Excitement over the football World Cup is building rapidly now. It’s almost impossible to avoid hearing news about the tournament, whether it relates to updates on the fitness of England players or to the transport strikes in Sao Paulo. The opening match of the tournament will take place this Thursday when the hosts Brazil play Croatia in Group A. England’s first match will be on Saturday against Italy. News coverage in the run up to this crucial fixture will inevitably reach near saturation point, with pundits being called on to discuss every possible aspect of team selection in advance of the match. Every match is being covered live on terrestrial TV in the UK, with scheduled start times ranging from 1700 to 0200 UK time.
So how do those without any interest in football escape the World Cup fever over the next few weeks? One option is of course to stay at home and try to avoid most of the media coverage. A rather more attractive alternative is to take a holiday to a quiet rural location away from all the news coverage. A European city break might also be a good choice, but it will be worth avoiding football-mad countries such as Spain and Italy, as the football will almost certainly be shown in restaurants and bars and even on big screens in the centre of many cities.
A stay in one of the Baltic capitals of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius might be a good choice for someone looking for an escape from the football coverage. Whilst sports fans will no doubt still be able to hunt down a bar showing the matches on TV, it should still be possible to enjoy a peaceful sport-free break for those who prefer to do so.
So …. What can the visitor to Tallinn expect to see during his or her stay? Tallinn’s pride and joy is its medieval old town with its twisting cobblestone lanes, gabled houses and grandiose churches. The Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin (Dome Church) stands at the centre of Toompea Hill and displays a mixture of archaeological styles dating back to the 13th Century. The Danish King’s Garden is a relaxing spot on the slopes of Toompea Hill where legend has it that the Danish flag was first created.
The Hellemann Tower, also in Tallinn’s old town, serves as an art gallery and also offers visitors the opportunity to view the town’s medieval defences. It’s possible to walk along a 200 metre stretch of the old town wall from here, and to enjoy an excellent view over the medieval town.
For those looking for something a little different, a visit to the Luscher and Matiesen Distillery – the Museum of Estonian Drinking Culture – is worth a visit. This was Estonia’s leading winery in the 1930s and has recently made a revival. Visitors can learn about the company’s history as well as about the history of Estonian alcohol production in general.
For those looking for green spaces and the chance to stroll in the open air, you never have to go very far in Tallinn. The city is filled with well- maintained parks and other green spaces in which to relax. There are also seaside promenades and beaches which offer many opportunities for strolling. Those visiting the city in the next few weeks will have the added bonus of experiencing the “White Nights” when the sun hardly sets before midnight and rises again at around 4am.