|You might be wondering where the heck is Estonia and why have I never heard of it? Estonia is a small country that is smack dab in between Latvia and mainland Russia and because of this it has been under Russian control for many years. However, the strange thing is that Estonia is very close to Finland (only 1.5 hours by boat) so they are actually more like the Finnish people than the Russians. There language is very similar to Finnish and they are really the only other people besides some Swedes that understand the Finnish language. Historically, Estonia has been traded back and forth between the Danish, Swedes, and Russians so they have a mixture of influences.
I originally had not planned on coming to Estonia but I'd heard good things about it. I then found out that it would be much easier to fly from Berlin to Tallinn then take a ferry from Germany so I went for it. When I arrived it was actually quite interesting to see a country that is so close to Russia yet very different. The language is distinctly different and I even though I haven't been to the Nordic countries yet the Estonians did seem to be more "European" than their Russian counterparts.
Tallin is the capital of Estonia and it is a rather small city of about 371,000 people. Tallinn likes to call itself the "Heart of Northern Europe" as it is one of the oldest, nicest medieval towns in the region. Like Prague, it has many ancient buildings still standing and has the feeling of being in a giant castle while you are there. I honestly didn't do that much in Tallinn except walk around and take in the old city and the culture. I don't think there is a ton of stuff to see but I was just content with strolling.
One of the highlights of my stay in Tallinn was a restaurant I ate at. It was an authentic 15th century restaurant where the waiters/waitresses wore original clothing from the period. All of the furniture and decorations were also authentic. I had dried elk meat in a small burlap sack as an appetizer and some of the best rabbit I have ever eaten in my life as my entree. It was probably a little touristic but I enjoyed it a lot.
One other interesting thing about Tallinn is that they have Europe's oldest surviving town hall. It is situated in the heart of the city which is a great area to eat and see the local people (and a lot of tourists). I believe Estonia is a tourist hotsport right now because of how cheap it is and it is rather beautiful. I saw quite a few Asians here so I guess things are picking up for the newly independent nation.
On to Finland!