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Saaremaa, Estonia

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

18th July, 2014

Saaremaa is a flat island of some 1030 square miles belonging to Estonia, to the west of Tallinn. The berth that we had to use was a secluded pier, built in 2006. All we could see as we approached were trees, in fact as far as the eye could see was just trees. My first impressions were that a log burning stove salesman could earn a very good living here. So the way to get to see what the island had to offer was to take a tour. I did, and saw an interesting old church (also in the middle of nowhere), some preserved windmills on windmill hill (more a rise than a hill I would say), and a meteorite crater apparently formed around 700 BC. We eventually reached the only real town, the rather pleasant and very clean Kuressaare, situated on the south coast and which boasted a fine 14th century ‘Bishop’s’ castle.

The island has around 30,000 inhabitants, but is no doubt much busier in the summer with tourists from not only the mainland but other Scandinavian countries (a magnet for cyclists I presume). As I wondered around I heard English voices, not from the ship, but members of a ‘Baltic States’ car rally, the cars included an old dusty Mercedes and a fine looking Morgan.

Our tours returned by lunchtime and we spent the afternoon alongside, some folks relaxing by the pool in very pleasant warm sunshine, others going for a stroll along the forest road. In the evening, after departure, I was stopped by quite a few folk who remarked that it had been a wonderful day. Not because there had been so much to see, but because the day had been so relaxing, particularly after the frenetic touring in St. Petersburg and the busy day in Tallinn. It had seemed like a day off.

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