A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
I’m in Estonia. I’m in Tallinn in fact.
Isn’t it exciting!
Yes, we travelled a little sooner than you thought but didn’t I tell you that you would be the first to know? And you are!
Oh yeah, it snowed.
And it also rained.
So don’t forget your windbreaker or anorak, thick socks, hat, scarf and umbrella.
We didn’t have an umbrella.
Or a hat.
Actually, I did have a hat but I couldn’t wear it in the rain ‘cos it’s not that type of hat LOL!
But I digress.
We’ve already been to Lithuania and Latvia and let me tell you, they are so worth the trip. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back LOL!
And as for travelling to the Baltics by coach-bus and via our part-sponsor – Lux Express, The Music Producer panicked a bit at the thought, but I have to tell you that it really wasn’t that bad at all.
From Berlin to Vilnius in Lithuania, we travelled with the Simple Express part of the company and it was just like any other coach-bus journey but with individual flat screens and WiFi, albeit not always working! However, from Vilnius onwards, well, well!
I couldn’t believe how coach-bus journeys have changed. We met so many people who were doing the Baltic Route. In fact, we met a French fellow in Vilnius and met him again in Riga! Unsurprisingly, most people were travelling by coach-bus and we met only one (1) group of girls who were driving.
One Australian guy was actually annoyed because his coach-bus didn’t have the facilities that we had! I mean, with nice clean wide seats, free WiFi, individual flat screens for films and shows, free headphones which you helped yourself to, and free hot drinks like tea, coffee and hot chocolate, I’m thinking, yes please!
And once we got to the smaller countries, we took the empty seats and were able to stretch out even further! They even had seatbelts and floor lights just like on an aeroplane.
So for now, I’ve given you the lowdown of where we were going to go in Lithuania and Latvia.
See how it now runs off my tongue unlike a year ago, when I simply hadn’t a clue!
And now, I’m going to tell you where we’re going in Estonia and Finland, and roughly what we’re going to be doing. Again, this is the plan but as you know, plans change.
As does the weather!
Estonia, officially called the Republic of Estonia, is a country surrounded by Finland, Latvia, and Russia. It is considered one (1) of the smallest countries in the European Union, as it only has a country-wide population of 1.3 million people!
An advanced, highly economic country, its history with Finland is tightly connected, coming from an ancient type of Finnish people! The Estonian language stems from Finno-Ugric which is closely related to Finnish and Sami, with a distant link to Hungarian.
Estonia is so far North that it’s on the same latitude as parts of Alaska and Siberia!
Estonia’s modern development has risen so quickly and achieved so much success that Estonia is often described as one of the most wired countries in Europe and has the nickname of “e-Estonia!”
Here’s a little history:
Estonia has just 400,000 people but has lived in the region for over 10,000 years! They are closer to their Nordic cousins in culture and language than to their Baltic neighbours and were ruled by the Danes, Poles, Swedes, Germans and Russians. They became independent in 1918, lost it to half a century of occupation and only regained their independence in 1991 following the Singing Revolution.
It became a member of the EU and NATO in 2004 and also uses the Euro as its main currency.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is known around the world for its Hanseatic architecture and used to be known as a town call Reval. The preserved cobblestone streets of the city and it’s houses dates back as far as the 11th century in the Medieval age where brave Estonian knights rode through medieval architecture and made pacts with Baltic German nobility!
Amid the Gothic houses of merchants and Guild houses, churches and warehouses, Tallinn’s Old Town offers such a medieval flair and authenticity, that no other city in the Baltic region can offer 15th and 16th century towers and walls, as well as the oldest Gothic Town Hall in all of Northern Europe!
The Old Town is just bursting with culture and is also preserved as part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage so we’ll be going to Tallinn not once, but twice! We’ll be looking forward to capturing the legends of ghosts and spirits, the mysterious touch of castles and medieval buildings, with the help of the Tallinn Card 72 hours, for ourselves. The Tallinn Card was kindly offered to us by the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau.
We will be using the Tallinn Card to explore Tallinn and travel through the city. We’re most likely to go on a sightseeing tour so that we can visit beyond the city, we’ll definitely be hopping into a few museums that focus on Estonian history, culture and art such as the Estonian History Museum and the Natural History Museum, the Epping Tower, the walls and fortresses, the Marizapan Museum. Yes, marzipan!
Oh, it’s going to be so much fun!
We won’t ramble this time along as young teenagers are easily bored, so we’ll be tiring ourselves with outdoor activities, trying and tasting typical Estonian peasant food such as soup, black bread, pork, Estonian sausages, potatoes and fish, Russian elegance, and such delights (adults only) as Estonian wine, vodka, beer and a traditional drink called kali or Russian kvass.
We will be staying for three (3) days at the oldest hotel in Estonia, the luxury 5-star boutique hotel – The Hotel St. Petersbourg. The elegant hotel is located right in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town and only has 27 rooms! We’ll be in one of the twin superior rooms and as usual, location and history is absolutely key, as well as free WiFi, a full buffet or a’la carte breakfast, a mini iPad for use in the room, and a free morning sauna.
