Adventures in Estonia

Visit Saaremaa

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Last summer I went to Saaremaa, Estonia, with 3 of my friends. It is a beautiful little island in Estonia. Although I’ve been to Saaremaa many times, this time was so much different than the last times I have been there. In translation ‘Saaremaa’ actually means ‘isle’s land’ in Estonian. Saaremaa is known for windmills, junipers and Mändjala’s beach (Fun fact: ‘Mändjala’ means ‘pine on foot’ in Estonian), which is the main beach where youngsters party during summer time. Also, let’s not forget about Saaremaa’s capital Kuressaare, which has a beautiful old town and a castle.

Before arriving in Saaremaa there is another island you have to drive through. It is called Muhu. Muhu is known for its handicrafts. There is a special pattern that people embroider and it is very valuable around Estonia. The theme is mostly that red poppy flowers, daisies, blue cornflowers, and oats are on the black background. With that theme, handicraftsmen make cups, dresses, slippers, purses, earrings and so on.

We went to one of these handicraftsmen’ stores in Muhu right when we arrived on a ferry. The ferry ride from the mainland Estonia takes only half an hour. In Muhu, we visited my friend’s relatives and ate some lunch in their home. They also had chickens and a rabbit in their yard.

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After setting up our stuff for the night in the attic, we moved on to Üügu bank which is a very steep bank but you can see a great view of the sea up there. Far away we could also see some horses beside the water. Seemed like they are there all on their own so we decided to go look if we could get near them and maybe caress them. It turned out that there is still some kind of fence surrounding them so that they won’t get lost and people couldn’t interfere with them.

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Somewhere near that place we found an old observation tower and climbed on top of it. I always like to see places from higher above. This way you’ll get a bigger picture of the place you’re in.

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During our trip, we also visited Saaremaa’s capital Kuressaare where we spent a couple of nights. The house that we stayed in was an old family house from my friend’s relatives but they hadn’t lived there for many years now. So the whole place was a bit dusty, had spider webs and no electricity nor water.

It was an interesting adventure for us to spend a few nights in a house that is basically abandoned. We found some old beds and mattresses, got our own blankets, sheets, and pillows and had a good sleep. We had to charge our phones in the car or in a café and brush our teeth outside with the water that we bought from the food store in the light of our phones’ flashlight at night.

In Kuressaare, we visited a couple of restaurants, ate pizza and walked around this beautiful town. One day we also visited Kuressaare’s castle. Although I had been there several times before, some of my friends hadn’t. In the castle, there was a cell where there was a skeleton of a guy (with great clothes on) sitting on a chair. In front of him was a table with an apple, fountain pen and some paper on it. There was a story written on the wall about this man. He had done something wrong (probably taken some guy’s wife and slept with her or something, I can’t remember that well) and for punishment, he had been sent to the cell for the rest of his life to starve.

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In that castle, there was also another place for people who had upset the ruler. There was a deep hole like a cave. At the bottom of it were lions. The person who had upset the ruler or done something wrong was pushed into that hole from a little lower place so that he could be alive when he falls to the bottom, and then be fed to the lions. When we walked on the bridge we could hear the lions roar, although of course there were no lions there anymore, just darkness inside that hole.

The castle itself is quite interesting to explore. You can walk around there in your own tempo. Some rooms are made into a museum room and some are just as they were in old times, only empty. There are signs on the walls that say what this or that room was made for. The corridors are covered with a red carpet. My favorite place in this castle is the narrow stairs that look like secret passages. Some were spiral staircases and some just long staircases. On both sides, there was a thick brick wall. There was also a wider staircase in the middle of the room (made of wood) for people who are claustrophobic or just too afraid to use these old staircases.

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On another day we went to Sõrve Säär which is the most southerly point on the island. There was a beautiful lighthouse. We walked through the water to the very end of the island and took some pictures of the lighthouse that stood there so calmly. Near the lighthouse, there was a restaurant where we ordered some food before driving back to Kuressaare.

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One day, our friend who lives in Saaremaa, came to spend a day with us. We went to eat with him, then for a swim in Mändjala beach and after that, he took us to his place. He lives in the countryside and his family has many animals. At first, there were three dogs greeting us. They were all playing with each other. One of them was just a puppy. The puppy and another dog were German Shepherds and another dog was some kind of cur. The German Shepherd dogs liked to tease that other dog. It was quite funny to watch but also a bit sad.

Other animals that we saw in his yard were cats. A mother cat with her two kittens. Our friend couldn’t get us away from these little adorable kittens for quite a while. They were so soft and their hair was yellow/orange. When we finally went away from the kittens our friend invited us inside. He did a house tour for us and played the piano for us downstairs. It was very lovely.

After that, we went to the field where they had over a hundred sheep. They were all white and brown. Our friend took some bread with him so that we could try to feed the sheep. It was an exciting experience to feed sheep from my hand. The sheep were quite shy. We had to earn their trust at first and move closer to them very slowly. Sometimes the sheep were very selfish. They pushed another sheep away from my hand in order to get that piece of bread themselves. They were really fighting for that little piece of bread.

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Next on, we went to see horses. Our friend has 3 horses who all are quite wild horses. No one rides with them, they are free to just walk around and mind their own business. At first, we didn’t see them because they have quite a big area for themselves but then they finally came out. All three together. We got to caress them and take pictures with them. We were even a little scared of them because they are wild horses and you have to make sure you’re not standing at the back of the horse or he might kick you. But they kept turning themselves around. I loved being with horses, though. I’ve never had much time with horses and I used to be scared of them a little because they are so big.

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Just as it was with kittens, we couldn’t get away from the horses as well. And it seemed like they didn’t want us to leave either. It was so hard to walk away. Even when we were already close to the fence we stopped and caressed them for several minutes before leaving them.

Next up, we ate some watermelon in our friend’s yard and just had a little chat with him because we hadn’t seen him for quite a long time. Then he took us to a boat mooring back in Kuressaare. There were many little boats. We walked on that bridge in the dark and it was so beautiful to see the light of the city from the end of the boat mooring. Even the sky was full of stars.

On our last day in Saaremaa, we went to see a horse obstacle course competition. Although, we didn’t know any competitor we still watched this show for a little while. After that, we headed back to the seaport and went on a ferry to go home. In the mainland, we had to drive for another 3-4 hours to get to our friend’s place to drop her off. We decided to stay at her place for a sauna. After the sauna, we finally drove home and had a good rest from a wonderful trip in our own homeland.

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Keep traveling!

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