Baltic Festival: Welcome to Tallinn
One of the first things a visitor sees when he or she arrives at Tallinn international airport is an advert for a local department store, whose tagline reads: "Tallinn is quite nice!" As cynics from the other side of the world, we know not to believe what we see in an advert, but after a brief taxi ride and then a long wander through this city yesterday I can confirm this: Tallin is not just "quite nice" it is "very nice indeed".
This ancient city on the banks of the Baltic Sea is as charming an example of eastern European architecture as I have ever seen. Its labyrinth of winding cobbled passageways and market squares, peppered with ornate churches and castles is typical, and typically beautiful. But you can also add views across the ocean and into the forests skirting the city, plus a vibrant modern bar and restaurant scene that has made this one of the most appealing tourist hubs of Europe.
Nowhere gets any more attractive by the addition of a poker festival, nor by 300-plus poker players filing into view. But it certainly gets far more interesting. And lo and behold, Tallinn is now the venue for one of the most intriguing new stops on the poker calendar, the PokerStars Baltic Festival, which kicks off today in the conference facilities of the Swissotel, Tallinn.
This place is luxurious -- a colleague yesterday claimed she's be happy to lie down and sleep on the carpet that lines the hotel corridors, such is its depth and warmth -- and the tournament room is nothing like we're used to; it's airy, bright and spacious, smoke-free and as peaceful as a place of battle can be.
That, of course, is what really brings us here: a clash of poker warriors over the felt of 20 or so tables. Full details of who is playing, what they are playing for, and the structure of the event is forthcoming. In the meantime, get researching your Baltic history and clear a space at the end of your exercise book for details of the latest chapter, which will be occurring here over the coming few days.
As ever, PokerStars blog will bring you all the photos, videos and words from the tournament floor. It should be "quite nice".
Watch Baltic Poker Festival on PokerStars.tv