We visited Tallinn in mid December, after they had already experienced heavy snow and the pavements were treacherous. Of course, the snow itself isn't the problem, but once it has been compressed, partially melted and refrozen, it solidifies into sheet ice which is like glass underfoot (and difficult to identify in poor light).
We wore walking boots with good tread, but still had trouble keeping our footing in places and I took a few inelegant tumbles over the weekend. The old cobbled streets don't tend to be so slippery, but despite the best efforts of the authorities (and, to their credit, there were guys clearing snow even on a Sunday), pavements along the main streets were like a skating rink. In fact, the conditions were so dangerous that I can only imagine that hundreds of old people are admitted to hospital each winter with broken limbs and hips as a result of falls, and I would caution anyone elderly or with mobility problems from visiting over the winter period for this reason.
Of course, there is always a silver lining, and the advantage for parents is that instead of manhandling push chairs through the snow, they can tow their kids around on sleds! I tend to associate sleds with leisure activity, but of course this is only their modern incarnation, and it was only when I saw families towing their offspring that I remembered that their original purpose was for transporting people and goods. The kids were bundled up against the cold in layer upon layer of warm clothing like little rosy-cheeked Buddhas and appeared to be having a fine time!
Walking on an uneven surface is very hard for me, and since I am out of shape, climbing is also difficult. I do not like to climb (or go down) steps as it is hard on my knees. But the streets are too narrow in the old town for tour buses so my only option appeared to be walk or take a taxi.
When we got off the shuttle bus, we wandered around in the town and took pictures of the cobblestones and pigeons (photos 2 and 3). My granddaughter went up into a park while I sat and rested on my cane, and while I was sitting there, I saw a pedicab, which I engaged to take us around. Since we were in the lower town when we got the pedicab, he had to take us up to the upper town to Toompea where the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was. This was a lot of work for him and he had to stop talking and just pedal as hard as he could to get up there. Even though it was still quite cold, he was shedding coats and sweaters. He had to resort to tacking across the hill finally to get up to the top.
From there we went through some narrow streets to the overlook where Toompea Castle was. On the way out he showed us where we would have come up the stairs if we had done the walk on foot.
Of course the Old Town is cobbled. But they are huge cobbles, with big gaps between them so really not easy to walk on at all.
And there are plenty of collapsed bits, and holes in the pavements, and bumps in the roads.
And gutters crossing the pavement which are just a little bit too big for my foot (size 5/37) to cross safely, so I had to step over them.
And tramlines which have gaps in, just the right size to catch an unwary heel.
So if you have a child in a buggy/stroller (or someone in a wheelchair) expect to have a difficult time.
And do watch your step, especially if it's icy or snowy when you visit. I nearly tripped more than once, and I'm remarkably sure-footed most of the time.
I've never come across this before, but I think (think) it may actually be a good idea.
At a couple of very busy crossings in Tallinn proper (that is, not the Old Town) the little man goes green to tell you it's safe to cross. That's quite usual.
What isn't usual is the way your seconds are ticked off as you go........29, 28, 27...and so on. And the clicking (for the hearing impaired) gets faster and faster.......so by the time you are nearly at the other side but only have 5 seconds left you really feel quite stressy!
The red lights do it too, to tell you how long you have to wait before you can cross.
It makes sense, of course, and I'm sure it helps to reduce accidents. It just took a bit of getting used-to.
This may sound rather ridiculous but you have to really be on the ball when getting off a bus. The people wanting on are not interested in the very British "allow passengers off first" attitude!. The bus stops, the doors open and there is a scrum.
The doors are only opened for a very limited amount of time so you have to move quickly.
As an adult trying to get 2 children off the bus, one of whom was half asleep.... I failed miserably and the bus started to drive off with my youngest still on board and with me trapped in the doors!
Other attempts in getting off of buses saw belongings getting left behind... but obviously none as valuable as your own child!!!
I have to say the hassle getting on and off the buses pi**ed me of!
Be careful walking through the streets as you can easily twist your ankle. My friend had a bad ankle from running prior to the arriving in Tallinn and he aggravated by walking on the cobbled streets.
sounds simple enough but if you,re on a busy road,cross it at a proper crossing and wait for the green man,even then you might and probably will get a car jumping the lights!
the traffic doesnt like stopping for pedestrians at unlit crossings and will quite often swerve around you,so beware!
Watch your step on the cobblestones - they can be very slippery when there's a layer of ice and / or snow making them shine!