Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Baltic's - Part 1

Attempting to escape the heat of the desert, as well as the new "summer" hours for the construction outside of our window (starting at 5:30 AM), Amy and I decided to head to the Baltic's in July. We chose the Baltic's because the summers are generally cool and you can get beer and pork at just about every restaurant... essentially the polar opposite of Al Ain.

We spent our first week in Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were lucky to find a cheap room in the middle of the old town, just a block from the main square using AirBnB. If you haven't checked out sites like,, or I highly recommend them. So far we've been able to score great rooms in the middle of everything for extremely low prices.

After flying from Dubai to Istanbul, Istanbul to Vilnius, and then Vilnius to Tallinn, our first item of business was to sit down and have a good meal. We grabbed our first meal at a restaurant across the street from our flat called the Golden Pig. After months of mediocre food in the U.A.E. this meal was close to a heavenly experience. I'd never had fried rye bread before, but it's my new favorite thing. The pork knuckle was incredible and the beer was fantastic.

I still had to work during the entire trip, so this wasn't exactly a vacation, but it sure was a nice change of scenery. We were able to get up early in the mornings and try different coffee shops and breakfast spots, after which I'd head back to the flat to work while Amy spent the day exploring the town. One of my favorite coffee shops just happened to be the oldest cafe in Tallinn, and it's also the Tallinn Marzipan Museum. Marzipan was actually created in Tallinn and they continue the art of creating incredible edible pieces of goodness to this day.

(Yes, that is a Marzipan Putin!)

Tallinn is beautiful and fun to explore. You can lose yourself in the winding streets and find something new and interesting around every corner.

Estonia is known for its sweaters, and in Tallinn local merchants setup on one of the old city walls, known as the "Sweater Wall". You can easily find the perfect addition to your wardrobe here.

On my day off we were able to get out of the city and see more of Estonia. We headed out to the Lahemaa National Park. On our way to the park we stopped by the smallest castle in the Baltic's. There's a small coffee shop in the base of the castle that sells coffee and Kiiu Torn, a traditional Estonian egg liquor. As a big fan of eggnog, I highly recommend it!

The park is enormous and has hiking trails throughout. We headed to an area spotted with bogs and raised wooded paths.

We finished out the day visiting some historic Estonian manor houses, a fishing village on the Baltic Sea, and waterfall on the outskirts of Tallinn.

Before leaving Tallinn we spent an afternoon on the water. We booked a cruise on an old schooner, the type of boat that used to be used for trade with Helsinki and other cities on the Baltic Sea.

One of the really interesting things about the Baltic's is that they're so far North that the days are much longer during the summer. The following photo was taken around 1AM. The only time it was actually dark while we were there was from about 2AM to 4AM.

In the next post we pick up the next leg of our trip and go to the capital of Latvia, Riga!

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