Monday, 20 February 2012

Tallinn, Estonia, 11.2.2012

My first trip of the year was Tallinn for my mum's birthday. I don't even know if I have that much to say about the trip as we didn't do any sightseeing or anything like that - we just relaxed, did some shopping and even more eating. Sometimes it's good to do stuff like that, too, and it was a very nice trip indeed. Since Tallinn is so close to Finland, you don't even have to spend the night anywhere if you don't feel like it. We drove to Helsinki in the morning, left the car there for the day and caught the ferry to Tallinn. We had the buffet, had a look around the tax-free shops, and hung around in our cabin. 

Like I said in an earlier update, it only takes 2½ hours to get to Tallinn from Helsinki (well, depending on the kind of ferry you take - really, it varies between two and four hours) so by 2 pm, we were in Estonia. It was freezing cold that day so we walked straight to Viru Keskus, which is a shopping mall quite close to the harbour. We went to quite a few shops and I ended up getting myself a few warm tops and a pair of red jeans. I can easily spend hours at Viru Keskus as all the shops there are good, and cheap, too. Especially on a cold winter's day, it's nice to just stay indoors like that, even if you're not that big on shopping.

My mum in front of Viru Keskus.
We were supposed to go to a Depeche Mode pub because my mum was curious about that, but since we were running out of time (you only get to stay in Tallinn for four hours with cruises like this), we decided to skip it and just go straight to our favourite coffee shop in the Old Town, Maiasmokk, for their delicious cakes.

I always love going into the Old Town when I'm in Tallinn. This is the entrance, it's just too pretty! The problem with living so close to Tallinn is that I never spend enough time there. It's always these cruises that only allow you to stay for a couple of hours. The only time I actually spent a couple of nights in Tallinn was when I went to see Madonna there in 2009. Now THAT was an experience I'll never forget, and not solely because of Madonna. I might have to write some more about past trips at some point, too, so just know you have something very memorable to expect :D.


What we had...:)

...and then we already had to be on our way back to the ferry. What a nice day, though! On the ferry back, we did some shopping in the tax-free shop, and the rest of the evening was spent in our cabin, watching American Idol and Putous. When we got to Helsinki, we still had to get the car and then drive to Tampere, so it was a long day full of travelling. Fun!!

My mum in our cabin on our way back :)!

Next up, I've got London this week, then New York in June, and Copenhagen and Göteborg/Gothenburg in July. At least! Stay tuned for more updates :)!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Tartu, Estonia 18.-20.11.2011

In November, I went to Tartu, Estonia for a weekend with a bunch of people from work. It was a trip for fun and mostly sponsored by my work place, so of course giving it a miss wasn't an option. Estonia is a typical travel destination for Finns since the ferry trip from Helsinki to Tallinn takes just two hours, but prior to this trip, I'd only ever been to Tallinn. I was curious to see a different town in Estonia and had wanted to go to Tartu for a while anyway so it was great this opportunity presented itself.

We took the ferry to Tallinn and then had our own bus that took us to Tartu. The bus trip took an insane amount of time and I have no idea why since the distance between Tallinn and Tartu is just 165 km. I guess the traffic was pretty bad since it was a Friday, but still, four hours is just too much! I was desperate to get off the bus towards the end of the trip!

We stayed at a hotel called Dorpat, which was basically a good hotel close to all the places of interest. I shared a room with a colleague of mine and was very happy with the room and everything else regarding the hotel as well.

Once we'd arrived, we had dinner at the hotel. I had a veggie soup and a potato patty with mushroom sauce, so good!

I went pretty much straight to bed after dinner as I was so exhausted from the bus ride, and it was getting pretty late anyway.

The following morning, we had a guided bus tour around Tartu, which was quite interesting as you got to hear a lot about the city while seeing places you definitely wouldn't see if you were there on your own and without a car, such as an old military airport runway where we did some speeding with our bus, heh. We also went to a KGB Cells Museum, which was interesting but obviously creepy as well. Certainly makes me respect the fact that Finland managed to successfully fight for her independence so that our people avoided being treated the way the Estonians were once we already were free of the Soviet Union!

After the bus tour, we wandered around Tartu pretty freely. Me and a few others went to see the University of Tartu and the Dome Church's ruins on Toome Hill.

The view down from Toome Hill.

The Dome Church's ruins.

The Town Hall of Tartu from the back.

We walked down to Town Hall Square to see the statue of the Kissing Students in front of the Town Hall of Tartu before going to a nice little coffee shop to warm up since it was pretty chilly outside.

Café Armastus.

Napoleon cake and hot chocolate, mmm!
We'd pretty much seen everything we wanted to see by now so we had a look around two shopping malls and then went to Ränduri Pubi for lunch. The trip was mostly about eating anyway, heh.

We all fell in love with this amazingly delicious garlic bread! No words, you'll have to try it yourself!

In the evening, we were off to eat again, this time at Püssirohukelder. Their specialty is this soup that's served inside a huge bun:

My main course.

My dessert.

The night was spent staying up and the following morning sleeping on the bus back to Tallinn. We had a buffet on the ferry back to Helsinki, and then we still had to sit on the bus to Hämeenlinna. Too much travelling for one weekend! My dad came to pick me up at the gas station Linnatuuli and I went over for the night as I was too tired to still catch a train home. It was a good trip but I guess since Tartu isn't a huge city, one day there is quite enough. So, if you're planning on going there, don't book a week as you'll quickly run out of new things to do. The best thing about the trip, though? The garlic bread at Ränduri Pubi!

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