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Hipster Tallinn, Estonia! Contemporary art galleries, Telliskivi Creative City, Estonian design stores.

tallinn estonia cat mural

After the holidays and a much-needed catch up break, I’m thrilled to be on the road again!

I’m heading back to Europe this month, so I thought I’d do a final flash-back to my travels in Estonia.

Last summer,  I explored the hipster side of Tallinn — art factories, local fashion and design collectives. (Remember when I visited the Estonian Depeche Mode bar?)

goth punk miffy bunny statue

Next week, I’ll be back in the EU… this time, in the land of Miffy!

iAmsterdam is flying me to Amsterdam, where I’ll be covering the cool culture of the city. You may recall that I previously went to the Miffy / Nijntje museum in Utrecht, a kawaii dream come true. If you’re a fan of the Dutch bunny, check out these goodies below with a click:

I’m also heading to Athens, thanks to Marketing Greece! Get ready for the Acropolis, LGBT clubs and Greek island-hopping… Be sure to follow along on my Snapchat and Instagram (@lacarmina) for previews.

hipster tallinn estonia art

Now, let’s talk about Tallinn. As you can see from these photos alone, this is one hip city. My team and I encountered a burgeoning creative culture in Estonia, which is located south of Finland, north of Latvia, and west of Russia.

steampunk cybergoth building

Estonia was a “Soviet socialist republic” from 1940-1991 (gaining independence when the USSR collapsed). This era resulted in some intriguing cyberpunk relics such as this apocalyptic steam plant, which has been converted into a creative art hub. (More about this later in the post).

Telliskivi creative city

If you’re interested in Tallinn’s art scene, you’ve got to visit Telliskivi Creative City. This abandoned factory area has been reclaimed as an urban space, and is now home to the biggest artistic hub in the country.

dinosaur mural painting

Telliskivi spans 25,000 square meters, and contains over 200 independent businesses and non-profits. The crumbling structures have been converted into an artistic, alternative, public space. For example, the run-down walls by the railroad tracks are now covered in colorful murals.

Jaanus Juss Telliskivi artists

We met Jaanus Juss, the young founder and CEO of Telliskivi Loomelinnak. He talked about his vision of bringing together a wide variety of creatives, in an inspiring co-op space.

pop up shops restaurants tallinn

The “creative city” currently includes organic cafes, a printing shop, furniture makers, an antique book store, yoga studio, and childcare center. The residents also run regular dance evenings and flea markets.

hip cool tallinn estonia

The entire space is a canvas. As we walked around, we saw giant art installations and beautifully executed murals like the one above.

estonian model girl

Telliskivi has revolving pop-up stores, which give local designers a chance to showcase their handmade arts, crafts and fashion.

concrete planters, cactus pots

Love these geometric concrete cacti planters.

cute hip street art estonia

In Telliskivi, the possibilities for artistic expression are endless. We passed by ateliers, workshops, a theater, galleries…

Telliskivi factory studios

… and an architect’s studio (above). We also tasted the world’s best dark grain bread — no exaggeration — at Muhu Bakery (Muhu Pagarid). The brown rye loaves are baked fresh, with sunflower, hemp and flax seeds. Straight out of the oven, this hearty Estonian bread is a revelation!

abandoned buildings tallinn

Jaanus took us into one of the buildings that has yet to be restored. As we walked up the stairs, we glimpsed the scrawls of angels and demons. 

Telliskivi rooftop

We made it to the rooftop, where he pointed out the first graffiti in Estonia. (Street art was previously frowned upon in Tallinn.)

viewpoint tallinn estonia rooftops

We had a brilliant view of the entire collective, including the bordering train tracks and Old Town.

bicycles tallinn estonia

Back on the ground, we took a peek inside a bike shop. The skull art caught my eye.

weird cool art baltics

Telliskivi was established in 2009, but the Baltic Railway buildings date back to 1869. I’m eager to see how this vibrant, creative city will keep on evolving over time.

tallinn power plant chimney

The Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) currently have a thriving artistic scene — perhaps because these countries are now free from the USSR, and spreading their wings creatively. Cities like Tallinn are liberal, yet have a low cost of living: the perfect breeding ground for young artists.

tallinn creative hub

This is certainly the case at Tallinn Creative Hub, a center for cultural events in the heart of the city. Behind these big red doors, there are workshops, festivals, exhibits, seminars and other creative enterprises.

