Saturday, September 7, 2013

From Tallinn to Tartu. Part 1.

Posing in front of the kivi stone. He's gritting his teeth and clutching is fists,
pretending to not laugh :-)  Story follows.

Today as a long day.  Our drive would take us from Tallinn to the town of Tartu, known for its university.

Jurgen had kindly agreed to meet us in his apartment at 7:30a.  I thought it was too early but for him not.  He had to take his daughter to school and was up and ready to meet with us.  He's been such an accommodating host.


Jurgen arrived right on time and checked out the place to make sure everything had been left as it was when he turned the key over to us.  I had made special effort last night to clean up the kitchen and the bathroom.

We helped Jurgen remove the bedding as he was taking it back for washing; there was another tenant arriving later in the day.

To top off his hospitality, Jurgen also offered us a ride back to our car which we graciously accepted.  Standing back in front of Jurgen's apartment, we chatted with him for a few minutes before leaving.  A bit reserved and a bit shy, he was finally warming up to us....a few days too late.  Jurgen gave us directions on how to get out of his neighborhood and on to the main road leading out of town.

By the time we had piled our suitcases into the trunk and got ourselves settled into our car seats, we had promptly forgotten the instructions that Jurgen had given us so before we pulled off, Bro checked the map; he was in the navigator's seat.

It took a few turnarounds but eventually we made our way out of town.  It was a bittersweet departure as we had really enjoyed our time in Tallinn.  We've enjoyed Estonia so far and there was more to come!

We were back to referring to our handout from Ieva.  First destination was Jägala-Juga.  According to Ieva's description,
"....one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Estonia .  (8.1m hight and 60-70 metres wide)  The water level here is always high because Jägala river flows through the woods and wetlands."

Okay, 8.1m is only about 25 feet so this is not exactly an impressive set of falls but considering that pretty much all of Estonia is flat land, this is high.  We were optimistic.

We parked our car in the small lot.  I think there was only one other car there.  I could hear the sound of falling water as I got out of the car.  We followed the sound.  It was barely a minute walk to get to the edge of the river where the water tumbles over the rock.  Yep....pretty water but not really impressive as far as falls go.


We walked down to the river's edge, at the bottom of the falls.  Somehow it wasn't as wide as I had expected it to be based on Ieva's description that it was 60-70 meters wide.


Back up the stairs, in to car and on our way to the next destination, Kolga where a manor is located.


Our drive took us into a small, sleepy village.  I was wondering where the heck we were.

Simple but effective road signs.

Between Ieva's directions and the road signs, we somehow managed to find Kolga Manor.  I parked the car and followed Bro to the introductory sign.


The adage about setting expectations is true.  When I saw the word "manor" in the name, I assumed a grand house.  Indeed, it does look grand from the outside and the grounds were fairly expansive. 



But, the adage that you can't judge a book by its cover is also true. As we got up close, we realized we were just looking ruins.  The place looked ramshackle and run down.  Some of the glass windows were boarded up, others simply broken. The doors were closed and with the exception of a few young men, who looked like local villagers, there was no one else around.  Later, I read that you can go inside but you need advance reservations to do so and we didn't have any.

Around the corner from but attached to the the main house was a small grocery/convenience store.  Odd thing but I guess it's a place for both tourists and locals to pick up drinks and snacks and what not.


Next on Ieva's itinerary for us was a kivi stone.  We had no idea what that was.  Bro kept reading her directions as follows.  We worked through the translation issues and ignored the grammatical and spelling errors :-)
" Ruturn back 2km to road Nr 85 adn turn on the left to Loksa. Drive till Loksa (12km), at the viilage cross the river and turn on the right to Rohuaja stree Viinistu way.  After 4km will be crossings, where turn on the right and drive til parking plce. From there take a walk til Jaani-Tooma kivi stone."
We headed out with confidence.  Bro had the map which unfortunately didn't show any of the places described by Ieva.  We drove and turned around and drove and turned around and drove, passing a LOT of boulders peeking above the surface of the water.  I figured a kivi stone must be one of these but which one??  Afterwards, I learned that "kivi" means "rock in Estonian.

