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Published: April 21st 2009
HE IS ALWAYS UNDERFOOT
(Excerpted from my book OUR SUMMER IN ESTONIA available at AMAZON.COM)
One criteria Elysee an I look for when selecting our summer home location each year is the opportunity for nearby excursions. Estonia offers ample opportunities for a few days of very interesting travel. We waited until September to visit Estonia's islands to avoid the summer crowds, allowing the tourists to get back to work and their children back in school. Yet the weather promised to still be pleasant.
Our plans called for us to visit Muhu, Saaremaa, and Parnu. I know, it sounds biblical like Meshach and Abennego. Muhu is, however, a small island off of Estonia's west coast, one of 1,500 islands that together make up a tenth of Estonia's land mass.
We departed Tallinn mid-week by car for a short hour-and-a-half drive to the ferry landing at the small village of Virtsu. From there a thirty minute ferry ride took us to Muhu, a small island of about 125 square miles. Although most ferry riders pass through Muhu on to the causeway that takes them to the much larger island of Saaremaa, we had booked into Padaste manor as our base of operations for the
ROOM WITH A VIEW
ELYSEE ENJOYING THE GARDEN VIEW
I was drawn to Muhu from having read about the Restoration of Padaste Manor, located on the island's south shore. Amongst the 1,000 or so Manor Houses from Estonia's Baltic German past (see my posting on Palmse Manor), Padaste Manor had the reputation of receiving a quality restoration, becoming a small first class hotel and spa. For example, Padaste Manor is a member of the Small Hotels of the World marketing group, but mostly relies on its web-site (www.padaste.ee) and word of mouth from its clientele. By staying at Padaste we hoped to gain a better appreciation of Estonia's historic past.
We arrived about noon on a calm day, almost no traffic in this lonely marshland corner of the small island, few guests at that time, a large, lazy, welcoming dog, and we were immediately enchanted. Gracefully received at the front desk and shown to our two level suite in the restored carriage house, we could hardly wait to explore this remote corner of Estonia. Tranquil, serene, soothing, relaxing pick your own adjective, they all fit Padaste Manor. Situated on an inlet, surrounded by marshland, wide views over the natural pastoral setting uninterrupted by other buildings,
SALTWATER HOT TUB
GREAT FOR STARGAZING
it is a place of enormous peace.
In adition to the fine accomodations and first class cuisine, Padaste Manor offers its own full range of diversions. A world class spa with all the treatments, hot tubs filled with salt water, a small dock where thier boats can be taken out into the bay, horse rentals can be made at available stables elswhere on the island, and a cinima room that can accomodate about ten viewers. Guests can even arrive by helicopter.
And, if you get lonely, there is always "Briek", the worlds most pampered dog, constantly underfoot, willing to walk with you a short way but not on the gravel path, and always showing up when food is served.
(More about Padaste Manor in my next posting as we set about to explore Muhu.)
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