The Baltic States consist of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These countries broke away from Russian rule in about 1989. Up until then the "Iron Curtain" as we in the west called it contained all these countries including several others, namely East Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Hungary. They, along with Russia, were countries of the "Warsaw Pact" (or Soviet Union) and were what I spent most of my military career training to defend the "West" against. Russia still has a small pice of land on the Baltic sea that is detached from Russia itself. It lies to the South-western corner of Lithuania.
So, why do I write the above blurb. Well, to put it into context, these contries were effectively in the dark ages until the fall of the Soviet Union. They could not afford cars, had no internet, computers or mobile phones and could not leave the Soviet Union. Since then they have joined the European Union and have a strange mixture of both cultures. They have free WiFi throughout their countries, they have the best mobile phone system available and they still have the medieval history that they shared with us several centuries ago.
Thursday 6th October.
Estonia - Woohoo. What a fantastic place. We drove off the ferry straight into the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. (More of Tallinn later). We drove to our campsite about 10km to the east. Another wierd place. We were the only campers there and took a few piccys.
|The swimming lake behind Gromit. Note the fire engine and teepee - mad|
|The bus behind Gromit was actually a sauna|
|This was the restaurant - closed - no change there then. Leon spent a lot of time in it.|
|This is an old Russian KGB (secret service) staff car. Note the foot hanging out of the boot.|
Once we had paid for our nights keep we drove back to Tallinn. It was like going back in time to a medieval town. This pictures will speak for themselves.
|There is always an Irish bar. This one is under a house of the oldest profession in the world. Guys, look at the left hand side of the photo.|
|Karen about to buy yet another jumper... - A medieval market - still operational. It had sheep on it! nuff said.|
We wandered in to the old market square and found underneath the chuch on one side a small "Inn" for want of a better word. It sold Elk soup - which we just had to sample - and beer - which we also had to sample !!
|Elk soup and a beer in earthenware pots.|
|The opposite direction - back in time.|
|And this is where the bar was, in the second door from the left. Also, note the dragons either side of the clock as well. This is a church !!|
It was an absolutely surreal place. It had obviously been set up for tourists, but with help from the local town governors (due to its location). The staff were in traditional costumes (as they were all over the centre of town) and they had a sense of humour too that translated well into their near perfect English tounge.
We then went for a walk around the town (City) and what a feel good factor it had about it. In the space of a about an hour, we had visited all the old part of town including all the foreign embassies all contained within these old world buildings.The town was now part of the "UNESCO" world heritage system and was voted the worlds best cultural city in 2011. We could see why, it was majestic.
|Another ancient church|
|A view across the town|
|One of the back streets|
|Her lovelyness beside a city gate. Original timber and steel studs.|
|Another city gate|
|And by night..|
|The flower market. The smell and styles of flowers was amazing. He still didn't get me any!|
At around 10pm we returned to "Norman Bates" campsite (Google it Trula) and set up the roof tent in a force 8 gale. It was a very restless night and also hot too, until the clouds cleared and the temperature suddenly dropped. I just love the Autumn ! Gromit was rocking all over the place and we should have bought some stabilisers that are effectionatelly called "bonking bars" - go figure.
We arose, took some piccys and set off back into Tallinn to get a sticky flag for the side of Gromit. (We will eventually get around to putting them on - honest). Once the flag was in our grubby mitts it was off to McDonalds for a non breakfast, breakfast (if you see what I mean) and then off South towards our next country, Latvia.