Monday, October 31, 2011

Sweden's Gamla Stan

After Estonia, we embarked on our trip to Stockholm, Sweden. On the bus en route to Stockholm, I was amazed at the vast open lands in Sweden's country side. There were so many trees, farms, mountains, grazing horses on the hills and the road to the city was littered with beautiful purple flowers. All I could think of was getting off the bus to pick up wildflowers. I was impressed at how naturally beautiful the country side is. I told myself that next time, I'll plan on visiting the country side of Sweden. For now, Stockholm will do.

At about 9 am, we approached the island of Stadsholmen and the medieval town of Gamla Stan (Old Town) stood there waiting to be explored.  Gamla Stan emerged in the 13th century and is home to Sweden's Royal Palace. This Royal Palace is one of the largest inhabited palaces in the world with over 600 rooms. In addition to the reception rooms, there are several interesting museums in the Palace, including the Royal Armory, with royal costumes and armor.

Sweden’s national cathedral - Stockholm Cathedral

I love these iconic buildings at Gamla Stan's Stortorget (The Big Square).

  It was one beautiful day in Stockholm - not a cloud in the sky.

  Viking runes at one of the streets in Gamla Stan.

Mårten Trotzigs gränd or Alley of Mårten Trotzig is less than a meter wide with 36 steps down. It is the narrowest alley in the city.

The harbour of Skeppsbron, the eastern waterfront of Gamla stan.

The Royal Palace.

Luckily, we were in time to watch the ceremonial changing of the guards at the Royal Palace.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall With Me

At the Skyline Drive on October 22, 2010, the beautiful shades of fall witnessed a grand event - Kepi's proposal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tallin's Olde Hansa

You have to taste a host country's food, that's the beauty of travel.

While visiting Tallin, I really wanted to eat authentic Estonian food, so we walked around the old city to find something that would fit our budget and our taste buds.  We passed through Olde Hansa a couple of times, checked out the other restaurants but we decided to go back to Olde Hansa anyway; we made the right decision.

Olde Hansa had the right medieval feel and the servers were so warm and welcoming; they were also wearing medieval clothing. The restaurant was lighted with old lamps and candles, Estonian music played in the background, the hard wood tables flickered with the candlelight and the walls brightly festooned with draperies. It was the perfect place to fill our empty stomachs, rest our achy feet and wipe our sweaty brows and paws.

Walking around to find a place to eat.

I love the draperies, the lamps and candles.

The servers taking a break.

Candles lighted the stairs to the restrooms. I love the soot all over the wall.

Menus by candlelight.

This stall sells roasted nuts.

 I had a glass of Blackberry juice which was really delicious.

 Kepi had the bear meat. He said the meat was delicious and compares bear meat with beef only a littler gamier in taste.

I had the Wild Boar meat. The meat was tender and really tasty. I will definitely have this again and the berries really complemented this dish.

To those who'd like to read more about my personal updates, please visit my personal blog - kassidy's notes.

Thank you to those who kept checking on me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Climbing St. Olav

Here's a little history of St. Olav's Church:
St. Olaf’s Church or St. Olav's Church (Oleviste kirik) in Tallinn, Estonia, is believed to have been built in the 12th century and to have been the center for old Tallinn's Scandinavian community prior to the conquest of Tallinn by Denmark in 1219.  Its dedication relates to King Olaf II of Norway (a.k.a. Saint Olaf, 995-1030). The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267, and it was extensively rebuilt during the 14th century.

A legend tells that the builder of the church, named Olaf, upon its completion, fell to his death from atop the tower. It is said that when his body hit the ground, a snake and a toad crawled out of his mouth. There is a wall-carving depicting this event in the adjoining Chapel of Our Lady.
Around 1500, the building reached a height of 159 meters. The motivation for building such an immensely tall steeple must have been to use it as a maritime signpost, which made the trading city of Tallinn visible from far out at sea. Between 1549 and 1625, when the spire burnt down after a lightning strike, it was the tallest building in the world. The steeple of St. Olav has been hit by lightning at least eight times, and the whole church has burned down three times throughout its known existence. Following several rebuildings, its overall height is now 123.7 meters.

From 1944 until 1991, the Soviet KGB used Oleviste's spire as a radio tower and surveillance point. It currently continues as an active Baptist church.

The tower's viewing platform offers panoramic views over the old town and is open to the public from April through Nov, daily 10:00 - 18:00. Admission 30kr (1.92 €). ( Source here.)

 I'm short but I still had to stoop when I entered this door.

 The spiral stairs of St. Olav's Church.

 While climbing, make sure to hold on to the rope because the pathway is narrow and the steps are uneven.

 Small window.

 I was soaked in my own sweat while climbing the tower of St. Olav. I was puffing and huffing, but all my tiredness was swept away when I saw the spectacular panoramic view of Tallinn.

 Really worth the climb.

From here, I could smell the sea.

After descending from the tower, we spent sometime exploring the church.

If you find your way to Tallinn, I highly recommend climbing the tower of St. Olav's Church.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Old Town Tallin's Shops and Restaurants

As I mentioned in my previous post, the shops at Tallin's Old Town are charming and such a delight to visit. I love that their crafts are handmade and are authentically Estonian. One of my pet-peeves is seeing souvenirs sold in a country like for example Germany but their souvenirs are made in China (just an example). Just my opinion, but it doesn't make sense buying a souvenir if the souvenir is not made in the country I'm visiting.

A cobblestone street in the Old Town.

Old Town's market square.

One of the well-known restaurants in the area - Olde Hans - that serves authentic Estonian cuisine.

A peek into the Master's Courtyard - full of craft shops.

Shops at the Master's Courtyard offering handmade items and souvenirs.

How would you like to eat here?

Another restaurant.

I think this one is cute - a pig window box.

Another charming craft shop.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Visiting Tallinn, Estonia

Setting aside my current health issues, here's reminiscing my travel to Tallinn earlier this year. What I found most intriguing with Tallinn is the small, old town feel. The people there were welcoming and I love the abundance of shops and authentic Estonian restaurants. Although our visit there was quick, I found myself mesmerized by the Old Town's charm, the warmness of the people and the good ol' feel of a historic medieval town.

It was early in the morning when we walked to the Old Town. It was still quiet.

These passage entry way to restaurants are very common in the Old Town.

Church of the Holy Spirit or Puha Vaimu Kirik - the oldest church in Tallinn.

This church building is dated all the way to the 13th century. 

According to the church pamphlet, this is the first congregation where services were held in the Estonian language (1531).

The painted pictures inside the church are called as the "pauper's bible."