Biking through Estonia, Day 4, Over to Saarenmaa
Even with the tent door a bit open and the airing port in the back of the tent propped open with a stick the tent is burning up in the direct heat of the morning sun. Sweaty and uncomfortable we emerge from the tent to a quickly warming summer day. Bit of breakfast and other morning routine stuff is taken care of. We want to see the rest of the peninsula and take a swim to cool off so we switch to our swimming gear and start heading over there through the brush. There seemed to be steppes vegetation here, which we don't get in Finland, so I'm quite taken back by it. I mean I'm only 200 km south from where I live, but I've been constantly noticing different plants and trees we don't have and quite a few butterflies and birds too that I haven't seen before. It's really refreshing to see so much new things and have a totally new experience. Actually that was a big part of why I wanted to go on this trip, to have a totally new experience and sense of adventure, to make the next adventure easier to take, but rest of that story in the recap, maybe.
We keep walking and run into a fence, luckily we see a gate a bit up the fence so we walk our way over. Since the milk industry is a big part of the area we are a bit worried this might be someone's pasture and we might not be able to get further into the peninsula which would be a huge shame. When we reach the gate I notice there is a sign saying this area is home to a team of horses and a part of a restoration project to bring the grasslands etc. back to Estonia. Past the gate we keep heading towards the end of the peninsula and start seeing horses all over the place, grazing on the grass and shrubs in small groups. The further we go a bigger part of the ground is made of little white pebbles instead of dirt and more and more the grass fades away. We take a bit of a detour from the path towards the left bank and come to a rocky beach with couple horses grazing. One gorgeous white horse becomes more interested in us and I name him Eino (Out of favor finnish name for a man). He watches curiously as we head to the ocean and take a little dip and swim around. It's a bit uncomfortable since it's rocks and more rocks, but we manage it without twisted ankles or other damage. Linda is changing back to her regular clothes and Eino becomes extremely curious about this odd little thing in his pasture and ventures in for a closer look.
I don't want to die in a stampede
Continuing on we head back to the path in the midday sun and close in on the actual end of the peninsula. It's a rocky out crop that starts out maybe 10 meters wide, but quickly narrows to about 3 meters and continues as such for the last couple hundred meters. For a while now I've been looking at the end hoping I'm not seeing what I'm seeing. Unfortunately what I fear is true and there are two horses at the end of it, and I really want to go over to the end. However since the sign said we shouldn't approach the horses, and horses can behave unexpectedly if scared, I'm not really crazy about cornering them at the end with no way out. Luckily as we approach one of the horses notices us and starts making it's way out of the dead end before we close him out. However the other one doesn't seem to share the sentiment and heads the other way. We start walking towards it and at one point it start walking towards us since he can't go any further away from us and realizes he has no choice.
I suggest to Linda that we take our shoes in our hands and wade into the water a bit so he can pass us more comfortably. I however am worried I might slip with my phone in my pocket so I leave it on the edge of the path. We get our shoes off and already the horse is almost where we are so we wade in and wait for it to pass. It seems to be going well, but suddenly it stops right were we are and is looking over at us. Then it notices my phone and starts sniffing it, I'm worried he's going to knock it into the water or step on it or something. Luckily pretty quickly he gets bored of it, but doesn't seem to want to move. Linda is still a bit closer to the path so I ask her to take a few more steps and as soon as Linda starts moving, so does the horse and I'm happy to get my phone back in my pocket. Would've been a huge shame to lose my only camera and navigation device. We keep on walking towards the very end, and it almost feels as if you are standing in the middle of the ocean since you can only see water and island we are on behind us. It's quite a surreal feeling and a mesmerizing experience.
Move move moving on
Sadly it's getting to the point that we need to start heading back and make our way towards the ferry if we are to make it in time, especially considering Linda's coffee stops along the way! We walk back, and now it's proper warm so we also need to get back to our water to fill up anyway. Packing is pretty routine at this point so pretty effortlessly we are back on the road towards Sõru harbor where a ferry will take us over the Soela strait to Triigi in Saarenmaa. The scenery is amazing, small little houses dotting the landscape and bank of the ocean. Unfortunately I'm not enjoying it that much, even though I make a note of it, because we are fighting a very heavy head wind. I didn't mention this for the first day, but we fought heavy head wind for half the day and on top us getting used to the biking it was hell. Now it's a little easier physically, but mentally the wind reaaaally fucks with you. To be honest even if you don't roll so well because of rough asphalt it's quite annoying, but wind is definitely the worst. Regardless we are fresh, only couple hours into the days ride so we manage it pretty easily and arrive at the harbor over an hour before the ferry is leaving. We get some ice cream and settle in to enjoy the sun while waiting.
This ferry is quite a small thing, but allows us to charge our phones again and I take a few pictures of my burned face. We get to the harbor and head towards Leisi, a slightly bigger city close by where we know we'll find a store and tourist information board. Outside the store a local alcoholic is sitting by and asks us for the time. After hearing the answer he quips that "there's still plenty of time to get drunk, you should join me" We decline and he chats with us for a bit about the area, but due to Linda's limited Estonia skills, his thick accent and drunken stupor it's a little rough, but he tells us a bit about the area regardless and recommends us a tenting ground, but we've already decided to go to the other side of the bay from Triigi, where there should be a few tenting spots. Before that we need to go the other way and see the church of the town. That's what you get for traveling with a theologian, but to be honest I don't mind and even if I did it's a small price to pay for such an amazing travel companion. To be honest I don't remember the church anymore, but I'm sure it was nice looking and an interesting piece of history.
Little R & R
We head over to the camp site, it's only around eight a clock so this is by far the earliest we are making camp so far during the trip, and it's a nice change of pace to get an easier day in to recharge a bit. The camp ground is amazingly beautiful, right on the water, overlooking a sandy beach, the bay and the sun setting behind the trees over us, but still shining to the beach and ocean. There are quite a few mosquitoes around, so since there is supposed to be another place a bit further up, I ditch my stuff with Linda and go check it out. The next place is even better, less brush so less insects and the toilet and wood stock is closer. We switch over, make camp, light a fire and go enjoy the sun on the beach. It's really shallow and the waves make the bottom have little ridges on it and the sun is dancing on top of it, making it's own lines from the waves. I feel like I've stepped onto some tropical island. We wade around for a while, before heading back to the tent to start grilling a bit of shashlik. Shashlik is just bits of marinated meat, usually grilled on a skewer served in Slavic and Baltic countries. Eating, chit-chat, bit of reading and relaxation is a nice end to the evening. I don't think it's possible to be happier than I am enjoy this very moment. The combination of relaxation after pushing yourself past your limits biking and the scenery is hard to beat, without forgetting the good food.