Our second biking day was billed as a day of “cycling along the lakeshore” of Lake Peipsi, the boundary separating Estonia from Russia. Let’s just say that while technically correct, the description of the ride was a bit of a stretch, although the day did have a promising start on the waterfront at Mustvee.
Unfortunately, the bike path quickly turned inland and merged with a road running parallel to the lake which was hidden from view by scrub pine forest – and it stayed that way for most of the 32 miles we cycled. Not very scenic, so my photos from the ride are somewhat limited. At any rate, it was a reasonably nice day for biking.
We stopped at the halfway point for lunch in the fishing village of Kallaste and were joined by the two friendly German couples in our group from Leipzig in former East Germany. The men each had two large beers with lunch and we marveled at the fact that they could cycle the remaining 15 miles after that. I would have laid down on a bench and fallen asleep after two beers.
One thing I did find interesting on this day’s ride was the local construction. In Florida, all the buildings are made of concrete block and stucco because the local building material is limestone and sand; in Washington, all the buildings are made of wood, again, due to the materials available, in that case, lumber. In this part of Estonia they seem to use – and reuse – anything they can get their hands on.
And it looks like nearly every home is heated with wood.
The electric grid was also interesting with the transformers sitting right on the ground, rusting away (that’s a stork’s nest on top of the vertical pole behind the transformer). But the trend now that Estonia is in the European Union and has access to EU infrastructure funding is toward the very modern, like the solar panels you see in the background, below.
Lake Peipsi, seen further in the background, is a huge lake, twice as big (and 3 times as deep) as the largest in Florida, Lake Okeechobee.
Here’s what most of our bike ride looked like on this day:
Stopping at a bus stop to stretch:
As we approached Varnja, the end of our day’s ride, we passed some fish being dried. The staple food in this area is smoked fish and onions. My kind of diet.
End of the road for today. Surprisingly, we were the first to reach the finish line at Varnja.
Soon, our bus arrived to take us to Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city. Tartu’s city center is mostly pedestrian, with plenty of nice restaurants and cafes.
It’s also a university city and seemingly more modern than Tallinn.
Tomorrow, we’ll be up early for tranport to Otepää, the supposed “Switzerland of Estonia.”