Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia · 23 Days · 46 Moments · June 2017

Nicola's Europe Loop 2: June: Baltic States

27 June 2017

Tallinn, Estonia More street art & food Pancakes @Kompressor: highly recommendable! Huge pancake with savoury (or sweet filling) for 5€ each. Stuffs as much as a pizza. Vegan restaurant: most delicious (not abundant but OK) meal for 7.50€ and followed by an even more delicious orange vanilla vegan cream cake for 3.8€. Given the excellent food quality really good deal! Both in Rataskaevu street in the old part of the city. Around the corner of the host Tabinoya where I stayed (Nunne street 1). Cozy place, family business style, sauna available for 4€ an hour, small breakfast included, lockers, shared kitchen, no shoes policy, very quiet!
Lahemaa National Park 70km from Tallinn, Estonia Lahemaa means land of bays and more info I wasnt able to get. Guided (not much more than car guided though) day trip to the National Park with a visit to Estonia's highest natural water fall (which due to iron looks like pee) a walk through a bog (swampy peat area), visit of an old water tower, an old wind mill, some lakes, a bay with fishermen village (Käsmu) and the ruins of a nuclear submarine repair and refill station the Soviets built in the 50/60s and then abandoned. Nice day trip all in all even though at the end I still don't understand why it got a National Park since nothing seems particular about it compared to other landscapes in Estonia. PS: Pic 3 is a carnivorous plant!! (living in the bog) PPS: I now learned that the park was the first NP of the Soviet Union and was established to preserve the Estonian heritage and biodiversity, more so as it is the habitat of several endangered animals

26 June 2017

Tallinn,Estonia Confined hipster area in Tallinn: Telliskivi Old industrial area close to the Baltic train station @Verena: Pudel bar! <3 nicht golden zwar aber immerhin (-; Heißt allerdings "bottle bar" übersetzt
Estonia, Tallinn Harbour impressions... Why are the canons pointed at the cruise ships I asked myself... Also you see: A wooden 5m submarine which actually never got into action because it was to difficult to steer. But the constructor later successfully developed several other submarines. The biggest steam driven icebreaker, now out of use. Constructed in 1914 in the Vulcan-Werke in Stettin. Was used for a long time as icebreaker in Estonia and even got coal replaced by liquid fuel over the time. There's a lot more ships like mine sweapers and others for display at the harbour, most outside the water. Can be visited also by purchasing a ticket at the close by harbour museum Lennusadam (entrance fee currently 14€, so I restricted my visit to the outside free area)

25 June 2017

Estonia, Tallinn Façades and doors, old city
Tallinn street art & related Old city Tallinn, Estonia PS: Noticed the little elephant on the wall? <3
Estonia, Tallinn, old city old & new The black open arch is a memorial to the people who died in the ferry Estonia tragedy in the 90s.
Tallinn Flower Festival! (Estonia) To me it was more like little garden installations than a flower festival but still interesting all the same.
Bye bye Saaremaa Bye bye Kooli Kooli, my little paradise for the last days. You get there by bus from Kuressare (step off at Mustjala). Tell Jorma in advance and he'll pick you up there. It is a big territory with numerous huts. One hut (the one I stayed in) has four sleeping rooms, there is another full equipped house with two bedrooms and another bedroom in the shower house. So yes, be prepared to change house for everything. There is a little hut with toilets, another one with shower and adjacent sauna, a sheltered place for BBQ and lots of places to sit in the garden. Jorma also has horses and sheep. The next supermarket and cafe is 800m walk into the village. Jorma also rents out bikes for free. They are not the latest model but good enough for a day trip up to Tagaranna cliffs (20km return) or Panga cliffs (35km return). You got laundry option, WiFi is working perfectly, much better indeed than in many hostels in the cities so far. Would come back any time! Alone or in groups

24 June 2017

Johannisfeuer aka Midsummernightsfire of Vanakubja on Saaremaa, Estonia Had to drink Sahta, local island brew, homemade in this case. Beerish but more dense. There was shared food (my host is training for becoming a baker also), a lottery, team games, music - typical village event. Funnily the fire starts when it's still light as the sun goes down here around midnight at the moment.

23 June 2017

Panga cliffs on Saaremaa island, Estonia Nothing better than a lunch break at the cliffs in the sun and with view to the sea! If only the pictures could capture the scent of pines and fresh grass, the smell of sunscreen, the breeze in the tree tops, the chill of the wind at the cliffs, the chirping birds, the honey scent of those huge white flowers at the beach, the back pain from cycling on a bike not totally apt for me, the delight of sausages and cheese rolls for lunch, the excitement at climbing down that rope at the cliffs and the tickling of the super annoying flies at the beach, then you would know what my day was like!
Bike trip to the Panga cliffs, Saaremaa Island, Estonia to celebrate Estonian independence. The mountain bike got repaired and fine tuned by the surprise guests from yesterday night, two bikers who didn't find their camping site and decided to join me instead. Thank you so much, Peter! You made my day! The road leads through forest, then another village, then shrub land. Total of about 16km one way. In case you wonder where the cliffs are, please see a separate "moment" just for the cliff pics

