Wheelchair accessibility in Tallinn, Estonia


I am just back from an amazing trip to Tallinn in Estonia. So I wanted to share a few thoughts and observations about the trip from an accessibility point of view.

First off you are probably wondering why I was in Tallinn. Which is a fair and reasonable question. Now it was actually nice to go to a new place in Europe. I was in Egypt back at new year, but generally I’ve been going to some of the more familiar and well trodden places. It was really nice to go somewhere a little bit different and new.

The reason that I was there was for Mindvalley University. Which is a chance to go away for about a month every year to a new city, and you get the chance to hear from all the worlds leading teachers and authors on personal development, and business and marketing too. So it’s a really good upskilling and learning and development opportunity, while you’re in a new place in the world. Plus you get to hang out with the other awesome students as well.

Once we decided that we would return, after going to the opening one in Barcelona last year, it was time to book the flight. Right, now they’ve got a bit of a bad press with disabled travelers, and for good reason. There’s been some bad stuff happened over the years. I’ve also had broken equipment and wheelchairs as well. But Ryanair fly to so many places and really they are the cheapest that you can get out on the market. I have flown many many many times with them and it’s always been okay.

When they have broken things like the wheelchair and the luggage they’ve always been quick to rectify it. I just want to clear that one up. For me they are fine for getting from A to B, as long as you do not expect any thrills. With their online booking form I’m able to say that I’ll need help getting on the aeroplane to be lifted, and also I need to take my equipment like the wheelchair, the hoist, and the shower chair.

Once that was all done it was time to sort out the accommodation. I really really would have preferred a private rental place. Specifically to have had a kitchen to buy food and cook up what we fancied for some dinners. I’m sure we would have eaten out as well but we were there for two and a half weeks. Which is quite a while. But in the end I had to book the Park Inn by Radisson simply because of the wheelchair access and particularly the roll in shower. Another downside of that is it was more expensive than a private rental, but you know, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes when you’re a disabled tourist.

So once that was all booked and sorted I also needed to work out how I was going to get from the airport to the hotel. After asking around in the Accessible Travel Club on Facebook I was pointed in the direction of a company called Termak. They were able to come with an adapted vehicle with a ramp, well actually a lift. And 20 euros was a pretty reasonable price that got us from the airport to the hotel in about 15 minutes. Which was really really good.

Transport wise and getting around day to day. We wouldn’t have really needed taxis just to get us within the city. But there is public transport like buses and trams. From my understanding some are accessible, but not all of them. And because it’s such a small, quaint and lovely city it was fine getting around in the wheelchair. Kasia had the bicycle anyway. The old town, the medieval part, was very cobbly. The pavement didn’t always have drop curbs so that did cause me some troubles. It was still lovely to go back in time and enjoy all that culture and seeing how it would have been a long time ago. I’m a bit of a history geek.

 

We ate at some of the restaurants. One was called Scheeli and unfortunately I couldn’t get in the building or on the terrace. So they brought the tables just off the terrace and we sat on the pavement. It sounds worse but it was actually still a fantastic evening. Despite the bad access, the people and their attitude was second to none! So I do applaud them for making what could have been a bad situation better.

Another restaurant was Olde Hansa and that’s where it was really old-school. It was like Game of Thrones and the waiters and the waitresses dressed up in old clothes as well. It was an enjoyable meal. Then I had a shot or a schnapps called monks bride. It was named so because the monks didn’t have a bride so apparently they had this shot to get their kicks and their thrills. That was quite funny as well.

One of the other amazing memorable things we did was to see the sunrise over the Baltic Sea at about 3:00 in the morning. There’s only about three hours of night time at that time of year because it’s so far north. After a party we went off to the sea where it was blowing a gale. It was not quite cold cold, but definitely colder than the weather had been back home. Nonetheless it was a really special thing to see the sun come up over the Baltic Sea.

Obviously we were doing our lectures most weekdays as well, so there was not an abundance of time to be able to go and see everything that Tallinn had to offer, but we certainly made good use of our evenings and our weekends. To just go around the shops and get to know the people and the culture of what is a lovely place was great.

Particularly the food is all very fresh and organic and grown nearby. So if you ever go I’d recommend trying out the local foods. Whether it’s from the market or the restaurants doesn’t really matter.

Overall another successful trip. Definitely a place that I would love to go back to one day. I would urge you to check it out as well. If you have any questions about access please do shoot me a comment below. In the meantime I’ll see you again for the next update.

Bye bye for now 🙂

Martyn Sibley

– World Changer @ martynsibley.com.
– Author @ ‘Everything is Possible’ (on Amazon).
– Inclusion Captain @ disabilityhorizons.com.
– Presenter and Speaker @ visablepeople.com.
– Adviser @ Governments/Businesses/Charities.

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Mobile @ +44 (0) 7798 746551.

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