Monday, September 13, 2010

Estonia Experience

My first stop in Estonia was the resort town of Parnu. It was very telling that the hotel I was staying in looked empty, like I was the only guest. On the first evening I visited the beach and there was a brilliant sunset but the second day was cold and rainy. I mentioned this to the receptionist and she said that it was now Autumn. I tried to see as much as I could on this journey, and by doing so I had run out of summer. I still enjoyed my visit to Estonia is general, but I had literally lost the light.

Sareema is the largest island belonging to Estonia and it had one town called Kuressaare. This was another visit to the wilderness, but the sights of Kuressaare are separated by relatively large distances. Even though I had just recently managed to cycle 45km, I would have had to jump to 100km a day at least if I wanted to use the bicycle. So, I rented a car. I went down to the southern most point of the island to see a lighthouse. I also tried to visit some Soviet installations, but they looked a lot like holes in the ground. They were soviet batteries. I also visited cliffs, a fishing village and desolate coastlines on the north of the island. I could have been more adventurous on this island, but I did not have the time and I had a little cold. The remnants of which are making my throat itchy as I write this.

Tallinn's old town is rather larger than that of Vilnius or Riga. In fact, it has two parts. The higher part, where the present parliament is held, was traditionally occupied by the nobles. The lower where most of the tourist trade happens, belonged to the merchants. And the merchants, who were not only protecting themselves from invaders, also built a wall against the nobility in the old town whom they were very suspicious of.

Perhaps I was tired after five months of travel, perhaps the grey and wetness of autumn had got to me, or perhaps my feeling that my room in Tallinn was 'dirty' put me on edge, but my overall impression of Estonia was ok. I wish I could say more, but really I cannot.

So, one of my major aims of exploring the Baltic states came through with the end of my visit to Tallinn. All the capital cities and their old town are worth visiting. But I must say that Riga, with its audacious art nouveau buildings, makes it the most outstanding of the three Baltic capitals. For a more adventurous holiday, the national park around Cape Kolka in Latvia is also my favorite. It is worth visiting all three Baltic states, but if you only have time for one, Latvia would be my recommendation.