• 2007-12-12
  • By A.R.
[Refers to "Tourists turned off by high prices," TBT Web site, Dec. 10]

I'm quite surprised it's taken this long to write this up! I have been coming to Estonia since 2003 and frankly, if it wasn't for the fact that my partner is Estonian, I wouldn't bother. Prices in Tallinn centre and Old Town are close enough to prices in the average pub or bar in London that you might as well stay home and spare yourself the cost of airfare and hotels.

The realization really hit me recently when one weekend my partner and I had lunch in a central London Terrance Conran-owned brasserie overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge, and then three weeks later in Tallinn had dinner in an Old Town cafe/restaurant on Vene street which, without mentioning any names, was until three or four years ago, a favorite of Tallinn students, artists, folk singers, etc. Granted, the food in this nameless restaurant was quite good, but it was not on the world class scale associated with the Conran name, yet the cost of a comparable dinner for two, two glasses of wine included, was the same!
Of course there is cheap food and drink available if one ventures outside the centre, for example in the pubs near the Baltijaam, but the range on offer is quite limited (pankoogid, karbonaad, pelmeni, etc.); and frankly how many tourists on a short trip are going to seek out these places, especially if they lack Estonian or Russian language skills?

On a trip to Italy this summer, I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced the food and drink was, that in some places you could get a decent glass of wine for 1 euro (15 kroons). I'm not sure if it's inflation or greed but I think the Baltics are pricing themselves out of the market and if the trend continues, more and more Western Europeans/North Americans are going to rediscover their love for the traditional tourism hotspots of France, Italy and Spain.

A.R., London

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