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.