Hidden Valley Waterfall

Hidden Valley Waterfall

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tallinn, Estonia

I absolutely adored Estonia. I love the medieval charm about it, mixed with the new, yet not-so-modern.  The people were great, as was the food. You knew you were in a tourist area when in Old Town, but yet you felt so comfortable about it. There were cobblestone streets and employees of the local businesses dressed in era clothing. I was have tempted to buy a dress, for Halloween purposes of course. I'll start with some pictures of remnants of the medieval times.

Every city has a good view point, where you can get some great shots of the city. Or, at least I think every city has one. Well, Estonia has a few. There are some right in town, which is where one of the above shots comes from. For instance, the Town Hall Tower, or a look-out point near the embassies.  But, my favorite spot for an aerial view was the TV Tower. It is the tallest building in Estonia, measuring 314m high. You can go to the view point at 170m high, where you can also have a nice cup of coffee and a danish or something else. And for a tourist spot, prices are great! It is from the Soviet era and Gorbachev once tried to have it destroyed, but the Estonia military/police outwitted him and it remained. :) 

Estonia is over 50% forests. It's a clean place, and is great for hiking nature trails. I took a day tour to Lahemaaa National Park.  Part of the park is a waterfall. It isn't very high, but it is for Estonia. They also have a very large and well kept bog area. There are trails throughout that are replaced regularly due to the rotting wood. This allows you to walk through, enjoying the calm and peaceful areas. The water was so still and so black, your mind would begin to day dream about all of the things that could be at the bottom. The group of us travelling together that day agreed there must be bog monsters that wait for someone to fall in, then pull them down - never to be seen again. ;)

There is a lot of wildlife in the park, but my favorite little friend was this fella we found in town. He was just walking back and forth on a wall at a look-out point, waiting for some fool to feed him. I didn't have any food on me or I would have, despite the guide asking us not to. She said it makes him too fat! haha. He was so cool. He just came right up to people and posed for pictures. 

Not all buildings in Tallinn are old. But, the newer ones are always surrounded by ones that are. The picture below is a Russian Orthodox church in the background, with part of the old city wall in the front. 

This "pink" building is actually the side of the Parliament building! Haha. The front was being renovated and was all covered. The men picked this color many years ago, trying to go for something "manly". Fishermen were manly, and made up a lot of the population, so the color "salmon" came to be the color for the building. I love the old tower in the background though!

This statue symbolizes Estonia's freedom and independence. They were independent several times before, but then kept being taken over - either by Germans or Russians. They have now been independent for a whopping 22 years this time around and they are so happy! 

Now, like any country that has been occupied by the Soviets, there are bound to be remnants of that time still lingering. Two prime examples are as follows. The first (water area) is where they used to de-magnetize Soviet submarines to avoid being detected.  We were not able to go closer out due to an incoming storm that was causing some serious waves. If you look at the middle left, you see one crashing. Some were much bigger and could have knocked us in. So, we learned the history of it from afar. 

The second, and very creepy (albeit interesting) place was a former Soviet prison. Then, it was a hospital, then a prison again by Estonians up until 2005. It is falling apart and the government no longer wanted the associated ties to the Soviet times, so it was shut down.

On a completely random and non-Soviet note, the last two pictures are just of pure joy for me. I love my name. I think my mom picked wisely. It is unique (in most places) without being too out there. Well, in Europe, it is much more common - especially Germany and surrounding areas. Anyway, I found this hostel in Estonia. Had I found it earlier I may have stayed there just because. :)  

Then, while on the day tour to the national park, one of the other girls was named Johanna as well! Here we are: The Switzerland version and the American version. :) 

Ah, Estonia. What a fun little place. Maybe someday I'll make it back again. Who knows. I did, however, truly enjoy my time there. 

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