Take a walk down these cobblestone streets, breathe in the aroma of sugar roasted almonds, listen to the church bell ringing in the town square, and you will begin to understand the foreign charm this quaint, medieval town creates in your soul. Nestled within the city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies a land of chivalry, knights and maidens to be fought for, grand views, secret caves and delicious treats behind every ally way. The six hour bus ride from Petersburg was over and it was time to get lost in a world I had only read about in books or seen performed on stage.
One of my favorite places was the Townwall Tower Cafe.. The only way in or out was a stone staircase leading through a series of caves that eventually brought you out onto the balcony, overlooking a sea of red rooftops surrounded by Finland waters. Adventure for adventure's sake is always the best excuse and the cappuccino at the top was well worth the efforts.
Old Town Estonia is quickly becoming one of my favorite places and I'm sure you can see why; street artists displaying their masterpieces across the medieval stone walls, lamp posts that make you think you were in France, wooden gates that make you think you were in Italy and a pink parliament building that questioned everything I was thinking. With all of the places I have been going to lately, it's hard now to imagine never having had these experiences; never having a conversation with a stranger based solely on hand signals, never staying in a hostel in a foreign country, never ordering something I couldn't pronounce, never sitting in a church older than my country, never getting lost on cobblestone streets, never dipping my toes in an ocean that stretched across the world, never getting on a metro without knowing where it was going, never meeting a stranger on a train who challenged my view on life..
Your life is made up of the experiences you allow yourself to be changed by and I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was a year ago, 6 months ago or even last week. The places I have been and the people I have met make it impossible for me to go on unchanged, unaffected, single-minded. In the brilliant words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.." And I fully intend to allow all of the beauty I encounter to fill my soul to the brim so it can overflow into the lives of those yet to see the world.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
-Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It