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Tallinn Day 2 – by Renee (version 2)

by on July 12, 2017

Today we woke up to a steady rain falling, yes we’ve been VERY lucky so far to have only light rain and not too much of that…here we are setting out for our day of sight seeing.

We started out at the Museum of Occupations… yes…with an “s”.  This museum covers the MANY times and many forces that have occupied Estonia.  We watched 3 documentaries that told the story from 1940-present day.  I was most surprised to learn that the Estonian people preferred the Germans to the Russians (they had a long and bad history with the Russians) so they were NOT happy to be ‘liberated’ by Russians.  They had declared independence a few times prior to this..but it would be almost 50 years till they finally had a lasting, independent state.

David and I could have spent an entire day here but the kids were hungry and we had already booked our next tour for 3pm.

Our next stop was the KGB Museum…which is the old “bugging” facility on the top floor of the  “foreigners hotel” the Viru Hotel.  This hotel was built on the 1960s only for foreigners that visited the country during the Soviet period, and was the only place they could stay.  As we learned from our tour guide, every room and frankly every thing in the hotel could have and often did have a microphone in it.  This include obvious things like the telephones and some not so obvious things like bread plates that were used in the restaurant.

Here is Alex with one of the ‘devices’ which basically was a camera with a weird lens that would be placed in the room next to the one occupied by the foreigner.   The occupied hotel room would have wallpaper on the walls with a small hole that would give the camera a wide view into the room.  

Here is the ‘hotline’ to the KGB office from the hotel.  

By the way, the elevator only goes to the 22nd floor,  and we had to walk up stairs to reach the 23rd floor, all of which was reserved for the KGB and their listening to the hotel guests.  

Apparently about 3 months before Estonia became an independent nation in 1991 the KGB packed up and left one night with no explanation.  They left behind piles of paper in the corner of one of the offices and a full ashtray (still there and still full) of cigarette butts.

Interestingly, there was a Finnish lady on our tour who stayed at the Viru Hotel with her parents in the 1970s.  It was interesting to hear about her memories of being a guest there.

It was especially informative for the kids to hear about all this spying and secrecy.

After the KGB museum, we walked along a reconstructed part of the old city wall and visited yet another Old Church, St Catherines.  

As we wrap up our visit to lovely Tallinn, here are few more photos to share.

Alex and David with “Old Thomas”…  this particular weather vane looked over the city and protected the citizens from 1532 until it was damaged in the 1944 bombings by the Russians.  Old Thomas is the ‘symbol’ of Tallinn and on lots of t-shirts, postcards, etc.

Alex and David (Anna was home sleeping with a cold)… in front of a church that was reconstructed after the war to be a “museum for atheism” (which was a tricky way to get the Russians to pay for the work during the Soviet occupation.)

Here is Alex trying on a replica sword and helmet from the 1350’s…as you can see he is not too excited about the idea.

And finally another shot of Alex and the 11 million Euro monument.

Off to Helsinki tomorrow!


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