July 6 - I didn't get to sleep until 12:30am or so last night, and got up this morning at 6am. I so need more sleep. I got everything together and had breakfast and then got on my way. I had to go to the train station to get the tram to the bus station. I asked someone if this was the right tram to get to the bus station but he didn't speak English. Luckily another man told me it was right and he was going there, so I could just follow him. It turns out he is a priest who used to work in the place where I was going. Anyway, he did get me where I was going. I was able to get a ticket for the 7:50am bus to Kurassaare on the island of Saaremaa. So early.
It was a four hour journey, which would have been better except that it was very hot and I was in the sun the whole time. I even planned where to sit based on which direction we would go in, but then realized my ticket had a seat assignment that put me in the sun the whole time. Grrrr.
I spent most of the time dozing, trying to catch up on my sleep a bit. I tried to get internet and although my computer connected, I had no access. Like in Helsinki. The best part was the ferry ride. I was able to get out of the bus and sit in the breeze to cool down from that hot bus ride. Once we arrived in town I walked over to the tourist information office to ask about hostels, as I did not book ahead. I was worried about this, but it turned out to be the best choice. I was dripping with sweat at this point, and was almost beyond caring where I stayed. But I got lucky. There were two hostels that I knew about but neither interested me. There was a farm I wanted to stay in, but it was quite far away and I have no car. But the woman in the info office told me about another hostel that I hadn't heard of. She said it had wifi and laundry, was close to the center of town, and was the same price as the others. I decided to go there and it was a great
choice. It's a private house run by someone's grandparents and it seems like it will be very quiet. The couple stays upstairs and the downstairs in the hostel. It clearly will not have the party atmosphere that many hostels have, which is great for me. She let me choose my own room. It has two beds and a tv, so I am able to watch the world cup game tonight. There is also a full kitchen so I can cook for myself as well. The woman, Tea, gave me the history of the house and her family to some extent. In return I gave her my laundry to wash. Plus a hefty sum of money to do so. But it is so worth it, as my clothes are clean and my room smells like clean laundry. Wonderful!
Once I got on my way, I headed to the castle. Ironically, once I started walking around it was completely cloudy and a bit cooler. No sign of the sun I sat in all morning. But it was nice to be cooler anyway. The castle was great, with a classic moat. Construction finished around 1380. It's hard to imagine how long ago that
To get full perspective
is, and that the building is still standing. I walked around the outskirts of the castle first, as Tea thought it was closed today. I also walked around a nearby park at the beach nearby. It looked like rain might be coming, and I decided to check on the castle's opening times. Luckily it was open and I spent some time inside. Shortly afterward, it began to rain. So lucky that I was inside at the right time. There is a museum in there now and it goes through the history of the island from about 6000 BC to the present. Much of it dealt with the German and Soviet occupations. Stressful times with mass deportation and prison camps. I really enjoyed both the museum aspect and the cool old castle itself.
When I was ready to leave, it had stopped raining. Yay! I walked around town and covered just about all of it. I went to the grocery store and got some eggs, meat and cheese for dinner, as well as some breakfast for tomorrow. I am spending a nice quiet time at home tonight. I have a set of neighbors in the next room, but I expect
they will be quiet as well. I also expect my 20-something itchy mosquito bites will not increase in number tonight.
July 7 - I had a great night of sleep with no earplugs! My ears feel refreshed. But today was not the productive day I was hoping for. I woke up and chatted with some friends online. It's Mark's birthday, so luckily I got a hold of him. Once I got started, I went over to the tourist information office to get information on buses that would take me to a couple places I wanted to go. After a bunch of consideration and the fact that the buses don't come too often, I decided I would have to choose one place to go. I chose the meterorite crater in Kaali. The weather was not looking so good and things were not going well decision-wise, so I came back to the hostel to be productive. I skyped with Jeroen and found a place to stay in Riga. There were so many choices, but this place looks good, except that it is eight in a room. I really miss the days when you could just pull up to a hostel and
find a place, but now the rooms are all booking up so quickly. I made some lunch as well, and then it was time to get to the bus. It was less than twenty minutes to get there and by then the sun started to come out a bit, improving the pictrues and my mood. The crater is the largest in a group of nine that formed somewhere around 660 BC. It has a lake now, and is one of the largest craters in Europe. It is small but I really enjoyed being there with the weather so nice and breezy and not many people around. It turned into a nice day, even though it wasn't an impressive beginning. I was even proud of myself for getting there and getting back again. In retrospect, it would definately have been better to rent a car on this island, as I missed out on many sights. But I am a chicken and left my license home, so it was a no go.
Once back, I decided to head straight for the castle, to try to get some sunny pictures instead of the cloudy ones from yesterday. It was a nice time
to be outside. On the way home I took in the town one last time and then went to the grocery store. I spluged on chocolate and a frozen ice - for like $ 1.50. Yes! I like that the prices are not Switzerland. I even tried a new flavor of chips that suggest you drink them with a cold drink, as they have lots of flavor! Tonight I will relax, catch up with some friends, and pack it up for tomorrow. I will catch the bus to Parnu at 7:45am and then another to Riga. Latvia here I come!
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