Tallinn: Old Town
August 17, 2014
So where do all these tourists come from?
My friends, they are deposited by the thousands from the cruise ships that dock in the harbor of this ancient Baltic city. They follow the tour guide with her flag. They crowd the cobblestoned squares and streets as they ogle the churches and bargain with the market vendors. They snack at the overpriced restaurants and cafes before re-boarding their ocean-going hotel for the next exotic stop. Helsinki? Saint Petersburg? Copenhagen?
All this activity reminds me of a quip I heard at a popular tourist site in China during the high season, “You see lots of heads!”
I do my best to avoid the heads in this attractive city.
I focus my camera lens upward on the towers, domes, spires, and steeples. And their finials.
Occasionally I come down to earth.
When I was asking for directions, I met Max, a highly educated and talkative man from the Ukraine. We had lunch together at Grandma’s Restaurant. I chose the herring salad and lamb shank. (I have already sampled several servings of hot borscht with elk meat back at my hotel. Not exactly what my mother used to serve.)
Max encouraged me to visit Kiev. Anyone know how’s the weather there this time of year?
PS On Friday evening I walked over to Beit Bella, the modern Tallinn synagogue. I met Rabbi Kot and after prayers, he invited me to his home for Shabbat dinner. I met his wife and their eight enthusiastic children. I think I counted four girls and four boys. The oldest son just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah.
The dinner included an array of Israeli salads, baked fish and chicken, items almost identical to the menu at Rabbi Kantor’s in Bangkok. Since Coke was on the table, I explained how I learned when and how Coke became kosher. You could look it up. I continued with the story of Hydrox and Oreo, but I think that was a bit much.