Tallinn City Central Power plant

This building was once the Tallinn City Central Power Station, which operated between 1913 and 1979. The current incarnation preserves the boiler room, gas reservoir and brick chimney — giving the venue a Steampunk meets Gothic vibe.

tallinn steam boiler cauldron hall

In 1977, director Andrei Tarkovsky used the power plant as the set for his cult film, “Stalker.” My jaw dropped when I walked into “Cauldron Hall” — a high-ceilinged room that looks straight out of Mad Max or Blade Runner! 

cyberpunk mad max building

These precarious, rusted ladders and balconies look like a post-apocalyptic set. It can be rented out for events — I’d have an epic “end of the world” party here.

art music studios estonia

Tallinn Creative Hub’s cavernous spaces include a Maker Lab (workshop with various machines), recording studio, and food lab (for experimenting with recipes). There’s also a community garden and cafe, free for locals to enjoy.

tallinn linnahall olympics stairs

Outside, I walked up the “stairway to nowhere” — Linnahall. It’s a large, grey, concrete staircase that doesn’t really lead to anything (how surreal and Soviet)! Linna Hall was a sports venue built for the 1980 Olympics, situated on the harbour, but it’s fallen into disuse today.

tali tallinn design shop

Back to Old Town, where we popped into the design store Tali. Everything here is made by local designers — jewelry, leather goods, clothing, and furniture.

baltic art boutique

I’m a fan of modern Estonian designs, which tend to have minimal, geometric forms (as characteristic of Northern Europe). The works are stylish, yet with a sense of humor.

wood wooden bow ties

The cute animal sleep masks and wooden bow ties were among my favorites, and are great souvenirs.

estonian design house

We also paid a visit to Estonian Design House, home to several studios and the headquarters of the Estonian Association of Designers.

hip clothing store tallinn

There’s an impressive selection of upcycled fashion, quirky lighting, hipster backpacks, sleek jewelry and posters.

Stella Soomlais studio leather fashion

Upstairs, I got a tour of Stella Soomlais studio. She makes custom leather accessories for men and women, such as the sleek black wallet I’m holding.

octopus head weird art

I love how Estonian art isn’t afraid to “keep it weird.” The octopus and rooster-headed photographs made me laugh.

crazy strange baltic art

Last stop: the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM). This non-profit initiative has a DIY feeling, with a cafe in the entrance hall, and an adorable flower garden in the back.

estonian painter Alice Kask

We saw the self-titled solo exhibition of Alice Kask, an Estonian painter. Her works use materials such as old wooden boards, which stand out against the stark, industrial walls.

estonian artists

Alice Kask’s works have elements of surrealism, which I love. They touch upon themes such as the body, media images, and symbolism vs reality.

tallin modern art museum

The Contemporary Art Museum of Tallinn brings in works both from Estonia and worldwide. Their rotating exhibitions always have a strong voice.

contemporary art Museum of Tallinn

Her painting style is striking and a bit unnerving. Alice depicts human bodies with realistic strokes, but then gives them a bizarre twist and surrounds them in abstract space.

estonia modern painters

Isn’t the art scene in Estonia intriguing? Thanks to Visit Tallinn for inviting us, and showing us around.

(All photos by Borderless Media.)

visit tallinn travel bloggers

For more, check out my post about Estonian cuisine and the Depeche Mode bar here.

And now, I’m off to Europe again… dancing with joy. Can’t wait to share travel stories from Amsterdam and Athens with you soon! 

Hipster Stockholm travel tips! SoFo Swedish fashion & music stores, Sodermalm, Fotografiska museum.

long clothing streetwear, dolls kill

I spy, with my giant eye… Stockholm!  (My eye-catching top is by Long Clothing and these leggings are Killstar.)

