On day 8, we started hiking on a very pleasant path in the middle of the forest. After a while, the vegetation lining the path on the left and right changed from pine trees to birch trees to shrubs. The ground alongside and on the path became increasingly wet – we were in the middle of a swamp again! Only this time we were following an official path, so we confidently jumped from dry patch to dry patch until the way was good to walk again. All went well and we could actually enjoy the experience. The scenery was beautiful; trees, bushes, grasses and flowers reflected in the dark water and different birds enjoying the safe environment. It was one of the moments when we are happy to be walking, as by car or even by bicycle we would have never seen this.
A little later that morning we were back at the sea again! Clear blue sky, water glittering in the sun, a little bench inviting us to sit down and enjoy the scenery. We happily accepted the invitation, but first put on our warm jackets, as the wind was a bit chilly. Ah, the perfect place for a break! We could relax a bit, read, write … but maybe we should move to the picknick benches sheltered by the trees. We did and managed to spend another 15 minutes there until we felt too cold to stay longer. The place was sheltered from the wind but from the sun as well!
Back at the beach, we were determined to follow it until the next town, Nõva. Only there has been a change of scenery: A HUGE dark cloud has built up in the sky and was moving in our direction. We tried not to think about all thunderstorm tragedies we have heard about and bravely moved on. The sand was nice to walk on, not too soft, but soon the next obstacle appeared: A river coming from inside the country and making its way through the dunes into the sea. There was no proper place to pass it without getting our shoes wet. So we thought: “Better wet feet than wet socks” and took our shoes and socks off to cross the river close to the shore. Our first bath in the Baltic Sea! Very refreshing, although the last thing we needed was cooling.
When we had our shoes back on, we soon found our way back to the trail in the forest. We stopped at a very scenic lake to rest and take some pictures, and went on to Nõva, where we could stock up before reaching our campsite for the evening. Nõva not only had a kauplus, but also a kohvik! Sounds Estonian to you? Well, these two words are part of our survival vocabulary: “kauplus” or “pood” is shop and “kohvik” a café, where you usually also get small meals at very friendly prices. As there isn’t a high density of these precious places, we have learnt to look out for them on our way.
We followed a hiking trail through the woods leading to the coast at the Western side of Nõva, where we knew there were two RMK camping sites. We decided for the one close to the lake, not close to the beach, hoping for less wind chill on that sunny day. We were not disappointed: At the shore of a serene lake, we found a nice place to set up the tent, protected by the trees. This night, we would not be camping on our own; a trailer was already parked there. But where were its inhabitants? We saw two fishing rods next to a small landing stage, an empty beach chair standing on it in the sun. A bit later, we recognized a small inflatable boat in the reeds. Aha, a fisherman will be our campsite companion – hope he is a nice person.
We set up camp and had our dinner on the sunny landing stage. It was funny to eat canned fish watching the living fish underneath. After a while, the fisherman returned from his trip and greeted us in Estonian. “Sorry, do you speak English?” “No, no English.” “Deutsch?” “Ja, ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch.” (Yes, I speak a little German). With a language in common (even José participated in the conversation!), we found out that Peter was from Tallinn, had traveled through most of Europe with his trailer and spent his free time fishing. He has been at Allikajärv (Spring Lake) a couple of days already, but would never go there in Summer (“Too many party people”). When the sun was too low to still warm us, we returned to our tent and Peter went for another fishing trip on the lake.
The next morning, we woke up by the early daylight and the singing of the birds. We got up quickly to be able to stretch, do our morning toilet, and fold up everything to fit into our backpacks again. It was a bright morning and we had breakfast with cold water as the breakfast beverage, which wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t be so cold outside. When we were ready to leave, Peter showed up in front of his trailer, so we went to say goodbye. He offered us a coffee, which we gladly accepted. We spent the next hour sipping hot coffee and having a very interesting conversation with Peter about Estonia’s past, future and all the good reasons why there should be a revolution.
Despite the coffee and the bright sun, it took a while until we got some feeling in our freezing hands again. As we are hiking with poles, they are always exposed to the wind and the cold.
Our next stop was Spithami, the tip of Estonia. At least that’s how we call it, as it is the point most to the Northwest of mainland Estonia. We passed through a charming village with little wooden houses which could have come right of an Astrid Lindgren book. That’s probably not a coincidence, because this part of Estonia has the largest Swedish-speaking community and all signs are written in both languages. The tip of Estonia has a lighthouse and a wooden hut with windows to all sides to shelter bird observers from the wind. From there, we could walk at the beach again until Dirhami, where we expected to find a pood. We did, and in it we found some new goodies (like a fried pancake with onion and pork filling, a Lithuanian specialty) for our lunch break. The owner had been in Portugal and was raving about the huge choice of fruit and vegetables in the markets there. After a few days of tomatoes, cucumbers and apples, we knew where he was coming from.
Our lodging place for the night was in Roosta, a place you hardly find on the map except if you look for Roosta Puhkeküla (Roosta Holiday Village). They offer holiday houses as well as camping facilities, so we were planning on choosing the budget-friendly alternative of sleeping in our tent and enjoying a hot shower and proper toilets. When we arrived in the afternoon, the sun was still shining from a clear blue sky, but we were constantly feeling the wind chill. On checking in, we inquired about the prices for a holiday house, unfortunately the cost was way above our budget. They even offered us a discount, but we had to stick to our decision to go with the campsite close to the sea. Brrrr!
There was still plenty of time until bedtime, so we first sat down on the wind-sheltered terrace and enjoyed a beer, then moved over to the restaurant for a nice dinner. When it was time to look for the campsite, José had a chat with the friendly receptionist and she offered to show one of the holiday houses, even if we don’t take it, maybe for the next time… José went and it really was worth every cent. But no, our budget… She must have felt pity with us freezing campers, because then she asked if we wanted to stay in one of the places without using their sheets and towels for a much lower price. That was an offer we couldn’t refuse, but it got even better. When we came back to pay the difference, she let us stay in the conference room, for no extra charge! We would use our own sleeping bags and towels, enjoyed a hot shower and had a warm place to sleep (not to talk about a toilet in the room, electricity and wifi). Tänan, Liivi, we really appreciate your kindness and flexibility!
On day 10 of our hike, we had a 25 km distance to cover until our sleeping place for the night, in Oru. It wasn’t as if we just had had a rest day, so we were a little bit concerned. On the other hand, Oru was “only” 19 km away from Haapsalu, the next bigger town where we could spend a day to recover, so planning wise it was a good choice.
We split the distance in 5 km bits, in between which we could rest for some time and have some snacks, the weather was dry and neither too cold nor too hot, and we could walk the first 20 km on very quiet secondary roads. Like this, we managed well and had a quite uneventful hike – except maybe for a live performance of a service guy rappelling from a wind turbine.
When we arrived at Kiige holiday farm, it started to rain – excellent timing! The nice owner offered us a room in the main building instead of one of the bungalows on the grounds. We happily accepted, as the room had good heating and was next to the shared bathroom. The next morning, the breakfast we ordered was a real feast: bacon and eggs, several types of bread, a selection of cheese and cold cuts and pastries – all served with a lot of care in the living room of the house.
Apologies if we talk too many times about breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, especially before a long hike, and for us it is the moment the host of a commercial accommodation shows how much he or she cares about the guests. We simply start the day with higher spirits after a nice breakfast with just the little bit extra one doesn’t expect.