Friday, 30 October 2015

Estonia & Finland

Finally feel like being back and who would have thought it memory wears thin. 

Last Sunday I returned from a trip to Estonia and Finland, the Nordic lands. It was a great escape, the highlight being driving out to the country through the straight-laced woods; pin-prick after pin-prick made up of silver birch and pine, their stiff standing-to-attention silhouettes and trim waistlines flitted past my passenger-seat car window as we pelted across chilled tarmac to the western most tip of Estonia. 

By the Baltic Sea. 

The wind started to pick up and we had no fire to cook the meat on. The massive man in lumberjack wear with bounding Alsatian dog in tow told us the hob wasn’t meant for steaks only porridge, so, my friends seized the outdoor barbecue and lit it in a brewing storm for the dozen spare ribs we had bought for seven Euros. The fire lit and the wind picked up. We had arrived at a wooden bird watchtower a shade of emerald green, a two-story Scandinavian designed beauty with an outdoor spiral staircase that led to the upstairs where the three beds lay and the downstairs held a kitchenettete and sauna. The next day I appreciated the heat from the sauna rose to warm the top room - everything here is well designed.

The sauna was hot. The wood-burning stove was made of heavy black hunks of metal and burned soundly, the coals atop were charcoal and sizzled when any touch of moisture happened. Lifting out ladles of water and splashing the rocks made the hot little wooden room's temperature rise by ten degrees to reach 80. Sweat spilled like water. We took it in turns to jump outside from the sauna to the world, where there was now a mighty gale whipping round the edges. The rush of the sea wind through invisible dark trees made the whole experience bewildering and so did the vodka. There were dares to run out to the Baltic Sea, which were completed by others (some twice dunking his whole head under like what I can only imagine a drunken beluga whale) and we raced back to the heat of the sauna across grass and moss and nettles and guzzled more beer. It was something between a frolic and a frenzy and the next day we all paid for it, me especially, with a hangover that silenced. 

Photo credit: Aidan Clifford