What we think

What we did last weekend – Ferdie’s trip to Tallinn

On Friday Ferdie flew to Estonia for a city break in the nation’s snow-clad capital, Tallinn.


I returned from Tallinn prepared to boast at length about the quality and depth of snow underfoot in the Estonian capital (at this time of year hovering somewhere between -6 and -14 decrees Celsius). Imagine my chagrin then when I arrive home and the UK is blanketed in picturesque powder. How annoying!

Still, there is a great deal more to enjoy in Tallinn than permafrost and walking on the iced-over Gulf of Finland: for one thing the food. Yes Tallinn is a culinary hotspot with a range of top-drawer restaurants that refreshingly don’t differentiate between touristic and local customers. Think a blend between Russian and Nordic cuisine – with a characteristic onus on black bread, black pudding and lingonberries. And herrings (oh yes, the herrings…).

The museums are excellent, too. The Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam) is a museum of Estonian maritime history located in a 100-year-old Russian imperial flying boat hangar that houses a large 1930s submarine and is characterised by illuminating multilingual interpretation. The Kumu (or Kunstimuuseum) is a fabulous modern museum of Estonian art – where I saw, among other things, a brilliantly seedy exhibition on decadence in pre-war Estonian art. Then there is the Tallinn City Museum (Linnamuuseum), which offers an excellent potted history of the city’s Hanseatic heritage up to Soviet occupation and independence. Finally there is the huge Estonian Open Air Museum – a collection of houses and villages in a park that trace the vernacular of Estonian/Livonian architecture and usage through the ages – made all the more exciting by the snow and the fact that Estonia was celebrating 100 years of independence.

Yes, on February 24th, 1918, Estonia declared independence from Russia. This was an unanticipated element of the trip but wholly welcome and made it an extremely interesting time to visit. With a cyber attack from Russia in 2007 still fresh in memory and continued rumblings from the East, there was an added edge to the parade of NATO’s military hardware in Freedom Square on Saturday.