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Trip report for anyone interested

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
15,213 posts
1 review
Trip report for anyone interested

I don't usually do trip reports as travel a huge amount but this was a first visit to a new country for me with family so I'm doing the full TA bit.

Thanks to all the regulars here as I loitered and made notes pre-visit, thanks also to those that responded to my direct questions on forum, I really appreciate it.

Trip Report:

Airport to Old Town:

Easy to do by public transport but the taxi service is obvious, regulated and not going to cost more than Euro10 + a tip. It depends on hotel location so see if you are near a stop but for me unless you are going to use public transport to explore well outside of the old town it's not worth lugging cases onto trams and won't save much money anyway.

We used taxi efficiently by day, sometimes even from south of old town to kalamaja, yes can use tram but it cost Eur 5 between us. For dinner or after walking and being tired I'd rather pay the Eur 5. It depends how many of you, what luggage and how much will you use a day ticket for public transport.

Hotel:

We stayed in The Imperial, in a suite. A1 location, couldn't be better as we wanted to be near Kalamaja. We walked everywhere, used tram once I think.

Staff:

Often dour but very helpful. I sensed that the outward impression of many local service workers is quite cold or can appear so to a ‘westerner’, scratch under the surface and it is a bit different in a positive way. I know this from Serbia where it can be similar from a Brits perspective until you know people, it is mostly Slavic demeanour IMO. Anyway, that’s just first impressions of first visit, some staff happy, most not much smiling or small talk but most definitely there to help you and they were excellent. Even offered to make breakfast rolls for 5.30am one morning as we were leaving early for ferry! Nice touch that we declined with thanks but they left the coffee machine on for us. ;-)

Cons to Hotel:

No aircon and we stayed during a heatwave, I know that is most unusual for Tallinn but be warned. It's also a basic hotel, very clean, great breakfast * Actually excellent breakfast* but not many other amenities, not sure how it qualifies for 4*? A fantastic building though, why oh why it's not a functioning bar and lunch venue with terrace by day. No idea, a lost opportunity. Overall a good experience but if you want to spend a lot of time in the hotel I'd look for one with more facilities. It suited us for shower, bed and breakfast with great location.

Eating out not including snacks/fast food:

Golden Piglet - Good experience but the local traditional food is not that exciting. Glad we ate there but for the food we enjoyed places outside the old town mostly, immediately we saw the 'Prague or Rome phenomenon' where it's a bit too much geared for tourism, best get out to back streets or outside the walls was our impression but we loved walking around and stopping for coffee and drinks around the town.

Hell Hunt - Loved this place, especially on the covered terrace outside. Great 'own' draft beer selection as well as huge number of imports in bottles., tried the food twice, various things, all excellent and a fair price given old town location where many are expensive. It’s a pub rather than restaurant but done with some style. Loved it outside people watching. Their Hell Hunt weissbier was marvellous!

Babulja and Grill House - Same places joined, one Russian wine bar the other grill house. It has a nice terrace at front with (3 set) music where you can choose off either or both menus, nice in good weather. Good musicians with sympathetic mood music. The food was excellent! Russian food and grills. Went twice, all drinks were good too, tried some new wines for me, and vodka …hic!

F-Hoone - Our favourite place for interesting food. Very tasty, imaginative and about 50% of the cost of old town. Definitely go to Teliskivi area and check out all the 'happening' places around there, this one is very popular so book peak times. The market at Balti-Jamm across to there is only 10 min walk, 10 min from old town to station, not even that from our hotel.

Viru area.

We enjoyed the contrast of going past the flower market and exploring the modern city shopping malls and outskirts away from the old town. Some very good shops for clothes, especially for the ladies.

The old town:

Personally loved it up and around Nevsky Church, avoid at weekends or go early or late. The whole town is wonderful but as such it's ruined by tourism in terms of ambience. On the Saturday it really felt like a Japanese theme park, 5 or 6 major tours all Japanese, loud, and not very polite, pushing to see things without a care for others. Just an observation, I’m not anti- Japanese. I mentioned Prague, it can be the same, or Rome. It's the penalty for being a really lovely place to visit and learn about. I'd recommend visiting Monday to Wednesday slightly off season to see it at its best rather than weekend. I walked it all myself on a Monday and it was very quiet, much better.

Ferry to Helsinki:

Viking service was well worth it, walk from arrival terminal to city waterfront was about 15mins or you could use a tram. The buffet breakfast was very good quality and value @ Eur11 each. We only had café food on board on way back, the dinner buffet was Eur30. Nice approach to Helsinki port – thanks for the heads-up John The Fin! ;-)

It was a long day out in Helsinki and a heatwave, (25 degrees+) a bit tiring, so much so that we paid for the bus tour, against my nature but we got to see all of a wider area. Helsinki is expensive but we enjoyed what we saw. A fine city, I'd need to go again to find its soul, I didn't feel it first visit, almost cold even though some lovely places of interest. No offense intended to locals but they mostly seemed to be on a mission, I did meet a few fun locals in a bar overlooking the harbour though.

Tallinn overall as a destination/city break:

Loved it! Just avoid all the tourist times and tourist traps. I'd go back to Estonia, interesting, highly recommended Tallinn as first visit and go to the suburbs, mix with locals and see what you think. The old town is a must visit even if flawed by what I describe, we expected that.

Finally on a bad note:

One negative, we saw the unfortunate spectacle of small minded Brits abroad getting rat-ar$$ed in public areas, even middle of daytime. Why they chose Tallinn I have no idea, hardly exciting for guys on ‘tour’. Total disrespect to local girls and idiots of the highest order, I can say that as a Brit! I’m always apologising when abroad, trust me it's only the minority that act that way but we do seem everywhere.

