Kind of primeval setting, along the riverside
It was raining, but we were lucky to have blue skies for an easy hike in Sietinizis National Park, along the sandstone cliffs.
The park is enormous and includes several towns. It was really peaceful to take a walk in the woods.
Cool trees with moss
Wherever you are, a walk in the forest is good for what ails you.
This is a weird and fascinating place, with sculptures made of old bombs and recruiting posters and lots of mannequins in uniforms.
Triin kept us spellbound with the story of the Soviet Union invading Estonia during World War II, after 20 years of freedom.
Triin's great-grandparents were deported to Siberia, her great-grandmother summoned in the middle of the night with three daughters and put on a cattle car in 1949. Somehow they survived. Most Estonians didn't. They returned to Estonia, not sure if their home or village remained. And nearly ten more years later, her great-grandfather returned too.
Reunited, they lived happy lives, she said. They even lived long enough to see Estonia free again, in 1991, in a bloodless revolution, united by song and a belief in their own destiny. I guess anything is possible.
"We were the battle ground of someone else's war, as always," Triin commented.
Taylor Swift recruiting soldiers to join the Estonian reserves?
One of many symbols of Estonia, many borrowed from neighboring countries. For the moment, Estonia enjoys extraordinary prosperity, EU membership, eurozone, the prestigious presidency of the EU. And next year the centenary of the first free Estonia.
We cross the border into Latvia (no longer barricades or passport stamps, since Latvia and Estonia are part of the Schengen area), making a short stop in the medieval town of Cesis.
And saving the best for last, we stopped off in Sigulda at the former Soviet bobsled track, built as a practice ramp for the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984. Yes, that's the bottom down there.
A few more trees and moss as we say goodbye to the countryside.
After a long, wonderful journey, I've arrived in Old Town Riga for the next 48 hours. It's Saturday night and the town is buzzing. Just as I'd gotten used to Tallinn, here we are in another country, another language, a different culture.