I have quite a few friends from Sweden, but didn’t make it to Scandinavia until last summer. I was curious about the young / artsy / subculture side of the city, so we spent the day exploring. I thought I’d share my findings in this hipster travel guide to Stockholm.

stockholm cathedral doorway triangle

Along the way, I found the perfect outfit post location: Stockholm Cathedral’s doorway, topped with a spooky black triangle. I’m wearing a Long Clothing x Mishka eyeball shirt, and these exact minimalist sandals.

Long Clothing’s designs are great for travel, as they’re stylish and easy to match, and also comfortable and lightweight. Below are some of my favorites from their collection.

stockholm bridges, walking tour

Since it’s still freezing in many parts of the world, I thought it would be nice to have a flashback to summer. Many tourists consider this the best time to visit Stockholm, as the weather is pleasingly warm.

My friends and I spent the entire day walking around the city — and it was perfection. From our Grand Central by Scandic hotel in Norrmalm (north of the city center), we walked south to Gamla Stan (the Old Town district, consisting of Stadsholmen island and a few islets).

gamla stan shopping, fashion

Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century. The cobbled streets and classic architecture give it an old time charm. I loved walking around these streets and admiring the historical buildings.

Some of these streets are very touristy, but there are also fun stores such as “Science Fiction Bokhandeln” (a fantasy / sci-fo bookstore) and “Zapata,” a hippie counterculture shop where Yukiro buys some of his clothes.

long clothing mishka eyeball shirt

Close-up on my Long Clothing oversize and pentagram leggings by Killstar. More from this Gothic occult designer below (click to see details):

stockholm roof spires pointed

Stockholm Royal Palace, Parliament and other government buildings are also located in Old Town. How neat are the Gothic pointed spires that pierce the skyline? And these manicured shrubs look like they were pruned by Edward Scissorhands.

freemason triangle symbol door stockholm

I enjoyed the sweeping 18th century stairwells of Stockholm Palace — but this archway was a better fit for my style! The giant wooden doors lead into Stockholm Cathedral, which was built in 1279. The golden Medieval interior has hosted many a royal wedding.

This triangular symbol has a Freemason and occult vibe. However, it’s apparently a symbol of the Holy Trinity radiating golden light.

(I’m wearing street style by Long Clothing, who also make:)

moomin shop stockholm

We kept on strolling… until I saw these happy Moomin figures, and ran straight in. This is a shop that sells cute character goods and souvenirs.

stockholm cute kawaii stores

Moomin is the white, globular mascot created by illustrator Tove Jansson. (You may recall that I went to the Helsinki Moomin shop.)

Tove was born in Finland, but grew up speaking Swedish and studied art in Stockholm —  so both countries claim Moomin as their own. 

katarina hissen elevator viewpoint

We crossed yet another bridge (Stockholm has many) — this time from Gamla Stan to Södermalm. “Soder” was once the working class district, but now it’s gentrified and home to a bohemian and cultural scene. Many scenes in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” were set here.

There’s an incredble viewpoint here: “Katarinahissen” or Katarina Elevator. This steam-powered elevator was built in 1882 and powered by steam — very much ahead of its time, and steampunk to the max.

stockholm fashion blogger, sweden

Today, Katarina Hissen is no longer in operation, but you can climb the stairs to reach the top (and it’s open 24 hours). The cardio workout is worth it, for these incredible city views.

(All photography by Joey Wong.)

dollskill fashion blog outfit

Stockholm is actually situated on 14 islands, which you can see from up here. No wonder it’s often called he “Venice of the north.”

(I got this cute bag from Hong Kong, but there’s a similar Harajuku ghost backpack by Killstar.)

sofo grandpa clothing store

In my previous post, you’ll recall that we visited the hipster district of Hornstull.

