Lahemaa, Estonia

I have been staying in Tallinn, Estonia for the last few weeks.  While here, I decided to go on the Lahemaa National Park tour.  It was gorgeous.

We started the afternoon by going to the largest waterfall in all of the Baltic countries.  Interestingly, the water was very brown, because of the high amount of limestone in the area.  Ultimately, the waterfall looks like a waterfall of beer, which is appropriate considering how much beer is consumed in Estonia.  This is not, however, the place where they bottle the beer, as one person on the tour actually asked.  Beer is not naturally occurring.  Wouldn’t life be different if it were?

I was also happy to continue to take pictures of trees and flowers.  Two of my favorite things!  Wild geraniums were growing all over the place.  I enjoyed taking pictures of them because while they looked purple in real life, they photographed blue.  That’s always fun.

After the waterfall we went to visit one of the largest manor houses in Estonia.  It was very run down, but it was just awesome.  Interesting fact about Estonian manor houses?  While many large houses around the world are built with wine cellars or some such, manor houses in Estonia are built with vodka distilleries.

This is the main building of the house.  The manor also housed the only grocery store in the town.  The building was for sale, for the low low price of just one million euros.  Everyone in the tour group pooled their money together but we were still roughly a million euros short.  Sad. We could have had, not only a great house, but also control of all the food for an entire town.  Whoa.   Also, as part of the cost of buying the house, you have to renovate it.  So that would probably need another four or five million.  But you even get a vodka distillery!

The distillery wasn’t in very good condition.

From the manor we continued on to the swamp.  Now, normally, swamp is not a word that gets me really excited to go visit a place.  I picture a gross looking marshy bit with lots of mud.  This wasn’t like that at all.

It was one of the coolest parts of the trip, due in large part to having a research biologist in the group.  She pointed out a ton of interesting things, carnivorous plants and interesting birds.  It was a little like being on a high school field trip, but hey, a flashback is nice every once in awhile.

There was a tall observation tower in the swamp, which I did climb, but it was windy and I I’m afraid of heights, so I only took one picture before going back down.  Too scared.   We walked through the swamp for several kilometers, along a boardwalk.  At one point we even stopped to go swimming.  Swimming in an Estonian swamp.  That wasn’t something I pictured myself doing.

It was really pretty, however.  And really, it changed my views on swamps forever.

Our last stop on the trip was a beach sort of in the middle of nowhere.  In Estonia, the water is very shallow.  You can walk out pretty far, and still only be in water up to your knees.  There are also a ton of boulders and large rocks.  Makes great places to sit.

The whole beach area was pretty deserted, so it was really calm and relaxing, even in the middle of summer.

All in all, I had a wonderful trip in the national park.  It was great to get out of the city (even if Tallinn is a pretty small city) for a little while and get back into nature.  The biggest downside?  The crazy Estonian mosquitoes.  Seriously.  I probably got about 30 mosquito bites in just the few hours that I was out there.  Worth it though. 

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