Tallinn Tales

Double doors close off bars and nightclubs to the freezing cold air outside, but they also hold in the music. You can’t tell what’s going on where. You never know what you will hear or what you will find when you step off the street and open a door.

I’m in Tallinn, the magical medieval city of beautiful buildings and beautiful people. It’s intimidatingly cool. Porsche Cayenne SUVs rattle past the windows, their snowstudded tires clattering against the cobbled streets.

Something is happening here. I’d heard people say that Estonia was buzzing. ‘You can hear it in the dance music’ one friend who knows that kind of thing told me. But I was unprepared for quite how quickly the city has flipped from Eastern bloc to Nordic chic.

People are having a good time and creating. The hostel I found to stay in from the internet turns out to be run by some backpackers who arrived in Tallinn and decided to stay. They haven’t got round to putting up a proper sign yet. There’s just a piece of paper sellotaped to the door.

The figures also suggest it’s the kind of place where entrepreneurs can thrive. Economic growth was about 8 per cent in 2005 which puts it in the top league of European performers. Investment also seems to be pretty stable. This isn’t an economy that will crumble at the first sign of a downturn.

It doesn’t have the calm of Helsinki, nor the high prices (a coffee in a cafe with free wifi set me back 5 euros in Helsinki, less than 1 euro here). It also doesn’t have Nokia or any similar company that everybody else is dependent on which I think probably means we’ll see the emergence of some new names from this part of the world. Skype and Kazaa at least partly originated here, but I get the feeling there’s more to come.

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