Although Tallinn is the birthplace of Skype, one of the world’s top ten digital cities, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back 5,000 years, has a population of 430,000,* and is the capital and largest city in Estonia, I had virtually never heard of it until we went on our Northern European Cruise last spring. We came into the city via the Tallinn Passenger Port, which is one of the busiest cruise destinations in the Baltic Sea. We docked very close to Toompea Castle, part of the fortification system for “Old Town,” the ancient city center, and commenced with a delightful walking tour of the city. St. Olaf’s church (far right) was the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625 and is still an impressive landmark today, although there are many beautiful churches! (Lutheran, St. Mary’s Cathedral)(Russian Orthodox, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral) (St. Nicolas Church, was dedicated to the patron of fishermen and sailors in 1275, but today it’s a concert hall and houses a museum of ecclesiastical art.) In many ways, Tallinn has never lost its Medieval look and charm, although now everything has a touch of modern class added! Ancient walls are adorned with modern art for sale, and the town center is flanked with inviting open air cafes,some with snuggly sheep skins adorning the chairs. Talk about warm and plush!We visited in May—a great time to travel!—and there were flowers blooming everywhere. The markets were also bursting with colorful bouquets for sale. The Town Hall Square (aka “Raekoja plats”) is home to “Raeapteek,” founded in 1422 and one of the world’s oldest continuously operating pharmacies! Of course, not all the attractions on the square are quite so ancient. 🙂 After a long morning of trekking all over Old Town learning about Tallinn’s heritage and taking in the sites, we were treated to a traditional tea featuring both savory and sweet, stuffed croissants in a historic restaurant. (This fresco was painted on the ladies’ bathroom door!)I mean, this was a seriously, authentically ancient building! After a chance to rest and relax, we made our way past some lovely lassies in traditional garb to the “Fat Margaret” Tower and city gate, which now houses a fascinating little “Estonian Maritime Museum.”There’s also an excellent open air museum in Tallinn, which we didn’t see, because we just didn’t have time to see it all, hear it, taste it, or experience it all.But, I think that’s just the way it is! My dad used to always paraphrase Huckleberry Finn: “You pays your nickel, and you takes your choice.” No matter how hard we try, we’re only going to experience bits and pieces of life. We’ll notice certain things, but we may never really understand them. We’ll figure out some things…but there will be all sorts of things we miss. That’s why I’ve chosen to put my trust in God, who alone is omniscient! On this wonderful “cruise” called life, we’ll never get it all figured out, but God knows and understands everything, and He can lead us into the ways of peace.“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
(*The above aerial view of Tallinn was taken from Wiki Commons)