Summer in Tallinn


I arrived in an extremely hot and sunny Tallinn this morning and the weather is such a contrast to my last visit. I came over in 2013 during the November half-term holidays and the country was being battered by gales, lashing rain and freezing cold. All my tour plans had to be abandoned in November as there really is no point in sightseeing when you are in danger of being blown over by the wind. Today, the weather is a glorious change.

Hot sunny weather encourages restaurant and cafe owners to fill the pavements with tables and chairs so their customers can dine al fresco. This year it seems there are more pavement cafes than ever. Then again, there appear to be hoards more tourists than ever. I swear it was impossible to see the cobbles in Raekoja Plats and the streets around the Olde Hansa restaurant. There seems to be a lot more street hawkers trying to sell Olde Worlde food dressed in Olde Worlde costumes. For those who don’t know their history, olde worlde times were tough for the peasants and the streets stank of human and animal waste. Modern-day Tallinn smells of roasted nuts and pork crackling. This, many would argue, is an improvement.

There are also a lot of beggars on the streets. I noticed this too in Oslo three weeks ago but I am not sure how genuine the beggars are. They could be like the ones we get in England: criminal gangs targeting commuters on the trains and hanging around outside town centre supermarkets. Since Estonia is a modern economy on the up and up, you would think their social security system provided for the old, out of work and down on their luck.

On the positive side, I came across a nice brewing pub called the Beer House (intelligent name that) which opened off a side street from the Town Hall Square back in 2002. I had a large beer sitting on the terrace and a very hearty caesar salad. I was served by a woman wearing some kind of olde worlde serving wench outfit, but I didn’t let that bother me.

I had a nice time wandering around the Old Town. The last three visits have been in the depths of winter so it has been nice to wander around in the sun. I discovered that the bus from the hostel begins and ends outside the Kohvik Energie, which is my favourite Soviet Era cafe. I went in for a €1 cup of coffee and a cake topped with bright red jelly and tasting vaguely of cream cheese. Yum.

Estonian for Beginners


The Estonian language is a hard one to learn belonging as it does to the Finnish group of languages, and seeming to have little in common with English. It does, however, have some interesting words which are easy to pick up.

My long-time favourite Estonian word is pood which roughly translates as shop or store. It can be compounded, which means that you can put another word / noun in front of it to define what kind of shop it is. Though, you can just have a pood on its own if you so wish. A shopkeeper is a poodnik, which I think is a lovely word.

On my last trip around Tallinn, I was on pood alert and tried to get photos of as many poods as I could. I clocked up a mobilipood, an alkoholipood and a telefonipood.

 

Pood Sign

Pood Sign

Another favourite word is turg. A turg is a market, both the indoor and outdoor kind. I like the Sadaama Turg which is a Russian outdoor market over by Balti Jaam in Kopli. At this market you can find anything from homemade pickles to washing detergent. It is a great place to pick up things which are truly representative of the country such as local drinks, sweets and glassware. I got a fantastic Christmas Tea Light a few years back and a friend a Christmas bauble. The Viru Turg is a great place to go if you want to buy handmade woollens  such as sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens. Nordic-Scandinavian sweaters are fashionable these days and this is the place to buy them. There is a more adhoc market if you go through the Viru Gate and turn right. Alongside the wall runs a series of stalls which sell handmade woollens and tourist souvenirs.

Sadaama Turg

Sadaama Turg

Now you have got to grips with turg and pood I am going to throw in jaam. This has got nothing to do with the sweet fruit stuff you put on your toast or a pile of cars blocking the road. It is more like a station or interchange.  A jaam is a transport hub. So, if you want a bus station you look for a bussijaam. The railway station in Tallinn is called Balti Jaam. A station-master is a jaamaülem and a station platform is a jaamaplatvorm. A radio station is a raadio (saate) jaam. A yardmaster is a jaamadispetšer. A stage is a jaamavahe. I am sure that there are lots more jams to be made.

And finally for this posting, the word trahter, means inn or tavern. An innkeeper is a trahteripidaja. I have noticed that inns, as opposed to pubs and bars, are indicated by a picture of a draught of beer with hops and wheat. The difference between an inn and a pub is that they are a) quieter, b) pleasanter to sit in, c) serve traditional ales and lagers and d) do not attract hen/stag parties. There are many pleasant pubs in Tallinn selling good food and beer but I like a traditional inn. The one pictured below is also a brewery, which makes it double special.

 

Kochi Aidad

Kochi Aidad