There’s another hip haven in Södermalm: SoFo, short for “South of Folkungagatan.” These blocks are a collective of indie fashion, vintage shops, cute cafes and artsy bars.

hipster fashion stockholm so fo

The ironically named Grandpa is all about young fashion and interiors. The shop has a Kinfolk-worthy atmosphere, and all the brands are carefully chosen. You’ll find eco-friendly clothing, minimalist and subculture-inspired styles, and metallic Scandinavian home decor.

sweden street style stockholm

Behind me, I spy a rack of granny dresses, bicycles, and outdoor tables. (My leggings are Killstar; more pentagram witch fashion below:)

rainbow pastel vintage interior decor

I spotted pink flamingos int front of this SoFo store. Coctail is a rainbow of cute retro maximalist kitsch.

kawaii home decoration

I spotted a Miffy lamp, hovering on a cloud. This collection of colorful Mexican sugar skulls also drew my attention.

pet sounds records stockholm

Don’t miss out on SoFo’s Pet Sounds record store. Run by music buffs, the shop has a delectable selection of vinyl records, CDs and DVDs.

sofo hipster underground alternative

I’m looking at disco rarities, of course. Pet Sounds has albums for the most obscure of tastes, including collector’s items from around the world.

killstar leggings goth pants

(See more items from Kill Star below:)

nick brandt inherit dust exhibit

Last stop: the Fotografiska Museet, or Stockholm Photography Museum. I sometimes find photo exhibits to be hit-or-miss, but this museum had multiple floors filled with thought-provoking works.

The most compelling gallery was “Inherit the Dust” by Nick Brandt. In a “making of” video, I was amazed at the photographer’s process. Nick blew up prints of his earlier wildlife photos, turned them into life-sized panels, and placed them in the slums and quarries of East Africa. He found locations that matched up the mountain ranges and backgrounds seamlessly, making it seem as if elephants and leopards were roaming these industrial wastelands.

stockholm fotografiska photography museum

There’s no Photoshop in these black and white panoramas. The contrast between nature and uncontrolled development is startling. 

photography museum stockholm sweden

One of the most painful photos shows a drug squat, filled with addicts with glue bottles hanging from their noses, ignoring the giant elephant print looming next to them. If you’re intrigued, I encourage you to look up Nick Brandt’s photography about disappearing Africa.

All in all, I was very impressed by Stockholm’s museums. (I also saw and reviewed the Yayoi Kusama art show, at Moderna Museet.)

Katarinahissen stockholm best view

Isn’t Stockholm one sweet city? I hope this travel guide helps you plan a visit.

And if you’re looking for a hip hotel in Stockholm, here’s our review of Grand Central by Scandic.

stockholm street fashion

How do you like my Nu Goth outfit of the day? There’s more from these designers below!

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Hipster Helsinki travel guide: steampunk bar Hell-Sinki! Kallio district, coffee shops, modern design stores.

spider goth print biker jacket

For those who love alternative subcultures… Helsinki is one “hell” of a travel destination!

In part one of my “Finlandia” journey, I took you to a mod furniture exhibit, and sauna / restaurant by the water. Now, I’ll show you around the coolest restaurants and shops in the hipster Kallio district. We’ll end up in a Steampunk bar that looks like an airship, complete with jets of steam.

(I’m wearing this Spider bomber coat. It’s one of my favorites, and currently on sale.)

best blog of year award, blogger awards

But first, some quick happy news: La Carmina is nominated for the Best Blog Award!

I was wondering if you’d be willing to take 10 seconds to vote for me? Every bit of support counts, and you can vote once a day.

Just click here to vote for La Carmina – I’m at the end of the check list. Thank you so much for believing in me, I really appreciate your kindness over the years!

gay friendly helsinki lgbt guide

Helsinki is one of the world’s most liberal and progressive cities — to the point where the pamphlets say, “We are not gay friendly. We are gay!”

My film team and I spent an afternoon in the Kallio district of Helsinki, where young artsy types tend to congregate.

hipster helsinki, kallio neighborhood

Quite a few readers recommended Good Life Coffee, in the heart of Kallio. I was sold by their motto:  “Avoid Bad Coffee.”

