Rivers of love and good karma on Saarema

My arrival on Saarema coincided with a rise in temperature and a let up in the winds. As if the beach side free camping and quiet roads weren’t making cycle touring nice enough, it seemed I was going to be treated to a bit of an Indian summer too, or an old lady’s summer as it is called in Estonian.

After days of riding more tree lined routes, dotted with wooden cabins, perfectly mown pastures and cute bus stops, I came to more waterside camp spots and even enjoyed some camp fires to extend the evenings with a local cider. The warm weather built into a thunder storm one evening, and I watched the lightening flashing out of the gloom from across the small bay I was next to.

In the morning the whole bay was shrouded in mist and all I could hear as I looked out of the tent was the sound of voices. Eventually a small fishing boat came into view, just as the outboard motor was ripped into action and roared away through the near silence. Half an hour later a car pulled up near by and I watched as another pair of fisherman strolled out into the shallow waters to check an other set of nets, seemingly without much success.

Between the tent and the water, there was also plenty to keep me curious as I rode; like the village of Kaarma and the nearby Love jogi (river), or the creativity of locals in their gardens or even the bus stops. The main town on Saarema is Kuressaare and I treated myself to a hostel bed for the night in an empty dorm and a slap up fish supper in a nearby pub, washed down with some very English cider this time! The town’s streets had more life on them than I had seen anywhere else on the islands, but it still felt sleep and empty as a result of it being out of season. But the island of Saaremma had also been ground zero for Coronavirus in Estonia, leading it to be completely shut off from the mainland for 3 months and earning it the unwelcome nickname of Corona Island.

Happily for me, links with the mainland were now fully restored and my route back took me past a meteor crater in Kaali (right next to a school – nothing like a meteor crater outside your classroom window to teach you about the fragility of life) – the idyllic marina of Koiguste and finally, an encounter with an erratic boulder 🙂 A windy ride over a causeway took me to Muhu, before a short ferry ride back to the mainland.

The Eurovelo route continued to lead me along small rural roads, through marshland and forest tracks, apparently part of the ‘Romantic coastline’, until shortly before the city of Pärnu. I stayed with another Warmshower host here before taking his advice to follow a small coastal route to reach the city instead of joining the trucks and traffic heading along the main coast road to Latvia. I was getting near to my first border, always a satisfying feeling on the bike, even when the crossing is frictionless between EU member countries. But Coronavirus might be about to change that.

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