A day with Karin
During my first evening in Tallinn, I had the pleasure of wandering around Tallinn with Karin, a friend of a friend who lives in Lviv. She’s lived in Tallinn for several years now, and she grew up in the Estonian countryside. Work has been slow during the summer because many people she works with are on holiday, so she was able to meet me at 4:30pm on a Thursday to show me around.
Our first destination was Kadriorg Park, a large green space on the east side of town. A pond with a gazebo in the middle of it has many pieces of art on top of the water. It even has a Japanese garden!
In the park is the Kadriorg Palace, built for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great. It is a three-tiered Petrine Baroque building and also has a perfectly maintained garden behind it.
Then we walked to the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, which was built in 1959, but the Song Festival has been happening every five years since 1869. The stage can have up to 15,000 singers, and the opposite green area can host 100,000 concert-goers. The next song festival is scheduled for the summer of 2017, so plan to visit Tallinn then!
We briefly stopped by the seaside before hopping on the bus for a few stops to get to Old Town. It was too chilly to hang around for very long.
We cut through Old Town to get to Kalamaja, a hipster neighborhood on the west side of town. Since Karin knew I was planning to take the city walking tour the next day, she didn’t stop to explain much. All the more for me to look forward to!
I could smell the high-level of hipster in Kalamaja right away. Not to be outdone by Austin, TX, multiple establishments make use of shipping containers.
We made a beeline for F-Hoone, which is consistently rated one of the top restaurants in Tallinn. But it was pretty full and had a bunch of tables with reservation signs on them. We initially considered going elsewhere, but I thought we should ask one of the staff inside about our options.
We were told we could order a drink at the bar, and they’d let us know when a table became available. Not long enough for us to order a drink, we were led to our table. We asked for menus and were faced with tough choices! So we started with picking a drink and opted for 50cL glasses of Paljas Õun dry apple cider (€4.00), which were crisp and refreshing. Then Karin ordered the Furger (€8.90), a dark bread burger with Aberdeen-Angus veal cutlet, red cabbage, smoked cheese cream, chilli mayonnaise dressing, red onions, and cheddar cheese with rosemary fries. I got the 15-piece mutton dumplings in creamy mushroom sauce (€4.50) and the baked early potato with cottage cheese, green pea salad, and parsley oil (€5.70). Everything was so satisfyingly good that I couldn’t believe the prices. Karin said it used to be more expensive, but because more restaurants have sprung up in the neighborhood, they’ve reduced their prices to stay competitive. I thought that was pretty unheard of in the USA.
I asked for a box for my leftovers so that I could have some room for dessert from the display case. Karin asked me to go take a look and see if anything caught my eye. Because we had discussed her love for fresh berries earlier, I picked the cake with blueberries on top. I had no idea that the name had nothing to do with the berries; in fact, halvaa is a sunflower seed paste. The cake was an excellent end to our meal. I’m glad we shared it since we were both full from our savory selections.
We would normally have taken the tram back to the center of the city, but the old tracks are currently being redone for the new trams. So we looked for the temporary bus stop and found it across the street from this beautiful house.
I’m so glad Karin was free to hang out with me today! It was great to see Tallinn from a local’s perspective.