Thursday, August 6, 2015

Baltic Adventures (Part 1)

You may remember in my last Life Lately update that I mentioned that when we were in Istanbul we received new visas so wouldn't have to leave the country again for a visa run. Of course, life on this side of the world is never like you expect it to be, and a month or so after we arrived back in the country the government revoked Shannon's work permit, therefore rendering our visas null and void. So another visa run was on the horizon.

Since we were just in Istanbul, a number of the families we know with children who live there were gone for the summer, and generally summer in Istanbul is hot, and I knew that an 8-hour bus ride to Tbilisi with a 14-month old was not going to be preferable, I begged Shannon to let us go north instead of south to apply for our visas. He agreed, so I started investigating.

We decided to go to Helsinki via Tallinn, since neither of us had been to Estonia, and while Shannon had technically been to Finland before, it was a very long time ago and he didn't really spend any time there. So we investigated the visa application process in Helsinki, made all our reservations, packed our bags, and headed on our way!

The five of us in Tallinn.

We flew to Tallinn, Estonia, arriving on a Saturday evening. We went through passport control, picked up our pack-n-play and one bag (umm, we packed for five people in one bag. I was majorly patting myself on the back for that one), and grabbed a taxi. We checked into the Old House Hostel (only 10 minutes from the airport and right in the middle of Old Town), got everyone in bed, and crashed for the night.

One of the lovely ironies of raising children is that no matter how tired they are, they rarely sleep in if they go to bed late. So we were all up at our normal time of around 7 a.m. We got everyone dressed, packed back up, ate a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal that I had brought with us, and headed out on the town.

From our hostel we headed out the door and turned left, then right to work our way up to Town Hall. On the way we passed Goodwin Steak House, where the girls couldn't resist snuggling up to the cow statue.

Lane and Noel absolutely loved all the cobblestone streets and small alleyways, all the "princess towers" and "castles" that they saw. It was fascinating to them.

Our first view of Town Hall.

A better view.

My guy and my girls.

Town Hall Square reminded me of all the town squares I've seen in Poland, Czech Republic, and other Eastern European countries.

We wound our way up to St. Nicholas' Church, which is also home to a museum.

Found it!

We walked down Harju street, checking out the gardens on our right while heading to St. John's Church.

St. Nicholas' Church from the...front? side?

We found St. John's Church and then, after checking the time, turned around and headed back to Town Hall Square.

St. John's Church

We knew that we didn't have a lot of time left, but wanted to go to the overlook, so we went hunting for it. We didn't realize that we passed up the best way to get to the top when we headed back to Town Hall Square, so we ended up doubling back, walking uphill the whole time.

But at least we got to check out St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral up close on the way!

And when we got to the top we were rewarded with some awesome views.

We looked around off a couple different lookout points and decided that we needed to head back to check out and head to the ferry port. We walked down a lot of steps, booked it back, gathered our stuff, and grabbed a taxi to the port. Even though it wasn't more than a kilometer or so away, we knew we'd have some very whiney girls if we tried to walk the whole way after our morning of sightseeing!

We got to the port, tried to get onto the boat but were told we actually had to go and get boarding cards (they didn't just want my print out of our reservation?). So I went to do that and then we hurried aboard the ship. We found a nook in the cafeteria where we stashed our things, we bought some lunch, and settled in for the 2.5-hour journey to Helsinki.

The bigger girls played in the play area most of the time, Raye took a little snooze in my arms, and we ventured up onto deck once or twice to see the sea and feel the wind. We pretty much just stayed put in the cafeteria because it was easy. And anyone traveling with small children knows that easy is always a bonus. Overall the ferry was an amazing way to travel, and other than having to lug our pack-n-play around, it was really easy. I think we'd do it again in a heartbeat...but maybe wait until we don't have to bring the pack-n-play. 

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful city! It reminded me of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Isn't it great being in an adventuring family? Well, most of the time it's great. :)


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