Tallinn – what to see, what to try
Olga Volkova suggests Tallinn as a travel idea for May holidays – very cultural, affordable and bright in the modern gastronomic aspect.
For many of us, Estonia continues to be our own. Personally, it is not my imperial consciousness that speaks for me, but rather my nostalgia for my childhood, when we all went to Tallinn as a class. And how we, as Moscow schoolchildren, were fascinated by this magical, so non-Soviet, medieval city…
Many things have changed since then, but not Old Tallinn! Of course, it was renovated, restored, cleaned up, but it remained the same. Gothic Town Hall, topped with the famous “Old Thomas” weathervane, and surrounded by a beautiful square, on which the umbrellas of outdoor cafes have opened. The oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe, which has been supplying dried unicorn horn to the suffering people since the beginning of the 15th century, has also not disappeared.
Medieval walls and towers still protect the center of the city. The cathedral and merchant’s guild houses, Toompea Castle and its “Long Hermann” tower, “Kek in de Kek” tower, Maiden’s Tower next to the Danish King’s garden, Virus Gate, the narrow Katrini street and the Masters’ Court – all in place, just as I saw them many years ago.
Tallinn is in no way inferior to the famous European cities, but it has advantages over them. First, it is closer to us, and second, a lot of people here speak Russian. And thirdly, it is much cheaper: a week-long tour for 500 euros is even expensive by local standards.
What to eat.
Some aesthetes tend to consider Estonian cuisine poor. It used to be so – about 150 years ago when most locals chewed rye bread and potatoes. From those times Estonians have preserved a strange dish called kama – a mixture of fried rye flour with pea and barley semolina. All this delicacy is poured with milk and eaten with pleasure. The locals also retain a fondness for kasha, and also not quite usual – rutabaga, cabbage and pea porridge.
And modern Estonian cuisine is not poor, but very unusual: local chefs, without blinking an eye, mix such things as fish and cheese, milk and peas and so on.
The basis of Estonian cuisine is potatoes, fish, pork and milk. But they don’t like spices here, they prefer not to disguise the taste of original products. And frying is not very popular here, they prefer boiled or steamed, which is much healthier, of course.
You can eat well in Tallinn for nine euros, if you go away from tourist routes. Well, in one of the most famous restaurants in the city, Olde Hansa, where everything is in the Medieval style and the food is not just national, but also exotic (like bearskin), and tables must be reserved in advance, the average dinner will cost 40 euros, which is very cool by local standards.
Personally, the first thing I want to try is a dish called tuchlinott, which seems to be specially cooked meat with potatoes, so I dream about it mainly because of its alarming name. And when I’ve satisfied my craving for tuchlinotti, I suggest to try amazing cold cuts sulte, blood sausage and blood dumplings, mulgicapsad, which is cabbage with pork, makskastmes, which is stewed liver, cartuliporsse (potato piglets) – pork slices covered with mashed potatoes…
You may also dare to try mulgipuder – pearl porridge with mashed potatoes, and also cold sweet beer soup, bread soup, and soup made of milk and local favorite fish, herring, and also rye-potato roulade leivatsk and oatmeal kissel kaerakile.
But we’ll eat jellied pig’s feet, pickled herring, smoked eel, barley flour loaf, delicious bread and whipped cream without a doubt and in any quantity.
And we’ll also consume plenty of very tasty marzipans and buy them as a souvenir – to do that we will enter “Marzipan Gallery”, where everything is not only tasty, but also so beautiful that this place has the right to be in the same line with the best museums of Tallinn. And to drink we will beer Saku, vodka Old Thomas, caraway liqueur Kristallrummel and other drinks, whose purpose – to help digest what you eat and raise the already good mood.
Olga Volkova: “I was born in summer, on June 17, and that is probably why I hate winter, as well as late autumn and early spring, and in general the cold, gloom, slush and snow. As soon as all this unpleasantness starts in Moscow, I am drawn to go somewhere far away and farther away. I love to travel more than anything else, and my profession as a journalist allows me to do this, if not as often as I would like, but still much more often than if I were working in any other job.
My second passion – I love to eat good food, and I’m ready to try everything, except dogs and cats – I will not eat them for anything, because I love them so much. Like all other animals – I love them so much that I not only fill my house with them, but I also write articles and even books about them. I also speak French, drive my car dashingly, and think ironing socks and underpants is the dumbest thing in the world.”
Idea of the week:
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In April in Copenhagen one should hardly expect more than plus ten, but what does it matter, we are not going there to sunbathe. The Danes do not like the weather themselves. See below.
If you suddenly decide to spend a spring week in Lisbon, Olga Volkova recommends to stay in one of its coastal suburbs – in Cascais.
Spring in Madrid
Madrid is a truly royal city, majestic and ornate. It has everything but no sea. However, in March it is a little early to think about the beach. See below.