We landed in Tallinn in Estonia after a three hour crossing of the Gulf of Finland. We
went to the city campground and set up camp. The campground was not much. It was
an indoor sports building and had some grassy patches between some buildings that
were very unkempt and a large paved area with electrical hookups for campers around
the edge. But it is close to the old town which is what we came to see.
The "Old Town" in Tallinn is famous for its atmosphere and historical buildings. We
climbed the very narrow and winding staircase to top of the cathedral's tower and
looked out over the city. The walls and towers were visible and the other church
steeples on the hill in the background with the city administration buildings.
The area of the old town is now a huge tourist draw. The business in the old town
consists of souvenir shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
There were some interesting "art deco" buildings too. And an interesting selection
of bars to drink in.
Then we headed to Tartu, a college town about 2 hours away to see another interesting
building that was built facing onto the city square. Yes, the building tilts, but
the doorway is vertical. Our guidebook states that the water table changed and that
is why the building tilted. But we can't figure out why the doorway is vertical. Did
they redo the door after the building tilted??
We also visited the KGB jail in the basement of a nearby building. This is where
the Soviet secret police held people for transport to the Gulag prison camps in Siberia. It
was still in use in the 1980's. The small cells are now a museum with pictures and
artifacts from the period. Estonia was under Soviet control from early WW II to
1991 when the Soviet Union broke up. Estonian freedom fighters were active all during
this period and were held here, if captured, before deportation to the work camps.
After lunch we went on to the very southeast corner of the country and visited the
Piusa Sand Caves. Not really caves but excavations of sand to be used in glassmaking. The
miners left the columns to keep the hill above from collapsing on them. They mined
here until the 1970's and now the site is preserved as refuge because endangered
bats use the site for winter hibernation. We were only allowed into the first 30
feet of the site where there are railings and lights that illuminate the interior.
Then it was off to find a campsite. We got a booklet and a recommendation from the
tourist office. It turns out that the campsite is down several kilometers of gravel
road. The roads are in good shape and present no riding hazard, but the trailer
tires have had many thousands of kilometers on them and are in a very worn condition. We
blew the left tire on a sharp rock and had to change it. This involves completely
unloading the trailer and tilting it onto its tail. The spare tire is underneath
and this is the easiest way to take off and replace the flat tire.
Then it turns out the recommended campsite was completely reserved by a group, so
we went back to the paved road and onto the one that they recommended. It was down
another gravel road. We spent the night there and then headed for Latvia the next