Since yesterday evening, I’ve been in the lovely Estonian capital, Tallinn. All in all, things have been going well-I went on a trip to Lahemaa National Park, which was a blast. However, getting here in the first place was eventful. So, what happened was that I had originally booked my flight to Tallinn via Priceline. In retrospect, it’s somewhat on me for not realizing it earlier, but they apparently took my money for a reservation that fell through. I paid just over $300 for the roundtrip flight, but they didn’t let me know that the reservation was cancelled 15 days after getting a confirmation email from them. Fun, right? Well, I didn’t find this out until I tried checking in. Thankfully, after an hour, I was able to buy another ticket (for $90 more than the original, at that) for the same exact time and dates. I was frustrated at being screwed, but I am working on a solution. Anyways, I was happy to check into my hostel after that. The hostel is about ten minutes from the airport, which was super convenient. It’s super homely too, and there’s a bar adjacent to it, which frankly is very welcome. It’s a very friendly environment, and I have to call it as the best hostel I’ve stayed at! After checking in, I just hung out as I was pretty tired.
Today I finally made it outside of Tallinn, which was a unique experience. The thing with Estonia is that it’s a country of about 1.3 million souls, with over 400,000 of them residing in Tallinn. So, getting a chance to visit the northern countryside and spend time out of the city was neat. My excursion was hosted by the Estonian Tourism Board, and we headed out to Lahemaa National Park. It was a small group: eight of us and our awesome guide John; it was a diverse group consisting of me, a Brazilian, two Norwegians, a Russian couple, and a couple from Hong Kong. We first set out to see the “tallest natural waterfall” in Estonia. Admittedly, it was very small, but the country isn’t exactly known for its elevated terrain. After walking under and getting soaked in the process, we then went to an abandoned manor. It was interesting because you could imagine the opulence back in its heyday. After walking around the property, we then drove off to a small abandoned Soviet submarine base. What John told us was that the Soviets had over 1,000 military bases over Estonia in the USSR’s heyday, and a majority of them were small ones, like this. Another fact we learned was that the Estonian Mafia stripped and sold all of the leftover equipment inside. Yes, there is/was an Estonian Mafia, though apparently they mainly operate in Finland nowadays. Next up was lunch at a small museum/house about 30 minutes away. The lunch of smoked salmon and potatoes was legitimately one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, and paying ten euros for it was absolutely worth it! We walked around the property, which was gearing up to host a music festival. I climbed up a Soviet observation tower and got a very good view of the gorgeous surrounding territory. Again, there was a lot of Soviet remnants around this part of Estonia, but it was a fascinating insight. Next up, we went to see a reconstructed, functional manor in pink, but officially dubbed as “manly salmon”. It really was reminiscent of a Disney movie, given the property really reminded me of Cinderella to be completely honest. The last thing we did was visit a big forest, which, using another pop culture reference, would not have been out of place in a Lord of the Rings movie-it was that reminiscent of Middle Earth. We walked about a mile and a half to cap off the awesome day, which was appropriate enough. The whole trip lasted 9 hours, but it was a brilliant day!