Sareemaar Islands

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
1
32
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Trip End Jun 13, 2004


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Flag of Estonia  ,
Sunday, June 6, 2004

The last few days of my cycle trip have been very
enjoyable, perfect weather, beautiful countryside and
sociable evenings. Estonia is a country I will
definitely visit again. It has such a relaxed
atmosphere, the people are genuinely polite and
friendly. In shops they actually smile and greet you,
which isn,t always the case in some of the countries
I,ve visited.

I travelled to Tallinn from Riga via the Saaremaar
Islands off the west coast of Estonia. I arrived at
the port of Virtsu on Friday and as I went up to the
front of the queue of traffic one of the perks of
cycling> a friendly voice called out from one of the
cars. It was Mieka one of the pair of German girls I
had first meet in Vilnius. I thought herself and Ena
would have been way ahead of me but they were taking
it easy to Tallin.

The boat docks at Kuivastu on Muhu, the smallest of
the islands and we found a campsite in Liva in the
middle of the island. The campsite was very nice as
promised in the girl,s guide book and there was indeed
a bar. However the campsite had only reopened the
previous day and the bar was not stocked yet. The
girls shared their beer with me as we watched the very
late and long sunset.

On Saturday I set of to explore the north coast of
Saaremaa. I cycled over the causeway connecting Muhu
and Saarema. It was a great feeling to be completely
surrounded by the sea. Dozens of small fish in the
shallows darted for the safety of the reeds as I
crunched by on the gravelly surface just above them.

Once I had turned off the main road I was on an
unpaved road, bumpy but passable. Only a few cars
passed by but each left me in a cloud of dust for a
few seconds. I was mostly cycling through forest with
glimpses of the sea between the trees.

After stopping for a couple of hours on a small beach
and doing absolutely nothing for a while, I turned
southward for Kuressaare, the largest town on the
islands.I met the girls as arranged at a guest-house
which allows people to camp in the garden.

Being Friday night we had to check out the night life
and ended up in a pub near the Disney like Bishops,s
Palace chatting to the members of a Finnish male choir
who were on a short tour. Estonia is a major
destination for Finns as it is so much cheaper than
Finland. This also means though that in turn Estonia
is the most expensive of the Baltic countries. The
choir were quite drunk and very entertaining. We never
actually got any further in our exploration of the
town.

On the way to Hiiumaa next morning I meet up with two
German cyclists, Ralf and Jents just before the port.
We were all heading the same way so we decided to stay
at the same campsite. Ena and Mieka went ahead and
found a brilliant little campsite in the middle of
nowhere with a restaurant and bar. There was to be a
disco that night and the owner was worried the noise
would bother us.

We wondered where people would come from to the disco
but towards midnight it filled up. The music was a
mixture of various types of dance music and many were
cover versions of songs I knew but in Estonian or
Russian. The noise was no problem for us as we were
virtually the last people to leave the bar.
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