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Estonia. From mystical, bog landscapes. To eerie, castle ruins an exceptional, hiking trails. Estonia. Is full of surprises. Follow us on our road trip adventure. Exploring, northern europe's, best kept. Secret. Our journey started in estonia's, capital. Talin. A city renowned, for its beautiful, old town and rich history. The origins of talin, can be traced back almost, a millennium. Many of the famous landmarks, are hundreds, of years old. Despite, much suffering during the second world war, most of the historic, buildings survived, the bombings. Others, such as the remarkable, saint nicholas, church, were rebuilt, after the war ended. A comparably. Recent addition to the cityscape, is the alexander, nevsky, cathedral. The onion domed russian orthodox, church was built in 1900. When estonia, was part of the russian empire. Following, narrow alleys, we made our way to the main square with the historic, town hall. The surrounding, cobblestone, roads are quiet in the morning, but the many restaurants, attract plenty, of visitors, later in the day. Equally, bustling, and just a stone throw away, teleskivi. Is the creative, center of the. City. Befitting, that spirit, we stayed in the newly opened hector container hotel. Sleeping. As the name suggests, in a shipping container. Next to its vivid history. Darlene, is also spoiled with a newly developed marina. And a sandy city beach. The shallow waters of the baltic, sea are popular, getaway, for the. Locals. After, much exploring, on foot in tallinn. It was finally time to start our road trip. Leaving the city southwards, we soon embarked on our first hike. After a short walk, the blue springs of saola, came into sight. In estonia, springs have long been considered, holy. With many of them thought to have healing, powers. At this particular, spring, 20, to 30 liters of water. Rush from the ground, every second. A spectacle. We watched in. Fascination. Driving onwards, we continued, along the shore of a large lake. Marveling, at the perfect, clouds passing by. Not long after, we hit our first gravel road, before venturing, onto an even smaller, forest trail. Our intended destination. Was our soon-to-be, favorite board in estonia. Kakada. Is a beautiful. Ensemble, of small lakes in a characteristic. Estonian, bog. Landscape. Most estonian, bogs were formed after the last ice age five to seven thousand, years ago. In the course of millennia. Dead plant material, accumulated. Creating, a thick peak layer on which even small trees can grow. Following, the well-maintained. Boat walk, we soon arrived at the main lake in the middle of the. Bog. Eager for a swim in a bark lake we jumped into the chicken. The water, surrounding the bog are well suited to pursue, the estonian, national, sport. Berry picking. Heading back north. We visited, the yagala, waterfall. Where the river, trucks over a natural, rockledge. The regular, breeze at the nearby, coast makes the popular, spot among kite surfers. With the evening approaching. Our day had one more adventure, installed. Kayaking, around patasara. Island, the waters, were blissfully. Calm. Making our first landfall. We met a group of friendly russians, who immediately, invited, us to a hot drink. Back on the water, we pedaled directly, towards, the setting sun, taking in its warmth. During our second landfall, the entire, island was tinted in red, as we watched the sun sink slowly, into the. Sea.