This coffeeshop chooses high grade beans, and takes a “no bull” approach to roasting and brewing (in their words). The result is simple, honest and delicious.

hipster cafe, coffee shop scandinavia

Good Life is a cozy spot for meeting up with friends, and flipping through design magazines. They also sell baked goods from local bakers; the restaurant / bar Sandro next door is also highly rated.

good life coffee helsinki finland

There’s a similar “Coffee Is Always a Good Idea” wood wall art available here.

I’m wearing the Joanie Mule shoe, which comes in black and marble white (like the exact ones I’m wearing).

If you’re digging my purse, you might like these Sanrio bags and platforms below:

black metal finland, heavy metal store

A city with “hell” in its name has to have a dark subculture, right? At the rock shop Hell-Sinki, we found Scandinavian death metal soundtracks that would be perfect for a Viking invasion.

steam hellsinki bar

Then, it was time for a drink at the Steampunk bar, Steam Hellsinki. 

The bar is a futuristic, fantasy vision of the Victorian era meets the Wild Wild West. Old fashioned steam technology is reimagined in creative ways, and displayed all throughout the space.

helsinki steampunk bar, club

It’s amazing to see how Steampunk has spread all over the world. (Remember when we went to a steam punk coffee shop in Cape Town, South Africa?)

The decor at Steam Hell Sinki is on point. We saw Gothic types hanging out on the retro couches, beneath vintage bicycles and lamps.

airship steampunk bar design

The piece de resistance… is a giant zeppelin airship that doubles as a bar! Colored lights dance over the blimp, giving the impression of movement. Every so often, fog spews out from the hull. 

victorian steampunk piano

Flowers, old pianos and vintage Victrolas add to the retro-fantasy Steampunk theme.

tea cocktails steam hell sinki

The resident dog is trained to put his paws up on the bar, upon command. Good boy.

Steam HellSinki has almost 100 types of gin available. The famous gin and tonics are garnished with berries and spices, and the special menu includes cocktails that come in teapots and cups.

world's weirdest coolest theme bars

We loved spending a relaxing evening under the chandeliers. Steampunk fans, don’t miss out on this “hell” of a bar.

artek furniture design store helsinki

No doubt, Finland is a world leader for interior design. I’m obsessed with Scandinavian and mid-century modern, so it was a joy to visit the Artek store. (They carry designs including the ones below).

kay bojesen monkey ape toy

I smiled when I saw this Ape by Kay Bojesen, which comes in small and medium size.

eero aarnio artek ball chair, trolley

I couldn’t resist sitting in Eero Aarnio’s iconic ball chair (available here). On the right is this Tea Trolley by Alvar Aalto, one of the founders of Artek and masters of Finnihs modern design.

If you’re as much of a design fangirl as I am, don’t miss out on the DesignMuseo (where I caught the Eero Aarnio retrospective) and nearby Design District Helsinki.

why join navy when you can be pirate cafe

Helsinki has innovative interiors everywhere, including restaurants. I had lunch at the wonderfully named cafe, Why join the navy when you can be a pirate. Good question, arr.

I love eating clean, and feasted on the fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies, juices, and healthy wraps. Since we’re pirates, we ordered a round of local gin (try Fevertree or Napue), garnished with rosemary and cranberries, and mixed with local tonic.

(My Spider bomber coat is fit for the captain of a pirate ship.)

southpark theme restaurant helsinki

We had dinner with a view at Southpark Restaurant. You might be thinking “Omg they killed Kenny” — but this is not actually a theme restaurant based on the South Park cartoon. It’s a “ravintola” named because it is in the south end of Helsinki’s Sinebrychoff park.

(Find my Joanie Mule sandals in black or marble white here.)

finland modern design restaurant

Southpark has a wonderful atmosphere filled with light, and walls decorated with modern art. The hashtags say it all: #HellaGoodFood, #SoCalSoCool.

A lot of regulars come here, which give the room a neighborhood vibe. We loved how the owners personally took care of us, and came by the tables to chat with their guests.

tom of finland gay art exhibit

All the cocktails get my top marks, especially the 1919 Sour. (They’re pictured with postcards of Tom of Finland, who pushed the boundaries of gay art in the mid 20th century.)

