Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.
It's time to finally show you what my Midsummer trip to Pärnu, Estonia was all about! I got invited to this trip by one of my best friends and it didn't take a long time for me to decide to go. Usually Midsummer is celebrated here in Finland in the countryside, at lake cottages and so on, but I thought it was refreshing to try something completely different for a change. Spending time with some of my best friends sounded too good to refuse, especially since everybody has busy lives and it's difficult to find occasions when everybody has days off work at the same time.
With the blessing of my better half, last Thursday I headed with five other girls to Estonia! Have a look, and see what we did during the first day in Pärnu. I'll have to divide the blog posts about the trip and write several blog posts about it since I got quite excited with my camera and took a lot of photos so bear with me!
We first took Tallink Silja's ferry to the Estonian capital Tallinn. I've been to Tallinn several times since it's so close to Helsinki. By boat the trip takes merely 1½ - 3 hours, depending on the ferry speed. We took a ferry that took two hours. Onboard we enjoyed an extensive buffet.
Once we arrived in Tallinn, we had thought to take the taxi to the bus station since we knew there were still some two hours to Pärnu by bus. However, our taxi driver made such a great deal for us that we ended up taking the taxi all the way to Pärnu from Tallinn! That was quite incredible because if you think about it, we basically crossed the country in a taxi. This could never be done in Finland since the distances here are bigger and the prices are so much higher.
Nevertheless, this was by far the most convenient way of reaching Pärnu and we were happy to have a local driver so that we easily found the apartment we rented in Pärnu. We arrived quite late to Pärnu, so that evening we went almost immediately to bed, but the next day, we headed out to do some sightseeing.
On Visit Estonia's website Pärnu is described in the following way:
Pärnu is a historical beautiful resort seaside city with a small harbor in the South-Western part of Estonia. White sandy beaches, shallow waters, rich cultural scene and numerous cafés, restaurants and nightclubs – there is plenty to see and do.
Straight off, I was fascinated with the wooden buildings in Pärnu. It reminded me of the coastline cities we have in Finland (e.g. Tammisaari, Hanko). I loved the cute details; the balconies, verandas, wooden bridges, and decorative shop windows.
Seeing as I work for Visit Helsinki, I obviously had to visit the Tourist Information in Pärnu. It's kind of like a habit for all of my colleagues, we're so curious to see how tourist information is given in other countries. You might call it benchmarking, but actually it's just a case of positive curiosity. The Tourist Information in Pärnu is set in a beautiful and eminent building.
The city center was made for pedestrians and it was very easy to walk around in. It didn't take us long to recognize our way and get about without a map. I loved the fact that most of the parks had wireless internet in them - perfect for someone who likes to stay online! History was very tangible in Pärnu; one could constantly feel the presence of it. No wonder - Pärnu made its way to the list of Russian imperial resorts already in 1890.
A bird lover like me was happy to find some wooden bird decorations in one of the windows of the buildings close to the city center. The birds reminded me of surprise, surprise my father.
A fun characteristic of Pärnu was the elephant symbol that stood for the fact that since 1996, Pärnu has been known as Estonia's Summer Capital. There’s a popular Estonian saying that if you haven’t seen your friends during the year, you’ll meet them all in the summer in Pärnu. I believe that the elephant had its origin from the wooden elephant slide that one could find on Pärnu's beach, but I hope my Estonian readers will correct me if I'm wrong at this point.
One of my colleagues who visits Pärnu every summer had given me a brochure about the city before my trip, so I had read some about the place. One of the things that caught my eye in the brochure was a café called Supelsaksad. Why? First of all, I'm a lover of good coffee and pastries. Secondly, according to the brochure, this café was set in a 200-year-old building so I was sure it would tell us a lot about the history of Pärnu. I was thrilled when I recognized the name of the café on one of the buildings that we passed by and I managed to convince my friends to try it!
It was definitely worth it! This café is one of the prettiest I've ever been to! Even though the house looked simple from the outside, inside it was a true treasure chest!
Behind the counter, we found a lovely young couple that explained about the café and showed us some of their delicious cakes and pastries. I loved the fact that the café had a beautiful garden outside.
I chose to try the café's chocolate cake! It had chocolate raisins on it, as well as some coffee taste layers. Yummy! And the dishes were just lovely, they made me think of my grandmother's place.
My friends tried a meringue treat! When looking inside the café we discovered tons of cool vintage photos and posters of Pärnu. I thought it was a wonderful idea to emphasize the history of the city in the café. The nostalgic pictures reminded me of the Come to Finland posters that we used to have in Finland. We've also had them in some cafés in Helsinki and the posters can be bought online.
The picture that got the most of my attention was this one, showcasing the famous beach of Pärnu. And that is exactly where we headed after the café visit.
I love old photos like this one. I think you can sense the atmosphere of the time portrayed in them. In my next blog post I'll show you how amazing the beach in Pärnu is, so stay tuned!