These pages are devoted to an account of a trip to Estonia in June 2002.
This page is a brief summary of the trip; follow the links to find more detail on
different aspects of the experience, plus photos.
Latest changes: I've added some of Diana's pictures to the confirmation and
wedding pages, and put the rest in a separate file.
Why We Went
We went to Estonia to attend the wedding of Creina's cousin Mark Pritchett to
Klaire Tättar. Mark is South African, Klaire Estonian, and they met while they
were working on a strawberry farm in Ledbury, England. The wedding was planned
for Saturday 8 June, 2002, and several dozen guests were invited from South Africa, the UK
and elsewhere to join in the celebrations and take a coach tour round Estonia
Where is Estonia?
Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic republics which gained
their independence from Russia in 1991. It is bordered on the east by
Russia, on the south by Latvia and on the west and north by the Baltic Sea,
a narrow strait of which separates it from Finland. Tallinn, the capital, in the
north of the country, is roughly on the same latitude as Orkney. The other
major cities are Tartu, site of a famous university, and Pärnu, the so-called
Creina and I flew to Tallinn on Wednesday 5 June, and spent three nights
in a rented flat in the beautiful Old Town.
On Thursday we went to the church at Pühavaimu to
see Mark and Klaire confirmed into the Estonian Evangelical
Lutheran Church as a preliminary to the marriage. On Friday evening,
some of the guests formed a scratch team and took on the Estonian national
team in a cricket match.
On Saturday, all the guests
took a four-hour coach trip to Leigo Farm near Otepää in the south of the
country. Mark and Klaire were married on an island in the lake, while the
congregation stood on the shore. Sunday was spent recovering from the celebrations
and exploring Leigo Farm and the surrounding area.
The Coach Tour
On Monday morning, we set off on the
coach tour. The first stop was a sandstone gorge in the Ahja Valley, where we walked through
pinewoods, admired the caves in the sandstone river banks and had lunch in the open air.
Then we went on to the surreal sand
caves of Piusa, close to the Russian border. We spent Monday night in idyllic surroundings in
Karula National Park. Next morning we paid a quick visit to the nearby village of
Lüllemäe, which was almost deserted, then went on to the castle at Sangaste. We reached
Soomaa National Park for lunch, and explored its birch forest and wetland. We spent that night at
Pärnu. On Wednesday morning we went to Haapsalu, where some people shopped and looked at the sights,
while most watched the England-Nigeria football match
in the nearest bar. Our last stop before the return to
Tallinn was the Open Air Museum.
Many people went home at this point, but Creina and I spent a couple more days in Tallinn.
Estonian Life and Culture
Estonian Institute - International promoters of Estonian culture
Visit Estonia - Estonian Tourist Board