Archive for July, 2013

July 30th, 2013

Estonian travelogue

We returned from a seven day trip in Estonia a few days ago, and finally got enough time to write about it.

Our route was Pärnu — Kuressaare in Saaremaa — and finally Tallinn. This was the first time that I’ve had my car abroad and also the first time to drive it in a big ferry ship.

The trip started at six o’clock in the morning when we headed towards the harbour in Helsinki. The instructions from Tallink Silja were quite short, and I had a nagging feeling that we are in a wrong place for our entire waiting time. Fortunately that was not the case and we could drive to the ship among the first ones.

The ships are huge! It felt like driving on a highway tunnel made of steel — two decks of cars packed on five lines half a meter apart.

We had booked a breakfast buffet for the morning and it was good choice despite the food being mediocre at best. There is way better food served on ferries to Stockholm for some reason.

Driving the car out of the ship was also a breeze and then we were already on our way to Pärnu. The hotel room was not available immediately and we spent some time strolling in the town — I was mildly surprised to see that Pärnu is actually quite big town. For some reason, I’ve always thought that all Estonian cities are small — except Tallinn and Tarto, of course. Glad to be proven wrong.

Pärnu’s main attraction is the beach; several kilometers of pristine sand and a lot of people. The water is shallow, so it is very kid-friendly. Of course, on these altitudes, the water temperature is not exactly tropical even if the air is warm.

We make a couple of stints to the beach, splashed a lot in our hotel’s (Tervis) swimming pool and sauna area, and enjoyed the food in inexpensive restaurants. On one day, we visited the local activity park in which you could follow and climb a track made on the trees. I supervised the two younger children while Sanna and Aapo went through the higher tracks. We also visited Tervis Paradiis spa and spend times on floating on the pools and enjoying the slides.

After three days we drove to Kuressaare through Muhu island. Muhu hosts Pädaste manor whose restaurant has been nominated the best in Estonia. Unfortunately, they don’t serve dinner to kids at all, so we had to opt for lunch. The food was delicious and the scenery really nice, but I made a mistake of giving Seela (18 months) my iPad to play before the food arrived. When I took the pad away, she threw a huge tantrum, cried through the mail, and did not eat a bite.

On our way to Kuressaare, we visited Kaali meteorite crater. A few thousand years ago a meteor has fallen from the skies and exploded on the ground, creating 22 meters deep crater. If you happen to visit Saaremaa, I strongly encourage to pop over to Kaali.

Also our next hotel was a spa hotel and we ended up visiting the pools twice a day. Kuressaare town is way smaller than Pärnu, so we focused mostly on doing nothing. We visited the medieval fortress in the harbour — also highly recommended — and ate well.

For the last night we had reserved an apartment from Tallinn. Our boys were disappointed to find out that there is no pool in the building and made a couple ultimatums for going back to Pärnu or Kuressaare.

The apartment was spacious and cheap, but somewhat dirty. The sheets were really thin, there were dust on the floor, and it has generally a bit rundown feeling. It looked fabulous on pictures and after two really good hotels, it frankly felt like a disappointment.

Fortunately, we didn’t stay there too long, but spent our time shopping and visiting Lennusadam, the new museum in seaplane harbour. Again, highly recommended. I’ve never before been inside a military submarine, but now I’m that experience richer. And there’s plethora of other things to explore. Very well designed and executed museum in all aspects.

We boarded to ship without issues also in Tallinn and after two hours on the sea, we drove home. Compared to typical central European trips, we had still some time to spare at home and nobody felt exhausted due to waiting in the airports.

We will do this again on a summer in the future.