Gulp and fear of the unknown!
On our return back from Finland, we will also be staying for only one (1) day more at the 4-star charming My City Hotel. My City Hotel (formerly the Domina Inn City Hotel) is a charming little hotel of 68 rooms, situated in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town and is decorated with Italian modern art. We’ll be in one of the Superior Twin Rooms. And as previously stated, the most important point for a comfortable Spring Break with a teenager is a historical central location, spaciousness, free WiFi, a full buffet breakfast, and fluffy slippers!
Oh, but again, European saunas.
Double gulp and screaming down the street!
So many people know of Finland, Lapland, reindeer, and Father Christmas, but how many people have really been there?
I didn’t think so!
Finland, also known as the Republic of Finland, is not really a Baltic country but a Nordic one. It’s often lumped together with the Baltic States because of the relative ease and physical closeness. In reality, Finland is bordered by Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia.
Finland is full of interesting contrast such as the Midnight Sun and days full of darkness in Winter. Over two-thirds of the world’s people who experience the Midnight Sun, actually live in Finland!
In fact, in the most Northern part of Finland, the sunlight can be present for a consecutive number of over 70 days!
In land mass, Finland is the 8th largest country in Europe but with one of the lowest populations. It has just 5.4 million people, 37 national parks, 70% of the country covered with trees, and 15.8 inhabitants per every km2.
Here’s some history:
Finland was once part of Sweden and as a result of this, the official language in Finland is both Swedish and Finnish! 91% speak Finnish, 54% speak Swedish and 1,700 indigenous people who live in Northern Lapland, speak Sámi. Finland was also a part of the Russian Empire and briefly became an independent republic in 1917 until WWII. It joined the UN in 1955, became a neutral nation, joined the EU in 1995, and has the Euro as its official currency.
I would like to go to Lapland one of these days, but for this journey, we’ll be going to the very cultural city of Helsinki which is the capital, and also has a 100 km long shoreline and around 300 islands!
Helsinki as the capital of Finland, was founded in 1550 and has a little over half a million people living there. It’s a modern European city famous for its culture, design, and high technology, and its own unique cultural space. It is traditional but modern and is internationally renowned for its strong Finnish design, bold and innovative culinary suave, and it’s hip urban nuances, in a backdrop of sea and forest!
I’m not entirely sure yet but we probably won’t ramble around this time either as Helsinki isn’t that type of city, but is trendy and hipster-like. As a result, we will be checking out areas full of design shops, antique shops, museums and galleries. We’ll also be trying and testing Helsinki’s food culture such as potatoes, dried, smoked and simmered fish and meat, and characteristic food such as stroganoff, salted and pickled fish, and meatballs with reindeer.
If we can find it!
We will be staying for two (2) nights at the very artistically designed GLO Hotel Art which is an exclusive, charming lifestyle hotel built around a century-old Art Nouveau castle. Our artdesign hotel is located in the heart of the Helsinki Design District and has 171 rooms. We’ll be in one of the GLO Comfort Twin rooms and as before, location and attractiveness is key to a wonderful experience as well as free WiFi, a flat screen TV, a full buffet breakfast, and more fluffy slippers!
GLO Hotel Art is a winner of Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice 2014 award and was ranked number 15 among the most popular hotels in Helsinki.
We will be crossing the sea because we’re also on a sponsorship deal with TALLINK SLJA LINE.
TALLINK is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruise ferries and ships from Estonia to Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Germany. We will be sailing with them from Estonia to Finland and back to Estonia.
We’ll be taking both the Tallink Shuttle Star and the Superstar cruises across the Baltic Sea.
Many tourists as well as Estonian and Finnish, people regularly take day trips across the water, as the ships travel from city to city in just 2 hours.
All year round!
However, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I would actually like to stay in Helsinki for much longer than 12 hours, but if you’re pushed for time, just take the day cruise instead.
It’s only a two (2) hour crossing so we’ll be using the time to wander along the ship and admire the sea view.
It’s going to be fresh and windy!
This article is part-sponsored by Lux Express and TALLINK SLJA LINE, and the Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau. We received a 72 hour complimentary Tallinn Card and we get a little discount on the hotels, but all opinions and the delicious food and drink that I thoroughly consumed, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
Next week, I’ll tell you what happened in Lithuania and how we survived an 18.5 hour coach-bus adventure!
International Games Week Berlin 2015 is a leading cross-industry communication and networking platform for games businesss, development and culture, and will be taking place between April 21-26, 2015.
I’ll be going to TBEX Europe (Travel Bloggers Exchange) an International Networking Conference, for the first time! It’ll be taking place in Costa Brava, Catalunya, Spain from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15.
Strictly Stand Up English Comedy Night will be taking place at the Quatsch Comedy Club on 29.04.15.
