I didn’t do a massive amount today, really just a stroll around, but I’m glad to say the weather was a lot better. A bit breezy, but with a warm sun. Much improved on the rain from yesterday.
As I didn’t do too much I thought I’d fill up the space on today’s post with a bunch of tips. A lot of these will hold for other cities and countries (and I’ve possibly mentioned them before) but they’re just things to let you know about Tallinn and Estonia.
The currency in Estonia is currently the Estonian Crown, or Kroon (EEK). At the time of writing it’s pretty much 20 EEK to 1 Pound Sterling, so a Kroon is 5p. However, it’s linked to the Euro (you’ll see some things priced in Euros, though I’m not sure if they’re readily accepted yet) and all signs are that Estonia will be making “the switch” soon. It also means that Estonia would have been cheaper to visit last year when the point was stronger against the Euro.
Shop around for souvenirs and so on. In the Old Town, expect to pay 10EEK (50p, 1 US dollar) for a postcard. Slightly further out, some stalls do them for 7EEK and a shop in the Post Office (Eesti Post) on Narva mnt. has some for only 4EEK. I did see some girls in the street wearing red jackets and selling cards and guidebooks. I have no idea how much they were charging, but I’d bet they weren’t cheap. The cost of sending a postcard back to the UK is 9EEK (â‚¬0.58) – both prices are on the stamp.
Traffic is OK around Tallin. It’s busy, but generally speaking quite safe. Crossings are common and even at the non-lit ones, traffic seems to stop politely. Except public buses and trams. If you’re crossing past a stationary tram, then check when you get past it that there’s not another coming the other way.
English is commonplace in Tallinn, as is the obvious Estonian language. Many people also seem to still speak Russian and a few signs are dotted around in Cyrillic. I was surprised in one shop to find that the younger assistant didn’t speak English, but her much older colleague did! In almost every other country, it’s the other way around.
Food varies in price a lot. You can pay hundreds of EEK for a mail in one of the medieval restaurants on Vana turg, or as little as 20 EEK for a burger from one of the kiosks. These are usually dribbling with a pink sauce, kind of similar to the sauce used in a Big Mac. But with much, much more of it. There is a McD’s in Tallinn, but I didn’t go on – I popped into Hesburger (a Finnish chain) just down from it and had one of their chicken tortillas. It wasn’t bad, though the sauce was kind of curry-ish. Strange. It cost me 60EEK for a regular sized meal.
Public transport is pretty good, though I chose to walk everywhere as I needed the exercise! Buses are frequent and the tram system’s good. A journey costs 20EEK if you buy the ticket from the driver. I believe they’re slightly cheaper if you get them from the kiosks.
The airport in Tallinn is a short journey from the city. The bus is the same price as anywhere else, no artificial fees for being at an airport as you get in other countries. 20EEK will get you to the bus station on the outskirts. A taxi will set you back 60-80 EEK, probably more.
The other main transport method around here is the ferry with boats heading out frequently. Prices vary depending on so may factors I can’t give you a list, but generally it’s cheaper to book in advance and get a slow boat. I’d also recommend, if possible, booking direct with the ferry company as you’ll not have a travel agent fee (around 60 EEK) added.
Or if you want to be flash, you could get on Copterline and fly to Helsinki in 18 minutes – the fastest regular “capital to capital” trip anywhere in the world. According to them anyway. It’s not cheap, though this summer they’re doing a 1-way for â‚¬99.
Right, I’m waiting for my kind hosts to come in so we can warm up some pizza and share a bottle of plonk! Next stop, Helsinki…