Estonia up Closer

It feels as if we’ve slowed down to look at things more closely in Estonia. This  was partly planned because we re travelling with T, our Eesti interpreter, whose local contacts, language skills and background  knowledge have added depth to our experiences. It’s also been interesting to see his Eesti persona emerge, and note the differences between this alter-ego and his Canadian persona that we’ve known for over 30 years.

2013/06/06: Viljandi and Local Sights

Entering Fortress

After a round of dutiful bike maintenance,Viive took as to Viljandi, with its fortress built by the Knights of the Sword. She also gave us a tour of the modern and well-equipped school where she teaches English to ages 7 to 15.  School had just finished for the year, and only teachers and administrators were about, but interesting discussion of education and social issues in Estonia ensued. The school was modern, bright, and well-equipped.

We also visited the farm belonging to Raul’s parents, where we were treated to freshly pressed juice made from their sea buckthorn berries. It took some discussion and later searching to identify these bright berries that grew on low prickly trees.  It is a dioecious species (male or female plants like kiwis) native to Asia, which is happy to grow in  the sandy soil found here.

In the evening, after dinner of a large barbecued Norwegian salmon, some of the photos Viive and Aivar  took on their trip to Canada reminded us of the strength of the ties between Estonians here and in the diaspora. T’s parents left after World War 2 as did many,  but the ties are still actively maintained some 70 years later.

2013/06/07: 107 km to Turi
Back on the road, we stopped to tour the “English style”  Olustvere Manor House, cooked supper in a bus shelter during a rainstorm, and camped in a municipal park at Turi. We had been directed here by locals lads, there was a designated camping area and there was no charge.

2013/06/08: 76 km to Kohila

Water at cafe comes with sea buckthorn berries and lemon

We had seen there was a Warmshowers host located in Kohila, just south of Tallinn, a location that would allow us to enter the city early the following day. Our host not only responded quickly to the request we’d made a day earlier, but rode to meet us, as did a friend of his. What a welcome!

Warmshowers is about making contact with local kindred spirits. Not only do we get local knowledge, but we also share travel tips. Madis (a polyglot who speaks 7 or 8 languages!) is planning his own ride from here to Portugal, starting later this summer. Chris and T accompanied him to gather birch and oak branches in the forest, and we had a welcome sauna.

2013/06/09: 46 km to Tallinn

CEO of Skype´s private residence, in village outside Tallinn

Five of us rode to Saku with Madis showing us local sights, and after a coffee stop four continued to Tallinn. Here The T had booked a two bedroom apartment in the old city.

M

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