Our first slice of the Baltic Sandwich

We didn’t spend long in Estonia, just 3 days, but we enjoyed what we saw of it and Tallinn is one of my favourite cities. Heading south we stopped in a few villages, and at Soomaa National Park looking for wildlife. The park is mainly made up of bog, and is said to have a 5th season which is where the entire area floods. We passed a bridge which is the only dry place for the local farmer to park his car in Spring.

I went to wash my face in the info centre toilets, but as I was bringing a handful of water up to my face I smelt rotten eggs. It’s amazing how a smell can take you back to a place; Asia, with its open sewers, a sweet and sour memory I suppose.

We needed some water though, so I asked the helpful lady if she had some drinking water and she directed me to a kitchen sink. It was all going well, till the water started spraying violently and then the smell of shit wafted towards us. Eugh! I guess it’s from the peat bog, not actual sewage. I sunk knee deep into a bog on our first day in Scotland and it stank, Craig even refused to walk next to me for the remainder of our hike. How were we supposed to drink that, it smelt like Craig had farted into the canister and sealed it up. I guess we’ll be buying bottled water from now on.

We’ve noticed that Latvians take serious pride in their gardens and little allotments. The forest floor we drove past even looked like it had been tended to. It’s not as cheap here as we’d expected, but booze, vegetables and fruit sure are. Hopefully they’ll last longer than Scandinavia’s not-so-fresh produce that wilted and grew mould as soon as it left the checkout.

We’ve managed to find a couple of nice places to wash/swim. One of which was advised by a young chap, saying it’s only known by the locals. It was an old quarry just south of Valmiera, with a bright orange rubble road leading to it. From above, it was a heart shape lake, but you wouldn’t know as you stood on the shores. It had some lovely sandy little beaches and really clear water, but a storm had followed us for the past 3 days and winds were brutal so we had a very swift dip. Sadly the locals have been using the area for dumping rubbish and televisions.

We’ve found the roads nice and quiet so far, and it’s been easy to find a place to camp for the night. Last night we stayed in an area with forest all around, there were no houses and hardly any cars drove along the road. For the first time in our entire Europe roadtrip, we experienced a totally pitch black night by 10pm, it was quite odd not having a shimmer of natural light poking through the solar fan.

As I say, no houses around, so I was a bit dazed and confused when I woke and heard a noise outside. It was 1am and I was snoozy, trying to listen hard as I couldn’t tell if Craig was just breathing weirdly. Nope, it was an animal, numerous animals right outside.

As Craig arose, I informed him that a Lynx was outside. Realistically it was probably just cats, but there were 3 or more of them and they were going crazy, making that annoying cat noise that sounds like a human mumbling. It went on for ages and they were really mumbling, like old people in a nursing home arguing about what TV channel to put on. In my drowsy state I declared that it was not a Lynx, but an old man outside.

Then Craig laughed and said it was cats. God know what they were up to, but they clearly had a massive fight right by Pablo, even bumping into her at times. They were being so noisy and started attacking one another and were squealing and growling, there was no way I could sleep with them there. We tried making scowling noises but they wouldn’t leave us alone, and I certainly wasn’t stepping outside into such a dark night, to potentially be attacked by 3 wild cats on the loose, or an old man for that matter.

Either they left, or they seeked asylum in Pablo and hid silently in her undercarriage. There was grey fur and prints all around the van in the morning. How inconsiderate to start a brawl at 1am right on someone’s doorstep!

It reminded me of when I was younger, on a family holiday in France. We were staying at a farmhouse and spotted the owners cat on a long wooden table doing the mumbling noise. But weirdly, it sounded like it was saying my sisters name; ‘Coraal, Coraaaal…’. Obviously we were fascinated and in hysterics till the cat abruptly stopped and threw up on the table.

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