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Tallinn, Estonia


Last weekend, I traveled all the way to Tallinn, Estonia to see one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. For those of you who don’t know (and I’m guessing most of you have probably not brushed up on your Estonian geography), Estonia is a small country in Northern Europe that is sandwiched between Finland and Russia. It has a huge variety of influences, including German, Swedish, Dutch and Russian, but it also has a distinct culture and language of its own.

As I took the bus from the airport to the city center, I began to panic a little bit. The outskirts of Tallinn are fairly run-down, to say the least, as most of this part of the city consists of old Soviet-era apartment buildings of grey granite alongside dour factories. That said, once I arrived in the historic city center (called Old Town), my hopes picked up a bit. Old Town is the old medieval center of the city, and it is characterized by windy, cobblestone streets, castles and towers, Russian cathedrals and brightly colored, red-tiled roofs. After checking into my hostel, I went out for a stroll in the snowy neighborhoods.

I spent most of my time wandering around town, looking at historic monuments and visiting museums. Whenever I got tired, I stopped off at a café for a cup of strong coffee or a tall glass of beer. One of my favorite cafes was actually at the top of one of the old medieval towers, so I had a great view of the city while I relaxed and read. I tried to avoid eating out, but each day I allowed myself to get at least one nice meal: the first night I had a salmon alfredo pasta, and the following afternoon I had a beef and vegetable ciabatta with spicy salsa. At night, I generally went to a bar to relax and drink beer or hot, spiced wine.

All in all, Tallin was a truly amazing experience, as I have rarely seen so much history that is so well-preserved. Also, traveling on my own was a wonderful experience, since wandering around a foreign country by oneself is a major confidence booster. That said, I was happy to return to Galway and prepare for my next trip: Belfast and Derry

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Ian Clark is a junior English and Philosophy major. He enjoys backpacking, snowshoeing and cycling, and he loves participating in UP's Outdoor Pursuits Program. In his free time (though he rarely ever has any), he enjoys writing, cooking, sampling pipe tobacco and drinking coffee on the academic quad on a brisk autumn morning. He is also currently studying in Galway, Ireland, and so he is trying to brush up on his knowledge of Irish life and culture. Finally, he really likes basset hound puppies and he thinks it's funny when they trip over their ears. 


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