Patarei Prison – Tallin, Estonia

Our guide was Rasmus. He was genial and bearded which meant H and I drew on our bet. I said he would definitely have a beard (Rasmus sounding like a friendly, beardy sort of name) but he’d be in his 60s. H said no beard and in his 30s or 40s.

But that’s by the by. He took us round the desolate and snowy prison, chucked loads of information at us and even locked H in a cupboard.
Great. Saved me having to do it. (Aw, just joking.)

Patarei Prison was originally a fortress and has also been an army barracks. It became a prison in 1920. This is only a very small part of the huge prison complex.

patarei fortress prison estoniaAnd here, looking less like a magnificent fortress than a crumbling vestige of the Soviet regime although it was a fully functioning prison until 2003 or thereabouts. Continue reading


Tallinn Old Town – The Fairy Tale

A fairy tale, yes.

Tallinn Old Town in the snow was magical. Like wandering round a child’s pop-up story book.

So much so, that after a day or two, I kept wanting to stop people in the street and say, ‘excuse me, but can you tell me where I can find the real Tallinn?’

I didn’t of course.

And it’s not all Sugar Plum Fairy. There’ll be some more realistic stuff on here soon but for now, I’m doing pretty not gritty.

So voila! Here’s Tallinn Old Town. Let’s do the roof tops first. The place is full of them. Well so is any town but you can’t miss these, they’re all over the place in all their gingerbread glory.

I took these from the top of Kiek in de Kok. Kiek in de kok is a simply ginormous fortress built in the 15th century. It means ‘peep in the kitchen’ which is exactly what soldiers used do from that height. Well you can’t blame them, can you? It’d be rude not to.

alexander nevsky cathedral tallinn

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Continue reading


Plannin’ for Tallin

I am twitching with excitement.

The suitcase I’ve scrounged from my mum is going to be stuffed full of vests, socks, leggings, gloves, hats and anything else that is furry and thick. I am excluding next door’s dog. He is furry. He is also thick. But I’m not taking him on holiday because his breath smells.

Anyway, back to Tallin. It seems nobody has a bad word to say about the place. Visitors love it. They wax lyrical about the beauty of the Old Town, the thick snow and pretty teraccotta roof tops Continue reading


“Good Morning Ma’am, Please switch on your computer”

This morning I got one of those scam phone calls.  Bad connection. Overseas voice:

‘Good morning Ma’am, I’m phoning you from the official Windows Microsoft company. We are very concerned about problems you might be having with your Windows computer. You may have viruses and malware in your system so I will help you sort it out. Please, Ma’am, will you switch your computer on?’

Time for some fun.

Me: Malware, you say? What’s malware?
Mr Windows: Ma’am, malware is like a spy in your computer.
Me: Spies? (slight shriek) Spies in my computer? You’re telling me there’s a spy inside my computer? How did it get there?
Mr Windows: (giggling) No, Ma’am, not spies, just… Continue reading


Finding a hostel in Tallinn

There seems to be no shortage of beautiful hostels and cheap hotels in Tallinn. Atmospheric buildings with polished wooden floors and eccentric furniture or ultra modern clean lines with tasteful furnishings. Loads to choose from.

Then I read some of the reviews. Mostly positive but a few along these lines:

‘The rooms had a funny smell’
‘We couldn’t sleep for the noise of the nightclub next door’
The staff were vacuuming outside our door at 2 o clock in the morning’
We nearly froze to death – there were icicles hanging off the bed’
‘The manager had an ice pick in his pocket and an insane gleam in his eye’. Continue reading