That Was a rather short night for us with about three and a half hours of sleep as we, got up very early in the morning before four o'clock, to drive to vero bog, and watch the sunrise, with all the fog coming up, in the early morning and it was an absolutely, magical, experience. Arriving, at sunrise. We enjoyed the utter silence of the landscape. As the fog slowly, drifted, across the. Water. As soon as the sun peeked over the tree line, the entire, bog was bathed in a beautiful, golden, light. The view from above, was absolutely. Breathtaking. After two hours, the fox started to evaporate. And we decided, to walk back to the car. Only a short drive away, the coastline, of lahima, national, park, is equally, scenic. Next to plenty, of forest, the national park is also home to an unusual, site. Built by the russian military, in the 1950s. Hara submarine, base is a relic of estonia's, soviet, occupation. While the buildings have been completely, gutted, the remaining, concrete, structures, invite visitors, to explore. The, submarines. Came in here, that was the. Submarine. Demagnetization. Center. Okay. And then. The submarine, came in here and everywhere, was a full of cables, like like huge cables, so. The submarine, was covered, with cables. And they would. High power electricity. Into the cables, and, so they. Took off the. Magnetic. Field of the. Of the, of the submarines. So, and then. That's how they, protected. The submarines, from. Magnetic. Mines, the. Underwater, mines. Right. Inside the abandoned, buildings, old pictures give a glimpse, into the soviet, past. Of course we also peeked inside an old ship that was moored in the. Harbour. Always on the lookout for little used off-road trails, we soon found ourselves, driving through the back roads of the national. Park. The scenic forest trails were well worth the fun. As a bonus, we arrived at some beautiful, sheltered. Bays. With the evening approaching. We return to our forest retreat, accommodation. Rounding, off an exciting, day, it was time to take a relaxing. Bath. There are definitely, worse ways to spend an evening after a long and exciting, day than soaking up in a warm bathtub. In the middle of an estonian, forest. The next morning, we started our drive east. On our way, we passed estonia's. Highest, waterfall. And some of the highest cliffs of the country.

Nearby. A former shale mine welcomes, visitors. All in here. It's underground, mine underground. Our decision, to go on an off-road, mining safari. Proved to be truly, adrenaline. Inducing. Okay. Wow. Okay. That was steep. Driving, down some of the steep slopes, we had to hold on tight as the car carefully, crawled. On. Soon after, we held on even. Tighter. Okay. Aside from all that adrenaline. We also learned about the flammability. Of shale. Engaged, upon a landscape, created, by decades, of mining. In the surrounding, area, it became obvious, that some of the towns have seen better days in the past. We continued, east until we arrived in the town of nara. Which is directly, bordering, russia. Aside from many soviet bloc style buildings. Narava, is mostly, famous, for its fortress. The origins, of the hermann castle can be traced back to the 13th, century. Initially, built by the danes. It was in procession, of the livonian, order, for much of its history. Hidden in the courtyard. The last lenin statue in estonia. Metaphorically. Points, east. Just across the nareva, river, ivangorot. Castle, is the russian equivalent, of hermann's. Castle. Later that evening, it was time to put up our tent for the very first time. Sleeping, next to a lake, we woke up to a beautiful. Sunrise. Of course we could not resist, an early morning swim. We continued, our trip on small forest trails. Which evidently. Weren't used very often. Good boy. Such a good. Boy. On our way we stopped the pufatitsa. Convent. Which survived the rule of the communists, and is still home to more than 100. Nuns. Today. After following the highway for a while, we spotted a hidden little forest, trail. Walking on a small path through the forest and across some sand dunes. We arrived at the completely, deserted, shore of lake. Pipos. The fifth largest, lake in europe, lake pypus, enchanted, us with beautiful, sand beaches on its northern, shore. With nobody, else inside. We couldn't resist, going for a skinny dip. After a lunch break with a splendid, view, we ventured, on some dusty, backcountry. Roads. Our plan was to come upon some european, brown bears in this remote, part of northeast, estonia. There's roughly. 