Stockmann, Aching and Waterman

DAY FOUR : Thursday 15th September

I’ve managed to wake up early today – and I’ve seen something incredible. Not long after sunrise, Tallinn actually had some sunshine. It looked like a perfect day for exploring a bit of Estonia’s coastline. And then it started raining again.

Fortunately, my Tour Bus ticket last for 24 hours, so I can grab the Red Route from just up the road which takes me out to Kadriorg, a leafy district with an extensive park. I’ve only got around half an hour here before I connect to another bus, and a brisk walk reveals some very nice landscaping.

The ornate surroundings of Kadriorg Park

The park is also home to the Presidential Palace. And a closer look at that lake suggests that Duck Houses weren’t confined to the UK’s parliamentary expenses scandal…

Wonder who paid for that then?

The Green Route for the City tour bus is aptly named. It heads off the coastal road and through thick set pine forests to Tallinn’s Botanical Gardens. It’s also one of the highest points in these parts and houses the city’s TV tower. I’d normally be a sucker for such attractions but it’s closed for now – and the construction work seems to suggest either a bigger tourist attraction being built on the site, or some reinforced foundations for the tower itself.

Then it’s back to the coast and the pretty harbour of Pirata.

 But the main problem here seems to be access. You can look at the expensive yachts from the bridge – or risk spending a small fortune in the Yacht Club. But fences around the harbour itself seem to suggest that this is only for the privileged few.

The only other attraction in Pirata is the local convent. But like Father Jack Hackett, I have an aversion to nuns. And before I had time to attend confession, I’d already committed a sin – by hopping on the regular local bus back into Tallinn – without paying.

I should say here that the payment system for public transport here is somewhat confusing. For starters, the drivers don’t appear to be taking cash from anyone. Nor does there seem to be a machine with which to stamp pre-paid tickets on board. There are signs warning of a 40 Euro fine for anyone without a ticket, but the large bendy bus is full of passengers, and I gamble that any inspector is unlikely to make it as far as me before the next stop. What’s more, I would have Definitely Paid Had There Been A Ticket Machine At The Stop. There – that’s in capitals, so I reckon that makes it legally binding. 

I find myself downtown – which is American for the Rough Area of the city. Outside of the Old Town, much of Tallinn looks uninviting. But there are remnants of history – with bits of the City Wall on display in the middle of the street.

 A handy stopoff is the Stockmann Center – a large department store on five floors. Since I’ve only brought hand luggage there’s no room for souvenirs. But there’s always room for a buffet lunch, without the pushy sales patter of the Old Town waiting staff.

Wherever I go on holiday I always make contact with the radio in some way, shape or form. I just can’t stay away from it. Though sometimes it turns up in the most unexpected of places, in this case the museum of Occupations.

Moscow calling - or perhaps Berlin?
Note the plural there. This museum concentrates on the two major occupations of Estonia from the 1930s to the early 1990s by the Soviets and the Germans. I visited a similar museum in Riga, and it’s fair to say these are pretty sobering places.That said, they also end up with a heartening tale of independence, and Estonia is no different.
 
OK, final night. I think it’s time to start this off with a touch of light chamber music.
 
What? I’m serious. (And I have no idea why the typeface is all centred either)
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