This is definitely not Scandinavia. Just 2 hours across the Baltic sea but a world apart. We have, unwittingly done this very well. Denmark felt very much like England but neater, Sweden again felt very comfortable except at the bar (when you could find one) and Finland started to feel more foreign with a definite Russian influence. Here we can definitely identify that this was part of the USSR until they gained independence in 1991 – very recent and we have seen this described as the ‘Communist Terror’.
We have just spent a lovely couple of days wondering around the medieval island that is Old Tallinn. It felt a bit false to me. A Disneyland place full of cafes and souvenir shops laid on for the tourists. I’m not saying it’s not worth a visit mind because it is lovely and going out for a meal didn’t need a loan from the IMF - perhaps I’m just getting a bit blaze about capital cities.
Guess what, we saw the Germans again! Even he laughed when we met in the street. Not anymore though as they have gone home now.
Today we left the comfort of our hotel to follow route 2 on our not so expensive as Finland cycle route map. It was beautifully signposted and we thought ‘wow this is going to be a sinch’. Then we got lost- not very though and a very kind cycling man put us right. Then we ended up in the middle of a major road construction project and lost the signs again. Then it rained, very hard. We did notice that they have very deep gutters here and now we know why.
We found the way eventually and have seen lots of storks. They make the most amazing nests on the top of electric poles that you can’t think how they start to construct. Had a nice tea break at a way side café where we met a girl who was studying in London and had come back to see her folks. She told us the rudiments of Estonian so that hopefully we can elicit a more friendly response to our requests.
We have ended the day staying at the Janeda Guest House. It feels like a military block left after the KGB stopped interrogating people but it’s in a lovely forest and lakes area. We put the bikes into a room that contained lots of cross country type skis and ice skates – it looks as though it’s really popular in the winter and we had dinner in a huge restaurant that had a big fire pit in the middle. There were 2 coach loads of ladies having dinner plus some others came in and we noticed that everyone ordered immediately, ate very quickly then left. No over dinner nuances, Dave and I were the last to leave. Really nice food though and even with hotel and meal out we’re still ok on our spread sheet!!
Was that the most boring bike ride of the trip – possibly. We’re still following route 2 which did wander a little (it looked interesting on the map) then came back and followed the main road to Paide – very historic and the central town in Estonia. Spent a couple of hours in cafe’s dodging rain and found a museum in a tower that had been demolished by the red army in 1920. It was rebuilt in 2003 and houses a time travel museum that has obviously been developed with kids in mind as it gave us no information whatsoever.
After last night we had booked a hostel with Hostel bookers.com. It looked really good on the internet, lots of different rooms from ensuite to camping with a pub providing food alongside. We arrived a bit late to find everything closed but fortunately she appeared to say that the hostel was full so she put us in our own house with big stove in a dining room, sauna and full traditional décor!! It looks to us as though the hostel is full of workers and so didn’t want us to be in the midst of a load of Russians. She kindly cooked us some food as the nearest was 32 km away.
Dave has had another puncture and has spent the evening in his boxers, socks and sandals (very sexy) washing down various bits of his bike in the shower. Sorry Trev if you are reading this but he says he feels like you!!
Most people when they cycle in Estonia follow the coast. We decided not to do this as we had already done a lot in Scandinavia so have come east, close to the Russian border. Until this morning I had thought this a bad plan as, apart from the storks and lots of other bird life, it had been boring bike riding and we had resorted to our ipods to keep us going. Today however we have emerged onto Euro route 4 and have been through some really lovely countryside, passed numerous lakes and the road went up and down and around corners which is always good.
We went to see a lovely tourist information girl enroute and she told us about a motel that was the right distance to head towards. She even established that they had rooms available. We arrived just before 6 just before they closed. They are trying in places here but you would think that in a fairly touristy area, advertising motel and food that they may want to serve you at 6.00 in the evening. They did serve us a beer but the menu was swiftly removed before choosing anything to eat.
We had fortunately stocked up a bit so were able to produce a meal in the room. We did consider getting the roarer out and cooking in the wok but decided that it would set off the water sprinklers. It all just shows that Estonia has a way to go yet.