I know Californian food well, and Southpark nails it. The tacos were magnificent (and I’m picky), and their recipes fuse this style of cuisine with local catch and produce.

helsinki modern hip restaurants

For a meal that’s fresh and full of color, and served by a friendly staff — come to Southpark, “Mmm-kay?”

nudge rulla boutique helsinki

For a hip combination of fashion and food, visit Nudge (clothing shop) and Rulla (cafe), located side by side in the centre of Helsinki.

bird print kimono bathrobe

Both share a passion for sustainability and organic production. In Nudge, you’ll find one-of-a-kind clothing made by Finnish designers, like this dreamy bird kimono.

helsinki hipster fashion, jewelry

All the designs come from independent creators: you’ll find natural cosmetics, eco-friendly accessories, and Finnish children’s items. (The bat necklace was calling out to me.)

rulla cafe, rice paper rolls

Located in the same space is Rulla, where you can feast on hand-made healthy rice rolls with a Scandinavian twist. The options include salmon and shrimp with herbs, and side of tangy sauces.

scandic paasi hotel

Time to wind down at the hippest hotel in Helsinki, Scandic Paasi. The building overlooks the water, and is located next to a lovely park.

cool scandinavian design hotels

A picture is worth a thousand words… Scandic Paasi has outstanding modern design, in the lobby and spacious rooms.

We’re big fans of Scandic Hotels, which give great service and luxury at an affordable price point. (Remember our stay in Stockholm’s Grand Central by Scandic?)

scandic hotels helsinki finland paasi

The color-blocked bar was a mod dream. I encourage you to book a room Scandic Paasi if you’re going to Helsinki.

“Kiitos” (thank you in Finnish) to BorderlessMedia.tv for all the photography.

south park restaurant cafe

Helsinki is a city full of creativity — wouldn’t you agree?

● PS thank you for taking a few seconds to vote for me in the Best Blog Awards! It’ll make a huge difference in the final round (ending Jan 20), and I really appreciate your support over the years.

Click to VOTE now for La Carmina – Thank you!

Visiting the Depeche Mode theme bar in Tallinn, Estonia! DM Baar, Estonian restaurants & mobile responsive blog theme.

pink hair emo scene girl

Before we descend into the Tallinn Depeche Mode bar… look closely. Adjust your glasses. Notice anything different? Yarr, La Carmina blog got a makeover!

I’m happy to announce that this site is now fully mobile-friendly, with a streamlined and responsive design. My designers updated the social shares at the bottom, and added a “related posts” option. They made various backend tweaks to prioritise your user experience (such as improved readability, and dynamically scaling images).

mobile friendly fashion blog theme design

If you visit LaCarmina blog on your phone, there’s a handy Menu drop-down bar at the top. The theme also fits your exact screen size (see above screenshots).

A million thank yous to Naomi Rubin of Naomiyaki (my Pirate first mate, illustrator and web designer) and Kevin Wilson (designer, writer and cartoonist) for the magnificent coding and design work. I’m thrilled with how they updated the site. Both of them are based in Portland, OR — please keep them in mind if you’re looking for web design or illustration work! They’ll rock your socks, guaranteed.

fashion blogger luxury purses bags

One more announcement: as the holidays near, I’ve put up more cute items on my shop — including the striped Peace Now jacket in the first photo!

I’m selling hundreds of items from my personal collection, from $5 + up. These include Japanese Gothic Lolita / Kawaii / Gyaru purses, coats, dresses, accessories, makeup and more. I also have a selection of designer purses (LV, Valentino, Prada) Sanrio Hello Kitty, vintage, Asian labels, you name it.

* Intrigued? I invite you to check out my sales listings here (there are photos, prices and details).
* Then, email gothiccarmina @ gmail dott com, letting me know what you’d like. 
I’d be glad to do bundle discounts and exact shipping, and work out a great price! Talk soon.




depeche mode bar

Now, back to tales of travel. Unless you were closely following my Snapchat (@lacarmina), you may have missed that I was in Tallinn, Estonia earlier this year.

