Estonia Europe slow travel

A sneak peek into life in Tallinn

You may already know I quite often fall in love with (mostly) European cities and want to move there immediately. I’ll let you on a little secret: this time, I went one step further and we were this | | close to moving to Tallinn (more on that at the end of this post). I guess, there’s no need saying that I really liked it there?

Our neighbourhood & accommodation

A lot of my love for Tallinn stemmed from choosing the right area and the right Airbnb for our stay. 

We had a lovely modern apartment with a big balcony in the best part of town – Kalamaja. It’s an ex-working-class district, full of colourful wooden villas located just a mere 10-minute walk from the Old Town and even closer to the sea. Together with uber-hipster-Telliskivi and industrial Noblessner, it makes for one fantastic area which is full of cool cafes, shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants.

We had some lovely lunches by the sea, found a speakeasy bakery and had our favourite route for sunset walks. I really did see myself living there.

Impressions about Tallinn – likes & dislikes

Nordic? Baltic?

Tallinn doesn’t really feel Eastern-European and I’m not surprised people often call it a Nordic country (which technically it is not). You don’t really see too many ex-Soviet reminders, the city is modern but still very much intertwined with nature. I was happy to see that all my ideas of Tallinn being a dull city were incorrect.

Beautiful architecture

Not only the Old Town but also Kalamaja and many of the modern residential buildings all over the town are simply beautiful. Many have that Nordic flair to them with extensive use of timber and bold colours.

Liveable city

I’m quite surprised Tallinn isn’t topping the most liveable city lists but on the other hand, what can I judge after just one month. It seems like a cool place to live with its relaxed seaside vibe.

The public transport is free for all residents (and it’s super easy to use for visitors too, just tap your contactless bank card and you’re good to go), the streets are clean, there are lovely new residential areas by the seaside and you’re never far from a bike path or a place for a walk. 

I would most likely change my idea of Tallinn once dark winter day would be upon me but the late summer version has a special place in my heart.

For craft beer lovers

Tallinn is a craft beer lovers paradise. You’re never far from a brewery, taproom, craft beer shop or pub. Põhjala Brewery was my absolute favourite. Not only their new home is gorgeous but also their brews are fantastic. I called their taproom my office multiple times. It was great, not only for trying all kinds of beer but also the WiFi speed of 90Mbps was better than in our Airbnb.

The future is here

Automatic, on-line and driverless are the hot keywords in Tallinn. There are many automatic mowers docked under trees in Kadriorg and people seem to be unfazed by them. On one of our last days there, we had a 15-minute ride on a self-driving bus. They also have small robots delivering food, packages and shopping. Not to mention that you can start a business, vote, do your taxes and use other services exclusively online.

Coffee sucks

Ooh, this one hurt, especially after coming from Madrid, where coffee was on a really high level. Tallinn coffee was disappointing, to say the least. The prices were way too high for what was offered and so was the temperature of the milk in our “flat whites”. There was only one place that was half-decent but it still pained me to pay €4 for a coffee.

Developments

There are many new developments happening around town. New residential buildings, new offices, even the entire port is being rebuilt (the project by Zara Hadid Architects is really good-looking). 

According to a local legend, Tallinn must be never finished, otherwise, an old man, keeper of Lake Ülemiste will rise the waters and flood the city. 

Language

It’s really easy to go by, especially as a tourist, with just English. Almost everyone speaks English but if they don’t someone next to you will offer their help with translating. Other than English and Estonian, Russian is the language that we’ve heard the most.

On packaging and some in-store announcements in our local supermarket, there were almost always three languages: Estonian, Russian and Latvian.

We picked up only a few words, one of them being aga which means but

Prices

Exchange rate

In August 2019 100 EUR cost us around 165.50 AUD (at the same time, it would be around 112 USD). 

Grocery prices

For day to day grocery shopping we mostly visited Rimi because it was the closest supermarket to our house. There are Selver supermarkets and slightly bigger ones called Prisma (which by the way sells the best Finnish ice cream – Salmiakki).

How much do groceries cost in Tallinn? For example:

  • 1.5l sparkling water: €0.23 = 0.38 AUD
  • 10 eggs: €1.29 = 2.13 AUD
  • 250g pack of cherry tomatoes: €1.29 = 2.13 AUD
  • 130g of ham: €1.89 = 3.10 AUD
  • 250g butter: €2.69 = 4.41 AUD
  • local lager beer: €1.39 = 2.30 AUD
  • bread roll: €0.68 = 1.12 AUD

How much you should expect to pay for:

  • one small flat white in a cafe: €4 = 6.59 AUD
  • a restaurant dinner: €22.50 = 36.92 AUD
  • 0.4L craft beer: €6 = 9.75 AUD
  • a kebab: €3.50 = 5.76 AUD

How much we spent in 4 weeks (2 people)

Accommodation: €1 591.11 = 2 517.56 AUD
Groceries: €337.77 = 556.81 AUD
Eating out (we went out for meals, snacks or ice cream 17 times): €184.80 = 303.59 AUD
Coffee: €52.20 = 85.77 AUD
Alcohol: €241.50 = 397.79 AUD
Transport (public transport, Uber, Taxi etc): €18.40 = 30.11 AUD
Entertainment (cinema, museums, tours etc): €33.80 = 55.41 AUD – this number would be much higher but we received complimentary Tallinn Cards from VisitTallinn
SIM: still using our Hungarian cards

Total: €2 459.58 = 3 947.04 AUD

Happened this month

Ferry!

We came to Tallinn from Helsinki by ferry. For those, who like me, are scared of boats, open seas and anything remotely water-related, this sounds much scarier than it is. 

I chose to travel this way to face my fears. At first, I was excited about this new-to-me way of travel. Then, the closer our taxi was to the ferry terminal, the more scared I was. Once we boarded (which was much easier and faster than any airport), found a spot in a bar area and started drinking I barely even noticed we’re moving. I was scared of this journey for exactly 0 seconds. Wouldn’t mind going again.

Yoga

I found myself a little yoga studio in the Old Town and attended morning classes three times a week. I enjoyed this me-time very much. I also didn’t mind the walk from our place to It’s Yoga Tallinn – it was my meditation time. The city was quiet, every store still closed and the cruise day-trippers were nowhere to be seen yet.

Bog country

We went on a weekend road trip around Estonia – yes, Estonia is small and you can easily drive around the entire country in a single weekend. We stopped at a couple of pretty bogs, some of us went skinny dipping in a heart-shaped bog lake, we went to the coast (The Baltic Riviera) and enjoyed a backyard-style bbq with live entertainment. More on the road trip coming soon.

Job hunt

Three days into our stay I felt so good in this beautiful city I told Hubby I want to move there. His answer? Sure, no problem, just find yourself a job and we’ll move. Well, he didn’t really think this through. One hour later I not only found a great position at a great company, but I also updated my CV, wrote a cover letter, answered some HR questions and actually applied for the job.

Fast forward to a few weeks later, I was having multiple stages of interviews with various people from the company. It was time to start thinking seriously about the logistics of the move and how we’ll break the news to our family & friends. 

(Un?)fortunately, despite me nailing the interviews, the job fell through. I had mixed feelings about the result, Hubby felt like a weight was lifted off his chest. He really didn’t fancy dark Estonian winters.

Next month: Florence

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