Noilly Prattle: A bit of this—and some of that . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A bit of this—and some of that . . .

     Yesterday was a day of eclectic activities. Having pretty much exhausted the exploration of the Vanalinn (Old Town)--(I'm picking up a few Estonian words here and there)—we ventured out of town by local bus. Our destination was the ruins of an old convent of the Bridgettine sisters in Pirita, about 5 kilometers outside the Tallinn Vanalinn along the Gulf of Finland known as the Pirita Convent.

Vanalinn (Tallinn's Old Town)
       We sleuthed out how to find and board the bus and where and how to pay the fare (to the bus driver) and got on board for a rather sticky and hot but thankfully short bus ride to Pirita. The bus wasn't air-conditioned and you couldn't open the windows. The bus route followed the shore line and we could see the outlines of Tallinn's Vanalinn, especially it's standout church steeples and several cruise ships tied up in the port.

my first impression of Pirita Convent
cemetery at Pirita Convent
       We got off the bus at, appropriately enough, the Pirita bus stop. The Pirita Convent was just a couple minutes walk from the bus stop. The convent is also known as St. Bridget's Convent for the founder of the Bridgettine Sisters order. The convent dates from the early 15th Century. It is a bit unusual in that it housed both nuns (60 sisters) and monks (25 brothers) although the two were kept strictly apart, their housing areas divided by the formidable more or less Olympic size swimming pool church.

triangular facade 35m. high
interior walls (side and rear) and floor area
       According to the convent's website: “The inhabitants of the two convents were allowed to talk to each other and to guests in special rooms only, so that the principle of enclosure would be observed. These rooms, the so-called parlours, were partitioned, and there were little windows in the walls – it was not possible to see through these windows, but to exchange certain necessary information and objects.”

foundation of living areas and church
       Today, Pirita Convent is interesting mostly as a ruin (and for it's titillating—to me anyway--”parlours”). Love in the convent perhaps? But I digress. The convent was destroyed in 1575, after only 150 years of operation during the course of the Livonian War by the Russians. The sturdy walls of the church made of limestone completely enclose the floor of the church (now only dirt) and the gable of the front facade, a dramatic triangle, rises to 35 meters. Parts of the living quarters have been excavated on the north side of the church showing only the shape of the foundations.


by the sea (Gulf of Finland)
      We were hot and thirsty after climbing around the ruins for an hour or so and went off in search of a cool drink (euphemism for a beer). We wandered along the Pirata River towards the Gulf of Finland and stumbled on a beach but no beer joints. Lots of flesh though.


African motif painted on the walls and ceiling of
the African Kitchen restaurant
African masks on the wall
       After ogling the flesh (me anyway) we returned to Vanalinn by non air-conditioned bus, but at least this one had a small window opened a crack. We finally got our beers near the Viru Gate and then headed for a very interesting restaurant known as the African Kitchen for dinner. The roughly plastered walls and ceiling of one room are brightly painted in an orange and yellow African motif and another, more subdued is decorated with African masks and scattered with pillows of imitation animal skins. The menu uses various ingredients, peanuts are popular in sauces. They also have a very good couscous dish that complements the other dishes very effectively. Best dinner we had in a Tallinn restaurant so far. Highly recommended next time you're in Tallinn.

colorful menu and chocolate covered rum-soaked balls
with peanut and sesame seeds inside

       We were treated to a rather breathtaking sight on the way home from the African Kitchen—some rather unusually clad young ladies. . . 

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