My bags were packed, and I was on the road headed to Pearson’s International Airport to fly from Toronto to Tallinn Estonia stopping over in Munich. Once in Munich, kartoffel salt (Potato Salad) was served with German sausage, mustard sauce, and a large beer; my spirits being freshly renewed I boarded the plane and headed for Tallinn, Estonia.
From Tallinn we drove 1.5 hours to Narva-Joesuu, a beach town overlooking the finish gulf that borders Russia’s Northwestern coast a few hours west of St. Petersburg. Narva-Joesuu is nestled between the Russian border and forest that is full of pine trees and monuments celebrating the Soviet victory in WWII over Germany. In eastern Estonia, the language spoken is Russian as many ethnic Russians from the Soviet days live as Estonian citizens.
The groomed beach was full of white sand and as my arrival in May ensured, tourist season had not yet begun, and the beach was mine alone to enjoy. A stone’s throw from the beach, every morning started off with a mile walk just as every night ended in the same manner. Often walking to the edge of the Estonian border which looked across towards thick Russian forests over the Narva river that were an unpopulated, peaceful and idyllic sight.
Food was fresh and unlike anything American I’d had. Caviar, eel, salted pickles, and a smorgasbord of salads like herring under the fur, holodets which is a gel like jello with multiple types of meat packed inside was uniquely addicted and new to my taste buds. Freshly brewed homemade beer with all natural ingredients and hand caught salted fish were vkusnyj (tasty in Russian) and provided ample energy for enduring the hot sauna for when the nights grew cold and windy.
Windy, sunny, hot, warm, the weather was always changing, and this made for an exciting trip. One day I was tanning on the beach, the next hitting the sauna and having bbq and beer with friends. With prices in Estonia relatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe and the U.S., I may soon find myself the owner of a cabin in the woods or an apartment in a neighboring city so that I can enjoy a picturesque retreat at the beach in Narva-Joesuu.
While Tallinn has more of the hustle and bustle of a small city, the reminding me of Windsor Canada, Narva-joesuu is comparable to a cabin in the woods up in Northern Michigan near Petoskey, Charlevoix, or Traverse City with unspoiled views and the tranquility of solitude.