Europe | Estonia | Tallinn – London-Helsinki-Tallinn
After maddly running aroung like a chicken with it’s head cut off sorting visa’s, bike racks and leaving of luggage I finally got it all together for the train to Stanstead… or so I thought! Take note fellow cyclists, the Stanstead Express does not take bikes… so instead of 30min’s, you have an 1 hour 30 min journey. Being the responsible traveller I am, I had already arranged to arrive 4 hours before my flight in anticipation of the strip searches and other goodies now in place due to the increased security at all airporrts in Britain. As it turned out I was WAY too early and I didn’t even have to get my kit off… a good thing I suppose!
On the London to Copenhagen stretch my neighbours stocked up on beer, wine and spirits… they’ve done this before and know you only get one chance!
By the time it came to fly Copenhagen to Helsinki (after a mad dash though the airport… from one end to the other… literally! Only 25 min to make the connecting flight… are they mad?!) I had it all worked out and got myself a couple of mini bottles of red wine. The reason for this my friends was the fact that I would loose two hours and have to try and sleep at aroud 8:30pm. I wouldn’t be sleeping anywhere too comfy either… thanks to every budget travellers favourite website (if it’s not, it should be!) http://www.sleepinginairports.net/
I had figured that Helsinki wont be all that bad and decided to give it a go. Found a nice cozy spot under the escellators, behind a drink machine… very warm and dark. Layed out my sleeping mat and bag and curled up for a good 8 hours. The only thing I would say about this spot is that it was damn noisy… these ecsellators don’t run continously but start up with a great racket every time someone gets on them… bring earplugs!
After a good 8 hours I jump on the FinAir bus to the center of town. The cycle out to the ferry gives me a brief chance to admire what I see of Helsinki… I hope I have time on my way back for a tram ride. Only 1 day into my trip in this part of the world and I already know the worst thing is going to be all this rushing around. Alright for those of you who are used to it but my bike and I definantly prefer a more leasurely pace. Luckily the information on the ferry I got from the airport was wrong so I was able to hop straight on… don’t drink the coffee!
I arrive in Tallinn feeling a little green, I don’t usually get sea sick but the cabin was pretty stuffy… the blue sky that greets me as I leave the port cheers me up no end.
I head straight for a hostel and dump my stuff… beautiful, beautiful town, like something out of a fairy tale. I spend hours wandering the narrow, winding cobbled streets… the place seems full of contradictions. There are buldings with peeling paint, cracked wooden doors and windows, rusty hinges and handles (I take plenty of cliched photos!) then on the other hand I spy beautiful, monied people popping in and out of trendy shops in the main square, expensive cars… lots of renovations going on but just as many if not more buildings falling down… literally!
Stuck my head inside a broken window and the rubble was higher than my waist. Large oak and similar type trees rustling in the wind… the occasional power tool! Most locals seem to have mobile phones attached to some part of their body… passing a group of teenagers who seem to delight in listening to each others ring tones.
I climb up to take a look at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a russian orthadox building that stands out dramatically from it’s surrounds, still it’s quite beautiful with it’s white walls and many spired roof that looks like lots of merangs. Inside… the gold, the gilt! Depends on your taste I suppose but I found it a bit overwhelming.
I found a little gallery (Nanitrolla) that sells the most charming and uplifting prints… I think the artist is quite famous and I hope to go back and buy some postcards… all I can afford! I have, however, discovered the cheapest souvineer ever… stamps! ‘How boring’ I hear you groan… well, they may be but the pictures are often by local artist and they seem to me the perfect, if tiny, momento.