Tallinn the Perfect PreChristmas Getaway
Northern Europe with its markets and ad hoc decoration is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to get into the Christmas spirit before actually celebrating the festivity with their family. One city with a must-visit flea market is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which boasts one of the best preserved medieval towns on the Baltic. The historic precinct, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, is ringed by walled fortifications which have withstood all wars. Any further reason for visiting Tallinn? Well, it has one of the most beautiful seafronts in the world and, according to Condé Nast Traveler, it is due to become one of the most prosperous cities of 2017. What else?
Tallinn was a major commercial hub during the period when the Hanseatic League dominated the Baltic and North Sea trade routes. At that time it was known by the Germanic name Reval and such was its prosperity that it could afford to have two mayors and twenty-four municipal councillors who only worked alternate years. The Old Town dates from medieval times and is arranged around the City Hall, which bears the city’s symbol, “Vana Toomas” (Old Thomas), a weathervane in the shape of a mercenary holding a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Noteworthy, too, is the Lutheran St Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church, in bare Gothic style, and the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, dating from 1900, located on Toompea hill. Danes, Germans, Swedes, Russians and, lastly, Soviets have left their mark on Estonia’s history. Prominent from the latter period is the cinema, now one of the major leisure centres in Tallinn, and the network of inner patios scattered across this Baltic city.
You can’t say you’ve been to Tallinn unless you walk down Pikk jalg (Long Leg) Street and Lühike jalg (Short Leg) Street and stop to take in amazing iconic views of the city from the Patkuli viewing platform overlooking the sea, the harbour and the Church of Oleviste (St Olaf). Neither will you be seasoned experts on the capital of Estonia unless you take a stroll through the modern Rotermanni district, or if you fail to laugh on hearing the names of two of the best known towers on the city wall – “Look in the Kitchen” and “Fat Margaret”.
The inhabitants of Tallinn enjoy going to the beach and one of the most crowded in summer is Pirita (Brigid). With its fine white sand, locals have no qualms about bathing in the wild, frigid waters of the Baltic, where freshwater fish like the pike can also be caught. This coastal district has a marina where athletes who took part in the 1980 Moscow Olympic sailing events were housed.
The Museums of Tallinn
Tallinn boasts a plethora of green areas and museums. Kadriorg Park is home to the palace of the same name, commissioned by the wife of Czar Peter I of Russia. The palace houses the Art Museum of Estonia which exhibits works by Italian, Dutch, German and Russian artists, among others, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century. Nearby is the Kumu Art Museum, one of Tallinn’s most modern and unique buildings, structured in limestone and copper, which hosts all kinds of exhibitions throughout the year, both permanent and temporary.
Other cultural venues well worth seeing, particularly for families travelling with children, include the Rocca al Mare Museum, located in a large wooded park with thatched roof farm cottages dating from the 18th to the 20th century, a timber church and a school. Another highlight is the Estonian Maritime Museum, which features such emblematic nautical exhibits as the Suur Tõll icebreaker – the largest surviving icebreaker in Europe – the Kalev mine-layer and the submarine Lembit.
Make a point of visiting the capital of Estonia – book your Vueling to Tallinn here.
Text by Tus Destinosmore info
Your Best Getaway Ever In 4 Days
Now that the end of the year draws near, you are bound to have a few spare days. Here’s a great recommendation for spending a delightful long weekend in Gran Canaria. As you will see, it is time enough to get a good taste of one of the pearls of the Atlantic. Why wait to discover it? Four days on the island will yield any number of plans to take a well-earned break from your routine. Here, then, is a compendium of practical tips for making the most of your stay on the island.
As soon as you leave the airport, your best bet is to head south and have your first weekend splash in the ocean. Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés await you with their large tracts of pale yellow sand where you can sunbathe safely all year around. If you’re looking to switch off real quick, take an adventurous stroll in the heart of the sand dunes or play golf on one of the quiet courses in the area.
Be sure to visit charming Puerto de Mogán, the ideal spot for promenading and savouring fresh fish in any of the restaurants at the seaside.
Begin the day by taking a route across the north of the island. And where better than to aim for the town of Arucas, where homes are harmoniously interspersed with banana plantations? Its most striking landmark is the Neogothic Church of San Juan Bautista, built with stone quarried in the municipality itself. Another highlight of your itinerary is the Arehucas rum factory, where the celebrated beverage is made in the oldest and largest rum distillery in Europe.
On the way to the north-western triangle of Gran Canaria, make a point of visiting the Gáldar Painted Cave, a museum and archaeological park based on a large native deposit. If you then press on towards the picturesque village of Agaete, you will marvel at the rugged rock formations adorning the coastline. Enjoy a sunset there and take time to upload to your social networks some stunning panoramas. Your main subject is likely to be the striking dragon’s tail plotted by the cliff faces which the ocean has eroded over millions of years.
Time to discover Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a modern, cosmopolitan capital city. Have a walk through Vegueta, the historic old town and stop over at the Christopher Columbus House Museum which boasts a valuable cultural legacy encapsulating the relationship which the island has maintained with the Americas for five centuries. The Calle Mayor de Triana has all you need for a busy shopping day, as it is lined with shops stocking both local brands and international labels.
The Pérez Galdós House Museum, where the universally acclaimed Canary Island writer was born, is another point of interest before heading to Las Canteras, one of the finest urban beaches in Spain. Open-air concerts are held there as part of the “Ruta Playa Viva” (Living Beach Route), one of the most attractive leisure proposals in the city.
The rich natural heritage of Gran Canaria reaches its climax in the island’s interior. On Sunday you can drop in on the street markets to taste the best of local cuisine and choose a souvenir from among their regional craftwork. Devotion in Teror involves pampering the “Virgen del Pino” (Virgin of the Pine), the patron saint of the Canary Island diocese. This is where you start a climb up to Tejeda and Artenara.
A phenomenon known as the “sea of clouds” spreads out at your feet, in a breathtaking landscape which Miguel de Unamuno described as a “petrified storm”. Look out over the Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga outcrops; then close your eyes and engrave that stunning picture in your mind’s eye forever. Why wait to experience it for yourself? Check out our flights here.
Images by the Patronato Turismo Gran Canariamore info
4 ROMANTIC DESTINATIONS TO SWEEP YOUR PARTNER OFF THEIR FEET
Whether to celebrate Valentine's Day or an anniversary, or simply to give your partner an amazing gift, here are some ideas for a romantic getaway.more info