Road trip to Lahemaa

Once again Paul, Grant, Paulo and me ended up in the same hostel. But this time it was the Red Emperor in Tallinn.

Here they were chatting away with another group of people and playing a game of Trivia when I arrived. I was pretty tired, but before I got to bed Paul invited me to join him, Grant and a couple other people to see the Lahemaa National Park not too far away from Tallinn. He planned to take a rental car and would need to go to pick it up pretty early, so he asked me to be ready by 11am.

The next morning I was awake at 9:30 and just saw Paul leave to get the car. I knew that all of them were drinking until late in the night and admired Paul’s ability to get up that early and still have energy to go on a day trip like this. I made breakfast, some eggs and sausages I bought the night before from the supermarket across the road.

Paulo joined in and a couple of others from the night before whose names I didn’t remember. They reintroduced themselves Carl from York and Jo from Manchester. When both of them asked if I were going to join the day trip with Paul, a slight problem became apparent. Jo made the math. We were 6 people, would we all fit in the car?

That question did answer itself when Paul rolled in with the tiniest car one could get from a rental place a VW Polo. “Ooops” Paul said, “We might have to squeeze in a little.” Jo was a bit hesitant “Are we not breaking a couple of laws, by doing this?” Paul shrugged it off: “We do this all the time in the States”. So we all squeezed in, with Jo ending up sitting on Carl’s lap. About 15min into the drive we all agreed to get a bigger car. So Paul drove towards the airport where he got the car from. All the while we got to know each other a bit closer “Yeah very close” Jo joked and we laughed. After getting lost a couple of times we made it to the airport. Someone remarked that this must be the craziest car journey they had. “My third craziest” Carl said. “The craziest was a ride on a Tuk Tuk in Thailand”. Once Paul went to get the car exchanged for a bigger one, I jokingly remarked to Grant that he will just get a Golf, which is just a tiny bit bigger than a Polo. I shouldn’t have said that too early as he came back not with a van but a VW Passat, it was indeed bigger but still a 5 seater.

Anyway time passed pretty quickly, especially if you have Paul, Grant and Jo joking around most of the time. I just listened and thought to myself that out of all the things that already happened on this trip it couldn’t get any crazier, but it did and I loved it. The reason I love travelling was because of moments like these. Being able to meet random people, squeeze with them in a car and drive to somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I know it sounds like a recipe for a horror movie, in particular if you have to consider that the petrol was running pretty low as well.

So after about an hour we took the next exit in order to find a place to eat. We tried collective decision making, which did not really work as we kept debating if we should check out the next cafe on the road and once me made the decision it was already too late. So we ended up in a tiny Estonian village, which must have never seen any tourist stray into its bounds as the moment we parked in the supermarket parking lot we became the attraction of the day. It started off with us parking in the middle of the road, which looked like a parking spot, to us having a picnic on the trunk of the car and then drink vodka in the middle of the day.

Carl was very excited when he came out of the supermarket with a bag of Apples. “They were just 9cents each!” he said proudly and bit into one. “Woahh, these are great and look how white they are inside.” The end of the story was that we all ended up going back inside and each buying their own supply of these Apples.

Our chaotic trip continued, first along a narrow forest path that ‘looked interesting’ and led us to a cool looking camp and then we ended up looking for a tourist info point to get a map so that we could at least find some of the attractions. We did find a tourist point who pointed us to a fishing village and a waterfall. So we drove along the coast, which we couldn’t see much off as a thick pine forest blocked the view. “Let’s park the car somewhere and try to get to the beach” someone suggested and not too much later we ended up walking through one of the most beautiful forest I had ever seen. The forest floor was covered by a thick carpet of pine needles and moss, it just looked and felt surreal. It didn’t take us long find the beach. A long white sandy beach stretched from the left to right, ringed by the same pine forest we just walked through. All lit by bright sunlight as the sky was near cloud free.

If it weren’t for the freezing cold it could have easily been a beach somewhere in Thailand, I thought. I was holding on that thought when I saw Paul and Grant taking off their clothes and running straight into the water. “Are they crazy?” I asked the other three standing besides me. I was wearing thermal underwear, four layers of clothes and gloves, and they were going for a dip in the ice cold sea. The funniest thing however was that the beach was very shallow, so they had to run quite a distance to get anywhere near knee deep water.

When they returned they seemed pretty fine as they continued walking alongside us in just their shorts. I had spotted a shipwreck in the distance and convinced everyone to walk over there to check it out. Once there Paul and Grant walked towards the wreck and climbed on it. It wasn’t too long till Paulo and Carl joined them until only me and Jo were left on the beach. “Fuck it” I thought, there are that many opportunities to climb on a shipwreck and take photos of it. So I shed most of my clothes until I was only wearing my underwear, jumper and T-Shirt. The pain was the worst I had felt in my life, I really thought that my feet were going to fall of the moment I stepped into the water. But I fought hard until I reached the wreck. The good thing you see, is once you walk through ice-cold water, everything else you stand on afterwards feels warm, even the metal plating on a shipwreck.

We took a couple of pictures before we headed off to see the fishing village and then onwards to the waterfall, which was rather tiny and proved quite a disappointment to the others. Not for me however, as I was shooting away with my camera. I could already see the rest waiting for me so I made it quick, so that we could get back to the hostel before it was getting dark.

On the way back we spoke about getting some dinner so I suggested how about I cooked some Thai food, I mean we had a great kitchen and I did find a bottle of fish sauce lying around the hostel. So the first thing we did as soon as we got back was to go to the supermarket and buy some ingredients for a Red Curry and fried rice. The supermarket was very well stocked and I found everything I needed. At the till I got a little surprise as the bill turned out to be 25€ which is nothing, considering I was cooking for 7 people.

In the end we ended up with too much food and I with 7 invitations to be their flatmate.