Saturday, September 7, 2013

Continuing the Road Trip to Tartu.

Inside the Orangery at Palmse Manor.

By the time we left Käsmu, we had agreed that we would cherry pick the places to see rather than following Ieva's suggestions to a tee.  We had learned our lessons with Jägala-Juga waterfall, Kolga Manor and especially, the Jaani-Tooma kivi stone - all sounded good on paper but didn't come close to living up to our, perhaps overblown, expectations.


Since we enjoyed Käsmu so much, we decide to visit Altja, another fishing village.  While I was skeptical about going to another manor, the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide description of Palmse Manor sounded too good to turn down so we decided to risk it.  Both places are located within Lahemaa National Park.

Park signs indicating where the trails are. We opted to follow one that ended at the sea.

By all accounts, Altja is a typical Estonian seaside village.  In all honesty, I think we missed the town itself.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at a parking lot per Ieva's instructions.  Across the road was a old tavern where you can get food and drinks.


Too nice a day to be eating inside.

From the tavern, we followed a paved path that took us by several really cute wooden homes.  Each one was very well tended.  I guess if you're house is located on a popular foot trail, you'd want it to look good at all times!


Seriously adorable little home.  Can please move this into my neighborhood?

Along the way, we encountered a local woman picking rose hips from a really large, wild bush.  In broken English, she explained she picked the rose hips to make tea.  We told her that where we come from, we do the same.  Something in common.  She was so friendly but language did limit our ability to communicate so we decided to move on.  We say goodbye.

The path did indeed end at the edge of sea. 


In front of us was the bright blue water of the Gulf of Finland.  Behind us were recreations of old Estonian fishing huts.



We are in the land of kivis; there's no escaping them!

Another view of the charming fishing huts.  A family had set up for a picnic.

From this point, Bro spotted a path leading along the water.  We decided to explore it.  From the water's edge, we ended up in the woods.  A small, wooden suspension bridge took us across a small stream and down towards the beach.



There wasn't much to see at the beach....just more kivi stones.  I think we had had enough of them by now.  Time to leave Altja.

Next, it was on to Palmse Manor.  I just hoped it lived up to the description in the guidebook.

We drove along a country road, flanked by fields and forests.  Out of nowhere, literally, we happened upon a very grand looking house.  The sign said Palmse and pointed in the direction of the parking lot. 


We walked towards the house.  I still couldn't believe my eyes. The entire day we had driven through fishing villages which were filled with very modest homes.  Then, out of the blue, we have this mustard yellow colored mansion with a terracotta colored roof. Out front was a very large circular driveway and a well manicured lawn. Indeed, it was Palmse Manor.

I snapped a few photos while waiting for Bro to buy our entry tickets.

Palmse Manor originally belonged to the convent of St. Michael in Tallinn in the Middle Ages.  From 1676 to 1923, it belonged to the Baltic German von der Pahlen family.  After World War II, it served as a summer camp for children.  Over its life, parts have been torn down and rebuilt, renovated and added to.  The most recent renovations took place from 1975 to 1985 with reproduction furnishings coming from Estonia and representing styles that were common in the 19th century Baltic noble houses. Today, Palmse Manor serves as an open-air museum as well as an event space for conferences, exhibitions, concerts, weddings, etc.


With our site maps in hand, we entered the front door.  It was one grand room after another.



The sight of the gardens out back tempted us to quickly wrap up our walk through the interior of the manor.

The fireplaces are original though I don't know how
far back they date.


I presume this is what the Lady of the House
would have worn.

The tiled stoves are also original.



First time I've ever seen a dressing room, complete with dress models and filled with clothes of the period.

Apart from the stately manor house, there are also several preserved outhouses on the grounds.  We had to check it all out.

A view of the back of the house.

View across the flower beds to the bath house.

This is the bath house.  I think it's bigger than my house.  Most certainly, cuter than my house.  Can I move in?

Another view of the front of bath house, which was once a sauna.

The back of the bath house. It overlooks a pond.  Seriously, I need to move in.

According to our map, this was the steward's house.  These days, it serves as a guesthouse that anyone can rent.  It can accommodate up to 44 people!

No mansion would be complete without its underground storehouse.

A view of the pond with the Brest Pavilion standing at one end.

The distillery.  The brewery is located next door.  I guess there can be no such thing as too much booze.:-)

Distillery on the left and I can't remember what the building is on the right.

The Fruit Garden.  Thankfully, no apples to be picked.

The Orangery aka The Conservatory.

Inside the Orangery, a lovely conservatory space.

Pretty gate stone gate separating the back and front gardens.

All in all, we spent at least two hours walking through the manor and around its grounds.  Palmse Manor turned out to be all that it was written up to be!  I left a very happy camper.

By now, it was late afternoon and we still had some driving to do to before reaching Tartu.  We decided that it would be best to just go to town.  It was close to night fall by the time we reached Tartu.  Thankfully, there was still enough light left for us to read the road signs and navigate our way to the hotel.  Bad part was the hotel was horrible.  We were stuck in a small room on the ground floor, pretty much right next to the entrance and just feet from the main road.  The other bad part was that it wasn't located to any place nearby that we could get a bite to eat.  As hungry as we were, neither of us felt inclined to get back into the car and drive around to find a restaurant - we were tired from a full day of driving and sightseeing.  Bro just opted to munch on apples.  First time I was happy we had them.

Despite a few frustrating moments, which actually gave us some good laughs and most certainly, good memories to come, we had a wonderful time today.  After spending six days in Tallinn and Helsinki, it feels good to be back on the road. Tomorrow, our drive will take us back to Latvia.  In the meantime, I need to pop into the shower and then into bed.

Goodnight from Tartu!