Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tartu

Birgit in Valga....
I put in a long cycling day to camp 20 km from Valga in a nice quiet forest. It took me forever to find a bicycle accessible flat and well hidden campsite (although 5 million mosquitoes tried to help me) but once I had set up my tent I was in paradise. I slept in so late that I started cycling at an embarrassing 10.30 am... I was just heading out from the forest road onto the main highway when I saw my "Doppelgaenger": another female cyclist with a bike helmet, Ortlieb panniers and a bright yellow high visibility vest. She was as surprised as I and waited for me to catch up. Birgit was from Austria and cycling the R1 to St. Petersburg. Still happily cycling at the age of 63 with an artificial hip and several back surgeries she really impressed me a lot and time flew by while we were chatting and cycling. So pretty soon we reached Valga were I finally had someone else to take my border picture.

.... and myself
Birgit wanted to take the bus from Valga but as she had some time to spare and I felt like celebrating our acquaintance we decided to have lunch together. The visitor information staff recommended a nice restaurant and soon I was eating out for the second time in a month. We were sitting in the garden, the food was great (although a bit expensive) and I felt fantastic. What a lovely day with great conversation, good food and sunny weather. While Birgit took the bus I cycled on - into mosquito hell. It had been hot as hell again and the short but heavy thunderstorm had turned the forest into a mosquito infested jungle. Everything was so lush that I had a hard time finding a flat spot and my tent felt like a field sauna. Still I got up early in the morning. I was heading into Tartu and in order to see the town properly I wanted to stay in accommodation.

Father and son
Of course this is always a special treat for me and I flew into town to have as much time possible in my room. Tartu is quite touristy and the first place was already fully booked when I arrived after 50 km at noon. I loved the second place immediately: When I asked for a room in Eha Suija guesthouse the elderly landlady told me in good but a bit confused English that she did not know if she had a room for me but something would work out and I should now take a shower first. I immediately followed that invitation and was even more delighted when she offered to do my laundry. Happiness was complete when a free room for 20 EUR emerged and breakfast was even included. Wifi as well by the way and my bike was stored in the living room. The other guests turned out to be quite interesting, too. A cyclist from Russia, a German dental technician who was coaching an Estonian dental lab and an Estonian student. Breakfast took several hours in the morning because I had to talk to them all (which was a bit complicated in the case of Russians).

War memorial
Tartu on the other hand was quite nice but that was about it. It lacks any outstanding monuments and the only interesting museum is the Estonian National museum which can also be seen in an hour. To sum it up: quite a pleasant town, but nothing to go out of your way for. Still I had a very enjoyable evening. I met Birgit again, her on and off cycling partner Ute and another German cyclist. Together we had dinner in the old town and chatted about our adventures over Estonian pancakes.

One last word on Estonia: This is wifi heaven! You will have a hard time finding potable tap water, but even the little villages have free wifi! These free wifi hotspots are advertised on maps and with signposts even in the villages. I am at the Tartu visitor centre right now using one of their free computers. It is so nice to type on a real keyboard instead of swyping on my tiny smart phone. But soon I'll head out into the heat and cycle on.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,
nice blog, really interesting! Hopefully, you will have a good start in Finland and find your way to Utajärvi. It is not possible to sleep at our place but food and, of course, sauna are provided. I am looking forward your visit. By the way: We might not be at home during 8 - 20.7. because of a cycling trip to Åland. Otherwise, we should be at home. Best regards,
Thomas

German Tourist said...

Thanks a lot for the invitation. I cannot foresee yet when I will get there but I will stay in touch. Hopefully a meeting will work out!