I discovered an unexpectedly cool underground culture here — including a dive bar dedicated to the band Depeche Mode! Ever since I heard of DM Baar, “All I ever wanted, all I ever needed” was to visit. Read on for lots of photos.

tallinn estonia red roofs, skyline

My travel filmmakers and I spent a few days in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I’d heard that there was a hip, emerging art / food scene here — and with the help of Visit Tallinn, we got an insider’s look.

tallink silja ferry, captain's deck

You might recall that we were in Helsinki, Finland. From here, it’s only a two hour ferry ride south to Tallinn (which borders the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland). If you’re in Helsinki, we highly recommend that you take this scenic ride to Estonia — it’s possible to do a day trip, but I suggest staying for several days.

There are a few ferries and dozens of departure times each day, as this is a popular route. Definitely book with Tallink Silja, which provides the best service and sailing experience. Tallink Silja’s ships are large and modern, and the VIP area has a full buffet and free magazines. We were even invited up to the captain’s deck to say “tere” (hello in Estonian).

helsinki tallinn estonia ferry boat

I went out onto the deck to take in the landscape. Before long, I spotted the signature pointed spires of Tallinn: we had arrived!

tallinn town hall square, main old town courtyard

The capital is small and easy to get around by foot. We stayed in a hotel by the Old Town Square (Raekoja plats). This quaint public area, pictured above, has a town hall and colorful buildings that that date back to 1322. 

dm baar, depeche mode bar sign logo

Not far from Tallinn’s main square is DM Baar, the world’s only Depeche Mode bar! (Address: Voorimehe 4, Tallinn, Estonia). That’s right: there’s a theme bar in Europe entirely dedicated to Depeche Mode, the synthpop / electronic music pioneers from the 80s and 90s.

Look for a black door and hanging red sign, which features the flower cover design of their Violator album (“Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence” are on this LP.).

depeche mode theme bar interior

Estonia’s Depeche Mode Baar originally opened in 1999, by a die-hard fan. The interior is a homage to the much-loved English band, filled with posters, photos, and rare memorabilia.

depeche mode joy division bar, 1980s band

As you might expect, DM Baar only plays songs by one artist: Depeche Mode. I adore them, and was excited to drink and listen to their music all night long.

On the left, you can see the giant menu with dozens of cocktails named after Depeche Mode songs, like “People are People” and “Just Can’t Get Enough.” The drinks are standard concoctions (such as gin and orange, rum and Coke) but served with a generous pour.

depeche mode baar, tallinn fan bar

In 2001, Depeche Mode members Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Christian Eigner came to Tallinn to perform a concert. That evening, they graced DM Bar with their presence and parted all night! The walls are filled with photographic evidence, as well as snapshots of other visiting celebrities.

estonia depeche mode club

The bar has several large TVs, which continuously broadcast Depeche Mode live concerts and music videos. There typically aren’t too many customers here, and they tend to be fellow fans. I enjoyed relaxing on the lounge chairs with my friends, and nodding along to their famous tracks.

depeche mode band, europe theme bar

DM Baar has a large, cavernous second room. (If scientists ever invent teleportation, I’d have a big birthday party here.) I spotted a red lamp with the “Playing The Angel” album cover logo.

weird crazy theme bars tallinn

The adjoining room has private booths, lit by the glowing DM font from their “Tour of the Universe.”

I uploaded a short video on Instagram, which lets you see and hear the Depeche Mode bar for yourself. You can hear the sounds of their 1987 single: “I’m taking a ride. With my best friend. I hope he never lets me down again.”

depeche mode fan memorabilia merchandise

If you’re a Depeche Mode fan, you simply must make a pilgrimage to their themed bar in Tallinn, Estonia. And even if you’re not familiar with their music, I’d recommend coming here for the magnificent songs and atmosphere. After all, as Dave Gahan sings, “Is it a sin / To be flexible / When the boat comes in?”

(The bar had lots of Depeche Mode items on display — you can shop their music and merchandise below, with a click.)

