Motorcycles, Latvia, and Estonia - Oh My!
When The Scientist asked if I wanted to go on a motorcycle trip to Estonia, I was equal parts excited and nervous. The longest motorcycle trip I'd taken thus far was a trip out to Pedernales Falls State Park - not that far by Texas standards.
How would I do on the back of a motorcycle for that many hours?
Only one way to find out, y'all.
So, I got some new windproof gear, downloaded my favorite albums, and prayed for a smooth ride. If you remember my fear of flying post back in November, I have a much better relationship with winding roads, thanks to trusting my husband and his years of experience.
Plus, the newness of the experience beckoned me, as always.
I'll be upfront: I'd like to say the entirety of the ride was smooth and peaceful, but Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia leave a lot to be desired in the way of road quality. An especially rough patch around Molėtai and Utena really pisses me off, and I found that, sometimes, the dirt roads were calmer than the supposed main roads.
But when you're on the back of a motorcycle, all you can really do is surrender.
And look around in wonder, nothing separating you from the elements, from wildflowers, from horses and cows and goats.
First stop: Latvia.
I didn't plan anything for this trip - just showed up with a hot pink jacket and a leaning curiosity. But our first night was spent in a tiny, rustic hotel right on the beach, and that last point was easily its most winning feature. It was clear the tiny town of Saulkrasti wasn't quite set up yet for tourists, but who cares about that when the sunset sets you straight for days? I crave the beach, and I have a strong idea that the feeling is mutual. Our first day on the road happened to be our friend's birthday, and I can honestly say with 100% certainty that this sunset with people I love felt like it was my birthday. (Side note: we had birthday dinner at a cozy restaurant with fresh salads, flowing drinks, and a charming, entertaining waiter. Go there if you're ever nearby!)
If it were up to me, I would have stayed at the beach longer; I mean, y'all remember how I felt about Portugal. But off we went to our next destination: a university town in Estonia called Tartu. Naturally, I'd only ever heard of Tallinn (and I still can't wait to visit!), but Tartu was beautiful - cold, but beautiful. I had a great experience at the sauna of our centrally located hotel, spending as much time in the steam room as I could. (Hey, humidity!)
Estonia had retained a special place in my American heart - so close yet so far. I wasn't sure what to expect. But the students at the university made sure we had a good time via their Student Days. I get the feeling the students and university really do run this town. In fact, Mr. Golden Hands entered a Beer Crate competition on a whim and ended up winning second place - and a large box of gin and tonics that he inevitably shared with everyone who walked by. This experience really hones in on what it's like to have moved to another country with, well, the one person I'd do that with: it's an adventure and you have to remain open to all possibilities. Sometimes those possibilities include gin and tonics, Swedbank-sponsored pasta, and former gunpowder storage buildings turned into beer halls.
Tartu in and of itself had a lot of green space, a calming river, an entertaining science museum, and various students walking around. As I think about it now, it reminded me a bit of San Marcos, Texas, just a bit down the way from Austin - also a college town with a calming river and bustling with student life.
But the real gift of the experience was spending time with people I care about, and realizing I can spend 7 hours on the back of a motorcycle. I had to prove it to myself. Would I do it again? Yeah, sure... but maybe next time, we can figure out a way around that Molėtai to Utena strip. I ain't doin' that again, if I can help it. ;)
Got any entertaining stories to share from Estonia? My inbox is open!
As per usual, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this page to receive a bi-weekly email from me on whatever's on my heart that day! And as always, I'll see you next time here at Into the Forests I Go - iki pasimatymo - see you soon!