I was surprised no local guys sorted them out, and why no police? Disorderly and abusive in a public place, they would not have got away with that in Belgrade! Perhaps EU soft laws, nobody seems to be able to challenge misconduct these days ;-(

I hope these comments help, only my personal impressions, some may totally disagree. I’ve noted some negatives but I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to Tallinn for 2-3-4 days days.

All best

Stoofer

12 replies to this topic
Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Tallinn, Finland, Helsinki
Level Contributor
9,297 posts
52 reviews
1. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Great trip report! Just one correction to make - Estonians are not Slavs.

You were unlucky with the boozy Brits. I've very rarely seen such behaviour myself, maybe because I don't go to Tallinn on weekends a lot.

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
15,213 posts
1 review
2. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Hi John

Just to be clear, I never said Estonians where Slavs, I said 'it is mostly Slavic demeanour IMO' when referring to what I initially found cold, almost rude, but know it to be something quite different.

Certainly high Russian population and influence obviously, I know Estonia s are more like Finns but as a foreign visitor I didn't really catch onto that. My wife also was speaking in a mixed lingo with locals, she speaks Serbo-Croat and Russian. Overall just saying, the demeanour and my comments accordingly, not in a disrespectful way. Just what a British visitor may find and explain not to be put off. It's the only way - laymans terms - I know to describe it ;-)

It was the Saturday afternoon that the Brit clowns were out and we saw them early evening too, same group of a dozen. Hate to think how they would have behaved a night but we went in early to get up for ferry.

I think a mid-week visit is what I will suggest to friends asking, not due to that but just the crowds and tour groups.

All best

Stoofer

Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Tallinn, Finland, Helsinki
Level Contributor
9,297 posts
52 reviews
3. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Fair enough, I just wanted to dispel that impression as I know the locals don't like it.

Glad you had a good time, and I suggest you come back again some day in a different season for a whole different experience.

Edited: 11 June 2018, 09:32
Tallinn, Estonia
Destination Expert
for Tallinn
Level Contributor
663 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Don't worry too much about the British stag parties. I think as a fellow Brit they make you more uncomfortable than us locals. It's alright if some lads want to have fun once in a while; it's not a blemish on the reputation of Brits as a whole. We're not the ones to cast the first stone when it comes to drunken revelry.

Vilnius, Lithuania
Destination Expert
for Lithuania, Vilnius
Level Contributor
3,502 posts
298 reviews
5. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Very good write up, interesting to read!

Having been to Japan few times I would say the Japanese are the last people on earth to behave the way you described. To be loud or even push somebody is totally unacceptable behavior in their mind. I would think of another major asian country :) Did you ask to be sure?

Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Tallinn, Finland, Helsinki
Level Contributor
9,297 posts
52 reviews
6. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Ah, I missed that bit. The Japanese are not among the most numerous groups of tourists in this region. My guess is they were Chinese. There are plenty of them around.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Family Travel
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9,249 posts
174 reviews
7. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

We have recently returned from Tallinn & also stayed over a weekend. We stayed at the Hotel St. Petersburg which is where the Golden Piglet is so may have walked right past you Stoofer!!

Fortunately we didn't see any misbehaving stag parties. We did see quite a few tour groups, mostly Chinese & groups off the cruise ships but they were fairly easily avoided with some patience & going to small museums during peak times. Compared to some of the other places we visited on our trip (Finland,Russia, Norway, Denmark & Sweden) the tour groups had way less of an impact on our visit to Tallinn than those countries but perhaps we had learned how to avoid or deal with them by then!?

Edited: 11 June 2018, 20:35
U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
15,213 posts
1 review
8. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Lusikas.

I have no problem with stag groups having fun, I have been on 20+ myself and I know how to party however this was obscenities and direct sexual references being shouted to passing local girls during a Saturday afternoon on Veru. IMO the police should have intervened and that was what surprised me. It's not a big deal, just very noticeable for a Brit in a 'oh here we go again' kind of way.

Endis & John. No Japanese means Japanese. I'm not saying they were deliberately rude but unthoughtful as so many making it difficult for other single or smaller groups to enjoy certain areas like viewing platforms, crowding into churches were some of us go to pay respects etc. they happened to be Japanese, and sometimes apologised but that's besides the point, it was an observation for a travel forum. They could just as easily been any nation group I suppose, it's just a note that 5-6 big tour groups do spoil the ambience for others at peak times as they do in Prague et al.

Mia K, Quite possibly yes as we walked around there a lot. I think your hotel had more facilities than ours but we liked the position of Imperial, I think pros and cons to both. I do usually avoid peak and groups and, as I said, I walked the main parts again and dwelled on a quiet Monday, it just happened that we had limited time, family with me so did a lot of old town sightseeing on the Saturday.

My report is what I saw and felt, I didn't sense that it was unusual, most of it positive but negatives are a fact of life.

Stoofer

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
150 posts
120 reviews
9. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Hi Stoofer, thanks for leaving the trip report. We're heading to Tallin via Viking line ferry from Helsinki for a few days so your report was great to read. I particularly liked all your details on the non-touristy areas. I am not sure if I missed it in your original message, how many nights were you in Tallin for?

U.K.
Destination Expert
for Belgrade
Level Contributor
15,213 posts
1 review
10. Re: Trip report for anyone interested

Hi Koukat

Glad it was of interest, we had 5-nights in Tallinn, within that we had a full day in Helsinki, 11 hours.

I think 'Tallinn' as far as old town is concerned can be 'seen' in 1-days but we wanted to relax there a bit, also explore the suburbs and modern Tallinn as well. Try local food etc.

All best

Stoofer

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