We can almost see Russia........Alatskivi,Estonia


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July 3rd 2013
Published: July 8th 2013
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July 3rd and its my birthday!

Time for 3 Skype calls to C&M plus Erin and Leigh.Such is the wonders of modern technology we are never far from home even on ones birthday.

Despite the fact that it hardly got dark last night we did have a good nights sleep in the log cabin and we didn't have to prepare breakfast as it was included in the price of accommodation.So after the calls we wandrede the 300 odd metres over to the restaurant and enjoyed a delicious omelette and real good coffee.There was no toast at first but Gretchen asked and a couple of pieces each appeared along with a garlic infused butter which would have made an interesting spread had we had any jam to spread on the toast as well !

All the occupants ,bar one couple, of the other cabins had all got on their way by the time we finished breakfast and although we now have 18 hours of daylight(the other 6 hours of the day is hardly dark)we wanted to get to our destination with enough time to enjoy the surroundings that the hotel advertised.

We headed north up the R24 pleased that the dusty,non sealed roads of yesterday were behind us.

Crossing the border at Valga into Estonia was another non event and if it wasn't for the improvement in road conditions as we left Latvia and a noticeboard telling us about the speed limits in Eastonia we wouldn't have known we had put another country behind us,at least for now.

The R24 became the E264 in Estonia and was marked on the map as scenic and although it was pleasant country to drive through it was more of the same with cultivated land around a farm house and a few outbuildings and then into a stand of forest of pine and/or silver birch trees.In the three Baltic countries you wouldn't need to go to a garden centre to buy a silver birch, which are popular in NZ as a 'street tree', as there are literally millions of them growing wild in the countryside.

The rural bus stop outside or near driveways to houses on the main road continued in Estonia and at one which was in the middle of nowhere with no houses to be seen anywhere was a well dressed woman,waiting for the bus.We were tempted to stop and just see how long she had to wait for the bus to come along and pick her up.

Tartu,the second largest city in Estonia with a population of just over 100,000,came into view and we took the opportunity to do some grocery shopping and also buy dinner for reheating in the microwave tonight.Rimi supermarket, we have found, has a great variety of ready cooked meats including some local specialities plus roasted potatos and vegetables and we both chose what we wanted for a celebration birthday dinner plus a couple of small bottles of sparkling wine to toast another year ahead.

Gretchen had been trying to find replacement sandals for her expensive ones that broke at the toe thong a week or so ago and found a pair to buy while I went birthday shopping and found a Nike brand shirt with 30% off and as one always keen to find a bargain,completed the sale!

We left Tartu switching off the E264 onto the R43 which actually had a wider carriageway than the E264 heading in a northeast direction towards Lake Peipus,the fifth largest lake in Europe,where Estonia shares its boundary with Russia.

With the sun shining and clear skies overhead we were a bit hopeful if we thought we might be able to see Russia on the other side of the lake as it was around 47km away and the flat nature of the surrounding land means there is nothing to focus on to give you some inkling of where the opposite shore might be.In fact we haven't seen a hill of any sort since we were in southern Poland,hundreds of kilometres to the south.

The accommodation was more like a guest house than a hotel but it was comfortable with good beds.The lady owner was interesting though as she seemed to suddenly appear a couple of times when we were coming and going to the car parked in the yard after we had done the check in.We weren't sure if she trusted us or not!

It was a couple of hundred metres down to the lakes edge and we took a walk down to check out what was there and just see how far we could see out across the lake.There were a couple of large camper vans doing some 'freedom' camping.They weren't without the comforts of home as both had large satellite discs and would have been like us with the TV in our room,been able to connect to a number of cable satellites overhead.We lost count of the number of channels we had available to us although regrettably there were only a handful in English.

Opposite the campervans was a car with a couple and their child who were setting up their tent and preparing a BBQ dinner for themselves.The guy had been in for a swim which we thought was rather brave of him considering the brackish water at the lakes edge.

After giving up on trying to make out Russia over the lake we retired to some seating next to a pond and enjoyed a pre dinner drink,a Pina Colada(mixed in a bottle from the supermarket) for me and a Vodka with ginger and lime for Gretchen together with crackers and a very nice,soft brie(we are being ripped off in NZ with the cost of our cheese and we don't have the varieties available in the EU countries)

We plan to carry on the birthday celebrations tomorrow in Tallinn with a meal out that we don't have to prepare but our choices from the supermarket in Tartu were tasty and of course we had the sparkling wine to toast the birthday occasion.

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8th July 2013

Looking forward to a new flag
The new flag is looking good...quite a different tricolour to many others we have...collection is approaching 150 now! The perils of long days and short nights are not something we have to worry about at present in NZ and with our plans to travel south soon the nights get even longer for us! There was a fantastic image in the paper today of the Southern Lights taken from Wellington-have you seen the Northern ones yet?
9th July 2013

Haven't seen the northern lights.Just wonder if we have been far enough north.

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