June 10 2009
We made our voyage from Tartu to the island of Saaremaa today. It took longer than I expected but I suppose buses just can’t drive that fast. Taking the bus onto the ferry was kind of fun though. It just seemed odd. Along the way I discovered that Estonia looks even more like Michigan than before. They might have a few more birch trees but other than that, it looks like I could be driving anywhere in Michigan or Wisconsin; lots of fields with big patches of mixed forests and some wild flowers along the road here and there. The island of Saaremaa especially looks like the UP. Probably because of the amount of pine trees, narrow roads, and the borders of water. The only thing that really allows you to tell the difference between Estonia and the Midwest is the architecture of the buildings. Europe just seems to have a knack for preserving old buildings, and continuously restoring them to their former glory. Sometimes I wish the States would do that. Instead, once a building starts to look outdated or if the owners have failed to properly maintain it, we just tear it down and put something else up in the latest fashion. Or if we want to remodel the interior, of course it’s furnished with current trends and styles that will also be outdated within 10 years. What happened to the timeless classic styles? I love how you can feel the history in Europe but at the same time they have plenty of modern structures and furnishings mixed in as well. Like cafés that have been cafés for a hundred years and still maintain the beautiful architecture of the building, while at the same time incorporating fresh colors and modern furnishings into the mix of things (but a type of modern that still goes with the classic). But that’s enough of my ranting.
We’re staying at a lovely bed & breakfast in the middle of nowhere here. My parents would absolutely adore this place. The cottages are old with thatched roofs, surrounded by beautiful little shrubs and rose gardens. There are old stone walls separating the adjacent farms from this one, and you have to walk down a cute little tree lined two-track to get back here but not for very long thankfully. I don’t know if my suitcase wheels were made for such terrain. The rooms in the cabins remind me of Saunas; all finished in pine, including the floors and ceilings. I’ve found that our accommodations and the food are getting progressively better as we stay here…I wonder if they did that on purpose? For example, for dinner tonight I had another taste of that Saljanka stew which I was not so fond of the first time. It was so much better here though. Much smaller chunks of the odd things, better spices, and no giant chunks of lemon or pickle! I’m sure they were still in there, just not so noticeably. And I’m pretty sure I’m not just becoming more accustomed to the food. I think it’s actually getting better. I’m also finding that I like each new place better than the last. Tallinn was not my style, Tartu was pretty nice, this island is great (at least for a few days, there’s not a whole lot to do), and it sounds like Pärnu will be even better. I like to be in beautiful places and Tallinn was just not that beautiful. There were so many old cement soviet-style buildings and not enough parks or flowers. I’m kind of a nature lover when it really comes down to it. After being in the chaos of the city, I really love to come back to the country, relax, and enjoy the serenity and peacefulness. It reminds me of home.