Perullo Press

Day 5, Tallinn

Keep in mind, the 9.5 average speed includes all our stops to check the map and even our wonderful lunch break. We weren’t THAT slow.   [JP note.  That’s RIGHT!]

We rented road bikes yesterday with intentions of cycling through rural Estonia today and hopefully making it out to Lahemaa National Park, 75km (46.6 miles) away. We never made it to the park as we decided we didn’t want to get stuck out in rural Estonia as it began getting late, but we had a great time discovering what the country folks were all about. Our 7 hour 43 minute ride began at 9 a.m. as we headed east from Tallinn. We passed many little towns such as Pirita: pretty booming since it’s still near the city.
It’s gotta be done…
[JP note:  yeah… I kinda figured we might be in over our heads on the plan to reach Lahemaa.  Cycling trips (like everything in life) always take a lot longer than you would expect when you don’t know where you are going, how the roads are, etc.  Some groups get driven out there in trucks and then cycle within the park, advertising routes of “37 to 150 km” WITHIN the park…  So I figured ideally via magic we would end up in the park at noon, have a great lunch, cycle around the park for an hour, and magically get teleported back to Tallinn by Dumbledore.  Or something. Those types of plans are fine, though, because the fun parts are always the unplanned/unexpected, so we set out with this loose plan, extra food/water, spare tires, and the critical 50 euro notes and an amex card.  Oh and one other key ingredient – the willingness to turn around when it became wise.]
Maardu: this town is near an oil export terminal of crude and refined products, a sort of transport hub allowing for transport of oil from eastern Europe and Russia and we theorized most people here were tied to the plant, many of whom had really mean scary dogs in their yards that barked and growled at us as we passed, it was quite an unnerving experience.
Uuskula: a tiny town that came and went.
Kallavere: no memory of this town either.
Rebala: this town consisted of a stable and a handul of adorable stone homes.
Joelahtme: we stopped at a gas station in this town to refill on water and later passed some good looking wood cabins as we made our way to Koogi. [JP:  yeah… real FINE lookin’ cabins ya got there]
Koogi: This town was so small we were past it before we even realized it had begun. [JP: these ‘towns’ were REALLY small.  As in… some had 2 or 3 BUILDINGS total – be they houses or barns.  Most were literally an intersection.  I remember being able to see one of the ‘towns’ behind us as we came upon the sign for the next ‘town’.]
Kaberla: no significant memories of this town.
Valkala: there were a lot of grazing cows in the fields as we passed through Kaberla.
Kiiu: ah, Kiiu, what can I say…with intentions of riding a further 16 km (10 miles) one way we decided it was important to find a place for lunch sooner than later; the 4 pears and 2 apples we took from the breakfast buffet weren’t going to sustain us for the ride back seeing as we were down to 1 apple. We were told about a place we could stop for a hamburger down the street and we did so. [JP note:  so what actually happened was that the kid working in the convenience store was nice to us when we stopped in to use the toilet, so we wanted to at least buy something.  There was no sustenance for sale; a snickers bar was as good as it got.  I asked him if they had sandwiches (no) and then where to get any food.  He instructed that the only option was to go to the next ‘street’ (these were all seemingly dirt roads within a construction project or farm campus,) turn right, and there would be a place “about 40 meters” on the right.  As we made the right turn, it was obvious there was NOTHING on the street, but I continued on just to kinda prove to myself that I had followed his directions without error.  At about the 40m mark, I looked right, and there was a plastic outdoor table or two to distinguish this particular travel trailer from something off the set of Raising Arizona.  Actually that didn’t distinguish it… but it made it worth stopping to see if they really sold burgers.  Till this day I can’t really say they do.  Alas.]
All that stuff in between the two pieces of bread was what they called a hamburger. The creepiest part of it all was the “meat”. Looked like some creepy, super processed, will never go bad on you, genetically engineered from scratch flat patty of stuff, I’m certain there was no meat involved and on top of that doused in some mayo looking sauce. I say all these things now, when I am well fed and couldn’t be found eating that if someone paid me, but I did eat that sandwich, I ate about 1/3 of it and then developed a stomach ache. [JP: I ate all of mine.  I didn’t like it at all but a)  I’m disgusting, b) I’m a bit gluttonous and c)  I have inestimable gastrointestinal fortitude.]  We decided to turn around there instead of pedaling on to the forest. On the way back we took the less scenic route during which I puked most of  what I ate of that awful sandwich. I’ve become quite a pro at vomiting while cycling, I don’t even have to stop to do it anymore. I know just when to turn my head and the exact angle it needs to be at in order to maintain my speed and not disrupt my sleek aero position.  [JP:  and I ride in FRONT of Natalya and just fart… it’s kinda a compromise of minimal aggregate damage.] <–Yes, that happened a lot…
One of the well maintained, very pretty stone homes in
Cycling past Valkala
Ordering ‘hamburgers’…at least she spoke Russian… [JP:  having a wife
that can speak Russian can be pretty amazing.  Without her I would have
had to… hmm.. escape from the KGB – definitely.]
Forcing down bites of this ‘hamburger’.
As we were making it back into town we stopped at Kadriorg park and palace at a recommendation from a friend. Kadriorg means Catherine’s valley and is the Baroque palace of Cathrine I of Russia.There is no end to the Russian influence on Estonian culture, they were occupied by Russia for over 50 years after all. This was beneficial to us since we were able to get by with Russian and weren’t forced to learn Estonian. Everyone seemed to speak Russian, locals and visitors alike. The Kadriorg palace was surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains with a lot of people socializing, picnicking, and pushing baby strollers. [JP I read that about 25% of the population was Russian-proper, and there were some social conflicts that told me that some Estonians associated the Russians with crime and poverty.  My observation was that more wealthy city dwellers spoke Estonian and rural//poor people were more likely to speak Russian.  This worked out great for us since we were touring places… “off the tourist map”.  We didn’t capture the soviet block housing we started out at.. that was kinda weird]
Kadriorg Palace
Beautiful little pond in this park full of swans and their babies.
Our hotel has a spa, gym, and a full on Olympic length, 50m pool with slides, hot tubs, saunas, and more. After our 67 mile (107.8 km) ride it was very soothing to get in the water and sit in the sauna for a bit before getting ready for dinner.
The massive pool, very impressive.
For dinner we ended up at restaurant Mix, a fusion place that had good reviews and deserved every one of them. The food was outstanding, the portions were larger than expected and it was “good value for money” as the English would say.
Amuse from the chef: duck liver.
Salmon tartar over a mix of seaweed salad and
edemame, my favorite dish of the night.
Russian potato salad served with horseradish mustard, caviar
and crayfish, very tasty.
Beef tartar with salad greens.
Jerry ordered steak.
I had risotto with wild mushrooms and asparagus that was
served with Parmesan froth.
Satisfied with dinner.

We stopped at another restaurant for dessert on our way back to the hotel where Jerry enjoyed a coffee and I a fruit tea.

Jerry’s dessert: fresh goat cheese, acacia honey, walnuts,
red grapefruit, and toasts.
My dessert: chilled strawberry soup with Estonian
eggnog ice-cream, basil, meringue, & milk foam.

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This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by in Travel.
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