All quiet on the Estonian front

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Narva to Kortsialuse, Estonia

(Apologies to Erich Maria Remarque)

Narva, a fort city, is situated on the Narva River which forms the border between Estonia and Russia. It has been the location of many battles, most recently during WW2 when great damage was done to the old town. All appears peaceful now though. We saw a line of cars queued up to go across the border and the town cleaning team sweeping up as we ventured out for breakfast.

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We have had a long day on the road, much of it along the coast. Narva-Jõesuu, where the Narva River reaches the sea, is a holiday area with beach access and lots of accommodation. There are also some large abandoned apartment buildings.

We followed Eurovelo Route 13 for much of the way, making slow progress towards our destination. We had some stretches along rough unsealed tracks that were about as bad as Kangaroo Island! Interesting sights were a bride and groom having photos taken with the sea as backdrop and two young Belgian cyclists with way too much luggage including a Viking scarecrow.

There were a number of small towns, all of which had little or no commerce and few people around. We went into a shop in Sillimae that was invisible to us until we saw some people emerge from it. Like the shops in Russia, it had a wide selection of goods available, a significant proportion of which were alcoholic beverages of all kinds.

There are high cliffs above the sea giving a good view of the Gulf of Finland and a couple of islands far offshore to the north. By mid afternoon we decided to follow Garmin (GPS) rather than the bike route and this gave us a variety of sealed roads and forest and farm tracks, while avoiding the highway to Tallinn which is not ideal for our purposes. We saw reaping of crops, two storks in a field and one on a nest, farms and villages, apple trees (fruit tested by Ian and found to be inedible) and a large slag heap that had been vegetated and turned into a downhill gokart track. No shops, no cafes, no bakeries.

The last 12km on a dirt road through an uninhabited area made it hard to believe that we were headed towards our accommodation. We had no idea whether we would be able to get an evening meal and were mentally preparing for instant noodles. Emerging on to the main road though, our hostel appeared and everything we needed was available – cold beer, hot meal, shower and bed. Our companions here are a group who look as though they are on a work team-building jaunt – they are playing musical chairs and other developmental games.

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