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Telling world of Tallinn
Estonian city largely undiscovered by tour crowd

By Charlie Price Published: October 28, 2007

Shopping for local crafts can be an enjoyable experience. Sweaters, wool mittens and amber jewelry are big business in Tallinn. Several stalls occupying space under the city wall along M rivahe Street sell sweaters and souvenirs, and another craft market can be found just outside the old town near Viru Gate. Even nonshoppers might discover a must-have souvenir among the handicraft shops and artisans at work along St. Catherine's Passage (Katariina K ik). Jewelry stores are around every corner. Those looking for more contemporary consumer goods can head to Viru Gate to Viru Keskus, a modern shopping center that bills itself as the "fashion mecca of Estonia.”

Tallinn slows down after the big cruise boats sail away for their next port of call. The Baltic sun shines late in the summer, and locals and visitors alike stroll the squares and back lanes looking for a meal or a drink. Grandma's Place (Vanaema Juures) advertises traditional Estonian meals in a cozy cellar setting. The fare includes savory dishes such as goat cheese and potato casserole, but the culinary highlight is Grandma's Roast, a mixture of ham, potatoes and fried eggs on thick toasted bread.

Full on delicious dinners, smart tourists sleep in the heart of the old town area at Villa Hortensia. A few short blocks off Raekoja plats, Villa Hortensia shares the tiny Master's Courtyard with artisan shops and a delectable chocolaterie. Proprietor and jewelry maker Jaan Parn rents several rooms ranging from a double with twin beds to a suite with a fireplace and balcony.

Tallinn is a tasty concoction of many great European places. It's as if someone mixed a lump of Ljubljana, a ration of Rothenburg, a pinch of Prague, a dash of Dubrovnik, a bit of Bratislava and a slice of Salzburg. While this wonderful city can hardly be classified as undiscovered, talking up Tallinn is like bragging about a favorite restaurant. The more people you tell, the longer you'll wait for a table. Eat Tallinn up now before it's too late.

Viru Gate marks the boundary between medieval and modern in Tallinn, Estonia. BY CHARLIE PRICE, For the oklahoman


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