DAY THREE : Wednesday 14th September
There are worse things to have named after you than a park. Much worse things, I reckon. After a lifetime of service to your country, the last thing you want to remembered for is having your name on something too small, like a memorial stone that dogs pee all over – or something too large, like a shopping mall.
Both of these extremities exist in Tallinn, but there’s also a humble park, named after Johan Pilka, a military commander during Estonia’s War of Independence.
One of the things I love about the Eastern Eurpeans is that they certainly know how to do “imposing”, in this case casting a bronze bust with a stunning stainless steel background. Pilka’s park almost marks a handy alternative route from the hotel back to Freedom Square, and an apparent tribute to Alan Partridge…
Once again, Freedom Square is pretty much deserted, though that’s probably down to the frequent showers still bothering the city. Though in the bits of sunshine in between, it looks quite impressive.
There’s much more to Tallinn than the quaint Old Town, and I venture beyond Viru Square into the wider city. It’s a strange mix of old Communist-style buildings (some functional, some incredibly ornate) and new glass towers, as shopping malls and big business comes to town.
According to the commentary on the City Tour bus, Skype was invented in Estonia. And who am I to argue? The mixture of faux American and speech-impedement English on the headset has all the authority of Anyone Called Louis On Any Talent Show. (What? I’m avoiding the lawyers, OK? Could easily be Louis Spence).
The Tour Bus weaves its way around the outskirts of Tallinn, taking us past the traditional Estonian Open Air Museum (which with its high wire fences looks like some kind of correctional facility) and Estionia’s biggest out of town shopping mall (which brings ti ind similarly unpleasant images).
Time for beer, I think, and where better to do it than the Beer Haus?
Distinctly more Bavarian than Baltic, the Beer Haus recreates the historic atmosphere of a German drinking hall. And although the staff flit about the tables in their leiderhosen and moustaches (the men do this too), the bar itself only dates back to 2002. But hey, who cares about history when they brew about six different beers right on the premises?
Now you might have thought that there was little call in Estonia for a whole bar dedicated to Eighties miserabilists Depeche Mode. And you’d be right. I have no pictures of the inside because it was dead and I felt too embarrassed to buy a beer.
So it’s back to downtown in the Old Town, and down being the operative word. The heaviest of the rain fell this evening and it wasn’t pleasant. In bar Nimeta (The Pub With No Name – and no personality) a gruff American sounding owner told several customers that if they weren’t drinking they should leave, as he wanted to reserve seats for people watching the football. Nice.
So thank goodness for my old haunt Drink. the bar just for drinking. Cheers.