Travel

Birthday Feels in Saaremaa, Estonia

July 10, 2017

I can’t believe where life has taken me these past two years.

July 2015

I celebrated my birthday from a San Francisco rooftop-patio with twenty near and dear friends.  I had just quit my job in San Francisco to embark on an epic solo-journey around the world.

 

July 2016

I celebrated my birthday from the ancient temples of Bagan, Myanmar.

 

July 2017

I celebrated my birthday from Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest island, with my closest Estonian gal pals

 

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in this next year of life and one thing is clear: Take Me To Murch needs some serious love.  I have neglected this little blog for far too long considering the amount of traveling and adventuring I still do (and hopefully will continue doing).   

Anyhow, onto my birthday weekend in Saarema.

 


A few facts about Saaremaa:  

 

  • Saaremaa is Estonia’s largest island.  It has an area of 2,673 km2 and a population of 30,966 (according to 2013 data).  For context, San Diego is 964.5km2 and has a population of 1.381 million people.
  • The most common way to reach Saaremaa is to take the ferry from Virtsu to the island of Muhu and then drive over a bridge.
  • Door to door, it takes about 4 hours by car to reach Saaremaa from Tallinn.
  • Muhu (the island you drive through before reaching Saaremaa) has a population of 2,000 people.
  • Arguably the most famous Estonian restaurant, Alexander, is located in Pädaste Manor on Muhu island.  As Estonians are a hunting, gathering and foraging people, the menu typically features meats such as wild boar, moose and venison, fish and hand-picked berries, mushrooms and roots from Estonian forests.
  • Saaremaa is characterised by vast stretches of nature, farmland, fisherman’s villages, windmills, lighthouses, quaint cottages, and of course, the Baltic Sea.
  • The capital of Saaremaa is the small town of Kuressaare.
  • Kuressaare has a tiny airport, restaurants, shops, a town hall, churches and Kuressare Castle, which dates back to the 12th century
  • Most Estonians have a summer home and I’m lucky because MY local friends have their summer homes in the lovely countryside of Saarema

 


 

My Birthday Weekend

It started off with my friend’s ethereal countryside wedding

Followed by an epic reception

The best home-cooked meals imaginable (my Estonian friend Laura is basically a goddess in the kitchen)

 Porch Therapy

Lots of trees and nature

Rain, wind and clouds (a climate typical of Estonian summers)

Nature walks

Muddy shoes

Tranquil strolls through the countryside

Wildflowers

My friends making and presenting me with the most dreamy birthday flower crown

Colorful friendships

A homemade birthday meringue roll that was to die for.  The recipe is featured on Laura’s blog but is written in Estonian.  Nothing a little Google Translate couldn’t fix though!

Picking and eating wild strawberries

Fact: If it weren’t for my local friends, I would never have eaten these wild strawberries.  They are teeny tiny but packed with flavor.

Making strawberry chains (a childhood tradition for some Estonians)

Taking in pastel sunsets

Ringing in my birthday with great company.

July 2017

 

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