Day 8 Scandinavia – Tallinn, Estonia is Terrific!

The sunrise picture wasn’t great, but the sunset as we left Tallinn for St Petersburg was peaceful and beautiful

Our best day yet!  We didn’t know what to expect in Tallinn, Estonia.  I’m sorry to say that Estonia doesn’t come up in my everyday conversations – but it earned a warm spot in all of our hearts today.  What a fun place!  If medieval cities get your blood pumping, this is the town for you.

We all liked Stockholm, but it didn’t hit a spot in our Top 10 Places to Relocate for Six Months list.  But Tallinn is right up there.

The weather finally cooled a bit and there was a brisk breeze in the harbor.  Ellie, still a bit under the weather, slept in and George and I dined on the buffet balcony.  I love sitting there in the morning.  Tallinn is a apparently a popular cruise ship port, the ships just kept arriving.  It is fascinating watching the pilots parallel park a 900 foot ship between two giant behemoths.    A Disney ship pulled in and blew its huge horn – and the opening bar to the Disney theme played.  Everyone on our ship started laughing and smiling.  Even on a competitor’s vessel, we all love Disneyland and everything it represents.

I’m getting tired of my breakfast, so today I switched it up a bit:

English muffin with smoked salmon and poached egg, added some sliced tomatoes, a few thin sliced onions and capers. Pretty tasty! The runny yolk makes a nice sauce. Two points

We woke Ellie and headed out.  Definitely bypassed the Hop On It and Hope You Get Back Bus, and paid 8 Euros per person for the local shuttle.  There were quite a few people walking, but George doesn’t last long and Ellie isn’t feeling great, so we took the shuttle.  For three blocks.  Damn ride was three blocks.  Granted one of them was a long block, but it was 24 Euros!  We are transportation challenged….

Tallinn is not a little village.  It has around 450,000 people, but of course we were in the touristy Old Town area.  One of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe is in  here.  Founded in the early 13th century, it doesn’t take any imagination to visualize life during the 1200’s.

Well, one place that take a bit of imagination is at the Old Town McDonald’s.  Yep, that darned clown Ronald McD must have taken a cruise vacation and decided to open up a McD’s in the old city.

This isn’t any ordinary McDonalds, either.  This is the highest tech McD’s that I have ever seen.  And one of the busiest.  Normally, I won’t let George go to one, no matter how hard he begs.  But how can I deny our granddaughter?   I made her promise she would just get a snack so we can eat authentic Estonian food for lunch.

Ellie picks her language and starts ordering

Don’t speak Estonian?  Not a problem, because you order electronically on a screen.  In the language of your choice.  Just tap the screen to identify your native language.  Design a meal, order it up and pay without ever having to say a word.  And tell it if you want take away or to stay.

Next, walk over to the pick up station and wait for your number to appear on a screen.   Grab your food and munch away.

Menus differ in each country, and in Tallinn Ellie chose a cheese nugget something.  It was deep fried plastic cheese with minced jalapenos embedded in the cheese.  I tasted one and it was, sadly, very tasty.  Nothing like deep fried cheese….img_2671

A large portion of the original town wall, complete with towers, still stands.  Ellie and I climbed the death defying stairs and pretended we were Estonians under attack.  Arrows shot through the narrow slits in the towers and boiling oil was poured on the invaders through the larger windows.  We walked the top of the walls and stepped back in time.  Well, I did – I love imagining how it must have been.  Ellie tried to look interested and thought I’d gone off the edge.  My kids did the same growing up, so it didn’t bother me.  I’m happy!

I stood in the doorway of McDonald’s and shot this picture.

Ellie and I had great fun checking out all the linen and knits for sale by local vendors.  The prices were so much better than Stockholm, that we were a bit giddy.  After a couple of hours of exploring, we decided to find lunch.  Again, the Italians have invaded and there were a crazy number of Italian restaurants.  And a surprising number of Chinese and Japanese explorers crossed the continent to open restaurants, as well.  We thought about trying Estonian sushi, but George voted no.  He wanted Italian, of course.  We were on some side streets and couldn’t find Estonian food.  Drove me nuts.  Finally, we came to an outdoor Indian restaurant, and we all agreed we would try it.  I was grumpy, because I wanted Estonian food.  A lovely member gave me the name of a restaurant, and I had googled the address.  We weren’t anywhere near it, and my companions wanted to stop.

So Indian food it was.  Or not.  There didn’t appear to be a restaurant, just a raised platform in the street with seating for about 10 tables.   No staff, just people sitting at the tables.  They had kindly provided blankets on the chairs to cover up with, which we appreciated (it was windy and a bit chilly).  We sat there for 15 minutes and never saw a waiter.  There was a nice couple next to us; the lady had a salad, which she wasn’t eating.  The man had nothing.  They didn’t speak and just stared at the street.  Lover’s quarrel?  Food poisoning?  Nope, it turned out the waiter never brought the man his food and his wife was patiently waiting for his to arrive.  About ten minutes later, a harrassed waiter brought his dish.  I asked if we could order.  He glowered at me and said “You see all these people?” motioning to the filled tables.  “We have lost ALL their orders.  Go away!”  Then he turned and trotted down the street.  It turned out the restaurant was about a block away, and this poor guy had to job back and forth between.

So we left.

We did finally find the town square, which was filled with authentic tourist Estonian food.  Yay!  Ellie ordered a cheese platter appetizer, and I ordered one with fish.  George ordered a small bowl of soup.  I wondered why such a small meal and he admitted he had already eaten Italian food while Ellie and I were climbing the town walls.

