A cultural review of Tallinn

After a bit of a time out from blogging what better way to come back than to continue the famous “A cultural review of” series. Previous ones here RIGA BENLLECH WROCLAW FUENGIROLA NEWCASTLE & YORK

So with the usual sausage butties provided by John it was onto John Lennon airport for a 6am first bevvy which is late by our standards. The highlight of the pre plane talk was a story about a space hopper. So onto the plane we headed and it was then we got told that the tyre on the front of the plane was slashed. Cue jokes about being in Speke and the back of the plane being on bricks. With a 40 min delay we were heading for the capital of Estonia and the city of Tallinn.

Now for the cultural bit Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) with a population of 416,405. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, 80 km (50 mi) south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn’s Old Town is in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku, Finland.

The airport wasnt too far away from the hotel but it gave us a quick chat with the taxi driver who in his own “Rolling Stones English” told us that he has been to Siberia for two years with the Russian Army. With the bags quickly lashed in the hotel the first pint was soon upon us and with a price of €15 for 9 pints it was a good start and we decided to stay for a few. Next we headed to the main square and into a medieval bar. With a light beer served in clay pot it was something different. Irish bar next up and instead of prices being high we again stumbled upon another happy hour and €13 for 9 pints. By now the temps had fallen outside to about -8c and it was blowing a blizzard. We decided to head to the next bar. It was here that pensioner A from the group decided to perform a perfectly timed challenge from behind on pensioner B. It was a slide tackle in the snow that Souness in his prime would have been proud off. Nowhere near the ball and instantly bringing pensioner B to the ground. I am waiting upon the Guinness book of records to ratify that this indeed was the oldest slide tackle that has taken place with a combined age of 120 years between the two pensioners. For the record Pensioner A got a 5 game ban and pensioner B had to limp through the rest of the holiday with major knee ligament damage. The only people feeling more pain that night were Arsenal fans. So we headed to a bar only 7 meters from our hotel and they allowed us to being a Mcdonalds in to eat it was here that pensioner A who was still sheepishly proud of his tackle (and the challenge on pensioner B) managed to get lost going home despite as being mentioned the hotel being just 7 meters away. Not only that but what goes around comes around he slipped on the ice during his post midnight tour of Tallinn and damaged his ankle ligaments.

So day two and with the walking wounded (moaning old bastards) it was the traditional morning cultural trip before the boozers opened. With a visit to the occupation museum followed by a trip to the The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in the Tallinn Old Town, Estonia. It was built to a design by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a typical Russian Revivalstyle between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn’s largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint Alexander Nevsky who in 1242 won the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus, in the territorial waters of present-day Estonia. The late Russian patriarch, Alexis II, started his priestly ministry in the church. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral crowns the hill of Toompea where the Estonian folk hero Kalevipoeg is said to have been buried according to a legend. (There are many such legendary burial places of him in Estonia.) The cathedral was built during the period of late 19th century Russification and was so disliked by many Estonians as a symbol of oppression that the Estonian authorities scheduled the cathedral for demolition in 1924, but the decision was never implemented due to lack of funds and the building’s massive construction. As the USSR was officially non-religious, many churches including this cathedral were left to decline. The church has been meticulously restored since Estonia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Now I don’t do religion but on observing the crowd around the main church geezer and then the clambering to be touched by an open bible it did look like some sort of brainwashing cult. Unfortunately the lords powers could not heal our two geriatric cripples. It was a lovely church on the inside and out though.

So with the culture out of the way it was time for a pub crawl. Well some of the lads went to the KGB museum and would not tell us about it as it was a secret when they come back. It was then that honest John coughed up and said they were not allowed into the museum ha ha. The area involved in the pub crawl was about 50 meters in the end and indeed on one walk from pub to pub was down the steps, take one step and up more steps. Never before have I walked such a small distance between pubs. I did put my coat on for the 5 second journey as it was chilly outside. It was here that I remained unbeaten in darts (der der der da der) despite an invasion by two girls who just waltzed in for a smoke standing right in front of the board. Also here the second place playoff lasted for 15 mins and it was only one leg of 301 no double to start !! With the pints of Saku and A Le Coq beer flowing the memory gets hazier and the drunken memories of having to piss into a bucket in one toilet and at one point only being allowed to talk with words starting with U I have a memory of the final bar which was in the style of a mental hospital with padded foam walls and on the window a message saying please do not disturb our patients I made the long walk over to the hotel. This must have been 9 meters tonight instead of the previous nights 7.

So waking up with not as bad a hangover than after the first night despite ending up on gin and lemonade’s (there is even a capacity to my expanding beer belly) it was then I was knocked sick as the passport I kept in my coat pocket rather than in the unsafe hotel has gone. I felt sick. I quickly dashed down to breakfast on the off chance anybody had found it before I had to trace my steps backwards knocking on pub doors. Thankfully one of the lads had noticed that I had left it on the side in the mental hospital pub, phewwwwwwwww. One last picture and the identity of pensioner B who was violently tackled on night one has been preserved.

No Hamsters were hurt in the making of that picture. Now is it hamster x or x hamster ? As ever many thanks again to the group of teachers I gegg in with for the trip (The name of the school(s) is withheld to protect the guilty) and hopefully any glaring gaps in the story will be filled in on the comments section below..

Peace

Fay x x x