Today our ship docked in Tallin, Estonia. Estonia is a former Soviet republic that gained their independence when the Soviet Union fell in 1991. The country joined the Europian Union in 2004.
Patsy, Ben, Daddy, and I were met at the port by Jakob Remmel, who is a missionary that Patsy and Ben’s church supports. He is a native Estonian and planted the 3D Church in Tartu that has a second campus in Tallin.
Jakob took us on a tour of Tallin that started with the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia. This is essentially the Presidential residence. It was a striking pink structure that was built in 1938, and located in a beautiful park area outside of town. Since Estonia has a parliamentary government, the president is selected by the Parlaiment.
Next we visited the outside of the Kadriou Kunstimuseum (museum), which is a medieval art museum built in 1718. It was directly behind the presidential residence.
While walking around outside Jakob told us that Tallin has 400,000 residents as compared to 100,000 in Tartu where he lives. The country of Estonia has a population of 1.3 million.
Our next stop was the Lauluväljak Amphitheater, which is the home of the Tallin Song Festival. It was built in 1928, but has special significance related to the fall of the Soviet Union. While under Soviet Rule, Estonians were not allowed to sing songs related to their heritage. On the day of the collapse of the Soviet Union, thousands of Estonians gathered in the amphitheater and sang national hymns. Today it is also hosts many large musical concerts.
We then headed into Old Town Tallin. Tallin has a stark contrast between the old and new city. The main part of the city is very modern with lots of major retail presence. The old town still has many towers from the original wall that surrounded the city. Jakob took us to a great overlook for seeing a wide view of Old Town Tallin, and then after parking, he took us on a walking tour of the city.
The view of Old Town Tallin from the boat on the way in to port was stunning.
Shortly after parking the car, we met up with Jakob’s wife Maali. Their 2-year anniversary will be in a couple of weeks and she is studying to be a medical doctor.
On the way to the city center, we saw the Monument to War Independence that commemorates victory in the Estonian War from 1918 to 1920.
We did some shopping in the city center and also got to see the Tallin Town Hall, which was built in 1404. I really liked that it had dragon heads sticking out of the side of the building.
Next we walked to St. Olaf Church. It was built in the 12th century and is the tallest structure in the city. It is actually a city law that no buildings can be taller than this cathedral. The church building is owned by then Lutheran Church, but is being rented out to the Baptist Church for 1 Euro per year.
It started raining pretty hard when we arrived at St. Olaf, so Jakob headed back to get his car. While he was gone, Maali, Patsy, Ben, and I climbed the 240 narrow stairs up to the top of the spire for an awesome, but wet, view of both the old and new city.
The climb up the stairs was a little daunting as they were very steep and narrow. Probably a good thing that my dad waited for us in the foyer. Poor Maali led us to the top even though she is afraid of heights!!
After coming back down the worship service was letting out from the sanctuary, so I was able to walk around a bit. Like the city itself, it was a strange mixture of the old with the new. There were video screens throughout and speakers on every pew.
Jakob said that the Baptist church there has around 1,000 members and 500 to 600 attend weekly services.
Jakob picked us up in front of the church building and took us to lunch at Vapiano. This is an Italian restaurant that makes their own pasta. It is a counter service restaurant, but they make your food right in front of you after you order it. Jakob said it was his and Maali’s favorite restaurant in Tallin, and the food was excellent.
After lunch, we headed back down to Old Town and walked to the Russian Orthodox Church building. It is a beautiful building, but Jakob said that it does not have an organized church meeting there. It was built in the 19th century.
We also saw the Toompea Loss, which is the Parlaiment building, and frequently called “Pink Parlaiment” because it is a very pink building. It was built in several sections from the 1700s to the early 1900s.
After looking at a couple of the city towers that used to be part of the wall, we walked to the place where the Tallin campus of the 3D church meets for their 2pm service. They actually meet in a rented night club, and have about 50 people in a typical service. We met a number of members of the church, and I had a long conversation with a young man named Chrisjan who is a software engineer. He and his wife have a son that is just about to have his first birthday. He told me that in Estonia, maternity leave is 1.5 years.
After the worship service (it was in Estonian), we said our goodbyes to Maali, and then Jakob took us back to the port. Jakob and Maali were wonderful hosts and tour guides and we greatly appreciate all they did for us today. Even though we have some differences in our theology, it was still impressive to see his commitment to the Lord.
At the port we did a little additional shopping before heading back onboard the boat. A small group of us met in one of the staterooms for a great worship service. It is is always good to get together with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to break bread and offer praises to God.
At 6pm, Daddy and I met Ben and Patsy and Win and Anita Keith for dinner in the Crown Grill Steakhouse.
We were celebrating Ben and Patsy’s 12th anniversary, and when we sat down at our table Ben gave her a new black diamond ring. The meal was easily the best I’ve ever had on a cruise ship and the company was a lot of fun.
After dinner we saw the “Beatle Maniacs” in the theater, and it is ALWAYS good to listen to Beatles music.
Tomorrow we begin our two day stay in St. Petersburg, Russia.