I met my Estonian friend Maksim on a bus, travelling from Macedonia to Bulgaria. To be honest, he had to remind me, because I meet too many people and for some reason, I thought we met in San Marino! When I told him Michelle and I would be in Estonia, he generously offered to take us around the countryside.
But before seeing the beautiful, we saw the ugly. In its day, this was a great complex, with a concert hall and an ice skating rink. Today it is a decrepit building on prime real estate, between the Old Town and the sea, and bulldozers are apparently in its imminent future.
Maksim and I, at Jägala Waterfalls. While not the highest in Estonia, during the rainy season, they are the mightiest of the country. Obviously, August is not the rainy season. They also look pretty cool frozen, or half frozen. You’ll have to google this, because there is no way I am going to Estonia in January!
It’s a popular swimming place for locals.
But this was just a short stop along the way. Estonia has a lot of bogs, and Maksim happens to be a bog enthusiast. He had already visited about twelve of them, but he planned on taking us along on a visit to a new one. The problem is that, as with any hobby, you begin with the easy stuff. So his 13th bog visit was not exactly on the beaten path. We drove for a long time on a partially paved road and saw abandoned buildings which I thought were former military installations. A little building next to the road (guardhouse), followed by rows of rectangular buildings (barracks); it just had to be. Maksim later researched it, and sure enough, the place used to be the training range of the USSR’s 172nd Motor Rifle Division.
The road went from bad, to worst, to “don’t do it”. Although Maksim’s Nissan Qashqai is a compact SUV crossover (comparable to the Nissan Rogue in North America), the road eventually became the domain of tanks. And if we had tried it unsuccessfully, the help would have taken a long time to get there.
But Maksim does not give up easily and we drove around the area to “attack” it from a different angle. And it worked. We walked in the forest for a while.
And around beautiful lakes.
When we got to the first wet areas, planks appeared out of nowhere. These are built and maintained by the Estonian forest (or park) service.
I imagine that some people might find these photos boring, but I had a hard time choosing a few out of the many I took. Maybe because it was something quite new to me. So love it or hate it, here are a lot of Estonian bog pictures!
Maksim said that in most bogs, the observation tower is the highlight.
I can only speak for this one, but I would tend to agree.
And a war memorial to Estonian “freedom fighters”. Maksim looked at the dates and calmly remarked “They were fighting with the Nazis”. Like in all Baltic countries (and Finland), Estonia has a very complicated history. Apparently even in the middle of the countryside, you can’t get away from it.