Being crime-free, Saaremaa attracts lots of mainland visitors. We will explore windmills, churches and juniper groves (gin ??!!). Kuressare has a C14th castle and is picturesque. We will visit town hall and St Laurentius church. Also free time (to visit Bishop's palace - one of best preserved medieval castles in Europe). Staadioi Hotel.
A beautiful day. At last brilliant sunshine all day, little cirrus clouds occasionally. Temperature up to about 22oC. A really easy interesting day with some R&R.
Off at 9am on a walking tour into Kuressare to see the town hall and all the other itinerary places, a number of which were inaccessible as the town centre is having a rebuild. We had a short coach journey to orientate ourselves to the local area which included a visit to the cemetery, specifically the unique combined German / Russian soldiers’ resting ground. We had a walk through the carefully tended civilian cemetery (rife with biting flies) and then returned to town for a visit to the C6th Bishop’s Castle and its permanent exhibition. The former rather ho-hum for us (we’ve too many which are much better / simpler / grandiose in the UK). The exhibition was excellent and well worth a longer or dedicated visit of its own. Very interesting artefacts and photos well displayed in multiple languages from pre WWI. Particularly interesting from WWII to end of 1960’s from a variety of perspectives eg impact on work, day-to-day living, children, the land but then into over-load. The important thing to remember here is that the island was totally isolated during occupations as it was considered strategic as an access route to Russia. It was “left alone”, protected by a significant occupiers’ military base and, provided there were no collaborations with resistance groups, the islanders were left alone to go about their daily business. This has resulted in the island being somewhat frozen in time.
Broke off for a light lunch of watery hock soup in castle grounds where we chatted to Ian and Ann, then walked to beach, people watching for an hour or so. Wandered back to hotel and sat on balcony in the sun, reading and listening to the (very) few people around and about. The smell of flowers / blossom is frequently amazing: eg cow parsley at the Castle, an unidentified tree blossom in local park Kurasaamee (eventually identified at Linden).
Bruschetta followed by Osso Bucco at La Perla restaurant with Beefeater G&T (Saaremaa is known for its juniper groves) !
A very lovely day.