Another Estonian Island
in Kihnu, Estonia on 4th August, 2012

On Thursday Morning Triin and I got up early to catch a 6:20am bus to Parnu. We were keen to get to an Island off the coast of Estonia's mainland called Kihnu. There are two boats a day to the Island and the second boat would have had us there in time for dinner which wouldn't give us much time for exploration.

When we got to the bus station here in Tallinn there were a few buses going to Parnu. I attempted to board the first bus and buy two tickets. The bus driver told me in Estonian to let people who'd already bought a ticket on first. After they got on I then again tried to buy a ticket only to be told they didn't sell tickets in Estonia.

The next bus we went to had two guys at the front. They exited their bus as we arrived and went for a coffee. About 15 minutes later they came back and told us off in Russian for trying to buy tickets from them. They said they weren't going to Parnu and they were heading straight on to Latvia. We later saw this bus parked up in Parnu.

I'm not sure why so many bus companies are refusing customers. At any rate, the third bus we boarded happily sold us tickets. It was a business bus with free wifi and a menu full of food and drinks. There was a waitress that came around to us every once in a while. She was misses multi-lingual switching into English when I was trying to complete my order in Estonian. I wish I'd known that this bus also goes and picks up people across the street from where we live before driving off to Parnu. Anything that saves me watching Russians behaving badly at the bus station is very much welcome in my life.

In Parnu we walked a few blocks over to the Harbour, got some tickets and boarded the boat for Kihnu Island. Again the boat had free wifi. We spent 20 minutes looking out at Parnu as we sailed away and then went inside where I laid on a very long seat, read off my iPad and chatted with Triin.

We found the only restaurant we were to ever find on Kihnu Island shortly after arriving. They sold pints of beer for £1.58 and nice, hot meals for not much more than that. This would be the first of many cheap encounters on the island. I guess they haven't heard that everything in Estonia should cost more than anywhere in Western Europe.

After lunch we rented some bikes and headed to the guest house we rented. The manager only said a few words in English and kept the rest of the conversations between ourselves in Estonian.

In Tallinn everyone usually just speaks in English to foreigners. I see a lot of Slovaks, Croats, Chinese and a few other nationalities which are presumed to have a solid understanding of the English language when they're buying things here. My best chance to practice any sort of Estonian is in the countryside where the conversations won't be too deep and the people I encounter would have come in contact with foreigners less frequently than people working in Tallinn.

The only thing which messes this up is people around me might pickup that I'm foreign and will jump in the conversation with a translation if I don't respond to something within ten milliseconds. They're eager to help but at the same time they're hammering a nail in the coffin of their language.

Triin and I spent hours cycling around the Island. It felt like very few people were there at all. There were a couple of shops with one or two people working in each but beyond that, the place felt void of any human activity.

There was hardly a cloud in the sky the whole time as well.

After dinner, Triin and I visited the beach on the west side of the Island to watch the sunset. The sea was absolutely flat and undisturbed. Triin walked along in the water and commented on how warm it was. This felt a world away from the crowded and busy beaches of Parnu.

Our guest house was okay. It had a sauna room below and a grill just outside our door. But the room was probably as hot as the sauna, the fly net for the window kept falling down, the walls were as thin as paper and in the evening an Italian family showed up with what must have been five kids.

There was also a pot-bellied Estonian bus driver sleeping in the room next to us. His snoring was so loud he might as well have slept in our room with a megaphone. Triin and I played on a drum machine on my iPad for 20 minutes which could have woken the whole island but this guy slept through it. I slammed the wall right by where his head must of been but he slept through that as well. He sounded like he was days away from death.

In the morning we walked over to a neighbouring farm where they run a shop and cafe. We had some breakfast and some coffees and also bought some Kihnu bread which tasted amazing. The woman who ran the farm was also harvesting fruits from the farm and using them in products she was selling.

I'm surprised they don't sell Kihnu bread up here in Tallinn. They've got like 40 different types of bread in the supermarket by our home but this could easily top most of them.

We caught a boat back to Parnu in the afternoon. When we were docking in Parnu the front door opened and there was a bare-chested, drunken Estonian guy shouting at everyone waiting and trying to shake the hands of the crew docking the boat. The crew members shouted at him to move back but he just jumped around with his hands in the air like everyone wanted him to exist.

We found a bunch of these drunks sprinkled around Parnu. There must have been a piss-head convention or some sort of drunken, bad-dad's Parnu vacation weekend going on. I'm glad these guys exist, if anyone makes me and all other foreign men in Estonia look like Matt Damon and MacGyver put together, these guys do.

We waited at the bus stop in Parnu for about 20 minutes before our bus driver sobered up enough to let us in the bus and drive us back to Tallinn. I'm sure if they did background checks before hiring any of the bus drivers in Estonia we'd all be riding trains here instead.

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