When Richard Ayoade wasn’t preoccupied fixing somebody’s invalid memory as Maurice Moss on “The IT Crowd”, he could often be found traversing the world as the presenter of his very own travel documentary series “Travel Man” on Britain’s Channel 4. However, as of 2020, the show will be hosted instead by comedian Joe Lycett, as, after four years on the road, Richard says he finally realised he didn’t like travelling. He now prefers to stay safely at home writing books on Gwyneth Paltrow films.
However, back in December 2018 EstAdventures was contacted by one of Richard’s producers to ask if he could have a private tour with us when he came to see Tallinn as part of the upcoming ninth series of the show. The crew came to Estonia shortly afterwards to scout out the city and meet our guides Jonas and Riina, who walked them around the city and discussed any necessary details. All arrangements were made and, a couple of months later in April 2019, we welcomed Richard, his crew, and his guest co-host, podcaster Alice Levine, to our beautiful home city for their official tour! Alice is well-known for co-hosting a podcast “My Dad Wrote A Porn”. If you haven’t listened to it, we recommend it! It’s hilarious. You can find it here.
Touring around in Tallinn’s Old Town
Our enthusiastic guide Riina was chosen as their guide for the afternoon, and came fully prepared to give Richard the most authentic tour of Tallinn, complete with her own traditional Estonian costume. Richard’s extensive pre-existing knowledge of Estonia (that it is one of the Baltic States) gave Riina the freedom to share as much of her knowledge as she could, occupying the crew for almost four hours of sightseeing around the historic capital.
Starting at Fat Margaret’s tower to the north, Riina led Richard and Alice southwards down Pikk Street into the heart of the old medieval city of Tallinn, stopping on the way to tell them about the Peeping Tom of Tallinn: a man who lived on the opposite side of the road to a certain Russian businessman with a beautiful wife. The neighbour couldn’t resist taking a peek every time she changed her clothes and so the businessman had a peeping statue built on the roof of his house to spy on the spy!
Arriving in the old town square, Riina told Richard and Alice about the medieval policy that no executions were allowed inside the city walls. This policy was broken one time, however, when a certain monk was stabbed to death by an angry mob for killing a barmaid after she had served him warm beer! After this story, Alice questioned whether our tours were family friendly…
From the Town Hall Square, Riina led the crew up to the top of Toompea, the “Dome Hill”, upon which all the significant buildings of the town are located, including the parliament building situated on the site of the old Danish castle, and the Russian Orthodox Nevsky Cathedral. From here, they head to their final stop in the Danish King’s Garden; the site of a famous battle fought 800 years ago in 1219 between the Danish army and the Estonian tribes. Before they part ways, Richard and Alice thank Riina for the tour, with Richard affirming that it was one of the best tours he’d ever been on, not least due to the fascinating and grim stories!
What Riina was able to show Richard and Alice was just a small part of the rich history to be found both within and outside the walls of Tallinn. To see more, well, you’ll just have to come and see it for yourself, as recommended by Mr. Ayoade himself!