It’s a cool summer morning as I walk down the streets of Tallin’s old town. The wide street is cut up, torn out, as construction workers fill in and relay each brick one by one, the sound of vehicles beeping is the soundtrack of the town with bright orange and yellow being the official color at the moment. How pleasant.
I turn down a narrow street to escape the chaos only to find a tiny shop with only a handpainted wooden sign outside advertising coffee. It was meant to be. I walk inside to find the noise completely blocked out and only a few seats either at the bar or on a bench next to a large window.
“Hello”. I say in Estonian, trying my best not to butcher the words but knowing that I sound just as touristy as I feel. I quickly order a soy latte in English from the attractive male barista who is very kind about my lack of Estonian knowledge and head to the bench to claim a spot before someone else takes all of the seats.
I look outside at the clouds, hoping it doesn’t begin to rain. I’ve been in the Baltic regions for a few weeks now and have grown used to rain every day. Though I love it, I would also love to walk through the town without my rain jacket for a change.
As I sip on my coffee, I begin to read one of the books I picked up from a shop nearby my hostel, The Boy Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk. It is one of the few Estonian literature books translated into English and, being the book nerd that I am, I just had to see what this culture’s literature was all about.
Rain starts to patter on the window and I sigh with discontent at the thought of walking through it to get back to my hostel. As I continue to look out, I get lost in thought about this little city.
Tallin is the capital of Estonia and, despite the construction, it is one of my favorite cities in the Baltics. It is medieval, charming, friendly, and easy to get around. It is a beautiful mixture of Scandinavian and Eastern European, which you can see with its architecture. The old town is still surrounded by a stone wall, making you feel like you are on castle grounds at all times.
One of the highlights in Tallinn is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a 19th century Russian Orthodox Church that, I personally think, is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever stepped foot in. On the outside you can see the Russian influence and, if you think the outside is beautiful, just wait until you step inside. Unlike most churches which tend to have a white or gold interior, this church is blue with gold and unlike any other that I have seen in my life. It’s colorful, yet tasteful, and the visuals are absolutely stunning. Paintings everywhere take your breath away as you feel so insignificant in this holy place.
It was, as some might say, a religious experience walking into this church and seeing how painfully gorgeous it was.
After my visit to the cathedral, I kept walking aimlessly, getting lost in the city, only to find myself faced with a stunning view of the city. An outlook that captured it all and put me in awe of how beautiful it really is here. How lucky I am to be here. How wonderful this world can really be.
On the left, written on a wall, the words The Times We Had sat and I smiled to myself thinking how true those words were for me. Tallinn was the second to last stop on my 5-month journey across 5 continents and I couldn’t help but reminisce on all those times I had. All of the people I met, all of the things I learned, all of the beautiful places I’ve seen. How amazing to have seen all of this in such short time. How amazing to have seen this at all.