(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
An acquaintance recently asked where I'd been that had surprised me the most and I didn't hesitate to answer. Tallinn, the beautiful and ancient Estonian city on the edge of the Baltic Sea, was surprising in many ways.
Virtually unknown to US tourists, as are other Baltic countries that virtually disappeared under more than 50 years of grim Soviet occupation, Estonia's capital city is remarkably well-preserved. Only a few buildings were destroyed in WWII, leaving the town square intact. Now, under its own rule, the city is embracing tourism and has become popular with European travelers. It's also a favorite destination for Russian tourists looking for a quick getaway. Tallinn's relatively new (since 1991) Christmas Market is one of the most popular.
Remnants of the old city wall curve around the oldest parts of the city, enclosing narrow streets and lanes and picturesque buildings. A towering Russian Orthodox church anchors the top of the hillside and offers a wonderful view of the city and the Gulf of Finland. Remnants of Soviet presence can still be found, in the KGB museum and other spots, but Estonia--the birthplace of Skype--has embraced its freedom and the culture is rich and vibrant.
I wrote about visiting Tallinn in the last issue of Spokane Cd'A Woman magazine. You can read that story here.