About Tallinn

I like travelling. It doesn’t matter whether it’s down the county or to a country where I’ve never been before. There is always that feeling of anticipation of something new, something different. You get a chance to get another point of view. That’s the point. To get a point of view that differs from your own and teaches you. To be tolerant, to be open to things but also to know what you like and stand for. People everywhere have their ways and I like exploring them.

In the true spirit of Zero Waste, last Christmas I got a present of a trip to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Last week then we visited this green piece of land. Nestled between Russia, nordic and baltic countries, the country is a beautiful mixture of all the above – architectonically and culturally. I am not much of a museum nut and would consider myself more of the walking-and-looking-around type. So I walked and looked around. The sunny city was very inviting!

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I wanted to visit the local town market so we hopped on a tram (public transport in Tallinn is reliable and cheap) and found our way to Keskturg (City Market). Definitely charming with a strong Russian feel, we first strolled through the stalls filled with clothes for all ages and sizes, some of a questionable style, some reminding me of my grandma (long dressing-gown style buttoned-up dresses from an unmistakable synthetic material:)). You could also find second-hand clothes and definitely some proper vintage pieces.

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DIY supplies 🙂

We passed by stalls with vintage crockery and glasses, old books, plumbing supplies, chargers for every phone known to man, Soviet uniforms, pin badges, toys, LPs or cassettes. You name it, they probably had it.

When we ventured inside a big concrete building in the centre of the market, it was like we stepped back in time. Imagine a still from an old Soviet movie. Left, right and centre – glass vitrines full of products. We entered the food section of the market. A bulk-buyer’s heaven. You could do your weekly food shop and not use a single bit of plastic. I immediately wished I had this in Dublin :)) People were purposefully walking around buying meat, vegetables, dairy products, pickles, sweets, spices – anything and everything. The best part of it was that they didn’t think about this as a novelty or a recent trend. They have sold and bought products in this fashion for decades.

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Selection of curd cheeses

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National condiment – sauerkraut

Despite Tallinn being a home to a half-million people, the Keskturg felt local. People knew each other and familiarly ran their errands as they did since ever. But don’t read this wrong, Tallinn and Estonia are modern and very European – modern shopping centres carrying world brands are also a firm part of the city. I like the fact though that they stayed loyal to their traditions and ways of life.

Tallinn won me over with its paved Old Town streets, rye bread and elk soup, calm people, unpretentiousness and its folklore of stripes. If you are looking for your next weekend break destination, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

…a few more pictures…

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Dried fruit

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Spices in bulk

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Pickled gherkins

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Suspiciously even-sized strawberries

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If you ever wanted a linen produce bag…

3 thoughts on “About Tallinn

  1. Jule says:

    I have been in Tallinn a few times now and I have not seen one person buying something in their own container at the market besides me.
    I am curious, have you seen them actually refusing plastic container and bags at the bulk options of the market?
    That would be wonderful… Most bulk options I have seen so far around the world, the people dont bring their container, or bags, but rely on the single use container and bags the markets offer…


    • ComingToZero says:

      Hi Jule, thanks for your comment and indeed a good point. It’s been a while since I’ve been there but even now I’m sure people who bring their containers are a few…unfortunately. I mostly marvelled at the fact that there was the option if one wanted it. As in, they did not go the full pre-packed way just yet…I did find though that in the years since I wrote that post, more people are thinking about the way they buy stuff. And in my own experience, if you use your own container in a ‘normal’ shop (should the occasion arise), it always leads to an interesting conversation! As I believe people do copy behaviour of others, we just need to keep modelling it for them 😀
      The shoppers in Tallinn (and everyehere else :)) might have forgotten the ways their parents and grandparents shopped but I am optimistic that they’ll learn it again!


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