Land of the Bays

Didn’t take many photos today because we spent most of it in the down-pouring rain. Went to a lovely national park fondly called The Land of the Bays. It is mostly forest along the coast.

Christina, our “handler” is a pixie-like ball of energy who speaks really good English. Our group is mixed Germans, British, French, and us yanks. The common language is English.

Christina is striking because she loves her job, loves her country, and is very proud of her city. We made two stops along the drive out to the national park: the first was the site of the Song Festival — not music festival, but song fest. She told us that the actual festival began about 200 years ago, near this same site, with choral groups, folk singers, composers, etc. In 1960 they built the enormous acoustic shell and audience park for the festival, and it is held every 5 years. Groups come from all around Eastonia and there is a parade of the talent through town to the site to kick everything off. 70,000 people come to listen throughout the event. It is also the site where Estonians “Sang their independence” in 1990 in their bloodless separation from the broken Soviet Union.

Our next stop was Eastonia’s highest waterfall, more attractive than the 1960s song shell area, so I got some pix. Nothing like what can be found elsewhere in the world, but Eastonians are quite proud of it.

When we began our bike trek, rain was threatened. We took a short detour (wrong turn) and it began raining as we turned around to return to the road. In another 10 km, it was thundering and pelting down. Toward the end, it stopped, and during our late lunch at a restaurant along the way, we began to actually dry out a little. Our pick-up point was along a rocky beach front, and since it was dry, I again got a photo or two. By the end of the day, we had cycled 52 km.

Saw lots of Saturday trekkers in the woods all along the way, and Christina told us they were locals out picking wild blueberries and mushrooms, as the assets if the citizens of Eastonia are available to all for their own use.

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Photogenic Tallinn

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Tallinn is among the most photogenic cities I’ve ever seen. Now I know why my brother Page so highly recommended it, and why he calls it one of his favorite cities of all that he’s ever visited in his years of travel.

We arrived at the harbor around 10:30 AM, and walked into the old town. It was overcast but not raining yet. Settled into the Telegraaf Hotel on Vene street inside the Old Town’s walls. Lovely room.

Wandered in search of the bike rental place, found it on Uus Street, and arranged for a day out along the coast for a day’s worth of country riding, an hour and a half drive from the city. Then we found a great place called Hell’s Hunt, where we found Pilsner Urquell on tap, and a small, pub-style lunch. It was hard to get any pictures inside, but the ceiling is made of doors of all types — presumably, the doors through which we will all pass as we enter hell . . .

It was raining by the time we began our wanders again after lunch, so we headed back to the hotel room to pick up my rain gear. It rained for a while, stopped for a while, then began again, off and on all day.

Ate African food at a teensy place near the bike rental company and it was a delicious meal, though the only seats left inside were under the stairway up to the (wet) roof garden, and the tables were so low neither of our sets of legs could fit comfortably underneath. They offered some local beer, and evidently the Eastonian preference is for lager, not our fave. It was tipping down when we left, and we stayed snug and dry from about mid-thigh up, but our legs were soaked. The Old Town hasn’t yet figured out the niceties of water handling from roofs — we were dodging great downpours off many roofs as the guttering failed; and that which made it into the downspouts was disgorged across the sidewalks, making rivers and pools and ponds everywhere. Avoid the water on the sidewalks and you run the risk of being flattened by a car in the street.

But we managed not to drown or get knocked over, and are looking forward to a lovely day tomorrow, if the current forecast holds.

I sort of went crazy taking pix, so if you want to see more, I’m going to ask you to zip along to another link in the cloud:

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