Biking through Estonia, Day 5, Back on the Mainland
Easy slow morning, since we don't have that long to go today, only a bit over 50km ride. If you told me a week ago you need to bike 50 km I would've laughed saying I can't do that, so I guess its relative if it's a short ride, but now it feels quite short. Based on the weather forecast, we should also have for the first time a nice tail wind all the way to Kuivastu harbor, where a ferry will take us over back to the mainland. This ferry runs until a bit past ten in the evening and goes very frequently so we don't have to worry about it. Our plan is to just cross today and make camp on the mainland, but we don't have any goals about how much distance we need to cover there.
Short stop for shopping in Leisi again, and we start riding along the northern edge of the island. The scenery again is amazing, rugged pine forest on the other side and glimpses to the ocean on the other. The tail wind is really helping and we can really pick up speed. We are a bit sad we don't have time to go to Kuressaare, the capital of Saarenmaa to see the city. We've noticed with bikes, especially with our a bit limited schedule you need to accept the fact that you will miss a lot of things that are relatively close by, that you'd like to see, but just can't. We've been already talking about doing another trip to the same area with a car or something so we can go see and do all the things we missed the first time around so I guess we'll just add Kuressaare to that list.
What it means to be Finnish?
We arrive at the town of Orissaare where we stop for a store. Now my bike is just your average bike with a shopping basked zip tied to the bike rack, like I mentioned earlier, so it's really top heavy. It actually wont stay on the stand fully loaded, so I have to lean it against something, or more commonly put something under the kickstand so it stands straighter than normal. However it is really prone to falling in either direction, especially due to wind catching the huge tent like a sail. So my bike falls over for the umpteenth time that day and breaks a jar of jam that's in my grocery bag. I kinda lose my temper and yell out "perkele" and throw my water bottle against the wall before starting to clean up the mess. Soon a man in his forties approaches us and ask's if he heard some finnish being spoken. He introduces himself and tells us that he always spends a month during the summer in Haapsalo renting an apartment from his friends. He says it's the perfect environment for writing since it's so calm and relaxing. He especially likes the town we are in currently because nothing happens there. I make the observation that nothing happens here anywhere, but he claims there's a certain quality to this particular towns nothingness that you can't find anywhere else.
We actually ended up chatting for couple of hours about our trip, the relationship, and differences in trajectories, between Finland and Estonia. Finnishness has kinda been on my mind since I was reading an old Finnish book written in the sixties or seventies during the trip so this discussion was quite an interesting one and kinda made me feel that while Estonia is still behind Finland in some things, it will surpass us in the next ten years pretty likely. There is a big difference between the countryside and big cities, bigger than in Finland, but that's exactly because they got their start later so it hasn't spread that evenly yet. The attitude is more permissive and legislation follows that, making businesses a bit easier to run in Estonia. It's lead to a few Finnish people running Estonian companies even though they service Finnish client's due to the easier taxation and legislation.
What goes around, comes around
We notice we've already been chatting for quite a bit so we start to say our goodbyes and prepare to get back on the road. He says he'll give us his number so if we run into any trouble, he'll come help us if need be. I'm quite taken back by this offer and I'm truly grateful for it, even though in the end we didn't need it. It's rare to see kindness like that in my opinion so when you see it, it's all the more beautiful. A couple hours later we are at the harbor, have bought our tickets and are headed to the line. Suddenly we hear our names called and it's the previous gentleman who is also heading back to the mainland having finished his writing. We chat for a bit and he says when we get in he'll buy us some dinner. We eat and continue chatting before we part ways at the other end of the ferry ride in Virtsu. He's heading for his apartment in Haapsalu, we are heading south along the coast to find a place to camp for the night. Right outside Virtsu we see a wooden sign which has signs for an observation tower, beach, tenting grounds etc. so we head in that direction and come to a small sandy beach flanked by tall reeds. Some local guy with his bike is smoking a cigarette in the observation tower and doesn't even look at us when we arrive.
Stroke of luck
The place looks more like a public beach, which I think it also is, than a tenting ground so we put our tent up to the side behind a few bushes just in case. The guy leaves, leaving us alone on this beach. We're quite worn out from the days ride and kinda gross so even though the water feels quite nippy we go for a swim and a wash. To be honest after the initial shock the water was fine and it's really nice to go sleep clean without the days sweat on you. There's a fire pit, but since it's in the middle of the reeds and fields, without any trees nearby, I can't collect any firewood. There are two bigger pieces of wood so I make a small fire between them to get them smoldering to keep the mosquitoes away, but it doesn't really seem to be working. The mosquitoes in general have seemed much more aggressive and plentiful than normal, and haven't seemed to care about smoke or repellent. We pretty quickly retire into the tent and close the mosquito net. There are over 20 mosquitoes just buzzing around trying to get in while we eat a bit. While the days ride wasn't that long and we had a tail wind, we kinda pushed ourselves to make good time, so we are quite worn out and head to bed early on, probably earliest so far on the trip.