Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Baltic Adventure Part 2: First night in Tallinn

I finally got into Tallinn somewhere around 9. A stop at the baggage claim showed quickly that my big bag hadn't made it, but I'd been warned that that was possible, and the gentlemen who were working at the baggage claim were able to determine that the bag had indeed gotten held up in Paris, but was going to be on either the last flight in that evening or the first one in the morning. We weren't moving our things onto the boat until the following morning, so that was all right, and I headed out to the transportation area & found a hotel van that took me to the Hotel Metropol. I didn't get a picture but I saw masts just before we got to the hotel - yay! Capt. Kat & F. were waiting in the lobby; I checked in & dropped my bag in the room & then when Kat suggested a walk and maybe a bite to eat, I enthusiastically agreed. We were staying in (and departing from) a section of Tallinn called "Old Town", which dates back to medieval times and was where the city's traders and merchants lived and did business.

 Today's tourist industry (which looks to be doing well, which is great) reflects on this medieval heritage - there are lots of restaurants where costumed wait staffs will serve you venison or wild boar, there are apparently a lot of people who dress up in medieval garb just to add atmosphere, and then there's the archery school we ran into not 5 minutes from the hotel.
As I'd mentioned in the "Photos for Friends" post, I spent the summer after I graduated from high school working as a camp counselor at Camp Niwana, a Camp Fire Girls camp near the town of Port Orchard in Washington State. It was a good old fashioned camp - we didn't do any tie dye or macrame or any of those really 70's things that I remember from camp, but we had campfires and sang songs and paddled canoes and swam in the lake, there was riding at a nearby stable, and there was an archery range there, and on a day when I had a break from the kids, I would frequently go do a little recreational target shooting. I never got to be brilliant, but I got to the point where I mostly hit the target, and I enjoyed it - so when I saw the range all set up here, I couldn't help eyeing it. I wasn't going to ask to stop, just 'cause it seemed SO silly and I didn't want to make my friends wait through it...but Kat caught me looking at 'em and said "Do you want to try?" and two minutes later I was having a very cool leather forearm guard laced onto my right arm .
They had a small wardrobe of medieval accoutrements to get you into the spirit of things - I started to say "I don't need to wear a costume" but just as I was saying that one of the young women who was running the stand was deftly tossing a surcoat over my head...well, I'm a tourist, why not? :D I did pass on the plumy hat, but...ta daa! 
Reintroduction to the bow - it all looked like the same basic setup as the ones I remember using at camp, but again, that was a very long time ago and I listened carefully to her instruction.  
And, here I am drawing a bow for the first time since the summer of nineteen eighty-mumble...
And swish, here I am missing completely. 
Next 3 also missed completely but then I got 2 at least in the edge of the board on which the target was mounted, and then the last 4 I managed to get in the target. The women who were running it said that was actually quite good for a first-timer - I did at that point mention the summer at Camp Niwana but I said that that was a long, long time ago. I had a really good time trying it again and I thanked them and told them so. 
Then we headed on into the Old Town proper - here's Captain Kat saying "Welcome to Tallinn!"

And here are a couple of shots I took while Kat worked out how to get back to the restaurant she and the others had gone to earlier and liked. 

Neat old town, Old Town; if there's one regret that I have about the trip it's that we didn't have much time to explore this and the other parts of Tallinn - this was really all the looking around I did. Kat & the others had gotten to climb one of the church towers earlier in the day; there was a maritime museum that sounded interesting, and an architecture museum right next to the Old City marina, where we went to get our boat the next day, and I think I could have happily spent an entire day just wandering around in this area.

Did I mention that this had to have been around ten o'clock at night? F. got tired and decided to head back to the hotel;  I was starting to look at other restaurant menus but Kat was pretty sure that the one they'd liked was right around the bend (although there were many bends of many degrees so she wasn't positive) - 

but then of course we came around the right bend and there was Aed, the restaurant we'd been looking for - I wasn't wildly hungry (one nice thing about international flights is that it seems that on those, they haven't decided that food is an unnecessary frill) so I had a delicious cold mint-cucumber soup and (because a co-worker of mine who's from eastern Europe had said that that part of the world has wonderful smoked fish), a smoked fish appetizer with salmon, lamprey and herring, all absolutely delicious. There was a duck dish that the waiter said was his favorite, and Kat said the desserts were wonderful - if we'd had time to make another trip into the Old Town I might have agitated for another meal there, but we didn't - so if anyone who reads this has been to this restaurant and had the duck, please don't tell me how delicious it was!!!! 

I know, I know, I've showed it twice...but it was such a pretty dinner, I can't resist. Promise that's it for this dinner's appearances here. There will be more fish - my co-worker was right about that and I think I ate more fish in a week than I usually eat in a month!

Back out into the smiling summer evening - this is close to midnight. I'd looked up the length of day in the area and I knew it was going to be long - but this was still startling. Beautiful, too, though. In fact I think this was when I started needing to remind myself that these long summer days are payed for with some equally long winter nights in order to not start thinking "Wow, it would be nice to live someplace with days this long".

I could tell it would take some getting used to, though - fortunately, the hotel room, although very nice (nothing fancy but very pleasant, with lots of clean blonde wood), was not a room with a view - it actually looked out onto an air shaft or something and beyond that was outfitted with blackout curtains. Between that, and the good dinner, and the good wine, and the long day of travelling, I had an excellent night's sleep.

Next up: Day 2 - we meet the Wesilind!


Buck said...


bonnie said...

Thanks! Yes, it was.

bonnie said...

I thought the BVI's were sailor's paradise but this area in the summertime was pretty amazing too.

One thing I liked here was that so many of the boats were locals - one guy actually asked us how a bunch of Americans ended up sailing around in Helsinki Harbor - we gave Kat full credit, said she was an excellent sailor who, for her vacations, likes to gather groups of friends for sailing adventures in interesting places and that the Gulf of Finland was her latest interesting place and that we were loving it. The BVI's, it seemed like most of the sailors were tourists or cruisers.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there was something really neat about finding such a culture of recreational boaters there - and the facilities for such boaters are great, my NYC boat-owning friends will be envious when I get there. It's made so easy, it's great.

Baydog said...

Dang, the English version of the menu at Aed wouldn't load, but I'm sure I would've enjoyed everything. The restaurant itself looked very warm and comfortable.

bonnie said...

Oh, the English and Estonian menus are in the same place - you just keep scrolling down until things start to make sense. Took me a couple of visits to figure that out.

The duck is said to be cooked at "low temperatures" - I was wondering if it was the same as that "sous vide" process you were talking about the other day.