One of the most unexpected perks of traveling by sea is the fact that you don't get to pick every destination - and usually that's a happy surprise. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that before our recent Scandinavian adventure with Princess Cruises, I had never heard of a little town called Tallinn in Estonia. A little stopover port, I thought, that sounded cute. Imagine my delight when I discovered that this gem of a town was a hidden trove of candy-colored buildings, charming doorways, and ... linen shops. My weakness.
The first thing to know about Tallinn is that the 'Old Town' area is a beautifully preserved historic district that is just one part of the city. There are much more modern areas to explore as well, but with only one day here, I would choose to spend it in the Old Town.
And if you're wondering why, well, it has a little something to do with doors...
Can you see the giddiness on my face? I think I'm actually already scouting the next door to take a photo of here. I was obsessed - stopping every few feet to capture the architecture and the beautiful tones of the worn walls lining the streets. I said this in one of my instagram posts, but I could totally do a whole line of paints based off the colors in this city. They were perfectly soft and lovely. Not to mention the color combination inspiration!
You guys know I'm not one for posing in my own photos too much, but here? I had to. Especially in front of that green door that had my name written all over it.
The upper Old Town is mostly historic buildings and souvenir shops (from what I saw anyway). A few beautiful churches were worth popping into, but mostly it was just wandering and admiring the view from the top!
I loved this little moment. It captures our trip so perfectly! And you can see our cruise ship waaaaaay in the back too!
Down this long cobble street you find your way into the lower Old Town area where there is a bit more to do. Lots of cute shops, restaurants and bars are hidden down every winding road.
This adorable spot looked like a candy striped medieval wonderland. It's actually the exterior of the Schloesse Hotel that we happened to stumble upon!
The main square is a sunny open area that has a historic church in the center and lots of great restaurants. I had actually heard some good things about Kaerajaan (you can see it on the lower right side of the buildings below), but we didn't get to enjoy it because we decided to find what I'm quite certain was the only Mexican restaurant in Tallin since we happened to be there on Cinco de Mayo! That was pretty hilarious, actually, but I now wish we had experienced some of their modern cuisine because it looks delicious.
We also devoured some delicious desserts at a cafe called Saiakangi. While there are plenty of places to stop and grab a nibble, we just happened to score with this one.
One of the unexpected perks of shopping in Tallinn is that the city is known for its wool and linen. My curiosity was piqued as we wandered past this store that looked incredibly chic from the outside, and it turned out to be the linen shop of my dreams. Napkins, tablecloths, pillow cases, towels, and duvets in every color!! It's called Zizi and if you are a linen lover, you must visit.
While the town is certainly old, don't be fooled. Plenty of the bars and restaurants here are quite modern and chic. In fact, part of what made me fall in love with Tallinn was the fact that it feels progressive and historic all at the same time. I suppose that goes for many Scandinavian and Baltic towns, but it felt especially true here.
I was a bit bummed that we had to be back to the ship by 4pm because we totally missed our chance to imbibe at some of these cool bars and restaurants that I stumbled upon - Sazerac being one of them. (I snagged this photo through a window!)
And if you've stayed with me through this whole post, then you get the visual treat of this most-photographed door in Tallinn. The pink anchor door!
I have always had this secret desire to open up an all-pink champagne bar with a seaside theme, so this door is everything I want in life and then some. Perhaps I'll recreate it one day for my own magical shop, office or restaurant!
So, what's the lesson learned here? Take that cruise, and embrace the unknown stops. They just may turn out to be your favorite! And if you're already planning a trip to this region, I would highly suggest squeezing the adorable Tallinn into your route. You won't regret it.