Reinhard and I set out early in the morning to Lahemaa National Park. We rented a car and cruised through the snowy roads to the picturesque park. Thank goodness Reini is used to driving in the snowy conditions because I’m sure I would have had at least one panic attack if I had to drive. Our first stop was the Jägala Waterfall, not far from Tallinn. The waterfall freezes in winter but had not yet when we visited, so the falling water would all eventually end up in the Gulf of Finland. It was very pretty with the sparkling snow all around.
We hopped back into the car and set the GPS for the Käsmu Captains’ village. The story goes that this village had an important maritime academy that drew in future captains from all parts of the Baltic. The little town is now just a summer vacation spot. It ended up being deserted, except for 2 men fishing out in the sea. We wandered around the silent village, hiking through the snow and enjoying the alien landscape. At the north end of the village is a little jutted out piece of land that leads to an uninhabited island via a series of glacier boulders. It might be feasible to jump on over to the island during the summer season, but it certainly wasn’t happening in the freezing weather.
After looking around unsuccessfully for a place to get coffee, we decided to move on to the next town – Võsu. This place is supposed to have a great beach. I can’t really imagine that the water ever would get warm enough to swim in here, but hey, Estonia needs beaches too, I guess. Anyway, we certainly weren’t about to go swimming, so we just looked around for a place to get lunch. After peeking in a bunch of cafe windows (all closed for the season) we ended up finding the one open place that sells food in the entire town – O Kõrts. The food was pretty good, considering it was our only option.
Once we realized that Võsu is no fun in the non summer months, we left for Altja. My guidebook says that this village is known for a large swing and fishing huts. Sounds like a party, right? But it was pretty cool, thankfully. This village had a little more going for it. There were adorable pastel houses scattered about, and the fishing huts were straight out of a history book.
Reini and I had been reading about the Beaver Trail that runs just outside Altja and near the other town of Oandu. After getting a little lost driving around, we successfully found the trail. The trail lead us through the beautiful Estonian forest, decorated in snow. We walked along the Altja River valley and saw where the beavers decided to make their homes in big settlements. We couldn’t see any beavers (they were probably hiding from the cold), but we could see where the had chewed down some trees along the river.
A little frozen, we hopped back in the car and ended up coming across the beautiful Sagadi Manor house. Built in the 1700s, this house is incredibly impressive, especially because it’s pink 🙂 The pond in the backyard was frozen, but I could imagine the grassy yard beside it would be great for a picnic in the warmer months.
Our stop at Sagadi was short because we were very quickly losing daylight (it’s tough being at the top of the world) and we still had to visit the Rakvere Castle. Just like everything else we tried to visit, the castle was closed. But we were able to walk around it, along the hilly surrounding grounds that were probably built up by the medieval people living at the time of the castle’s construction. It was a pretty cool place. I wish we had been able to go inside, but the outside was also impressive.
After our encounter with the castle, we stopped off for a quick bite to eat before heading back to Tallinn to drop off the car. It felt like a long day, but the frequent breaks (sitting in the heated car) and my great travel partner made it much better. Estonia is very cold, but you just have to be like the locals – don’t let the weather stop you from having fun!