Day 13 – A Capital Day

It’s been a grand night. Slightly hungover we packed our stuff and made our way out of last night’s party’s venue. Luckily we were not planning to go too far today. We were now heading into Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. It was less than an hour’s drive away and we found a place to park the car.
Immediately after venturing into the centre of Tallinn we had a litte breakfast and could see why it is a famous tourist destination. Old buildings, small streets, like a maze, a wall surrounding the city, an assembly of buildings built since the middle ages and the glorious days of the Hanse (Hanseatic League). But the most obvious sign of its fame were clearly the hordes of cruise ship passengers clogging up the narrow streets. When we had entered Tallinn we had seen a few of cruise ships mooring next to the city but we were not expecting such a mass of questionably clad people oblivious to the effect they were creating, standing in each other’s way and photo opportunities, guides in many languages trying to make themselves heard against each other. The cruiseship industry appears to have developed itself into the plague of the 21st century, ignoring air quality and swamping historic surroundings with a flood of passengers who bring only little to the places they visit for they have their all-inclusive stuff on board.

Trying to cut off all the cruise ship hordes’ heads. Difficult.

Behind me a mass of people about 10 deep.

Still, we liked Tallinn a lot and are sure if you’re there after the hordes have left it must be a fabulous place to stay, absorb and learn about it’s history, culture and architecture.

Leaving the capital Tallinn behind we were intending to find out more about the task of the day, which was to look for a former Soviet forced labour prison, where its ruins are now flodded and the whole thing had become a famous inland beach. It wasn’t very easy as everything was locked or blocked once we had found the spot. But obviously the bearer of the key had realised that we all were there, trying to get in and smelled the opportunity to make some money on the side and that very easily. Entrance fee was now 4€ per person and she must have made a nice 4-figure sum that day.

The place had indeed quite an eery atmosphere. During the Soviet era, until the 90s excavation of limestone and marble was executed by Estonian prisoners from the water-drained quarry. once the camp was closed this quickly then filled with groundwater when the drainage had ceased and formed the lake. Quite a few or the other teams were there too, swimming, laying in the sun, playing with their drones, which at times can be a bit annoying, taking pictures.
Jörg went into the chilly waters to fulfill the task.

Rummu, Soviet forced labour prison camp

From there we pointed the Fat One’s hood South as we wanted to reach the Latvian capital Riga that day. Estonia has a lot of nature and is indeed quite beautiful. It also has a long coastline along the Gulf of Riga. We made a stop at the quite lovely seaside town of Pärnu. We had a snack, took a blanket, went to the beach and lay in the sun for an hour or so, slowly dozing away.

Pärnu Bay

We also then did some shopping for the dinner ahead, fueled the car and ploughed on towards Riga.

We crossed the Estonian-Latvian border and some time later came into Riga. Riga is quite different to Tallinn as it is bigger and creates also that feeling of a big, urban city. The residential pre-war buildings were creating an atmosphere a little bit like Berlin or the likes.

Entering Riga, hitting quite some traffic around the next corner

As it was getting late we decided to get to Riga City Camping on the other side of the river Daugava and explore the city the next day. The camping was a patch of land, or rather a patch of concrete and tarmac, right behind Riga’s exhibition centre. Funnily there were already some of the other teams there and we had a barbecue with them. And some drinks. Franz and I had a pulpo salad with olives and peppers for starters, followed by steaks from the grill and jacket potatoes with sour cream. It was a lovely and warm evening and we sat outside until past midnight and chatted away.
And again, no mosquitos.

We did about 415 km that day and spent more than 10h for the trip.

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