“Not all those who wander are lost” – J. R.R. Tolkien
This motto happened to find me just months after I decided to make my way to Tallinn. Born and raised in Singapore, living in Melbourne Australia, completing my Masters of Tourism and heading toward the newest chapter of my life, I, Chervil Tan, am ready to embrace this new adventure that awaits me.
My wandering began on August 21st 2016, Sunday, the day of my arrival to a sunny and warm Tallinn. I’ve waited nearly 8 months for this very moment. I didn’t know what to expect at all. I’d seen photos of the old town and that was about it. No prior research or home was done.
At the airport, my local friends, Marina and Lidia, who greeted me in their best summer outfits, picked me up! I felt over dressed standing next to them in my jeans, converse and grey winter jacket – the only winter jacket I had brought with me. My local friends treated me to an amazing brunch at their home where we sat outside in the garden and had everything you could possible want to eat and drink. We were all marveling at the fact that I was finally in Tallinn, after months and months of talking about it. The moment was truly surreal.
I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy. I just couldn’t wait to start my life in Tallinn as an Erasmus student. However, as we all know, things are never that easy. While it was exciting to have finally entered Tallinn, there were still many hurdles to cross. Among many hurdles the two most important hurdles were 1. Getting my long stay visa and 2. Finding a place to live.
My fellow Australian buddy, Maddy, had joined us later that day. We picked her up from the airport and after a short rest; we headed out for a stroll into old town and went out to dinner at a local restaurant by the docks.
The next day, Maddy and I embarked for Riga. It was planned that we could get our long stay visas from the Estonian embassy in Riga. We figured it meant that we could kill two birds with one. Visit a new Baltic city and get our visas at the same time. We spent a week in Riga, hoping it would be enough time to get our visas and head back to Tallinn. While in Riga, we were greeted with floods and heavy rains. It made it difficult for us to explore the city, as we were ill equipped for the weather. We found a supermarket and decided instead to have a mini party in our hostel and took advantage of the Wi-Fi connections to catch up on our favorite TV show.
Over the next days we explored Riga as much as possible and even had a couple of wild nights where we started and ended up at the Australian pub. Getting our visas proved to be easier than we expected and once that was all sorted we enjoyed a couple of days of sunshine, sightseeing, a trip to the famous Jurmala beach and then we headed back to Tallinn to face challenge number 2.
On return to Tallinn from Riga, we were faced with probably our second biggest challenge, finding an apartment suitable for us, within our budget and in the right area in Tallinn. It took much searching on the Internet but with the help of friends and recommended websites we stumbled across an apartment in the Tallinn Old Town, We asked a local friend of ours to help us check the place out and within 10 minutes of visiting the apartment she called us to tell us that we just had to take the apartment. No questions asked. When we went to see the apartment ourselves we understood her urgency and keenness towards the apartment. Without further a due, we set a date to move in and within 3 days, we were moving into our new home in Tallinn. It was situated right at the edge of Old Town. We were literally a footstep away from the Viru Gates and to make it more convenient we were lucky enough to have the supermarket right below our apartment building and hostel bar across the road (in which we later realized was the place to be on a Monday night).
Of course, once we settled into the apartment, life in Tallinn official began…
Author: Chervil Tan
Photos: Chervil Tan