Blog post #2: Beyond Tartu.
There’s more to Estonia than the three Ts – Tallinn, Tartu and the Trükimuuseum. For this blog post I thought I’d feature some of the other letters of the alphabet that I’ve encountered in my time here.
H is for Haapsalu, a picturesque coastal village that offers a lot more than a ferry to Hiiumaa. A 13th-century castle ruin doubles as a concert venue for visiting musicians, while the promenade offers a polar bear statue and impossibly beautiful sunsets. Highlights included the Haapsalu street party with the whole town from toddlers to grandmothers dancing like no-one was looking. Hot tip: bring mosquito repellent. Unless you happen to be travelling with my friend Rachel, whose blood is irresistible to every biting insect within a 2 km radius, in which case you will be completely safe.
S is for Saaremaa, the largest of Estonia’s islands famous for its windmills, 14th-century castle and female werewolves (although the latter kept a low profile while we were there). Hot tip (literally): if your guest house has a sauna, especially a log sauna in an apple orchard, take the opportunity to work up a satisfying sweat. And if they also offer you home-cooked breakfast in their 100-year-old kitchen, say yes.
V is for Viljandi, a bohemian enclave on the shores of a lake. Yep, you guessed it, another castle ruin, although we travelled there for the QQ Art Festival, one of the few opportunities you will get to see the letter Q featured in Estonia. I also experienced my first Estonian swingers’ party, consisting of four consenting adults and … a giant swing. The Estonians are mad for them. And frankly, they’re a bucket load of fun! Hot tip: If you get the chance be sure to go swinging with Salme. (She’s a real squealer!)
P is for Peipsi, an enormous lake and home to the celebrated Peipsi onion. Today, we travelled to Varnja, population of 171, many of whom had opened up their homes and yards as part of the annual Sibulaat (Onion Festival). We tried onion soup, onion pie and onion sausage. All delicious. Hot tip: Estonian weather can best be summarised as Rain. Rain. Rain. Sun. Rain. Sun. Rain. Rain. SUN! … Rain. If you foolishly ignored my previous post’s hot tip about bringing gumboots and end up with cold, wet feet, all is not lost. Just look for a yard with an open sauna where you can warm up and dry out your socks while sipping on rhubarb wine. Basically, just make use of a sauna, any chance you get.
That’s all for now. Nägemist!