My fish “appetizer” could have fed four adults. It was six kinds of pickled or smoked fish. I like it all, except the pickled herring was very strong. There was homemade sour cream that was to die for, and gherkin dill pickles with sliced red onion and lemon slices. This was a lot of pickled fish for one person!

Tallinn is home to Europe’s oldest continuing pharmacy.  Founded in 1422, it is still in business.  Ellie has developed an earache, so I wanted to get her some ear drops.  We searched high and low to find this place and then found out it was about 45 feet from where we had ate lunch.  The pharmacist was very helpful and I paid twelve Euros for one ounce of mineral oil.  Oh well, how many kids can say they got ear drops at the oldest working pharmacy in Europe?

The pharmacy. There are displays of medieval medicines, including an exhibit of dried frogs, bats and an ancient dried up hedgehog. Gotta love those natural cures…

No ride to a 13th century village is complete without an 18th century horse carriage ride, so we hopped aboard and took a trot around the town.  For 30 Euros we had a 15 minute ride driven by two teenage girls with headphones in their ears.  Very authentic!

The teen drivers were just along for the ride. This horse knew the route and would stop for pedestrians and whatever else we encountered.

We were trotting along the city walls when we came upon a group of Japanese tourists, who wanted to take a picture of the horse.  The horse obligingly stopped and there were cameras and phones clicking all over the place.  George had his back to the drivers, couldn’t see the tourists and thought he had said something that made the drivers stop.  He leaned forward towards Ellie and myself.  Simultaneously, as he half-raised up, the horse passed a giant burst of gas – which was loud and smelly.  George, still not knowing what was going on, said “Did I do something?”  The Japanese tourists all started laughing and waving their hands in front of their faces.  Ellie and I looked at each other and laughed so hard we snorted. Which made us laugh harder.

We got a horrible case of the giggles and George just sat there totally perplexed.  He again asked if he had done something funny, which set us off all over again.  Poor George lost his sense of smell with chemotherapy, so he didn’t get the same big whiff that the rest of us did.  That horse must have had some beans in his hay….

It was a totally charming day.  The people were extremely nice, the prices reasonable, and the temperature wasn’t conducive to a You Bake Tourist pizza, as it has been in every other town.  Although there has to be more pizza places in Scandinavia than there are in Italy.

Tired, but joyful, we caught our shuttle for the three block ride back to the ship.  We paid for it, so we had better use it!

The next two days are in St Petersburg, Russia.  We are required to be in a state authorized tour group, or have individual visas.  I have booked us two ten hour tours; which is going to be crazy.  I’m hoping Ellie feels better and George can make it.

If I’m too tired after the first ten hour leg in St. Petersburg, I may put both days together.  If you don’t see a post tomorrow, that will be the reason!



Author: Traveling Grandma

As an aging mother of six and grandma to seven, travel was always a dream. Diapers, work and an eccentric high-maintenance husband just seemed to keep those trips a distant desire. Eventually, however, the kids potty trained, lived through the teenage angst years and left the nest to start their own families. Work still gets in the way for my husband, but it does help pay for the trips! Can't do much about the eccentric, high-maintenance husband; after 36 years I have reconciled that he will never pick up his underwear. He's my partner for life, travel companion and can always be counted on to do something totally odd. It makes for a good story, and besides - without his major financial contribution, we would sitting at home year after year, watching yet another rerun of NCIS. Due to a major health scare, I recently retired - and love retirement! I have always LOVED to cook. My love of food, and birthing those babies, led to an 85 pound weight gain. After joining a weight loss program, I shed the weight, went to work for them and found a new career. For me, it was a dream job. How many people can say they loved their job? I got to work together with people and help them live a healthy lifestyle, and lose weight. And it changed the way I cook! Instead of coating foods with fat and/or sugar, I've learned to bring out the real flavor in foods and keep them healthy. It's a joy to travel the world and explore new foods. I'm always on the lookout for different foods and willing to try almost anything. George, my husband, is always aghast at my choices. He's looking for a McDonald's while I'm trying to find the best local eatery. Checking out grocery stores and food forums in different countries is endless fun. Bringing back cooking ingredients keeps the memories alive every time they are used in a recipe back home. Paprika from Budapest, Sumac from Turkey, dried squid from Japan....what a lucky person I am to experience it all. Life is interesting everywhere, and there is always something humorous to be found, even in my own backyard of Mt Hood, Oregon. I love to journal and people have been telling me for years to become a writer. As Medicare is now a prominent part of my life, I figured this was as good a time as any. If I don't do it now, I'll be writing stories about my neighbors in the nursing home. A big trip will probably be whacking along in my walker to the day room to watch the Travel Channel. I take heart that Colonel Sanders started his finger lickin' fortune late in life because he wasn't afraid to try something new. So here I go!

6 thoughts on “Day 8 Scandinavia – Tallinn, Estonia is Terrific!”

  1. ha..ha.. so funy story. thanks for sharing.. but ehmm…. it is not true about more pizza places in Scandinavia than in Italy:)
    We live in Copenhagen Denmark – it is true we have several Italian restaurants but in Italy is much more:)
    Look forward to read more of your post. cheers.


    1. Hi! Thanks for the note. I just checked out your blog and it’s wonderful! Amazing pictures. I can’t wait to read more. As a fellow food lover, trying new foods is one of the great joys in life. We loved Copenhagen, and want to go back. Going to get a bike with brakes next time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. oh wouw.. what happen?? I haven’t read your experience in Copenhagen yet. I will check it out tomorrow as it is almost midnight here and need to get some sleep. Ps. Thanks for checking our blog. It is nice to meet other blogger an would be lovelier if one day can meet in person and share the story.


  2. Wow! What a great adventure and you detail it so well. I’m also impressed with your food choices and staying on track.


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