night NFL game which was pumped in live via Satellite late night in the Sports Bar. The food has been sensational in the categories of taste, availability and quantity. And running on the treadmill is a much more inspiring activity when the view from your window is the moving, open sea. Tonight was a delicious dinner with an ocean view in the main dining room, enjoying a live version of Deal or No Deal, watching a group of shipboard singers and dancers plow their way through Broadway Show tunes, and enjoying some more good luck in the Casino. Hmmm…is it too early to look into a fifteen day cruise? Next stop: St. Petersburg!

-Phil

One last image of some of Old Town from high above. The big church in the background doubled as beacon for sailors and has burned down like five times.

Check it out! Spring Awakening is coming to Tallinn! (We think that’s what it says)

Watching some Sunday Afternoon Football (at 12:30 AM!) on the Norwegian Sun’s Sports Bar on Deck 12 with new friends. Never that far from home…

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Categories: Budget, Casino, City Visits, Estonia, Reflections, Self Guided Tours, The Cruise, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Stopping by Estonia!

  1. Foxy Coxy

    i’ve been following your trip since you left and i realized i haven’t remembered to tell you that i am SOOOOO excited for you. i can’t believe all the amazing places you’ve been and what you’ve done and i am so happy and proud that you are on this incredible adventure. but while i love the pictures, i miss your faces in person and i, for one, will be very happy to see you when you return.
    xoxo
    stacy

    • Thanks Stacy! We appreciate and share in your excitement. Man, we’ve already seen and done so much. We;re glad you’re reading along! I’m sure we’ll have some good stories to share in November when we get back. In fact, you might want to go ahead and make some bar reservations now. I leave it to you to pick a good, comfortable place with lots of drinks. It’ll be a long night! Miss ya…

      -Phil (and Brooke)

  2. Foxy Coxy

    btw, i wonder if the lead guy in “Kevadine Arkamine” will be as bad of a spitter as Jonathan Groff. Rows 1 – 4 are a splash zone!

    • That dude needs to learn how to say it without spraying it. I thought I was seeing things at first, but that Groff dude is a spitter. Maybe the Estonians will see the same thing with his touring counterpart. Beware Kind and Gentle people of Estonia! Wear your Ponchos!

  3. Mom

    How are you enjoying Europe compared to Asia? I think Brooke might really be in love with the Old World architecture. That was always what I loved. Glad everything continues to well. Love you.

  4. Gina HATED Spring Awakening

    You guys know how much I love hearing about your trip so I will spare you the mushy comments. What I will comment on is how much I DETESTED Spring Awakening and hope that you were wrong and that the good people of Estonia won’t be subjected to that terrible play. Hope all is well and can’t wait to see you soon! Love to you both!

    • Hah! Ah, it appears Spring Awakening is invading Estonia. Perhaps you can fly out on a crusade of public service to get them to halt the production. I’m actually not sure songs like “That’s the bitch of living” are going to translate so well into Estonian. Also, of all recent broadway shows, I found that to be an odd one to bring to Tallinn. Edgy I guess.

  5. erinbrachlow

    I really wish I was on this cruise!!!

    • We wish you were with us! We could be sipping Champagne from the Champagne Bar while watching the Baltic Coast go by! There was a guitar musician named Shane who did a great Neil Diamond impression….even when he was singing Beatles songs. Good times.

      Hey, many cruise boats leave from NYC for future post November trips…just saying…

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