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Though I’m (quite obviously) not Estonian, I must admit to a lump in the throat on a cool, overcast morning as the gargantuan green-and-orange Tallink ferry pulled into this tiny Baltic country’s capital after a two-hour sea crossing from Helsinki.
It was July 2009, and I was embarking on my introduction to the shiny new Tallinn, 17 years after my last visit and 27 years after my first — as a student studying Russian in Leningrad, then as a travel writer visiting shortly after Estonia‘s independence. Even then, under layers of Soviet gloom and grime, I was seduced by the city’s medieval and neoclassical Kesklinn (Old Town). This time around, as you might expect, the transformations were both dazzling and incredibly moving.