750. To 800, bears currently. In estonia, so. Quite a few. So in and out of them, almost half. Living, in this. Region. If you encounter, a bear, then. You shouldn't be too worried. Because, bears don't. Want to do anything, with the humans, so they, they rather. Run off. Then confront, you or attack you. Our recommendation. For the night was a wildlife, hide on a large, meadow. Arriving, late in the afternoon. We quickly set up our gear, and started to gaze into the forest. Two hours of concentrated. Staring, later. We spotted a group of raccoon dogs. Closely, related to foxes. Raccoon, dogs are omnivores. Feeding on fruits. Insects. Rodents, and carry-on. Originally, from east asia. Raccoon dogs have established, themselves, throughout, large parts of europe. Having intently. Looked out for a bear for almost, 4 hours. I excitedly, exclaimed. Bear, when i saw a large brown animal, move through the bush. To our amused, disappointment. It turned out to be a male boar. Not a bear. The boar continued, to roam around the hut all night long. Always looking around cautiously. With the night quickly, approaching. We spotted our first, real brown bear strolling, across the meadow. For the next, 30 minutes we watched the bear roam the area. Looking for strategically. Placed fish scraps. In comparison, to the north american, cousins. European, brown bears are slightly, smaller, and a lot more. Elusive. The excellent, smell of this young bear, allowed it to sense the arrival of a larger male. Shortly after, it was too dark to see anything, anymore. But we continue, to hear the breaking of twix, in the forest throughout the night. Early, morning, in the bear height. And we're, waiting, to see if we can catch a glimpse, during the daylight, hours of the bears as well. But so far we haven't had any luck. We can hear a lot of the rustling, and buzzing, in the trees, and in the forest, through the outdoor microphones. And we've seen the borg. But. No bear yet. No more bear showed itself that morning. Before we left the height to return to the car. As anna had twisted her ankle the day before. I set out to this incredibly, calm lake on my own. As everywhere else around the world, if you want to experience, beautiful, nature, you usually have to pay a price for it, and in estonia. There is a lot of pesky, insects, such as mosquitoes, and horse flies. That will bite, every piece of your skin, that you haven't covered in clothes. We then bait farewell, to the north of estonia. And started, our southward, journey. Driving, through typical landscape, of rural estonia. We passed many farms and fields.

Claimed Back by nature, countless, abandoned, farmhouses. Industrial, buildings, and windmills, are scattered, throughout, the. Country. Along the roadside. Many colorful, flowers, were blossoming. Equally, colorful, were the several, vibrant, lakes in the. Area. Following, dusty, gravel roads. We made our way towards the endler nature reserve. The area is well known for its number of natural, springs. Which are easily, accessible, on several hiking. Trails. Presented, with such an opportunity. We took the chance to fill up our water bottles. Early the next morning i got up for a sunrise, hike at endlebog. At first i followed the trail through the forest. Before continuing, on an adventurous. Boardwalk. The trail leads directly, to a viewing platform, in the center of the box. From the top, a nice view opened up onto the. Landscape. Nearby, the ruins of lyousa, castle, are only a short walk from the road. Built at the end of the 14th, century. Lyousa, castle, was the first defensive, structure in estonia, to be fitted with firearms. The castle was heavily damaged, during the livonian, war, when it was conquered, by russian troops. After being rebuilt, the castle was used both by swedish, and polish, rulers, in the following, centuries. The remaining, outer walls, still give an inkling of the vast dimensions, of the former. Castle. In comparison. Aletsky. Castle, is in a much better state. Rebuilt, in the late 19th, century. It was modeled after balmoral, castle, in scotland. After skirting, the shore of lake pipers, again, we came upon a high lookout, tower. Naturally, i couldn't resist the climb up. This would also be the last time we flew our old drone, before it crashed, into a tree. This afternoon, we arrived in tatu. Estonia's, second largest, town. And we checked into a very special accommodation. For the night. A houseboat. Directly, on the river that flows through tatu. We have a little canoe with which we can go onto the river. And best of all, we have a sauna. Directly. In the houseboat. And we will make sure to enjoy it in the, evening. The evening canoe ride on the river, was very peaceful. But we didn't go too far as we were keen to try the sauna. But first, we had to heat it up with the oven. After about half an hour, the temperature, was just right for our first estonian, sauna. Experience. The following, cooldown, in the river was very refreshing. Early the next morning we started to explore tartu.