Without realizing it, we were driving in Lahemaa National Park, Estonia's oldest and largest national park.  This region in Estonia is is rich in great erratic boulders and stone fields, carried here by giant glaciers from Finland and Scandinavia, where such rocks outcrop on the ground. Large stones can be found not only in the water but also in fields located throughout the park.  Ieva was sending us to see one of the best known of these erratic boulders.

I swear we drove around for more than half an hour and I was just about to give up when I took the map from Bro.   He was trying to direct me to drive towards another kivi stone.  Argh...I could have strangled him!  To him, one kivi stone was the same as all the rest....or so he claimed.  I might have to put him on navigational probation.

Kivi or not, I was ready to throw in the towel when all of a sudden I saw a sign post with the words "Jaani-Tooma" printed on it.  I pulled our car into the small parking area in front of the sign. We had arrived!   As I got out of the car, I crossed paths with a woman who was cycling towards us.  I asked if this was where there was a kivi stone and she replied yes.  I asked if it was worth seeing and she enthusiastically replied yes.  So, we decided to walk the half kilometer to reach the stone.  It was a lovely walk and we were in for a surprise!

Beautiful day for a walk in the woods.

The path wound through the woods and then through an open field.


It dead ended at a large boulder.  Okay, not really a large boulder at least not by US standards but there it was - Jaani-Tooma.  I exclaimed that we had arrived and Bro refused to believe me.  He walked up to the sign to see for himself and when he realized it was indeed Jaani-Tooma kivi, he was none too pleased.  We had driven, in frustration for nearly an hour and then walked for a few more minutes to arrive at a rock that is, in all honesty, nothing much to write home about.  We couldn't help but laugh at ourselves and the situation.  Bro jokingly posed while gritting his teeth and clutching his fists....as if in frustration.  Grrr......

Obviously, this is a special rock but neither of us could really figure out why.  My guess is that this is one of the largest boulders in the area - it did look much larger than the others that we had seen peaking above the water.

Too much fun but time to move on.  We had lost valuable road time trying to find the kivi stone and at the rate we were going, we would not make it to Tartu before nightfall.

Our next destination was a small fishing village, Käsmu.  It's also located within the boundaries of Lahemaa National Park. In the past, was used by, and home to, many smugglers of salt and fish. Between 1884-1931 it was also home to the Estonian School of Navigation (or Nautical School) which today is the Käsmu Sea Museum.

Our drive took us along the coast and through a lovely seaside village, full of small wooden cottages - some located on the water's edge while others were nestled among tall trees.  It was a slow drive along a very scenic, country road.  We followed the signs to the museum.

The museum's welcome party came out to greet us.  Very friendly pair.

Before heading inside the museum, we checked out the grounds out back.  It was beautiful spot, right alongside the water, to sit for a few minutes and decompress.

Peace and tranquility in an idyllic setting.

A wagon and shell of a boat.

Fishing nets.

View of the water and kivis.  Lots of little kivis.

Small beach.  Käsmu is a popular swimming destination.

Buildings, including a working smokehouse, on the museum grounds.

Front entrance to the museum.  Perfect spot for a midday nap.

Inside was a two room museum, filled with nautical artifacts that spoke of the village's history.  Nothing was described so all we could do was walk around and take closer looks at items that appealed to our interest.






Two rooms, ten minutes and we were done.  We had arrived in to a such a pretty place with such a nice view of the water that we decided this would be the perfect place for a picnic lunch.  Bro had packed up leftovers from last night and between that and whatever other food we had (apples, anyone?), we managed to cobble together a light lunch.


We took a short post lunch walk. By the time we got back in to the car, our bellies were nicely full and we were feeling relaxed. Käsmu was just the break we needed.

Now, on to the next destination!