Europe 2015, Part 2: Estonia

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series about my first major international trip.
Read Part 1: Travel, Part 3: Spain, and Part 4: Germany.

The first stop on my trip was Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. It is on the Baltic Sea, a 3 hour ferry ride across from Finland. Estonia also shares a border with Russia and Latvia. The main reason for visiting was a special 3-day Bible convention with delegates from Estonia, Finland, Russia, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, and various US states. However, I arrived several days beforehand so as to enjoy and explore the area.

Arrival

The Tallinn metro area has around 500,000 people and has an airport to match. It is relatively small, quiet, and feels Nordic with its blue metal roof, lots of windows, and wood floors. This airport was probably my favorite of the trip.

I was advised ahead of time to stick with the airport’s recommended taxi companies, and for good reason. Taxi drivers from other companies will come up to you trying to get you to ride with them. And they have a reputation for taking advantage of riders. My taxi driver was pleasant and surprised me by driving right up onto the sidewalk of the hotel when we arrived. Fun!

## Climate

Estonia is substantially cooler than my southern New Mexico home. Even in July, highs stayed between 65 and 75 degrees (roughly 18-25 Celsius). Within one week, cloud cover ranged from mostly sunny to overcast. Some days there was light, refreshing drizzle; Sunday morning it rained. It was beautiful. When it comes to weather, Estonia is a perfect summer destination for desert dwellers.1

## Tallinn

As a whole, Tallinn is a nice city. Estonia has modernized a great deal since gaining independence. The city center is very walkable, but there is also a good public transporation system made up of buses and electric trains. There are many nice hotels, such as the
Nordic Hotel Forum, which is located near the Old Town.

### Old Town

While many places have boring old city centers, Tallinn has the best preserved medieval town in Europe – and a lively one, too. It It’s really amazing: much of the city wall still exists, as do many of the iconic towers. It is made up of a lower area and a hill, called Toompea, where the national government and many embassies are located. People still live in this part of the city.2 Each door has a unique appearance, which presents an interesting photography project. There’s a variety of restaurants to suit your taste, and we were never disappointed by the service. Old Hansa – though very touristy – has a very tasty cinnamon beer that I highly recommend. Pegasus, too, is an excellent restaurant.3

Kadriorg

Kadriorg is a palace built by Peter the Great, and sits adjacent to the Estonian presidential palace. It is a great example of Baroque architecture and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Special Convention

The weekend came to a close with a 3-day Bible convention at A Le Coq Arena. Attendance hovered around 7,000 and there was quite a bit of media coverage. Seeing people from many different places and cultures all peacefully benefitting from Bible instruction was very special.

Next up: Spain!

  1. However, it may not be as great a winter destination; even the warm coastal areas have average highs in the 30s Fahrenheit.
  2. In fact, the old KGB office is now a luxury condo building.
  3. Ask about the building’s history.