A City looking back on a turbulent, history. Being destroyed, several, times, tartu, has been rebuilt, again, and again. Today the city is famous for its picturesque, old town, and its university. Which was founded, in. 1632. As anna was still handicapped, due to her sprained, ankle. We decided to rent electric, bites. This turned out to be a great decision, as we had a lot of fun exploring, the city that way. Riding up cathedral, hill, we soon came upon the imposing, ruins of tartu cathedral. The construction, of this former catholic church began in the 13th, century. After a reformation, reached estonia. And several, wars took their toll, the church fell into. Disrepair. Of course tartu, is also home to other churches, and since recently. A car-free, inner-city, relaxed, area. Leaving tartu behind, we continued, southwards. It didn't take us long to find another watchtower. Which we climbed up together. From the viewing platform, it was evident that a storm was brewing in the distance. True enough just minutes later, it started to rain heavily. Which even led to some flooding, on the road. The rain didn't last longer. So we soon started out on a little hike. The trail, quickly turned adventurous. Requiring. Us to balance on some loose planks. Before ending at a spring in the. Forest. Close by another trail leads past several, wooden statues, in the. Forest. Before long we arrived at the hole in the ground which, in fact, is a meteor, crater. Driving, deep into estonia's, southeast, corner. We looked over to russia once more. Shortly afterwards, we even officially, drove on russian soil for about one kilometer. At many points in this area the border, is nothing more than a sign and a post, telling you not to cross. With the evening approaching. We set up camp and relaxed, in a. Hammock. Uh well i have actually done it only twice in my life, oh there is not that much rice, nowadays. Oh unfortunately. Without just being able to jump into the ice hole. It takes too much like if you need to, move like maybe 40 meters to get the, waist deep, oh you don't you don't want to do that.

Probably, Not. More, just like jumping inside that's it then it's. Good. I just finished the, cruelling. Hike. To the top of estonia's, highest mountain. And even the highest mountain, in the entire baltics. But, with 318. Metres of altitude it took me all but five minutes to get to the sufferet. And. There's really nothing to see either. Because there are trees everywhere. But yeah, highest mountain, of estonia. Really it's just a hill. A common animal to spot on an estonia, road trip is the stork. This long-legged, bird can often be watched walking through fields, preying on reptiles. Small mammals, and insects. Especially. Striking, are their large, nests, which they preferably. Build on roofs. Towers, and poles. A single nest can be up to two meters tall. And 250. Kilograms, heavy. Being migratory, birds, storks, raise their young in estonia, in the summer, before flying, south in autumn. Taking inspiration. From the natural, world, the lookout tower in roger, clearly resembles, a stalk's, nest. We watched in fascination. As another rainstorm, approached. Meanwhile, our navigation, app continued, its old habit of choosing the smallest, trails, possible. Quite by chance we discovered that estonia, even has a skill. Orbate, a small one. Despite, the bleak weather, san gaster manor, delighted, us with its brick building style. Being so close to the latvian, border, we decided to quickly hop over for lemonade. Back in estonia, it was time to go underground. Situated, close to the ruins of helmer castle. The man-made, caves were dug as emergency. Shelters, hundreds, of years ago. Once there were seven interlinked, chambers. But today. Most of them have collapsed. Leaving only narrow. Tunnels. Going backwards. In a narrow cave. Is not the. Easiest. We looked into every nook and cranny, before returning, to the light of day. Back on the highway, the passing clouds were putting on quite a show for us. After climbing a lookout tower, we gazed upon wurzir. Estonia's. Largest, inland lake. This also seemed to be the perfect, spot for a coffee. Break. So. On our inland route, we visited, the casa ruins in billiandy. After a decent, downpour, around lunch, the skies open up in the afternoon. This turned out to be perfect, timing. As we went canoeing, in zoma, national park in the evening. Setting out in the golden, hour, the landscape, around us was beautifully. Illuminated. Peddling with gentle strokes, we headed directly, into the. Sunset. After leaving the open fields, the path became a little more challenging. We are currently, looking out for beavers, here on the river. In the soma, national, park. We have to paddle as quietly, as possible.

