Glass blowing, a cat, a red car and death metal

Trip Start Sep 28, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Estonia  , Pärnumaa,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

Glass blowing, a tiny little red car, death metal and a cute white kitten……..on their own each of these is fun and perhaps not that strange, but chuck them all in together over a three day period and you are guaranteed an unusual and interesting weekend…….our last weekend in Estonia.

Sadly our time in Estonia had to come to an end, Alex had returned after her unexpectedly long stay in London, the long summer days were all of a sudden not so long and we really needed to get on our bikes and head south, away from the winter.

During our time with Sille and Martin, we had gotten to know some other young Estonian guys - the roof building crew made up of the brothers Klaar, Tanel & Martin, and Siim rhymes with Piim (the Estonian word for milk). Despite being incredibly modest and downplaying their fantastic English speaking ability we talked a lot, tried to convince them to come to Australia one day, played the odd game of poker, and perhaps overindulged with some brandy and vodka on more than one occasion……

Tanel and Martin insisted that we come visit their homes before we leave the country, and we could not resist. So we looked at the map, plotted a course out of Estonia via Olustvere and Tori, loaded our bikes and started pedalling.

Three days later (and after celebrating our ten year anniversary) we arrived at Tanel's place where he lives with his girlfriend Eili. What a humble life they lead, living in a beautiful little stone cottage on the grounds of a grand manor estate in rural Estonia. The estate is used as an agricultural and hospitality training college, where Eili is the resident glass artist. Surrounding their stone cottage is a large mansion, beautiful gardens and parkland set around a lake, with glass and ceramics workshops, fruit and vegetable gardens, huge old barns full of tractors, a small museum, a flour mill and restored bakery, heritage stables with antique carriages and sleighs, and a full set of farmyard animals including goats, chickens, rabbits, some rather smelly pigs and a very cute horse and foal. Tanel took us on the grand tour and it took the entire day to show us around - it is a truly amazing place to live.

Eili introduced us to the world of glass blowing. Her workshop is in a big old stone building which used to be a vodka distillery (apparently no respectable estate would be without one in the 1800’s). Together with a glass master she does demonstrations, produces glasswork to order and works on her own pieces. We had a go at glass blowing and although our little vases weren’t nearly as beautiful as Eili’s extraordinary work we now know a lot more about working with glass, and have a much greater appreciation for this delicate skill. Even though our clumsy attempts are no masterpiece we can’t bear to part with our blue and green vases so are carrying them with us on our bikes, and at this point they are still in one piece…..

For something completely different on Saturday evening we went to a party with Tanel & Eili, it would be the 30th birthday of one of their friends, and getting there was to be just the start of the strange evening. Ah yes, the little red car…..did I mention it was little?? Just imagine a little hatchback, now cut it in half and put four adults inside, then strap a lawnmower engine to the back and start praying it will start. I think the photo says it all. It’s not the sort of car for the man that wants to get there first, but everyone loves to stare and give us a wave, and we did actually overtake one car on the way…..Tanel said it was a first for his little red car!!

I’m not sure how we have managed to get to our thirties without attending a death/black/thrash metal party, but we have certainly been missing out! Sadly we didn’t have long hair (actually some of us didn’t have any hair at all) or black leather pants so we didn’t join in the head banging or air guitar playing (of which there was a lot). Our knowledge of the musical genre was also rather lacking, but we did have a crossover of two bands, Rammstein and Rage Against The Machine, although neither of these was really hard enough. We did learn from one guy that if he was going to consider "soft" music then apparently Queens of the Stone Age would probably be OK, but they don’t mention Satan enough in their music. One of the headbangers did actually reveal to us late in the night that he was also rather partial to hip-hop, but he begged us not to tell any of his friends about this weakness.…

Perhaps the most impressive part of the evening was the ability of these guys to hold a conversation in English after having consumed at least a bottle of Jack Daniels each. One conversation became truly bizarre when the guy, having learnt we were from Australia, wanted to talk about Home & Away and seemed quite shocked to hear that Sally had left the show, but was relieved to hear that Alf was still around. Perhaps under all the facial piercings and eyeliner he wasn’t so tough after all…..? Tanel and Eili were quite apologetic about the party, it wasn’t what they were expecting, but actually we had a good time, it proved to be very educational!

We look forward to another adventure with Tanel and Eili……perhaps in Spain later in the year. They certainly have a diverse group of friends – they’ll be visiting some mates in Barcelona who take advantage of Spain’s lenient squatting laws, and partake in a bit of dumpster diving.....could be interesting!

Now…that little white cat, I never thought I would hear Alex say the words….can we have a cat like this one day? It was lovely to meet the rest of the Klaar family including Tanel & Martin's sisters, but the highlight of our visit to Martin's summer house in Tori was undoubtedly the yet to be named kitten. The cat was an unexpected guest found in their roof, and she fitted just perfectly in our pannier bag - it was very tempting to sneak her in when we left. But we thought that stealing the family pet might not be a very nice way to treat our new friends. Especially after they had taken us out boating on the river at the back of their property, cooked us an amazing BBQ with almost all the food coming from their own garden, taken us for a sunset visit to the beautiful Soomaa wetland, and given us a farewell breakfast of pancakes. Plus they filled our panniers with so many homegrown carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers that we could no longer fit the cat in.

And so our last weekend in Estonia really just summed up the extraordinary hospitality we experienced the whole time we were in the country (well except for those pesky border guards....). We met so many great people, saw some amazing places and had a brilliant time. But sadly we have to say Head Aega for now, hopefully we'll be back again soon.
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