Eddie Izzard will be back in Germany and will be front-lining a killer international night of comedy at the Admirals Palast on 08.05.15.
The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!
The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.
I’ll be there. Will you?
As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!
If you’re not in Berlin in the April, you’re going to miss all the exciting stuff!
April is going to be blooming!
Watch this space!
Would you take a long distance coach-bus journey around Europe? Can you imagine visiting Riga, and sailing away to Helsinki?
See you in Berlin.
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Can’t believe it snowed. I hope it was magical. I really lucked out with weather last September 🙂 Very excited for those recaps!
It did indeed Anna. Rather more cold and windy than magical as we weren’t initally appropriately dressed. Until the next day LOL! You know, with Spring and everything however, after that, it was perfectly alright and the food and drink helped me cope perfectly!
Never been to the Baltic States, but your pics make me want to go!!!
Thank you Thomas! Come and join us! It’s quite easy from the UK with Ryanair or airBaltic. 🙂
Ok you’re the second person to love Tallin and the Baltics. It’s giving me the travel itch!
Thanks Jenna!’Hopefully there’s more of us. It’s such a tiny place. You’ll love it LOL!
It looks like you had a great time girl!!! When are you planning to visit me in Amsterdam :)? We also have amazing pancakes here 🙂 omomomomo
I am Agness. I am. I’m in Finland right now. Very windy! Oh, my dear. Do you remember that I came to Amsterdam at the very beginning of the New Year and you were in Antwerp at the same time! I would love to come back but I don’t think I’ll be in Amsterdam any more this year. 🙁
P.S. Pancakes in every country are delicious. 🙂
Can’t wait t one day go there! Loks amazing. The top pic looks like out of a Disney movie!
Awww! Thanks Phil! It’s Tallinn in Estonia and it’s all real LOL! Such a tiny place too with only 1.3 million people in the whole country! Manchester, my home city has 2.4 million: almost double the number, and Berlin has 3.4 million! In fact, all the Baltic States are quite small and compact. Come on over!
I think overnight busses are fabulous , you save on a hotel for the night and get where you want to go… Only thing better is an overnight train. 🙂
Maybe you said it and I didn’t see it, but how many days total are you traveling for? It seems jam-packed! I am so jealous! 🙂
Me too Jenny! And I do love the trains but as far as far as an overnight is concerned, bus are better! And why? The stops or changes! That was the problem when we went skiing in the Czech Republic. My original idea was to take the overnight train to Prague and then switch to the local Czech trains. However, at that time, the German trains made late night stops in small towns. Truely, you do NOT want to be waiting at a small town in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Europe. Firstly, most likely the station waiting room is closed and secondly, you’ll either be freezing, and thirdly, you’ll be ALONE. Gulp!
The bus on the other hand, went straight through and only made toilet stops. And our bus trip ENDED in Prague which is totally alright. Prague is a 24 hour city and everywhere was buzzing!
On this Baltic trip, you can’t take the train at all as Western train companies don’t come this far North. Up to Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia yes, and then East to Hungary and Romania! Trains in the Baltics come from Russia and no-one really recommends them as they’re too old, slow and unreliable. The best bet is either to fly, take the bus or drive. Pretty much everyone we met was travelling by bus!
Oh yes, actually I didn’t say. 🙂 This independent trip is 15 days: 3 days in Vilnius (Lithuania), 3 days in Riga (Latvia), 3 days in Tallinn (Estonia), 2 days in (Helsinki) Finland, and 1 more day in Tallinn (Estonia) again. That makes 12 days and 3 days for travelling! I think that makes it a little more relaxing. What do you think?
Sounds awesome! I can’t wait to
Be on the road again!
That’s what it’s all about. 🙂 Do have any ideas where you’ll be going?
Not in the slightest. I want Europe, chad wants South America. Maybe we should just do both haha
I’d do both too. If I could LOL! Perhaps a toss up or at the very least, a compromise. I’m lucky in that I generally choose and organise our family holidays and my husband organises the restaurants LOL!
That’s a great way to split the responsibilities!
Thank you. 🙂
nice trip! I like Tallinn a lot!
Thank you Maja! Me too. In fact, once we leave Finland, we’ll be going back for one more day! And I hope to visit Tallinn again fairly soon as you can actually take a ferry to St.Petersburg in Russia (visa-free), and I really want to go to Russia properly. You can only spend 72 hours there but for 1 city initially, I think that’s fine. 🙂 When did you go to Tallinn and how long for?
Cool! Thank you for your updates, following every bit of your journey, sounds great, glad you are enjoying yourselves!..never been to Tallin, awesome!
You’re very welcome africanagirl and thanks for following my journey! 🙂 It’s been an interesting journey and I’ll be revealing the details, as I saw them, next week!
p.s. Tallinn is really nice and our hotel was “magnifique!”
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I love European cities. They are just beautiful and full of life.
Thanks so much David!
I’m right with you. European cities are just the best! 😀
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