And Don't move too much don't talk too much. As of now we haven't seen any, but our fingers crossed that we do soon. That evening the beavers, were particularly. Shy, and didn't surface. But the evening, light was very picturesque. As we pedaled. Onwards. This was also the time the bats came out to hunt for insects. Early the next morning, i went on a special, kind of hike. Years ago, somebody, in estonia, had the idea to put on snowshoes. When walking through a block. The idea caught on and thus, boxing, was. Born. Instead of immediately, sinking, into the moist underground. The snowshoes, help to stay afloat. Of course some patches, are softer than others and you still might end up with wet feet. Today, box shoeing is a distinctly. Estonian, activity. It allows for a completely, different perspective. Onto a bulk. Landscape. Leaving sorma, behind. We drove south to the alikukivi. Caves. This cave here, in comparison, to the one we visited yesterday, is actually of natural, causes. As the water has carved, its way through the stone and into the ground. The cave is about, 33. Meters, long, and you can even crawl through some of the last parts. Which we're probably not going to do as it would so our entire set of clothes. But a very magical, place and very cool down here in comparison, to the warm outside. Back at the baltic sea we were welcomed, by quite a stiff breeze. Putting up the tent in such winds required, a team effort. The camping infrastructure. Around estonia, is really extraordinary. All around the country you will find campsites, with fence shelters. With pit toilets, and fireplaces. And all free of charge. The only thing that doesn't play along for us right now is the weather it is very, stormy. And rainy, a bit gloomy. But, what would a camping holiday be without a little bit of bad weather. The wind, didn't show any signs of baiting, later that day, which meant dinner in the tent for us. Following the coastline. We made our way to another national, park. Manzalo. Is home to europe's, largest, preserved, flat meadow. Which is an important, nesting, site for different kinds of birds. More than 2 million, waterfalls, travel through the national park each, year. During our visit in summer, the number of birds was much lower though. And then it was time to embark on the ferry, towards the island of zarema. Less than one hour on the gentle crossing, later. We made landfall, again. Sarimar, welcomed, us with beautiful. Sunshine. And a decent amount of. Wind. We shared a quick laugh at this truly, unusual, football, pitch, before ending up on an equally, unusual, cobblestone, road. Similar to the mainland, there are many historical. Churches on sarima. Such as saint mary's church which was built in the 14th, century. Struck by lightning in 1940. The crack can still be seen today. The building was looted, and burned during the second world war, and is rather bare inside. What far away, a somewhat, surprising, sight are the five windmills, on the anglar windmill, hill. The dutch clearly weren't the only ones making use of natural. Power. This has to be one of the most peaceful, campsites, we have ever stayed at, we slept directly. Next to the baltic, sea, and the only thing we can hear in the morning is the gentle, rustle of the wind in the grass. And the soft lapping of the waves on the shore, with the occasional. Bird song. But other than that. Complete. Silence. An impressive, side to visit are the 20 meter high panga cliffs that stretch for about two and a half. Kilometers. The highest point of the cliff used to be an ancient ritual, site, where people were sacrificed. To the sea. A couple hundred meters further, a rope allows the adventurous, to climb down the. Cliff. Climbing back up is at least equally, as much. Fun. The little back country roads we drove were a great way for us to work on the dirt coating of our. Car. Surrounded, by a field of wildflowers. And i couldn't resist to pick a little bouquet. Following, a little used path through the forest. We arrive back at the coast. A common sight along the shoreline, of sarema. Are man-made, stone. Forests. We followed the dirt track further, driving directly, next to the baltic, sea, and enjoying, the loneliness, of this. Area. However, we got most excited when we came upon a series of deep puddles a while. Later. It turned out that this wouldn't be the only adventure that day. Walking towards the island of the sandy. Major parts of the hiking trail are. Underwater. This has to be one of the coolest, hiking trails i've done in a long time. The path, is literally, going through the baltic, sea, hopping, from one little island to the next one. The water reaches, almost my hips right now. Might get a little bit deeper further on. But uh, what a special experience. The trail alternates, between, stretches of muddy swamp. Firm ground, and shallow. Sea. The final destination, of the hike is just behind me the big island right there, but as i can see, horses, people and even cars, i think i call it quits right here, and rather head back to enjoy the silence of the hike instead of being surrounded.

