Many people have never even heard of Estonia or consider it to be a top travel destination and to be honest with you, I also did not know where this country was located until a few weeks ago.
When I first start attending university, I met a girl, who is now a friend, that told me she was from Estonia. She has olive skin and dark hair, so, naturally I assumed that Estonia was somewhere down around the Mediterranean/Balkans region. However, to my surprise, I later found out that Estonia was actually near Scandinavia. I was completely mind-blown.
I was looking at different countries throughout Europe that I will eventually venture off to and I discovered that Estonia was not in the southern region of Europe but in fact in the very northern region...maybe they should have taught us more about geography in high-school. If you are still unaware of Estonia's geographical location, it is just below Finland and borders Russia (to the east) and Latvia (to the south). Here, Sarah Palin could see Russia from her house.
When I saw my friend the day after my little discovery, I told her about my mix-up and she starting laughing claiming that it must have been her dark skin and hair that threw me off. So very true.
Well, now I know where Estonia really is, therefore I can properly give you guys information and things to do when you visit. I'm laughing at myself now thinking about the reaction I would've had if I did not know where it actually was before googling the pictures and seeing mostly snow-filled images on the screen.
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, a Russian-looking city with some old architecture and then some modern architecture. Parts of Tallinn, and surrounding cities/towns/villages, look like they are literally straight out of a medieval ages movie. I would not be surprised if some of the movies/shows that portray that time period were actually filmed in this country.
Estonia's primary language is Estonian but you will also come across plenty of Russian and Ukrainian speakers, seeing as Russia is right next door. There are also recognized languages in this country by the names of Voro and Setu. About 1,300,000 people live in this middle-ages inspired country.
So, you are going up north to visit Estonia and you want to see the capital, Tallinn. Here's what you have to do there:
1. Get holy at the St. Mary's Cathedral.
2. Visit Toompea.
3. Attempt to walk through Lahemaa National Park.
4. Look at the cute animals in the Tallinn Zoo.
5. Visit Kiek in de Kok...hm.
6. Get holy, once again, in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
7. Take one too many pictures at the beautiful Kadriorg Palace.
8. Stroll around Town Hall Square after visiting Tallinn Town Hall.
9. Spend a rainy day at either the Estonian Maritime Museum, Estonian History Museum, Museum of Occupations or the Estonian Open Air Museum.
10. Get sprayed in the face by the Jägala Waterfalls or the Valaste Waterfalls.
11. Breathe in nature at Karula National Park or Matsula National Park.
12. Smell the flowers at the Tallinn Botanic Garden.
13. Do some good ole vintage shopping in the many vintage shops around the city.
14. Sit down and relax with a cup of coffee in a cozy coffee shop.
15. Go kayaking, canoeing, sailing or fishing for a relaxing day off land.
16. Go on a military off road adventure.
17. Go back in time in Old Town and walk on St. Catherine's Passage.
18. Listen to some good music at the Song Festival Grounds.
19. Watch a movie on the roof at Katusekino.
20. Enjoy the breeze while walking through Kadriorg Park.
For those of you traveling to the more southern area of Estonia, visit Tartu, Estonia's second largest city. If you visit Tartu, be sure to:
1. Spend a cloudy day in the Estonian National Museum.
2. Pass through Supilinn (a neighborhood).
3. Visit the Ahja River.
4. Visit the ruin Tartu Cathedral that overlooks Tartu.
5. Visit the Student's Lock-up, which has some pretty interesting meaning/history to it's name.
6. Take the kids to the Toy Museum, or just be a kid again for several hours.
7. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cafe Wilde.
8. Grab a slice of pizza for lunch at La Dolce Vita before visiting the Observatory.
9. Go back to school at Tartu University that was founded in 1632 by a Swedish king.
10. Relax at the Emajõe Ärikeskus Sauna.
11. Visit a brewery and drink a glass of brew at A Le Coq Beer Museum.
12. Go crazy wild at Tartu's best nightclub, Club Tallinn.
13. Grab a delicious meal at Maalim or authentic Estonian food at Gruusia Saatkond.
14. Take the boy(s) to the Tartu Sports Museum.
Just south of Tallinn and the south-eastern area of Estonia is Pärnu. This is a beach town with an adorable down-town area. Here's what you have to do in Estonia's Summer Capital:
1. Get your swimsuit on and run to Rannapark (the beach park) and Vallikäär.
2. Go back to the medieval ages at the Red Tower and Tallinna Gates.
3. Get holy in the Eliisabet and Jekateriina Churches.
4. Kick back to some blues and jazz at Jazz Cafe.
5. Take a gander at new art in the Pärnu New Art Museum.
6. See the 17th century cojoined houses.
7. Grab some authentic Russian food at Trahter Postipoiss.
8. Go back over the last 11,000 years in the Pärnu Museum.
9. Party the night away at Club Tallinn.
10. Take the family to Ranna Park (amusement park).
11. See a show while eating dinner or a snack at Endla Theatre.
12. Visit a Russian empress-inspired church, Catherine Church.
13. Eat some authentic Estonian food after a long day at the beach at Kadri.
14. Close your eyes and thank the pastry gods for strudel at Ellen Bakery.
15. Watch a folk show at Nooruse Maja Cultural Centre.
The next post will be on: Malaysia in Southern Asia!
Travel on wanderlusters!