Exploring outside of Old Town, whilst realizing that most museums close on a Monday
20.06.2011 - 20.06.2011 21 °C
After exploring most of Old Town over recent days we catch an early morning tram towards wooded Kadriorg Park, just to the east of Old Town. Well, we would have done if we had a map. It was sometime before we realized that I was taking us in the completely wrong direction.
Navigation errors corrected we attempted to purchase a couple of tickets for the Tram. For some unknown reason the securing of Tram tickets, in Tallinn, is akin to the purchase of alcohol in 1920s Prohibition America. Unable to find any stores selling tickets we are advised by a local that ‘every Kiosk sells Tram tickets’. This they may do but the Kiosks do not appear located near the Tram stops. After nearly walking the couple of miles to the Park we finally hopped on a Tram and paid double the usual ‘Kiosk’ fare, purchasing a ticket from the driver.
Throughout the rest of the day we only found one Kiosk close to a Tram stop and this (we believe for the note was in Estonian!) had sold out of Tram tickets. Forced into paying double for each fare and more than a little annoyed at the whole incompetence of the ticketing system we found little guilt in riding the Tram ‘free’ a few times during the day – just to even up the situation.
Finally arriving at the Park we had a pleasant stroll, passing Swan filled ponds to the park’s centerpiece - Kadriorg Palace. Built between 1718 and 1736 the Palace was designed for Peter the Great’s wife Catherine I. Home now to a romantic collection of 17th and 18th-century art the palace is unashamedly splendid.
At the far side of the park the new showpiece is the KUMU Art Museum. Voted 2008 European Museum of the Year this Finnish designed spectacle of limestone, glass and copper integrates well with its surrounding landscape. Unfortunately, however, as the museum closes on Monday’s this was all the viewing we were able to afford.
Leaving the Park we returned to suburbia but this time intentionally. Taking the Tram back towards the Old Town, like the knowledgeable locals we now were (or at least felt to be!), we headed for the ‘Museum of Occupation & Fight for Freedom’. However, like KUMU it was, much to Trey’s utter disappointment at being denied yet another ‘Occupation’ museum, it was closed. Needing to comfort the poor distraught Trey (!!) we headed for lunch at a small restaurant in Toompea .
One of the few Old Town museums open on a Monday is ‘City museum’. Housed in a medieval merchant’s house the museum competently traces Tallinn’s development from its beginnings through to 1940. Whilst some of the displays are quirky and the artifacts often curious (a modern, smashed beer bottle is on display at one point) exhibit labels are in English and the museum simple to navigate. We leave the museum with a renewed understanding of the suffering of the City in both early and modern times. The scale of building required to allow Old Town to shine as it does today is almost beyond imagination in terms of both time and money.
Enjoying our Tram riding adventures (with and without tickets) we end our afternoon by heading to the extreme of line 2. Outside the scope of our tourist map the small town we eventually stopped at Pŏhja had no tourist sites. Indeed, apart from a large Stalin-esque building and a fine looking park that appeared to have no entry gate we could see nothing but the apparently endless Baltic Sea and the constant shuttling ferries between Helsinki and Stockholm.
Riding the Tram back to Old Town for the final time we had certainly enjoyed our time in Tallinn. Relaxed, attractive and easy to navigate (apart from the ridiculous Tram ticket system!) we are regretful but not sad that we leave tomorrow for the airport and pastures new.