22 June 2017

Estonia, Saaremaa island, Vanakubja/Ninase/Tagaranna Bike trip from Kooli Kopli guesthouse in Vanakubja to the Tangaranna cliffs via Ninase village (huge windmill impersonations, yet another island tale of their giants...) 9km one way, and the mountain bike lost air on the way back... Made it back home on the last bit of air. Funny detail: everywhere here you find mail boxes at the bus stops. Country side vibes...
Estonia, Saaremaa, Kuressaare Der Ausguck
Estonia, Saaremaa Island, Kuressaare Excursion to the Marina and Beach 1: Who also thinks of grinning teeth at this roof top? 2: not only lovely wooden houses and picturesque little farm houses but also wonderful sixties style old hotel complexes. 4: Sculpture of the giants: giants play(ed) an important role on the island. They were friendly and helped the humans. Here, they carry a boat full of fish. 7: So many dragon-flies around today!

21 June 2017

Estonia, Saaremaa Island, Kuressaare/Arensburg Beautiful spa place on the island that was inaccessible due to military presence in Soviet times. Now very popular with Estonians, all gathering here for the upcoming midsummer night festival. Well preserved castle with excellent lookout and quite impressive exhibition. Cute old town with local market, lots of handicraft and a seagulls lining up for entrance to the local fish shop (-;

20 June 2017

Estonia, Viljandi Beautiful little city of some 20,000 inhabitants. Pretty streets, cafés with a lot of detail to it (café Roheline Maja and Kohvik Fellin) and excellent food, street art, old beautiful villas (mainly by Germans early 20th century), deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, modern architecture for the schools, kindergarten and open air arena. Cute little details: they planted a rose garden for the 700th anniversary of the city. There is an Academy for Naive Art. They are also responsible for numerous giant strawberries lying around. Didn't get if there is a meaning to it. And Viljandi also has a strip club! So distraction and peasures of all kinds (-: See the other two moments on Viljandi in my journi for the castle ruins and lake impressions.
Estonia, Viljandi Fun in the rain along the lake
Estonia, Viljandi Old castle ruins. Apparently an old fort, taken over by the German crusaders in the 12th century, little by little destroyed in the various wars over the next centuries and then material was used also to rebuild family houses in Viljandi. Today it hosts the Viljandi Folk Festival and other concerts. Splendid view over the whole stretch of the lake! And nice job in fortifying it without having it look artificial.

18 June 2017

Estonia, Tartu (Dorpat) Street Art 1
Estonia, Tartu (Dorpat) Street Art 2 I was quite shocked that the swastika was not removed or sprayed over.
Estonia, Tartu (Dorpat) city stroll
Estonia, Tartu (Dorpat) Wooden houses
Estonia, Tartu (Dorpat) Along the river...

17 June 2017

Riga, Latvia Random impressions... Did I already mention that after all the graffiti and street art and alternative places in Vilnius, Nida and Kuldiga, Riga seems to be a very traditional and conservative place. No graffiti whatsoever, the only wall painting I found were the cats. The picture is cut out so obviously the text is misleading (-; (for the Spanish speaking crowd). You find quite a lot of buildings with inscriptions in German. Not totally surprising as Riga was founded by the Germans. The flag with the black ribbon was put up on Wednesday (14th of June) to remind of the Soviet occupation.

16 June 2017

Jurmala Beach Resort 30min by train from Riga (get off at Majori) and then it's a 5min walk down to the beach which stretches like forever. The sand right next to the water is so solid you can actually ride a bike on it. I just walked. It's kilometers long and has nice little spots but if you look for a beautiful natural beach and have been to the Curian Spit (Nida, Lithuania) then Jurmala is nothing extraordinary. You'll find old wooden houses right next to super fashion apartment complexes (see pics). Didn't get what Siegfried der Drachentöter is doing there (statue pic)... And if the Feuerwehr car is still doing its job is at least questionable. Found it in the backyard of a family house.

15 June 2017

Opera!! Wagner's Tannhäuser in Riga. Surprisingly, lots of Germans around (-; The German singing was subtitled in Latvian and English, not too bad. But you realize how much richer the original is of course. Sparkling wine on the opera terrace in the two breaks in the evening sun, just lovely. Side comment: I was not the only one in running shoes. And still looked better than some of the overly dressed up (in my semi humble opinion) Side comment 2: Wagner lived in Riga for a while and hold a position as capellmeister.
Latvia, Riga Riga's different faces On the bike again! Yeah!
Riga, Art Nouveau/ Jugendstil District
Riga central market - a must see and must go There is one hangar by category, meat, dairies, veggies, fish etc and lots of stalls around and in between. So beautiful to watch everybody busy doing their stuff, putting things in bags, weighing, throwing away wasted food, arranging the fruit neatly again, having a smoke break or quickly eating a little something between two clients. Clients gazing, checking out fruit or meat, manoeuvering their goods through the crowd. Totally in love. Could spend hours watching.

