“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.” ~ Amin Maalouf
We’re headed to one of the three Baltic states, our last, Estonia for a long weekend. I’ve been asked at least three times today, “Why? What’s there?”
Well, to be honest, I don’t really know. I know Estonia has had a turbulent history, being conquered and occupied by many countries over the past few centuries. I know that it was one of the cities in the Hanseatic League during the Middle Ages. I know that since its independence 20 some years ago, it has made itself into a welcoming country with plenty of things to do both in and outside of its capital city. And I especially know that only going for a few days is by no way doing the country justice, so yes, I will be going again.
I used to marvel at the questions or the quizzical looks my coworkers would give me when I’d tell them my next destination, but I’m certainly used to it by now. In fact, maybe I’m starting to welcome it. I’m okay with heading to a lesser known place and discovering it as much as I can on my own. In fact, I guess one of the things I love about traveling is I can still feel like an explorer.
My absolute favorite topics when I was a child was listening to stories of the great explorers like Ferdinand Magellen, James Cook, Marco Polo, and Sacajawea. I would read the books, watch the movies, wish I was them. I would be so excited when they would befriend the natives, and I would cringe when they would get attacked by swarms of mosquitoes. I wanted to be them, and I guess in my own small way, one weekend at a time, I am.
I don’t think Tallinn, Estonia is nearly as intimidating as any of the places my predecessors explored, especially since many of the Northern European countries partnered up with Russia. For the last few years, Russia has allowed any tourist who comes into St. Petersburg by water to have three visa-free days. Unfortunately what this has done, is allow the cruise ships to ply the waters of the Baltic Sea then disgorge their passengers for a few hours at exotic ports like Helsinki and Tallinn, and those cruise ship passengers only spend their tourist dollars on land for one day. I would love to see them spend more time at port, enjoying the local hospitality, and boosting the economy.
At any rate, we can’t wait to fly into yet another city, a new country, and hopefully make friends with the natives!
Have you ever been to Estonia? What do you recommend we see, do, and most importantly…eat?!
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