Today we left Tallinn and headed North East in the company of an Estonian biologist and tour guide.
Estonia is a very flat land. Their tallest hill runs to about 300m, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that their most significant waterfall is somewhat risable by international standards. The one good thing about a smaller waterfall, though, is that it freezes up. While it’s still to early in the season for the waterfall to be completely frozen, it was doing a very nice line in icicles.
Our main destination was the Lahemaa National Park which contains prime examples of much that is Estonian. For a start it’s largely covered in forest, huge pine forests, much of which is old-growth. That forest provides a habitat for moose, bears, beavers and wolves amongst other less exotic-sounding animals. The forest is interrupted by a series of bogs which apparently make for prime swimming spots in Summer.
For much of its history Estonia was ruled by a series of German nobles who built grand manor houses in the midst of huge farming and trading complexes. They fell into disuse during the Soviet era but are now being reconstructed as hotels, museums and convention centers. We visited one of the mansions, which was slightly bizarrely opened up just for the four of us, and then had lunch of some absolutely brilliant soup.
A walk through the snow-covered forest to see beaver dams was next on the agenda. We didn’t actually see any beavers but we did see their dams and several, half-chewed trees. We were all rather thrilled by seeing the evidence of beavers, and a walk in the deep forest was both peaceful and exhilarating.
Finally we travelled to a traditional fishing village. Estonians have long been fisherman, sailors and smugglers and are very proud of their association with the sea. The ice-limned shore and the leaden grey waves looked anything but inviting, but our guide assured us that those same shores were considered a beach resort in summer. Right now they were windswept and cold, but austerely pretty. The sea is only a few weeks short of freezing over and within a few weeks more people will be driving on it in their cars.
And that was our tour out of Tallinn.
As I write this Jennifer and Declan are once again ice-skating while Callum and I are eating chips and watching them through the windows of our apartment.