Day 7 - Tallin, Estonia

July 7th

Cruise Ship Log

July 7, 2007 - Tallin: The Star Princess made her final appraoch to Tallinn during the early morning and the local pilot embarked at 0532. The Star Princess was fast alongside on her berth with all lines ashore and the gangways rigged and ready at 0702.

Noon Position:
Alongside in Tallinn

Pressure: 991.4 kPa

Wind: E Force 4

Temperature:15° C

Sky: Overcast

We woke up early again to our alarm. I rushed to get dressed, eating my pineapple while the ship pulled into port. As we walked down to the meeting place I quickly ate some more fruit gathered from Horizon Court the night before. Assigned to group A-11, we were all a little groggy as we loaded on one of the buses lined up on at the port. There were at least 10 other groups doing the exact same thing as us, since the options for Tallinn were very minimal. I had very high hopes for our guide since we could actually hear her talking. Unfortunately, we soon found out that she did not know how to stop talking. She wanted to share every bit of information she knew about Tallinn with us.

The first stop was the Estonian Song Festival Grounds, a large outdoor amphitheater. The city holds a massive music festival where people from all over walk to the music hall signing. The building itself overlooks the whole city of Tallinn and the port, where we could see our ship docked. The view was nice, but not on my top things to see in the world. They had some booths set up selling items and a woman playing some sort of local harp type of instrument. Kirsten practiced walking before it was back to the bus and our next stop, the Olympic Yachting Center.

When the USSR hosted the Olympics the boating events were held at this center in Estonia, which at the time was part of the USSR. This was almost a wasted stop because there was not much to see. The place was a little over grown. We were allowed to get out, which just made the stop longer since some of the tour wandered off.

Back on the road to Tallinn we passed a monument built by the Soviets that was on both sides of the road. The monument itself was overgrown, which was the way the people took care of the former “countries” monuments. They would not destroy them, because they were part of their history, but they did not appear to do anything to preserve them either. Further along was an angel, a monument to the sailors who had died at sea. When entering the city, the tour bus drove past the Museum of Occupation and Liberty Square before dropping us at the bottom of the hill where the Parliament Building sits in Old Town Tallinn.

The walk up the hill to Parliament Square was short. It was a large pink building, simple in style compared to the ornate government buildings and palaces we had seen in other countries. The tour guide rambled on for a good 15 minutes about the significance of the buildings, the square, the position of the city and the walls. It was all too much to handle. Most of us chose to walk about taking photos without getting to far from the group. The real interesting part of the area was actually the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which stood opposite the Parliament building.

Chris & Melissa in TallinThe cathedral had been placed there by Alexander. Due to the size and historic value, it could not be moved or destroyed, so that where it would remain, directly across from the Parliament building. We were allowed to go inside even though mass was in progress. We were asked not to talk or take any photos.

Other than when I visited the Mosque in Cordoba I have never felt the same about any church or cathedral, not even in Westminster Abbey. I am not sure if it was the sounds of the mass, the people actually taking part in the ceremony or what, but it had an effect on me. I felt wrong being in a building that was in use -- all the women had their heads covered and were wearing skirts.
I pulled my hood up to try and show some respect to them and their religion. It was a lovely experience, the interior was decorated beautifully. Unlike all the other Russian Orthodox Churches we had seen, the interior walls of this one were covered with vine and flower designs.

When we were outside again, we walked further into the old section of the city, up a narrow cobblestone street to a small square type of opening with another church and some buildings that were shops and homes. My first impression was that this was a wonderful place, quiet, clean, simple and untouched. As we spent what felt like hours waiting while the guide talked it became clear that this was a very Disney-esc village. Everything was set up for the tourists -- that was why the bus dropped us off at the bottom of the hill, to keep the image of an old city in place. All the houses around the square had been converted into some sort of tourist shop, including a very nice glass and amber shop, or restaurants. A young girl in “traditional” dress peddled up to our group on a bike with a drink cooler on the front. Just like the shops and other people we had met she would take Euros, dollars or any other currency we had and knew a few words in English to help her sell her goods.