It has been a while since I have last posted a blog entry which means that it has been a while since we came back from our big Latin America trip. In the meantime, daily life had us back and even if there were some weekend trips around Germany, there was little time for keeping up with writing. Something that I wish to change now!
This year’s summer vacation took us to Estonia and Latvia for 10 days. Two beautiful countries at the edge of Europe and just 70 Euros of Ryanair flights away – perfect. The first stop on our short backpacking trip (this time with small hand luggage bags) was Tallinn, Estonias marvelous little capital.
When we arrived on Saturday evening, all hostels seemed to be booked out (reserve on Saturdays!) but we found a private room at Fat Margaret’s hostel. It wasn’t cheap but it had a free sauna in the morning! A perfect beginning for the first day in Tallinn. We went on the great free walking tour through Tallinn’s old town and learned a lot about the history and especially life during the Soviet times. I must admit, before coming here I only knew one thing about Estonia: WiFi access is the best in the world. This is definitely true, on the tour we also learned that Estonians are the only people in the world who can vote online. The old town was really nice with all its medieval buildings, the orthodox church, little cafes and many small streets to explore. We also went down to the harbour and to Kalamaja district with its creative, hipster touch. There was a street food festival with some artists and a great band (e-violin and drums built on a guitar case…).Great!
On our second day, we rented a car for the crazy price of only 24 Euros! The US American couple Lynn and Aaron joined us and we went to explore the countryside. The first stop was Rummu quarry. The scene is picturesque: an old Soviet prison ruin in a lake next to huge sand dunes… That combined with perfect weather looked like this: The water was ice cold so most of our group only dipped in and came out right away. Still, I wanted to see the prison from close up so I took the freezing swim. Good that we had such a sunny day. Especially because the temperature in Estonia was rather cool with about 20 degrees on this really sunny day. The advantage of coming here in June is that light basically doesn’t end, it was still not dark around midnight.
After seeing the quarry, we drove also to an old monastery in Padise in which we could climb around and basically play hide-and-seek (Chris loved it), a waterfall (Keila) and a beach at the Baltic coast – all really beautiful.
It was a perfect day.The car rental is A Rent by the way, in case you get to Tallinn soon. With gas, the day cost us 34 Euros only. The next morning, we decided to go for some more nature and left Tallinn towards Laheema National Park, more specifically the village of Võsu where we had booked an Airbnb. The bus ride took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The weather was still amazing when we arrived and we had huge luck with our place: We stayed in a brand new wooden bungalow in the garden of an older Estonian lady. Her daughter who rented to us was on holiday so communication was a little hard but luckily she knew some German words. For 30 a night, this was definitely a great deal!
Chris checked Tripadvisor and found out that the No1 in Laheema was a restaurant in Altja, about 12 km away from us. The decision was quickly made, we would hike there and have dinner. So we started walking and found out that Laheema national park is simply amazing! Beautiful forest, really nice trails, information boards all around and the smell of pines.
We arrived in Altja after having hiked to Oanda and taking the ‘beaver trail’ from there. Tripadvisor didn’t lie, the Altja Korts was an amazing restaurant. For about 20 Euros, we got meat/fish, beer and juice for two. Delicious. Food in Estonia was that every single time. Really great, no matter what we chose.
We took one of the few but very reliable and cheap buses back to our little home and could enjoy the (way too hot) sauna that our host’s son invited us too. We lasted about 15 minutes taking three showers each, he lasted for about 1 hour… Incredible.
The second day in Laheema, we took the bus to Käsmu, the famous captains village. We explored the Sea Museum which was really great and then got spontaneously asked to come on a small sailing trip. Our captain was a nice guy who unfortunately turned out to be a politician for Estonia’s right-wing (or as he calls it conservative) party who annoyed us with visions of Muslims overrunning the country and better making deals with Putin. Apart from that, the sailing on his small boat was quite nice.
Back on land, we hiked some more, this time the trail North of Käsmu along the coast. It was very windy but still great weather, so I went into the sea shortly. We saw many big boulders covered with moss, endless pine trees and ferns and were very much reminded of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
In short, Estonia is a smaller, cheaper Scandinavia with a very interesting history, friendly people, a good transportation system and amazing food. Go there! You won’t regret it!