Without a minute to spare, Tiffany, Mayra and I jetted from our Fulbright orientation to the ferry terminal down on the waterfront in Helsinki. When they said we’d need to arrive at least 45 minutes before our departure time, they weren’t kidding! We needed at least half that time to walk from the ferry terminal entrance to the actual ferry. I’ve never been on such a big ferry before- what a fun experience! With several decks to explore, we were disappointed it was too cold and wet to watch Helsinki fade away from the upper deck, so we found ourselves a nice corner tucked away from the crowds and began planning our quick trip to Tallinn, which of course had to start with what we were eating for dinner that evening.
We arrived at our apartment for the weekend, and immediately got changed to head to dinner. After a busy couple of days, we were wiped, and did not venture too far from our apartment for food. We found a great little Russian restaurant around the corner, and ordered a variety of food to share. A variety of dumplings, soup, and the most delicious potato pancakes I’ve ever tasted! A glass of wine to accompany our meal left us full, satisfied, and ready for bed so we could explore the next day.
We spent Saturday exploring all the nooks and crannies of old town Tallinn. With a heavy Russian influence (remember, Estonia recently gained its independence in 1991), we encountered, you guessed it, more Russian food. And I think I fell in love.
For breakfast we found this little Russian bakery on our way to Old Town. Boy, we were not disappointed! These Russian pirukad, or pies as they called them, were just what we needed on this chilly winter morning. We had a variety to choose from, sweet or savory, with all types of fillings. They had chicken and spinach, turkey and plum, meat, spinach and feta and even salmon and spinach. On the sweet side they had cloudberry, apple and spice, strawberry, and a variety of other berry pies. Of course we had to have one sweet and one savory. I decided on the chicken and spinach and a cloudberry one. I was not disappointed. Little did we know we’d be craving these pies all day long. Don’t worry. We went back at 22.00 that evening to get more for breakfast the following morning. Turkey and plum, strawberry and curd, and the Christmas pie were all on the docket for the next day (and a midnight snack).
The rest of our day was spent exploring the inner parts of Old Town Tallinn, which is surrounded by one of the best preserved medieval walls in Europe. Despite the foggy, damp, and cold day, we walked all over the town and participated in a walking tour around the Old Town.
The doors of Tallinn (just a few of the many!)
We were rewarded with some warmth and a fire at a restaurant just outside the city walls, which felt more like someone’s home than a restaurant. With specialties made to order, our chef cooked us some tasty omelettes and potatoes while we warmed up by the fire.
We ended our day at the Russian Occupation Museum, one of the best museums I have been to in a while. Plenty of information about the Russian occupancy of Estonia was given, along with videos, artifacts and displays for visitors. We did not anticipate spending several hours here, and we probably could have spent longer if they hadn’t kicked us out for a private engagement.
After all the learning that took place that day, we decided to make one final stop before heading home and try out some Estonian beer. A nice dark stout was a great way to warm up on this cold wintry day.
Great food, great friends, a new country to add to the list, more new places to explore- what a fun weekend!