Fabrik estonian restaurant, tallinn

In addition to a cool nightlife, Tallinn (pronounced “Tahh-lean”) has a creative culinary scene. I didn’t know anything about Estonian food, and was pleased by what I discovered.

We ate lunch at Fabrik, one of the city’s top rated restaurants. As you may have seen on my Snapchat (@lacarmina), their Nordic style menu and interior decor are feasts for the eyes.

estonia hipster cafes, restaurants

We sat down in this modern / minimal interior (my favorite type of decor), and whetted our appetites with shots of Vana Tallinn. This is a dark, spicy rum-based liqueur that warms your bones right up.

estonian modern cuisine, fabrik menu

Fabrik’s menu is inspired by the seasons and high-quality produce: the dishes are playful, and presented in eye-catching color. Case in point above: beetroot with sea buckthorn (little orange berries with medicinal properties), goat milk yogurt and shiso — three ingredients that play unexpectedly well together.

The same goes for the smoked eel consomme with king trumpet mushrooms, and seabass with leche de tigre and coriander. And don’t leave without trying a sweet or two from Fabrik’s glass case of desserts. 

tallinn buildings architecture

As you can see, Tallinn is a study in contrasts. It’s an old city filled with historic architecture, but with a hipster creative culture that has sprung up fairly recently. 

estonia open faced sandwich

Estonia is a wonderful destination for foodies. In Nordic Europe and Scandinavia, open-faced sandwiches on dark grain breads are a favorite dish. The local version is called võileib, which means “butter bread” — and once again, it’s prepared in tantalising colors.

Leib Resto & Aed, tallinn estonia

We had another memorable meal at Leib Resto & Aed, an atmospheric restaurant with a large garden, surrounded by Tallinn’s old Town Wall. Chef Janno Lepik and sommelier Kristjan Peäske create local, seasonal food that is innovative, yet based on traditional cooking. 

estonian brown dark grain bread

The word “leib” refers to Estonian black bread: warm, honest, filled with dark grains. The fresh-baked bread that they served was so good that I took home an entire loaf for later!

The menu’s simple farm-fresh ingredients come together in creative dishes, such as Kalamatsi dairy soft cheese with Intsu farm tomatoes, marinated onion seeds and coriander.

best tallinn estonia restaurant, Leib

We started by tasting their homemade liqueurs, made with black currant or rhubarb. Next came a clean, soulful soup and flatbreads; as always, the presentation was delightful.

tallinn traditional high end dining

The mains proved why Leib Resto ranks consistently among the best restaurants in Tallinn: it’s a fine-dining menu, in an unstuffy and rustic setting. 

Highlights include the pike perch with cauliflower cream, slow-cooked Liivimaa grass-fed beef cheek with potato foam and marinated vegetables, and desserts topped with fresh edible flowers.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn church

It’s fascinating to see the contemporary culture in Tallinn, a city with numerous historical influences. Above is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built when the country was part of the Russian Empire. Estonia was also a republic of the Soviet Union from 1940 until its independence on August 20, 1991.

tallinn bicyclist, liberty cross statue

Above, a cyclist performs tricks in front of the Liberty Cross monument in Tallinn’s Freedom Square. This was established in 2009 as a memorial for those who died while fighting for Estonia’s freedom and independence.

pointed roofs estonian houses

Let me assure you that Estonia is a safe and modern country today. There’s a feeling of young energy here, especially in the artistic scenes. (Photos by La Carmina and Borderless Media.)

sugar skull themed bar

From street art to sugar skull bars, Tallinn rocks!

tallinn Telliskivi mural, art factory

Coming up, I’ll take you inside Tallinn’s art factories and collectives, run by young creatives. There’s so much to discover here — I’m glad we spent a few days exploring.

estonia tourism, tallinn viewpoint

Isn’t it wonderful that there’s a Depeche Mode bar in Estonia? (I uploaded a short video of our visit here.)

If you also love this UK synthpop band, enjoy these favorite items below that I’ve picked out. And don’t forget to check out my clothing and accessories sale, before items are gone!