Blog posts

Seaplane & Soviet spies – 30 hours in Tallinn

Seaplane & Soviet spies – 30 hours in Tallinn

anniversary, Estonia, Hotel Telegraaf, Kalamaja, KGB museum, KGB-museo, Lennusadam, matkablogi, MEKK, Old town, Seaplane Harbour, Tallinn, Tallinna, travel blog, Valli baar, Viru Hotel
Tallinn is a tricky destination for most of the Finns. We’ve been there so many times that it’s easy to just walk the beaten track through the Old town and drink the night away in the dozens of tourist pubs. For the first time I visited Tallinn more than twenty years ago, and this time both me and Alanmies wanted to experience something new. 
 
After all, it was our five-year wedding anniversary. 

I think we did quite well.
 
 
First things first: we opened a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in our room in Hotel Telegraaf. Cheers! 
This hotel is very elegant –  and perfect, if you want a little extra luxury compared to for example the good old Viru.
 
Destination: Lennusadam a.k.a. Seaplane Harbour, dominated by Lembit, the only surviving mine-laying submarine from the 1930s. I was here on a work-related dinner last year, and the atmosphere was still the same:  the dark walls and the bright lights, the sounds of airplanes… And a lot to see and do, although I skipped the cannons. The trips to Normandie and Vietnam were enough for gun technology. 
 
I had Baltic herring four times during the trip!! This dish in the Maru café was the best: Estonian style in a pot with creme sauce. Through the glass you can see Maaslinn, the oldest wreck found in Estonia.
 
Alanmies on the deck of Suur-Tõll, a jugend-style ice-breaker. I love old boats, so it was nice to be able to investigate the whole vessel: the engine room was three decks tall, and the red and white floor tiles must have been original.
 
Kalamaja, the neighbourhood between Lennusadam and the Old town, has been hyped in many travel magazines, thanks to the nostalgic and unspoilt wooden houses. It was beautiful, although very slippery! I would like to return in the summer.
 
At this point Alanmies was calculating our chances to move to Tallinn and renovate a gingerbread house of our own. 🙂
 
So – we actually made it out of the Old town (and almost got hit by a train!)
 
Dinner time! After a bubble bath and a nap we continued our genuine local theme over a dinner at MEKK, a restaurant that is specialised in modern Estonian cuisine. This goat cheese creme was to die for, but there was only one non-meaty dish available as a main course. The cod was good, but nothing more.
 
Time for after dinner drinks, and Valli Baar. The local feeling was enhanced by the dark wooden interior, sandwich trays and the sounds of Lily Marlene by a live accordion player. We ran into two locals of our age, who spoke perfect Finnish. Crazy. I’ve never been abroad and spoken my native language with foreigners.
 
When they heard that we’re celebrating our anniversary, they ordered a bottle of shampanskoye, Russian sparkling wine. (And after that Alanmies ordered the dreaded Millimallikas shot, which is a truly unique combination of vodka, tequila and tabasco. Bleurggh!!) Together we went to a local music club Guitar Hunt. I think the band was quite good, but honestly cannot remember so clearly… 
 
And suddenly it’s Sunday
 
…but I was really hungry the next morning, and enjoyed the smoked herring and other delicacies of the Tchaikovsky breakfast to the maximum. 
 
Time for one more adventure before hopping on Silja Star to Helsinki.
 
The KGB museum at Viru Hotel (book in advance). Our guide Maire had worked in the hotel in the 1980s, and she told us many stories from the soviet days. 
 
The KGB occupied the rooms on the top floor of the hotel, and they could listen to many of the rooms, and also used classic James Bond -type of tricks, such as hidden microphones in bread plates and ash trays. There were red telephones (as displayed here in the secret KGB office room) on every floor. The official story was that it was a direct line to the fire department, but of course everyone knew what it was about.
 
Soviet nostalgia from the 1980s. 
 
I can remember my first trip to Tallinn, especially the local boys, who wanted to buy chewing gum with Lenin pins, whenever the tourist bus stopped. That felt so strange, but there was not always even food to buy in the shops, let alone Western lifestyle products. 

Today is another story, so we spent the last couple of hours (window) shopping.
 
View from the top of Viru Hotel. 
 
We got what we wanted: new experiences in Tallinn. 
 
We’ll be back in the summer, again. 

About the author

Viihdyn kohteissa, jotka eivät ole ihan vielä turistien suosiossa, ja teen löytöjä tuttujen kaupunkien sivukujilta. Airbnb. Ystävät. Ruoka. Viini. Fiilistely. Tervetuloa mukaan!

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *