Day 22, Tallinn, January 31st 2012Posted: January 31, 2012
Tea 22: Südame Tea, Park Cafe, Tallinn.
What a wonderfully sunny day. After cooking a semi-traditional English Breakfast for my host this morning, semi-traditional due to the lack of British style sausages, though we did manage to find something very similar to Black Pudding here in Tallinn. I’m not sure my host realised quite how much meat was involved, but it certainly filled us up and gave us energy for most of the day. We headed out into the beautiful sunshine towards the East, to an area of beautiful park land and then onto the sea, whose frozen edge we walked along, photographing the ducks and swans whose feathers were glinting in the bright, low-level sunlight. We then headed to Lauluväljak, the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. This is huge area, that, during the traditional song festivals, can hold about 100,000 people, 30,000 of which will often make up the choirs who sing traditional Estonian songs that can be heard for miles around. This is also the spiritual heart of Estonia’s Singing Revolution, the event that represented the end of Russian Occupation and the dawn of Estonian independence. We wandered to the top of the hill and then, rather sporadically sat on a bin bag, and slid down the rather bumpy but snow covered hill back to the bottom. It was good fun, though pretty cold and we both got rather wet bums!
We then intended to visit KUMU, the Tallinn contemporary art museum, an impressive building of glass and metal, that has oxidized to turn green. Unfortunately it turned out the gallery is closed on tuesdays during winter, so we climbed another hill, explored an old signaling / navigation post, then headed back down through the park. At the other end of the park is the Park Cafe, a lovely little place, rather posh in appearance and it sells a good selection of teas, one of which features above, a traditional Estonian tea, a mixture of herbs including Parsley, Camomile, Nettle, Lemon Balm, Chickweed, an Birch Leaves! It was very nice, tried it with and without sugar and it was very pleasant, delicate flavour, kind of savoury without the sugar. Also had a lovely cake with raisins and pumpkin seeds. After a lovely time chatting and drinking our tea, and warming out hands and drying our bums we headed back out into the cold. We could only manage a short distance before our hands started to ache again. So we headed into a lovely Eco/Organic shop, where I bought, yep, you guessed it some tea!
We headed back out and wandered back into the city centre and wandered around for a while, making it to this nice bit of town called Rotermann, where the old literally meets the new, physically in most cases, bits added onto old buildings, old buildings renovated. We looked around a bit then went into the Kalev chocolate shop, hundreds of beautiful sweet trats greeted my eyes. After a while trying to decide I went for some Dark Chocolate with Raspberry, some Dark Chocolate Orange and Green Tea, and Dark Chocolate with Cherries. Ok, so less of a decision over which ones to buy and more of a decision to just buy them all…..
After that we headed back to the coast to a place called Linnahall, a tremendous sprawling concrete concert hall. It is a constant reminder of the soviet era, built as a concert hall but also a defensive position for the Soviet Army in the event of an attack from the the Finns. The space is now closed but you can still walk up onto the buildings roof area and over the back where there is an operating Helicopter Pad, which apparently runs helicopter trips to Helsinki. We could also view the old fortress prison from up here, and some beautiful views of the city, with the glorious golden sun setting over the old town’s spired churches and buildings. A really beautiful sunset for the second night, the air is so clear and there are pinks, purples, golds, yellows, oranges, the whole rainbow is represented somewhere during these glorious times of the day.
We then walked to the Kalamaja area of town to get something to eat, walking through the train station, great big old concrete warehouses and factories until we reached Telliskivi, the arty, bohemiam area of the city. Factories have turned to bars and artists studios. We ate in an amazing restaurant bar called F-Hoone. Really great food was had, we shared a brushetta platter, Mozzarella and Tomato obviously featured, but alongside gorgonzola and pear, Garlicky Houmous, and a great mixture containing pumpkin seeds. Then I ate a really lovely Linguine with Garlic, Chilli and Prawns, Ingrid, my host, has a great smelling and tasting Thai inspired Coconut soup with Salmon. Really good, and all washed down with a great Estonian dry Cider (Kiss in Estonian). A lovely meal, and really, really reasonably priced.
We then jumped on a tram home and are now drinking port and watching junk on the TV! Brilliant!