Stag & Hen Destination
Stag and hen parties are of course an opportunity for letting the hair down, losing inhibitions, and maybe doing some pretty daft things. But they’re also a chance if in somewhere like Tallinn to see a place you may never visit again.
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, one of Europe’s cosier capitals with a population of around 400,000. The country was part of the USSR from 1940 until 1991 (though the Nazis occupied it for a time during WWII). Those annexations were nothing new, the Russians, Swedes, Danes, Baltic Germans and Poles all at one time or another had their hands on parts of Estonia, which means that in contemporary times Tallinn is pretty cosmopolitan – happily without losing its character. Since 2011 the country has been in the Eurozone, and its economy is thriving within a liberal political framework. For the time being the cost of living (and of beer in particular, the local bevy of choice) is quite low compared to the UK, so the smart thing to do is get over there while that situation lasts!
The currency – the Euro – will be familiar to most of those heading for Tallinn, but the language won’t, so we’d recommend using a local guide to facilitate your stay. Local stag and hen party organisers can sort that for you along with accommodation, as they can the activities that nowadays go with every such expedition; and they can make sure you find the best restaurants and clubs too; and to save hassle, they can arrange airport transfers and limos or taxis to ferry you about the city.
You’ll naturally find in Tallinn the activities that just about every stag and hen destination can provide, but as we suggest above, you should not miss out on the local stuff to make it a particularly memorable adventure with a specifically Estonian flavour.
Those classic activities include Zorbing (is it weird that bouncing downhill in a giant plastic ball is no longer unusual?); karting indoors and out-, quad-biking and All Terrain Vehicle driving; golf, bowling and football (come on guys, you can do that on a Thursday at home); and if you feel the need for a taste of the louche side of life, strip clubs and dinner with a show (and we are not talking Shakespeare here).
As regards the more locally-flavoured activities, they group nicely into the ballistic and the holistic. Tallinn is the place to go for those who want to enjoy the feel of weaponry in their hand (steady). Whether it is in a shooting range in the city, or a former military base in the environs, stags can get to grips with Glocks, Walthers, Tokarevs, Kalashnikovs, Winchesters, Magnums and loads more besides, with trained instructors to make sure you hit the target not your own foot or worse.
Paintballing with a difference is another take on that experience, with some innovative slants like drive-by paintballing, or assault task oriented scenarios.
For the holistic the country has, like neighbour Finland, a love for the sauna, which is a pretty good way to relax but when coupled with a massage could turn you to chilled out jelly. There are pampering days available too, and detox programmes, to get you ready for the night ahead or put you right from the night before.
The climate of Estonia tends to yield hot summers and very cold winters, and if you happen to arrange your stag or hen party for the colder times of year then there are some more local touches to add to your plan: ice fishing anyone? Or snowmobile driving?
But as we said at the start, don’t miss out on seeing the sights of Tallinn, which in 2011 was a European city of culture. Happily one of the sites to visit is a brewery, which fits nicely into the local agenda and the hedonistic side of things. The Old Town with its medieval streets and Ruritanian towers is surely worth a stroll, and your guide will be able to direct you towards some top shopping in the city too, as well as making sure you find the best clubs later on – but be aware they tend to stay open until early morning, so pace yourselves – it was not for nothing that The New York Times in 2006 called Tallinn the world’s party capital.
And last but not least, the culinary culture here is of interest too: sitting on the Gulf of Finland you’d expect fish to feature prominently, and it does, along with the use of fresh and preserved berries that is reminiscent of Swedish cuisine. With Russia close by there will be no difficulty in expanding your knowledge of vodka, but it’s worth trying a more Estonian tipple too – Vana Tallinn, a herby and sweet liqueur based on rum – watch out, it is both moreish and strong. Pace (again) is everything!