We took a car ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn. As we arrived in the middle of the night we already looked up possible overnight spots in the city before hand. We found a car park which was definitely not the nicest, most romantic but a very convenient one perfectly located for only 3 Euros for 24hrs. Due to the huge amount of cruise ship tourists we got a bit creative as to when to visit which part of the city. First we strolled through the hip Telliskivi district during the day. This district is very quirky and we enjoyed the colorful graffitis, the good food stalls and in general the very nice atmosphere. We went to the old town in the evening. By that time the majority of the tourists had already left and we really enjoyed this charming part of the city.
The next day we first walked to the abandoned building “Linnahall” which was built for the Olympic games in Moscow in 1980 for the sailing events. Afterwards we visited the abandoned Patarei fortress sea prison which is now open for visitors. It was interesting to walk through it and you get a lot of information about communism in general as well as stories of some of the prisoners.
After Tallinn we headed east towards the Russian border. We did some nice hikes in several swamp lands, stopped at the castle of Rakvere and in Sillamäe. During the Soviet times Uran was enriched here and Sillamäe was an enclosed city. Probably because of the special history the city still has a weird, strange atmosphere. Finally in the easternmost city Narva we stood at the river bank and looked over to Russia – a border which we could not cross right now. Saint Petersburg (or as the Estonians call it: Peterburi) was only 160km away.
Our original plan was to continue to travel in the east of Estonia but unfortunately the weather got very bad in the east and much better in the west – that changed our plan:-) We headed back direction Tallinn, stopped at the famous Viru raba swamp and got very lucky because when we got there there were hardly any tourists. We found a very nice overnight spot right next to a lake and we had a refreshing swim in the lake the next morning.
We continued to Haapsalu and we liked this very laid back town with its very nice houses a lot. After a night on the beach and a busy day in Pärnu we headed to the Sooma National Park. We did some washing in Pärnu and in the evening we hung all our clothes between the trees in the national park 🙂
It was sunny for a long time and we had between 20-26°C (our preferred temperature) and we enjoyed two very quiet days in the National Park with a campfire and good company in the evening, some dipping in the near river or a bog pool and a lot of getting bitten from mosquitoes and horse flies (this part we did not enjoy that much…).
On our last day in Estonia it rained heavily. A rainy day is always a good opportunity to do some research, image processing and other organizational stuff in a library. In the evening we continued to Latvia.
NOTES & ANECDOTES
oddly town signs do not have the name of the town on it
99% of the license plates you see are Estonian. This does not mean there are no tourist though: many tourists use rental cars, especially around Tallinn
the language is very special and has double letters quite often, e.g. Jäätmejaam, Läänemaa
Soomaa National Park has five seasons – the fifth is when the whole park is flooded with 1-2m of water. This happens every spring.
we saw many many storks in Estonia
we did not have a single “proper” shower in Estonia. Don’t worry though: we washed ourselves with lake / river water quite often
we spent 9 days in Estonia
we drove 1056 km in Estonia
we spent 12 Euro per person per day. Estonia is not a cheap country (price level similar to Germany) but the main reason why we did not need a lot of money was that…
…we wild camped every night
one liter of diesel was 1,34€