By A lot of. People. In the south west of sarima. The remains, of several, coastal, defense, batteries, offer a fascinating. Glimpse, into the more recent history, of estonia. The entire, area was the site of fierce battles between the german, and russian armies during the second world war. Completely, destroyed, in the fighting, the server lighthouse, was only rebuilt, in 1960. The medieval, kurosawa. Castle, luckily, escaped. Destruction. Further inland, the kali, impact crater, was not caused by the war, but by a meteor, three and a half thousand, years. Ago. Before coming to estonia, we decided that of course we would be camping in nature, again. But furthermore, we would be having a look for unusual, accommodation. So after staying in the container, hotel, and in the sauna boat, we also found this lovely little tree house in the middle, of the forest, on. Sarima. After playing a game of badminton. We fired up the barbecue. And prepared, a hearty dinner. All that was left to do, was to cozy, up in the tree house. The next day we left zarema. And took the ferry to huma. Even more laid back than its sister, island. Life moves slowly. Here. The forests, of the island, are a place of calm, and. Quiet. A striking, contrast, to that serenity. Are the many military, structures, hidden in the forests. Similar, to sarimar. Huma, was an important, battleground. During the second world war. Many of the bunkers, can still be explored, by those who dare. Inside. Ammunition, depose, slowly, rust. Away. Exploring, these bunkers is on the border between. Scary, and exhilarating. In the past they were most likely, very loud places, in war-torn, europe whereas now, they are eerily, quiet. Yuma, is further home to kippu, lighthouse. One of the world's oldest, lighthouses, that is still in use today. A zombie-side. Is the memorial, to the victims, of the estonia, disaster. The estonia, was a ferry. Sailing, from tallinn to stockholm. When it sank, in 1994. 852. Lives were lost in the. Tragedy. Next, we cross the interior, of the island, driving through forests, and fields in the process. On our way, we also spotted some of the shy local. Wildlife. Before leaving humor. We ventured, onto the protruding. Cape, known as. Cerate. Back on the mainland we passed this majestic. Old manor. Before, paying a visit, to hapsalou. Castle. Despite, the gloomy, weather, we decided, to hop in the water at rumukwari.

And Swim around the abandoned, buildings of the former mining. Site. Following, an unmarked, trail i also climb to the top of a nearby, hill, to gain a different. Perspective. Okay so looking back at it i definitely, did take the wrong way up, because the one i took was way steeper. Than this, rather gentle. Way up right here. But it was a lot of fun, shortly after, we paid a visit to the pretty gala, waterfall. Before i went on a little coastline, hike. Trusting, my navigation, app i knew there would be a ladder, at the end of the. Trail. This is a. Sketchy, climb. For sure. But as it's raining. I don't have a lot of. Choices. Ah. Holy. It's all held by a little rope. Nice. Our visit to mukhribuk. Was a happy reunion, for us as we had first traveled there earlier in the year. However, in winter, the landscape, looked entirely. Different. All the lakes were frozen, and the color of the plants, was red, rather than green. Now in summer, the landscape, was less gloomy, and much more, alive. But the biggest spectacle, of the day, was the sunset. Glowing, in vivid colors. The sun illuminated. The clouds. Which were reflected, perfectly. On the still waters of the bulk, lake. The only ripples were caused by us going for a sunset. Swim. Nearing the end of our trip there was one more highlight, to come. Together, with bog expert, romet, i set out to go stand up paddle boarding, at kievanbok. After airing up the boards manually. We started our journey on the. Water. A series, of interconnected. Waterways. Kerabok. Is an ideal, place to go standard, paddleboarding. We spent more than two hours exploring, the little waterways. And checking out the berries, on the shoreholder. Much less visited, than other books in estonia. Kieva, is truly, a hidden. Gem. And then it was time for us to leave the box behind, and head back towards, dali. Spending our last two nights at the venerable. Hotel. We did nothing, else than relax, and reminisce, about our trip. After three weeks of exploring, and driving almost, 4 000 kilometers, across the country. It was time for us to say farewell. Between, bog lakes and the baltic, sea, estonia. Enchanted, us with its magical, early mornings. Serene, campsites. And fascinating. History. We are certain. Estonia. Won't be a secret, much. Longer. You.

2020-10-04 02:13

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