14 June 2017

Hipster night out in Riga (-: Compensating burger and cheese fries with locally brewed Riga ale with coriander and lemon in an old yellow brickstone industrial area, terrace in the evening sun. And improvisations on piano and double bass in a Berlin Neukölln style bar. Feels like home hehe. PS: I'm the weirdo here. Leggins, pink running shoes, coral coloured fleece, outdoor bag
Latvia, Riga! You get confused here where you are: Statue of Liberty which in fact is the independence memorial Bremer Stadtmusikanten (present from Bremen as there are long standing personal historic bonds and also thru the Hanse) Stalin's middle finger (again!). He left him everywhere. Already saw it in Warsaw and was told there are nine in total. Biggest wooden church Park of a German widow who demanded that a park should be built, be open to the public at all times which apparently became a model for all parks here 24h flowers shop (big tradition here of giving flowers apparently) Rich and shiny Russian Orthodox church Huge market halls for vegies, fish, meat, etc. in the halls for Zeppelins left by the Germans. Thanks to Ditta from Free Walking Tours Riga, Alternative walking tour meeting point 12 pm every day in front of St. Peter's church

12 June 2017

Latvia, Kuldiga (Goldingen) Lovely city even in pouring rain. I learned that they have the widest water falls and the longest brick stone bridge in Europe :O :O Beautiful Orthodox Church, funny former water tower with wooden topping, destroyed castle where only a park is left filled with all kinds of sculptures, old town hall which looks like a castle, Synagogue that now functions as library (no pic), gulash soup for 2,80€ and small beer for 1,80€. All of this quite amazing (((-:
Latvia, Kuldiga Art & Street Art

11 June 2017

Latvia, Liepāja Bit lost and run down city on the coast with lots of old wooden houses, a port, an amber coloured concert hall (pic), a beautiful beach and park right next to it and a series of art pieces on the streets (see pics) apparently related to some theme/song which involves the word pilseta which of course makes me think of beer but I didn't get any because there was not one pub on the whole city crawl. Outrageous! Travel advice: if you come by bus from Klaipeda in Lithuania the bus doesn't go to the central bus station in Liepaja but drops you somewhere random on the southern edge of the old part of town.
Lithuania, Nida Beach!!!!

10 June 2017

Lithuania, Nida bike & beach Probably not possible to read but the sign up behind me says sthg like "no photography beyond this point", three steps before the border with Russia. Surprisingly no Lithuanian at all wanted to cross over to Russia while there was a long queue from Russia to Lithuania. And no, I didn't go into the water deeper than my knees. Don't know the exact temperature, my guessing would be some 17 degrees.

9 June 2017

Lithuania, Nida Harbour & dunes Side note: Nida is very touristy so you have to calculate a little more for accommodation than elsewhere in Lithuania. Rather spend 5-10€ more per night or you might end up like me in a 6sqm double room with toilet in the basement and one shower for the whole house in the cellar...

8 June 2017

Lithuania, Vilnius City of contrasts Old wooden houses right behind the shiny skyscrapers, old fashioned busses, beach volley, fancy sitting options on the shores of Neris, park feeling <3, beautiful Orthodox church, heavy food (-:
Lithuania, Vilnius Cycling up the river Neris passing by Calvary Cross road with lots of small chapels (?) scattered in the forest and Verkiai Manor with a beautiful view over the river and the landscape

7 June 2017

Lithuania, Vilnius, Soviet architecture Pic 1: Government buildings! Somehow they managed to get the least appealing. Pic 2 plus detailed pics after that: Opera/ National Theatre and Ballet. Very ugly from far away, quite spectacular from closer up. The two last buildings are at the same square. In the background of the penultimate pic you see the castle tower of the former dukes.
Lithuania, Vilnius, old city

6 June 2017

Lithuania, Trakai 30min by train from Vilnius Lovely place with a water castle (mostly rebuilt) and a mansion from the former dukes at the other side of the lake (Galvé) Water is very clear, lots of canoeing going on. I did a nice cycling around the lake. Pretty pretty!
Lithuania, Kaunas, funicular & façades The funicular is the loveliest thing I have seen in the world. They make it run on demand, even for one person. Transportation costs: 0,58€. From the top you have a marvelous view over the city and especially the old part of town. Façades vary a lot in Kaunas. There are plenty of beautiful old buildings but many of them very run down or completely in ruins.

5 June 2017

Lithuania, Kaunas, street art The two in waves, coloured and b/w are actually in a pedestrian tunnel. Nice way of having it comfy and not dirty and creepy.

4 June 2017

Lithuania, Kaunas, old city