4 August – Pärnu (Estonia)

An unexpected stay in the Rimini of Estonia, just because I left one night without booking in my plan… Valeria loves the unexpected, so she was happy while we were trying to arrange for a night somewhere in the most crowded city in Estonia, where Estonians go for the beach. Eventually, we booked a room at a couple’s home not far from the beach, and it turned out as one of the best rooms in the entire trip. They were a bit in disarray because the booking came only 1 hour before our arrival, and they wanted the room and everything to be absolutely perfect.

It was, and we spent a lovely afternoon on the beach, having our beloved herrings for picnic, and listening to an open air concert by a folk group, who had the most famous rapper as their guest for the evening.

To top it up, dinner in a garden restaurant nearby our home was a delight, almost like eating in someone’s garden.

26 July – 3 August – Tallinn (Estonia)

One of the highlights of our trip. After the HomeExchange accommodation was cancelled because of an unresponsive owner, we had to find an alternative while in Stockholm, one week before our ferry to Tallinn was scheduled. Others would have panicked, but we did not: thanks to the excellent guarantee by HomeExchange and their great support staff, we enquired first about a home that would be available for us in the HomeExchange network. As this turned out not to be possible (it is difficult to find someone who can open their doors on a few days’ notice, for a stay of 8 days). So, we were authorised to look for a rental and we found a lovely apartment in Kalamaja, the most authentic area of Tallinn. The city is a mix of traditional houses, panelled with wood, and extraordinary architecture, which is luckily not limited to skyscrapers and office buildings, but is trickling down on condos and housing for everyone, with good style and a lot of attention to quality of life of the people living there. This is something we haven’t found often: many cities are more beautiful than Tallinn (no need to give examples here) but few areas liveable, in the sense of having the right combination of prettiness and infrastructure friendliness. In Tallinn, you can be on the beach, have great shopping, rest in beautiful parks, or visit interesting cultural venues, all while eating well and enjoying markets where raspberries or blueberries (the best we’ve eaten in a while) cost 5 EUR/kilo. Sure, a cappuccino will be 4,5 EUR, which is outrageous for Italian standards, but it will be enjoyed in a stylish surrounding, with no cups and saucers clattering which seems a constant in Italian bars, good wifi, and a relaxed environment.

This said, we enjoyed Tallinn very much, and the variety of activities we were able to cram into our 7 days: a lot of biking on flat terrain (easier than at home), some beach, a couple of very interesting museums, including one in open air showcasing life in Estonia in the middle age, and plenty more. Finding good quality ice cream (La Muu, Valeria’s favourite) and a gluten-free restaurant in Telliskivi was super too. We will return!

PS – Forgot to mention that Estonia is one of the most advanced countries worldwide for everything related to electronic payments. Until now, after one month since we left Italy, we haven’t used cash.

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