Our getaway started with queues.
First queues were to get the tickets to the ferry. It is almost funny to see all the people packed into a small terminal. It is such a shame and even a small wonder that there are no self checkin kiosks at the harbour, like there are at the airports.
It was also funny to see how people behave in queues. It was not the young people, but the old people who jumped line and tried to cut in front of you. And they say young people have no manners.
Second queue was to get to the breakfast buffet. Seeing all the hordes of people trying to get in made my heart sink, and we decided to just grab something small from a store and eat properly when we get to the shore.
But first we had to say bye bye to Helsinki.
Leaving Helsinki behind this way feels strange.
Seeing the city disappear into the mist.
And soon you are in the sea.
Where no-one can hear you scream.
But sooner than you expect the Estonian shore comes visible.
While on the ship sea breezes are good opportunity to test fashion shots without wind machine.
At the harbour you will most likely see similar views, cruisers neatly lined up – unloading passengers to the city.
Inside ships waiting for the moment to doors to open is another exercise in queue techniques.
As soon as we got on shore, we went to get something to eat from Vapiano.
Vapiano is a really cool franchise food concept, which combines good italian food and fast food into fast, affordable and convenient combination. Key to the concept seems to be individual service stations, from which customers make their orders and get their food prepared right in from of them.
Each station prepares only one or two types of food from a very limited selection. Ingredients are prepared and packaged into containers, so that employees preparing the food can work really quickly and prepare salads etc. in just a minute or two. As pasta dishes take a little bit longer to make, there are three different pasta stations – making sure that individual customers do not need to wait for too long.
If customer orders a dish that takes longer time to prepare, pizza being the prime example, he/she gets a small beeper – which signals when the food is ready to be picked up from the station. Almost every other dish gets prepared right in front of your eyes.
Money is not handled until it is time to leave the restaurant. All the purchases are stored to a magnetic customer credit card, which is read at the cashier.
You would think that there is nothing special in the concept, since people have had similar concepts also before.
And you would be right.
Vapiano has just combined some really simple ideas together and perfected it into a system that is stylish and works.
Food was good, service was great, location was good, place was clean and stylish, employees smiled and where friendly.
Even though eating at Vapiano could be said to be fast food it did not feel like fast food. It felt like eating in a very stylish lounge, where young and attractive people served food and drinks to you.
Not bad at all.
After lunch we did some quick shopping and checked in to the hotel. View from the 21st floor of Viru-hotell was nice.
Right next to the hotel was Viru keskus, shopping center.
And just few hundred meters away was the Roterman block – new shopping center / shopping area.
In that area you can find among others shops from Spain’s clothing empire – Inditex group. In a small area you get to see collections from Bershka…
.. Pull & Bear as well as Stradivarius.
All of which are concepts missing from Finland. Would be great to see them enter also Finnish market and spice up the local fashion market here.
Besides fashion the Roterman district is also worthwhile to see just for the interesting architecture.
In a close by shopping center Foorum you get to see… a golden egg…
.. and a darn cure Hello Kitty store.
But for the best deal in Tallinn go to a local turist office – for example in the Viru center – or to almost any hotel in Tallinn and purchase a Tallinn card. With the Tallinn card you get great deals from many services, including free sightseeing tours around the city, free public trasportation and even free 1,5 hours access to Tallink Conference & Spa hotel’s Aqua Spa!
On our first day in Tallinn we spent 2 and a half hours on the official Tallinn sightseeing tour, which consisted of one hour buss ride around the town to Kadriorg and Piritta areas before continuing by foot around the Old town. Even though we had been to Tallinn before, this tour opened our eyes in a new way to all the places we did not even know existed.
Another special deal was the best view over Tallinn from the Lounge 24 at Radisson Blue-hotel.
At the Lounge 24 terrace you could enjoy refreshments and watch the sunset.
Drinks and food with the best view in Tallinn were not at all more expensive than in the Old town, and drinks where even cheaper than in some of the night clubs! Salmon on rye bread was around 10 euros and beer 4 euros.
And when the sun sets and/or weather gets colder, you can move to inside the lounge.
Comparing the atmosphere, view, clientele and quality of food & drinks to anything else experienced during the trip – the Longe 24 was an amazing deal.
Another really good deal was at the Kumu art museum cafeteria, where we got for seven euros a minced meat pie, a ham croisant, an apple pie and a cider and a beer to drink.
Writing tomorrow more about the sights and Kumu, which definitely should be on your list of places to se ein Tallinn.
On the other end of the spectrum of good deals was the Segway rental.
For 32 euros you could slide around the town with Segway. For one hour.
Even though Segways are kind a cool way to move around the Old town – especially as you can’t get to everywhere by car, 32 euros is kinda expensive. Especially as you get a limousine and a bottle of sparkling wine for one hour for 52 euros.
Unfortunately the bottle of sparkling wine is not this:
Overall the worst deals in Tallinn were to be found in the center of the Old town – in the tourist attractions.
You got much better food and service elsewhere — and most importantly did not need to put up with medieval costumes and other decorations made for tourists.
See rest of the images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/huimanet/sets/72157624445771445/