Thursday 6th July
We woke up this morning unsure of what to do with our day.
“We’ve had a good run in Estonia…” I mused aloud. “Why don’t we drive to Lativa?”
“Sure,” came Morgan’s easy going reply. “Why not?”
If you read yesterday’s blog, you’ll be pleased to note that we were suffering no ill effects from our foray into mushroom foraging.
The Baltic states all being fairly tiny, Google informed us we could drive from our current position in the north of Estonia into the middle of Latvia in a mere three and a half hours. We set off south, rumbling slowly along the dirt roads out of the national park. Mid-morning, we stopped at a supermarket, and made an extremely optimistic shopping list in the car park. Of course they’ll have blueberries and peanut butter, we thought. Those are basic necessities!
“Did you get everything?” Morgan asked, as I emerged 20 minutes later.
“Er, not really” I replied. “It was a bit odd in there…”
The supermarket had been dark and dingy, and at least half of the shelves in the entire place had been devoted to alcohol. After rummaging through various bruised and wrinkly veg for a least 5 minutes, I’d found a few onions and a pepper that looked fairly edible. As for fruit, there’d been nothing except some very battered looking apples.
I had at least found dense Estonian bread and cheese in the depressing supermarket, so we stopped to have this for lunch in Viljandi. We knew absolutely nothing about this town except it was on route into Lativa, and had a castle icon on Google maps. Part of the fun of road tripping is being able to visit these random places, making stops on a whim in a way that wouldn’t be feasible if we were travelling by any other means.
Turns out, Viljandi is a really interesting place with castle ruins spread out next to a lake, and a quaint, cobbled old town.
Also, lurking around in these streets we found the evil car from that episode of Futurama where Bender turns into a were-car. (re-painted of course, but no less evil.)
Obviously, it started raining heavily and unexpectedly in the middle of our lunch, causing us to run back to our own car for shelter.
“Isn’t it amazing that the car is waterproof?” we said to each other, not for the first time, as we piled all our belongings back into the car. If there’s one thing we’ve really come appreciate on this trip, it’s just how waterproof cars are.
We crossed the border into Latvia later that afternoon, and attempted food shopping again.
“They’re bound to have fresh fruit this time!” I thought optimistically to myself as I opened the supermarket door. Dismayed, I found that the fruit and veg selection had shrunk even more, and the alcohol selection was now so large it was spilling out onto the floor between the aisles. Inspecting the nearest pile of Latvian beer, I realised a large bottle was only 80 cents. “When in Latvia,” I thought to myself, piling bottles into my basket. “Who needs fruit anyway?”
We settled in for the night at a campsite near Cesis, and attempted to fill up our water supplies – one of the key reasons we stop at campsites these days. The only taps in sight were at the toilet sinks, so we asked the campsite guy whether that was safe to drink.
“Ah, no, that’s untreated river water.” he said, with an inappropriately large smile. “If you want drinking water, you should visit the clear water spring in the woods! It’s only a 15 minute walk away.”
I was grumbling as we hiked into the forest with all of our empty water carriers, which would be much heavier on the way back.
“I mean, it’s a camp site! We brought our own tent and pitched it ourselves! What exactly did we pay them 15 euros for if they don’t even have water?!”
“I like it!” said Morgan cheerfully. “It’s fun, the walk is nice, and this is much better water than what comes out of any tap anyway. It’s so fresh and cold!”
In Tallinn we’d received very confused looks any time we asked for tap water at a cafe, and waiters would generally refuse to give it to us unless it was for Lex. Baltic tap water is a bit dodgy, apparently, but that hasn’t stopped us drinking it so far.
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