I made it to my first ex-Soviet republic over the weekend: Estonia (more specifically, to its capital, Tallinn). I remember when the Baltics were demonstrating for independence and the USSR taking actions against them such as cutting off their fuel supplies, and they have formed a distinct trifecta in my myriad of fascinations with The East ever since.
I didn't have much idea what to expect, though I had only heard good things about the city, so I knew this was not going to be Sofia North. But even with that expectation calibration, I was really quite taken aback by the place. Growing up in America, I kind of had this image in my mind of what a European city would look like. We all know Paris, as its icons are as omnipresent as New York's, and Prague is a fairytale idyll, but growing up in America I always had this quaint picture in my mind about what an average European city would look like (of course, that dream was dashed as soon as I travelled here, but hey ho), and Tallinn was pretty much built to that blueprint. It's small, cobbled, pretty, well-maintained, unexciting; perfect. How it escaped a life in concrete with 45 years of Russian rule is beyond me, but I guess it's just lucky it's not on the direct warpath from Berlin to Moscow. Each and every street was hemmed in by attractive buildings and led to a handsome view. Really, quite an enamouring city.
Then, just to seal the deal, in addition with escaping Eastern architecture, you are freed from the pierogis and cabbage endemic of life behind the Iron Curtain. We had Estonian, Russian, Tex-Mex, (fantastic) African and (really fantastic) Indian in our 48 hours within the old walls. This was totally unexpected and caused my and my three companions' estimation of Tallinn to soar.
Gay life and Estonian men: small, but acceptable.
Definitely a city on the thumbs-up list; I encourage you to go before the teeming hoards of stags and hens discover it. I'll have to get the other Baltics under my belt down the road to see if they've pulled off liberation as well.
Prolific pictures at
EasyJet are happy to share the jet fuel with you for only £3.50/bottle.
Old Town from our balcony.
Me and Lottie in the main square.
Typical Tallinn street-scape.
Me and Kimb'uh walking out to an overlook out to the Baltic.
I want a strap-on faggot!
So... much... food.
Kimb'uh, Garret, me and Lottie in a great wine bar where you are encouraged to "secrete with your partner".
OK, they have their tack, too! But it's all safely outside the Old Town walls.
As Garrett said, the "Yes We Can" can.
Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
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