Helsinki 2012: daytrip to Tallinn, Estonia

by | Oct 5, 2012 | International Travel, Travel

As someone who doesn’t get seasick I seem to keep booking us on boat rides this year to Leandra’s chagrin. Since Tallinn, Estonia, is only a 2 hour ferry from Helsinki I knew I wanted to make this a part of our trip. And thus began the daytrip that nearly became an overnight trip…

Saturday morning we awoke to a cool breeze and an overcast sky threatening rain. As we walked to the harbor to catch the ferry to Tallinn Leandra began to worry about the potential for waves. [Leandra’s Note: I took dramamine on the ride over and was glad I did, you could definitely feel the waves rocking the ferry boat around.]

We arrived in Tallinn to a slow drizzle that would come and go throughout our day, one in which the temperature never rose above 55F. We disembarked from the boat and started following the small crowd (that didn’t queue up for shuttles to various hotels) up the sidewalk and through a parking lot to the ring road around the old town. A few minutes later we were at one of the old gates.

entrance to Old City

Despite the less-than-perfect conditions we were immediately charmed by the winding streets and mix of buildings. We made our way to St.Olav’s Church where I took the 258 steps to the rooftop viewing platform while Leandra explored the interior.

St. Olaf's Church
cathedral interior

view from atop St. Olaf's Church
view from the top – worth the narrow winding staircase!

Having seen the town from above I was ready to continue exploring.

the center of town on a rainy day

art gallery
local art gallery

Toompea Hill is the southern end of the old town and we made our way up the hill to several churches and overlooks of the rest of the city.

St. Nicholas' Church
St. Nicholas’ Church

Leandra’s illicit photo inside St. Nicholas’ Church- she got in trouble for this one :)

view from the ramparts
view from ramparts

decorative building
Estonian Parliament

Over the next few hours we enjoyed the antics of a over-privileged Finnish woman fight over a 1E charge during lunch, explored more of the town, and found a few interesting home goods to bring back with us (i.e. shopping). Around 5pm we decided to have a beer and a snack to tide us over since we would have a late dinner in Helsinki. Or so we thought- about 1 hour before our scheduled departure Leandra received a text message that the 7pm ferry had been canceled due to rough seas.

We made our way to the ferry terminal to see what alternative transportation would get us back to Helsinki and after standing in line for a while we were given new tickets for a much larger boat that would not be cancelled (for a 10E fee). Unfortunately, that boat didn’t leave until 10:30pm, which meant we would get back to Helsinki well after midnight. What they failed to mention is that the new ferry went to a different terminal on the other side of town.

From our original ferry office we made our way to the new office to receive our official tickets. In the much larger terminal there were several men already stumbling drunk… and we had the fortune to meet up with one later that evening.

With daylight fading and a few more hours to kill we decided to find a wine bar to relax in. On our way to one place in the old town we came across Kork, not all that close to where google maps had placed it. Leandra noticed a sign advertising two-for-one happy hour, and after some initial confusion, we had more than enough wine for our sojourn.

LOTS of wine labels
wine labels as wall paper

With their free wifi we were able to determine where the ferry would drop us off and figure out a plan to get us back to the city center and our hotel.

Finally, around 9:45pm, we made our way to our big ferry for the crossing back to Helsinki. The term “ferry” doesn’t do this boat justice; it was a cruise ship being used as a ferry, complete with cabins, a multi-floor casino and a grocery store (tax free!). Since it was 11p on Saturday night there were also a few drunk people… including one Russian with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other that we saw when getting our tickets. How he made it through the trip without being beaten up I do not know, but he certainly made an effort by loudly harassing several groups of people.

Once back in Finland we packed on to a tram that took us back to the city center, where a four block walk mercifully lead us back to our comfortable beds sometime after 1a. Suffice to say we slept in a bit Sunday morning!

Tagged with: daytrip | Estonia | ferry | rain | Tallinn

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