Haapsalu - just one of those days

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Estonia  , Läänemaa,
Saturday, January 14, 2006

Despite being a charming place, Tallinn is small and becomes familiar quite quickly, so I was looking further afield for a day or an overnighter somewhere interesting to break up the stay.

Riga in Latvia was a possiblity, as was the university town of Tartu located in the south of Estonia, but in the end my laziness got the better of me and I left the bags where they were. So Jennifer and I decided to do a day trip to more rural areas of the country, to a place called Haapsalu on the west coast, in search of the most attractive of substances - hot mud.

Haapsalu is a Spa town sometimes known as the 'Nordic Venice' which specialises in mud bathing in order to improve health and longevity. Established in the 13th century, it has long been a centre of curative natural medicines and warm waters, with an apparently peaceful atmosphere. Unfortunately we got the season wrong and the day went just a little pear shaped.

In defiance of a medium-range hangover the adventure started well enough with a ride through the frozen countryside on the local western-route bus. Lucky guesses from the cafe menu secured a hangover-friendly brunch and reinvigorated we decided to hit the town. With the amount of ice around and a biting wind literally hitting the street was more likely than not, but we tottered around anyway, admiring the local architecture and paint selections of the houses as we slid on by.

Major attractions here include the ruined Episcopal Palace and the waterfront promenade, which we thought best to visit before the daylight weakened much further. Halfway there a sleety snow began to fall, making a grand site particularly miserable as we tried to navigate the huge sheets of moribund ice underfoot. The geography of the fortifications turned us around completely, but by now the beach was out of the question as advance turned to disoriented retreat back toward the centre of town - warm mud was to be our solace roday.

Alas that wasn't to be either - the local tourist information service advised us that the two spas dealing in mud were both closed for a couple of weeks after new year and that one would be open on the 16th. Stiff do do til then. Then they sent us off on a goose chase for internet services which almost resulted in us missing the bus back to Tallinn. Mulled wine and a big meal at Estonia's first pub, the peculiarly named but great value Hell Hunt was the only real reward for a trying day.

No doubt beautiful in summer, this side trip just wasn't meant to be. Still, we'd adventured out of town and seen some of the countryside, as well as improved our Estonian and ice skating abilities, so not all was lost to the weather.

Next entry -> Stockholm

Great Brands of the World - Estonia

Estonia has a bunch of great branding - it's just hard to know what any of it says or means. Here's something in English which may or may not be from Estonia, but is pretty cute anyway.

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