Tallinn, You're Beautiful - But You Already Know That, Don't You?
Tallinn, you already know you're beautiful, right?
Easily my favorite Old Town in the Baltics so far - but we'll get into that in a bit.
First things first, I learned something very important during and after this trip: most Lithuanians do not take long road trips. Every time The Scientist and I have shared that we were in the car for 7.5 hours one-way, everyone so far has looked at us like we were nuts.
Meanwhile, we moved here from Texas - a state 10 times bigger than Lithuania! - so driving across the state to Big Bend National Park was long, but just part of the experience.
As I think about it, I had a similar experience almost a month ago. Two friends of mine were discussing how far away a music venue was, and the topic moved to how close it was to my home. In my mind, it was an easy 10 to 12 minutes drive away - super close. Both of them emphatically said the venue was far from my home, and I went right back to this understanding that we seem to have very different perceptions of distance.
So, how do Lithuanians travel? Mostly by plane to warm locations during these grey days. (What are blue skies, again? Can someone remind me?) I understand - I'm about to do the same.
It was just one of those funny cultural differences that keeps making me smile.
Okay, back to Tallinn!
If you remember, we took a motorcycle trip to Tartu, Estonia at the end of April, but I'd never been to Tallinn. And even beyond our quick road trip through the Baltic States (I kid!), I actually really liked this capital city.
Naturally, one of the first things I noticed was a large flower market, a warm glow, and all the people walking around, even in the off-season. Before arriving, we'd been told for years that people got more introverted and reserved the further north you go, and to not expect much sociability from those in Tallinn. This trip disproved that for me. Hey, here's how I see it, given how often people say the same thing to me about Lithuanians: I think I do a really good job attracting the type of people I want in my life, whether it's a close friend group or I'm meeting people in a new city (hey, new friends in Berlin!). So, maybe it's me that's creating a warmer, welcoming space, but I didn't notice any cold, reserved people.
With only one full day in Tallinn, though, I really wanted to make the most of it - so I booked a walking tour called Tallinn in a Nutshell through EstAdventures. Highly recommend this, y'all! Our tour guide, Marko, was so informative, and I felt like I got a good understanding of the history of Tallinn, where it intermingles with Lithuania, and where it completely verges left in the other direction. Something that especially stuck out to me was how much Estonians dislike the monument in Freedom Square (it's not cute, y'all), but how much they value their freedom. Like Lithuanians, they've only had their true independence for a little over 30 years - a short time in the grand scheme of things - and they really care to keep it that way.
Especially after living in Lithuania, I get it.
On this tour, we also went to an overlook which is the home of what can only be the most famous seagull in Estonia, Steven. (Yes, like Steven Seagal!) This was... well, I've gotta say, it was a highlight of this trip for me, seeing The Scientist fangirl enough to get his own personal photo (pictured, obviously!).
This, my friends, is exactly why I travel, and why I'm so grateful to live in Europe. Some things are so random. I couldn't have predicted how happy this would've made me.
My other favorite thing about Tallinn? How well-preserved its city walls are. Tallinn is truly impressive in this way, and I really felt like I was walking in a true Medieval city. Vilnius is beautiful in its own way, but Tallinn's Old Town really got to me. We didn't stay entirely in the Old Town, though, and ventured over to a brewery owned by two Americans called Brewklyn Craft Beer Cafe. As someone who isn't super into beer but likes sours, I had an incredibly pink smoothie sour that made me smile for the rest of the night, even into a random blues show.
But more than anything, of course, I valued my time at the Baltic Sea in both Estonia and Latvia - nearly nothing matters to me more than going to the ocean or sea.
If you've never been to the Baltic Sea, I really do recommend it, especially in the wintertime when you have a better shot at finding amber on the sea coasts.
As for me, I'll be gone for a few weeks doing my best to soak in time with friends and family in the States, so I'll catch y'all on the flip side of that journey. I only make this trek once a year - and for good reason. It's tiring, long, and downright draining at parts, but I'm still ready to jump in. Reverse culture shock, here I come. (Got any tips, fellow expats?)
And as per usual, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this page to receive a bi-weekly email from me on whatever's on my heart that day! And as always, I'll see you next time here at Into the Forests I Go - iki pasimatymo - see you soon!