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Estonian pride gushes in vibrant capital Tallinn

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Photographs by Rick Steves’ Europe/RICK STEVES

Estonians enjoy a collective culture — and that includes sharing food and drink.

On my last visit to Tallinn, while I was admiring the view from the terrace atop the city walls, a kindly middle-aged man approached. From a satchel on his shoulder, he pulled out a stack of music CDs, all recordings of Tallinn's famous Song Festivals. While he was eager to make a sale, my friend was even more intent that I learn the story of how singing helped lead his country to independence.

SLEEPING: My City Hotel fills a handsome 1950s building on the south edge of the Old Town with 68 nicely appointed rooms and a classy lobby lounge (splurge, mycityhotel.ee). Hotel Bern, just outside the Old Town, is a friendly place with 50 basic rooms in a new brick building (moderate, tallinnhotels.ee).

EATING: Mekk, meaning “modern Estonian cuisine,” is small, fresh and upscale (Suur-Karja 17). Vanaema Juures (“Grandma’s Place”), an eight-table cellar restaurant, serves homey, traditional Estonian meals (Rataskaevu 10).

GETTING AROUND: Explore the Old Town on foot, but use public transit to reach outlying sights. Note that Tallinn’s buses, trams and trolley buses reuse the same numbers for completely different lines.

TOURIST INFORMATION: visittallinn.ee.

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