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Published: August 24th 2014
Narva in SE corner of Estonia 15 & 16 August 2014
The roads continue to be fantastic in Estonia. We have seen EU signs next to new road surfaces, indicating the European Union funding assistance the country receives, remembering that it is a member of the EU and its currency is the Euro.
We arrived in Narva around 11.00am and even though we have seen many castles and manors over the past 2 years, Nava is the home to the 13th century Rakvere citadel, where visitors can play knight, eat medieval style food, shoot a bow and arrow, ride horses and learn from thematic rooms in the castle, from torture chambers to astronomy exhibits. This was yet another interesting site.
The 'west yard' was full of activities, with a camp fire burning and kids having a great time. On entry to the citadel, we were given 2 tin coins which were replica if the money used in the castle in the 13th century. It used to be silver then but of course ours was only made of tin. The idea was to exchange these coins for so craft work that the workers had made. This is what we
The Danish, German, Swedish, Russian and Estonian languages were spoken in the Narva fortress at different times. It has had a colourful history of ownership and invasion over the centuries.
The last restoration work done on this fortress was completed in 2000. Estonia and the EU has really pushed forward with historical restoration and preservation and hence more tourists are visiting. Between the EU and the Russian Federation, both these fortresses continue to me well maintained.
We also climbed the 50 metre tower and got an excellent view of the area around the town. The most striking feature of the views was the fortress on the other side of the river which was the Russian Ivangorod Fortress. So there was a fortress on either side of the river.
When we were there, we saw a wedding which was held in the castle restaurant. The wedding car had flowers over it and we noticed that many of the guests bought flower arrangements for the bridal couple.
We then had a look at a number of historic sites around the town, including very traditional Russian Orthodox churches, all of which were elaborately decorated. There was a
service going on in one of the churches and the chanting was incredible.
We then headed for a camp site on the edge of the town. The owner was a Russian but very proud to be an Estonian Russian. He got the land for the camp site 10 years ago and has built it up over the years. The toilets are still one-holers but the shower was in association with the sauna...of course. They had WiFi there which was OK for my computer but not Tom's tablet. We met 3 young German cyclists who had just been to Saint Petersburg and had a wonderful time. They were on their way to Tallinn and then back to Germany, which would take 4 weeks.
The next morning, we drove to the Narva-Joesuu which is the beach which is Estonia's longest and boasts clean, fine sand. The idyllic seaside resort has a long history, and caters to families and couples who put a premium on long walks, swimming and curative treatments. It was very touristy...and the beach was lovely.
This was the day (16 August) we were to travel through the border to Russia. The previous day, we tried to
buy Russian insurance for our car. On the advice of a variety of people, we went to 2 different insurance companies, then the service station. At the service station, an Estonian man heard us trying to ask the service station attendant. He asked us what we had done, he then called his brother on the mobile and then said he would take us back to the insurance companies (which had their offices in a shopping centre) and translate for us. Again, the insurance companies said they only insured Estonian-plated vehicles. However, another Estonian customer in one of the insurance companies told us there was an office on the Russian side of the boarder where you pay and this was after we crossed out of Estonia.
So today (Sunday 16/8) we lined up with all the other cars to go through the border. When it was our turn to go through the gates, an official told us we need a number and showed me on a map where we had to go....back into town to a 'transfer station' which was 3kms back.
Here was all the steps we had to take from there:
1) At the entrance to
the Transfer Station (which was a big sealed yard) show our passports and vehicle green papers and pay 1.30 Euros. - 11.15am
2) Went to the next line and was told to wait until our number came up and that wouldn't happen until between 2.00-3.00pm...so we had lunch and a coffee in our motor home, along with talking to a Dutch couple who were doing the same as us. At 2.45pm our number showed up on the digital board, we paid our 3 Euros then drove back to where we first lined up...with our new number.
3) We waited in this line between 2.45pm and 3.45pm at the Estonian border crossing we went through the next gate, with our number.
4) We then drove through 'no-mans-land' and arrived at the Russian site where they asked us to open the motor home so they could check our bathroom and the rest of the motor home.
5) Next was the pass port check.
6) Next was the 'vehicle passport' check to make sure we were the rightful owners of the vehicle - 4.30pm.
7) We then went into Russia officially and then looked for 3rd party
insurance which our insurance from the Netherlands did not cover Russia. We couldn't find it but asked a young couple and they showed us the little office which was hidden from our sight by trucks when we drove through the border crossing. We paid our 1275 Russian Rubles ($40 AUD) and we were through!!! We didn't care that it took nearly 5 1/2 hours at the border crossing, we were through.
We then drove along the road to St Petersburg. The road was pretty good, except for a few rough patches. There was a lot of work being done or has been completed along the way, so immediately, we could see the progress. Between the paper map the German cyclist gave us in Narva and the GPS on my phone (as our car GPS didn't have the maps loaded for Russia yet), we found the camp site and hooked up to power. Look our Russia, here we come.
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