5 Days in Estonia // First Insights: What I’ve Seen, Done & Learned
Tere (which means ‘hello’)!
I am physically back in Leipzig - but the mind is still stuck in sunny, autumny Estonia with Mr. T. Let me tell you one thing right away: This country is underestimated. I had a completely different view, a wrong understanding of this Baltic state and it showed me how wrong I was.
On Wednesday night, after having spent a good amount of time on four buses, a plane and the tram, I arrived back at my base after five days of everyday escape, new impressions, insights and a lot of quality time.
I did not have Estonia on the radar, three months ago - and then Mr. T. got the opportunity to spend a semester abroad. He grasped at it and I encouraged him to not let this chance slip through his fingers, although he was sceptical at first (and so was I, to be honest). I mean, what do you possibly know about the most nordic of Baltic countries?
Besides the fact that studying abroad is a wonderful experience, an experience of a lifetime so to speak, embarking on a new adventure in a country one might not have thought about visiting (at least not in the first place), is extra exciting.
And so one thing led to another and Mr. T. left Leipzig behind on August 24 to travel to the land of the unknown - and I had already booked flights for September 25. This is when I started working toward this trip; time flew by and last Friday, it was finally time to hop on an Air Baltic plane. (The latter was so small I panicked a bit - just a little.)
Damn, was I filled with happy hormones and adrenaline!
So, what did we do/see?
This was the first stop on our little round trip. Since Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, I flew into this city last Friday (or rather Saturday) at 1 am in the morning.
Tallinn has about 400,000 inhabitants which makes it the ‘largest’ town in Estonia. The old town is exceptionally cute and the little alleyways were just my thing. Also, if you walk up the little hill, you’ll have a wonderful view on the town.
A day trip to the Finnish capital was a surprise and with this, T. hit the nail on the head and my excitement couldn’t have been greater.
We took the earliest catamaran from Tallinn to Finland and had a blast (as you can probably judge by the picture in the lower right hand corner). Be prepared; a picture heavy post is toasting. Visiting Helsinki also made me realize how expensive a city can be. I mean…like really expensive. But more about that soon (as well as the best hot choc I’ve ever had).
This is the so called ‘summer capital’ of this small country and apparently flooded with Finnish people spending their summer holidays right by the Baltic sea. There is an array of hotels, apartments and resorts.
Pärnu only has about 42,000 inhabitants and looks beautiful in autumn. We stayed in a cute B&B and it felt as we were the only ones in town; it was so quiet and calm during this season. Moreover, the houses downtown are very colorful.
Our final stop was Tartu, the student city. Apparently 40% of the 100,000 inhabitants are students, which makes it - in comparison to Pärnu - a very lively and also modern city, preserving history in form of buildings downtown.
My highlight was the workout at CrossFit Tartu where Mr. T. is training. It was pretty fun training with the team and doing so meant I could stick to my workout routine on the trip. Win-win. There’s going to be a more detailed post shortly.
And what did I learn?
Here are a few things I didn’t know and learned during those five days. Some might be a real surprise. Or no?
** The main means of transportation are buses. (I’ll expand on that in another post.)
** Colorful, wooden houses are everywhere.
** Estonia basically has two capitals: Tallinn as the cultural capital; Pärnu as the summer capital.
** 50% of the country is covered with forest.
** Estonia only has 1.3 inhabitants.
** The inhabitants are quite reserved but very welcoming.
** Basically everyone speaks Englisch; the younger generation mostly speaks it perfectly.
** Estonia invented skype.
** They have been the first country to introduce online voting.
** Estonia apparently ranks second of all countries in the world with a literacy rate of almost 100%.
** You have WiFi almost everywhere.
** The country is said to be the least religious one in the world.
So, to put it in a nutshell…
…this has been one of the best getaways I’ve had and it only spurred my desire to see more of the Baltic countries. But another trip is in the make, so this is something I am working towards now.
Within the next couple weeks or so, I will share more photos and impressions of the different cities and places we have visited and hopefully this will make you want to prioritize a trip to Estonia.It’s more than worth it.
Have you been to Estonia before? Did you like it? Where did you go? Share your experiences below!