Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From St Olav's, Tallinn to Burj Khalifa, UAE.

Tallinn claims that it had the tallest structure in the world when they built the St, Olav's Church. We made it to the top of the current record holder but with the aid of a rapid elevator. We made it up the 258 steps to the top of St Olav's with great difficulty. We were rewarded with great views but later rewarded ourselves with several G&T's. We were sitting on our verandah on the ninth floor of our apartment. This is high for Tallinn as by law no building can be higher than St. Olav's. I have checked out the claim to the record and find it dubious. It may have been before 1300 when St Pauls was built.
It was constructed in the 1100's but was hit by lightning many times and lost parts of its spire. It was also burnt down three times. Currently it is 123.7M a long way below Burj Khalifa's 829.8M. It was still a mammoth effort for us to get to the top.

                                       Was it once the tallest building in the world?

View from the top.

Looking out to the modern town outside the Old Town limits.

View of the Upper Town from St. Olav's

Gail on the top of the world..or she would have been in the late 1200's

Tallinn is divided into an Upper and Lower Town. The Lower  Town was for the merchants who prospered as a part of the Hansiatic League and the Upper Town was for the nobility.

Looking down on the Old Town from a viewpoint in the Upper Town.

The Alexander Nevski Cathedral in the Upper Town. Spectacular!

We spent the morning in the Old Town but we also had to move accommodation. We had only booked two nights at our first great place and couldn't extend!Don't ask..its a long story.

The old pharmacy in the Town Hall square.

We visited the Danish King's Garden, The Neitsitorn Maiden's Tower and the best known of them all,
The Kiek in de Kok. This is a view from this landmark.

Wonderful views from the walls.

A view of Kiek in de kok. This is not as painful as it sounds! It means Look inside the kitchen. Germans did it looking for spies. Not sure where they kicked them if they were found!

Rob in the Neitsitorn.

The tower guards.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Terrific Tallinn

Tallinn is a beautiful city. We visited 9 years ago and have been promising to come back ever since.
We have not done a lot but wandered the quaint sreets and laneways, It is so easy for a few hours to just slip by!
From about 10,00AM to about 5,00 PM it is busy with day tourists and after that it is magical. We loved it 24 hours a day! Our apartment is on one of the very old streets and was built in the 1400's. When we were about to set off this morning there was a tour group stopped outside our building listening to it's history...or perhaps they were being told about these two old Australian travellers visiting Estonia! Our apartment is great, Very historic but ultra modern where you want it! We love the quaint bathroom.

Sorry but the other photos have a R rating!

We have visited some very interesting places. The Masters Courtyard has active artisans making items for sale and The Katherina Kaik, the oldest street has great places to visit and admire.

Early in the day before the day trippers. Last time we were day trippers!

This is the oldest street and the only older than our address. The Burgermeister used tombstones fot the floor of his barn! They are now on the street wall.
We visited the Town Hall that is the oldest Gothic Town Hall in Northern Europe. It was very interesting and great to follow the tales of the Hansiatic League. This was under the control of Lubeck. at that time. Estonia has had a very interesting history  since first independence in 1918.

The tapestries in the Town Hall.

Gail in one of the grand rooms.

We visited the attic and it had great views over the square.

                                     Rob eyeing off a tankard that might have beer!

Rob and another local in the Town Hall. Rob is the one smiling.

We walked the city walls with the commanding views of the city landmarks. They are defensive walls and towers.

Gail on the walls.

From the top level you could look down on the roof over the walls.We were in the Hellemann Defensive Tower

Street scene.

More to come from this beautiful city tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Catherine's Palace

We caught the local train out to Tsarskoye Selo to visit the Catherine Palace. The train was a real Soviet era train but on time and serviceable..and cheap. We went to the palace by marshrutka and joined the queue for tickets. We wanted to do one of the major palaces that are outside St. Petersburg and had trouble deciding between Perterhof that surpasses Versailles or Catherine's Palace with the Amber Room. We had loved them both but decided on the latter..

We understood that it would be busy..we had queued here before but the rain from yesterday had cleared and it was summer again, Those who were not in the Palace were wandering around the gardens.

Eventually inside we managed the crowds with our Hermitage training and saw the fabulous sights of the palace. The shere opulance is obscene! No wonder that there was a revolution!! As a spectacular it is hard to surpass so we simply enjoyed it for what it is an important part of history.

                                                        The exterior of the Palace.

                                                                 Looking up!

                                                       It is a magnificent building.

                                                       Exterior and gardens.

                                                                          The skyline!

                                                              Can you spot Gail?

                                               Ready for an intimate dinner for two.

                                                 We were on the other side of the rope!

                                                      Lots of gold and spangles.

                                                           Gail ready to perform.

                                                              Seat for two.

                                              Displayed St Petersburg style.

                                   Gail in the Palace. Note the floor! A large section of the palace was closed as they refurbish the parquetry.

We eventually made our way out into the gardens. We loved the ponds and the reflections.

                                                                Palace reflected.

                                               Gail outside the Upper bath house.

There are no bathrooms in the Palace but they had wonderful out buildings for this purpose, This is the Men's bathhouse

                           And this is the Ladies Bathhouse. There was also one for children.

We wandered the gardens visiting many of the buildings, We also went to a short performance by five male singers with wonderful acoustics. We ended up with 3 CD's

                                                         The Hermitage Pavilion.

                                                                    Gail in the gardens.

We had planned to travel on to Pavlovsk another 5 KM South where there is a smaller palace but were are still recovering from our mammoth day at the Hermitage so caught a local bus back to the station and then the train back. We walked back to our apartment, had two G&T's each and a sleep then up in time for pre dinner drinks and a banquet for two. Another bottle of Russian "champagne" and lots of goodies. We depart in the morning for Tallinn.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Faberge Museum

Opened in the past few years is the Faberge Museum housed in the Shavolov Palace. It is just as stunning as The Hermitage although much smaller.. It is packed with priceless treasures of work by Russian Masters. There is gold and silver along with precious jewels.
The highlight is of course the Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs given by the Czar to his family.

The largest collection is at the Kremlin Treasury. They are hard to see but at the St Petersburg collection that numbers 9, one less than Moscow, what it lacks in number it more than makes up with quality. It includes the first and certainly the best. You can get up close. They say that the cleaners each night pollish the nose marks off the glass. I am sure that we added a few!

We can only show you a few samples of the work on display.

                                                 Lots of boxes and small objects.

                                                                A cigarette case.

                                They had enamel work, beautiful designs and fine craftsmanship

                                         This one has the Russian Imperial two headed eagle

                                                                        A Kovsh

                                                                         A Tea Set

                                                                    Cases of cases!

         The Gothic Room had excellent icons. Decorated with pearls, this was exquisite.

                                  Gail would like a full set of these for our next dinner party.

                                                               Wonderful colours.

                                                Another two headed eagle.

       There was a collection of Russian and French Impressionist paintings. They had great lighting showing them to perfection.

And of course we took some photos of the eggs.

                                                                      Rock crystal

                                   The Coronation Egg. Each egg contained treasures inside

Lilly of the Valley egg

Detail from the top of the egg