Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Monday, 22 October 2018

Day 12: Tallin

This morning Vadim took us by tram to Kadroig Palace where he left us to explore on our own. It wasn't a very large palace but what we saw was interesting, especially its collection  of excellent paintings by Flemish artists.

 We then wandered around the gardens where they were placing oil lamps in preparation for tonight's light festival which will celebrate 300 years of the Palace as well as 100 years since Estonia's War of Independence.

We then went to see Kumu, the new art gallery of Estonia.  An impressive modern building that houses classic and modern Estonian art.

We both found it interesting. Many artists had left during the Nazi and Soviet occupation and you could see the influence that other European artists had on their work. I should have taken photos really but I didn't.
From the art gallery we got on a tram (now we knew how to pay!) to the rail station. Next to the station was a market with the most delicious looking mushrooms. So many different varieties.

Leaving the market we found our way  to Kalamajaan which used to be the town's main fishing harbour.  The word ' Kalamajan' means ' fish house' in Estonian. From the 14th century this area was dominated by fishermen and fish sellers. It all changed in 1870 when Tallinn was connected to St Petersburg by rail. New factories were built in this part of town  and there was an influx of thousands of new workers. Wooden houses were built for all these workers. The best of them were built in the 1920s and 30s.

These two to three storey houses  are made of two symmetrical wooden wings separated by a stone central staircase. About 500 of them still remain.

We walked through the area to get to Seaplane Harbour to visit the Maritime Museum. The building in the photo is the old prison.

Seaplane Harbour was built in 1916-1917 as part of the sea fortress system protecting Saint Petersburg. From  1918-1940 the huge concrete built hangars were used by the Estonian Air Force to store and repair seaplanes. Nowadays the harbour is home to the 100 year old icebreaker Suur Toll.  It was among the world's most powerful icebreakers and has flown the flags of the Russian Empire, Finland, the Soviet Union and Estonia. It is one of the three remaining steamer icebreakers  that used to sail the Baltic Sea at the beginning of the 20th century.

The vast hangars are now used as a high tech museum telling the story of Estonia's maritime and military history.

The highlight of the museum is the submarine.The British built Lembit submarine was built for the Estonian navy in 1936. It served in WW2 under the Soviet flag. It was in service for 75 years and was the oldest submarine in the world still in use until it was retired from service in 2011.

It was fascinating to walk through the submarine. How anyone could live in this confined space for any length of time is beyond me.

Every inch of space was used.

The museum wasn't very busy so we had the submarine to ourselves.

Outside on the quay we could see the huge cruise ships in the main harbour.

We walked back to the Old Town to get something to eat and go back to the hotel. After a short rest we returned to Kadroig Palace for the light festival.

There were lots of light installations.

Fire eaters.

I loved the colourful water fountains dancing to the music

When we'd seen enough we got back on the tram to the Old Town and met up with the others. We thought there was going to be a light show in the square but they were practising for the following evening.

 We took the opportunity for another group photo.

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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Day 11: Arriving in Tallinn

Today we are travelling via minibus to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We had a short ferry crossing back to the mainland. Then just a couple of hours by road to our next stop in Tallin, the capital of Estonia.

Once we had checked in at the hotel we went off to explore this medieval town. The town was full of tourists from the cruise ships so we decided to have some lunch and then join Vad and the rest of the group later in the afternoon. By 4pm the town was much quieter and Vad took us on a tour showing us the main places of interest.

These stone pigeons seem to be everywhere in Tallinn. They are part of a parking restriction scheme but a number of businesses are  not happy as it has made it very difficult for delivery vans to get through the narrow streets.

There are lots of narrow, cobbled streets in Tallinn.

Vadim took us to a viewpoint for a panoramic view of the red roofed old town. It had escaped damage during the war and much of the town left intact much as it was during the 16th century including the city walls and towers.

Town Hall Square

 In one corner of the Main Square is the town pharmacy of Tallin is one of the oldest continually working apothecary's in the world (first mentioned in 1422). The building developed from three gothic gabled buildings that were joined together. One was the weighing house, the middle one was the apothecary and the one on the right wasthe priest's house from the Church of the Holy Spirit. In 1727 the buildings were brought together under one roof.

In 1402-04 the existing Town Hall was rebuilt into this two storied building.

As well as the medieval buildings there are also some  interesting Art Noveau buildings.

St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox church that was completed in 1900.

This square has had various names such as Straw Market, Peter's Square and Victory Square. It was first named Freedom Square in 1939 and remained that way until 1948. It was renamed Freedom Square  in 1989.
After our evening meal we went to what used to be a 'speakeasy'. It was in a converted apartment which overlooked the street. It was known for its cocktails so it was a good way to end the day.