Pole to Pole
Day 24: Helsinki to Tallinn
'The night bar of the Palace Hotel.'
Later I ask Clem where we're staying in Tallinn. It's the Palace Hotel.
I'm unapologetically excited by my first sight of Tallinn, which appears to starboard from a low green coastline about one o'clock in the afternoon. I have never quite believed in the existence of Estonia. It always sounded more like a name out of fable than fact, this tiny country at the tip of a spur jutting out into the Baltic. Quite suddenly, since glasnost, the existence or non-existence of Estonia has become a crucial political issue, and as we approach I feel I am not only on the verge of satisfying a lifetime's curiosity, but of seeing some history in the making.
Rising around soft brown city walls are the spires, turrets and towers of a medieval city, but the docks present a dejected picture. In marked contrast to the bustling cosmopolitan harbour we left three hours ago, our only companions on the Tallinn waterfront are rusty-hulled colliers and cargo ships in need of a coat of paint. All bear the hammer and sickle on their funnels. The immigration forms are faint Xeroxes, and as there are long queues to process them I go back to take a last picture of the Georg Ots. A car pulls up almost instantly and a soldier gets out and eyes me with contempt.
Choose another day from Pole to Pole