Mostly Eastern Estonia
in Sillamäe, Estonia on 14th July, 2012

My friends Pavel and Andrei, who grew up in Estonia but now live in London, were back in Estonia for a week. We've done the usual drinking in the Old Town and whatnot but they invited me to go with them to Eastern Estonia on Thursday for the day.

Pavel rented a car and we set off. Our first stop was the Tallinn district of Lasnamäe. Pavel's Mom lives there and his brother Andrei was staying there. Pavel had brought his girlfriend along and introduced her to his Mom. We chatted for a bit, had some ice cream and then set off towards Estonia's border with Russia.

Along the way we stopped for some shashlik. I ordered my food in Estonian, the guys ordered their food in Russian. I had mixed up the phrases "pay separately" and "pay together" and Pavel ended up being the generous one covering our bill. We got shouted at while we jumped on the trampoline outside while waiting for our food.

Then we continued our journey to Sillamäe, in Eastern Estonia. I was expecting the landscape to start changing but it stayed pretty much the same. Standard Estonia forests, windmills, a castle, the signs all remained in Estonian. I'm not sure why I thought this part of the country would look like an industrial complex in Belarus but it looks a lot like Pärnu's surrounding areas in the south of the country.

When we arrived in Sillamäe we had another lunch with Pavel's Grandparents. After an hour or so we went for a walk around town. The whole area we walked in looked like it was designed and built in one go. In Tallinn, buildings next to one another rarely look like one another but here, every building looked pretty much the same. Pavel took out some money at a cash point while Andrei and I bought some cherries at a market stall. I ordered the cherries in Estonian and the woman showed me the price for them on a calculator.

We paid farewell to Pavel's Grandparents and drove to a beach which is just a few kilometres away from the Estonian/Russian border. There Pavel's Dad and Step-Mom have a villa right next to the beach. The house was really beautiful. When Pavel's Dad bought the land, he demolished the house that was originally there and designed and built a new one. After we had some tea, Pavel's Dad drove Andrei and I in his Mercedes SLK to a chemicals terminal where he runs his import/export business.

I'm a bit cross with everyone who warned me about going to this part of Estonia. It was perfectly fine and a memorable experience. I didn't see the legions of drug addicts or mafia bosses running around. No crazy strangers in the streets spoke to us, let alone threaten us in any way. The beach was lovely and the generosity of Pavel's family won't soon be forgotten.

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