Tag Archives: Soomaa National Park

The Baltic States

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania aren’t the most glamorous tourist destinations on the planet. These three northern European nations are cold, lonely, and full of scowling drunks, but they’re also overflowing with history and charm. I had a wonderful time walking down ancient streets, exploring forests, checking out concentration camps and torture chambers (alright, ‘a wonderful time’ isn’t the best way to describe those experiences), and stuffing my face full of kebabs.

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My first stop was the Latvian capital of Riga, where I had sex with a statue of a horse and got chased by police for being a drunk. Fortunately, I escaped, or it would’ve been a very short holiday indeed.

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My journey took me to Riga’s Radio and TV Tower, which provided an epic view out over the city’s weird slums and dancing people.

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From there I headed to the drab and dreary Salaspils concentration camp, where children were harvested by the Nazis for their blood, before finishing the day with a climb to the top of St Peter’s steeple (no, I don’t mean his penis).

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I discovered that Latvian people are strange and moody, and they it’s completely normal to have a giant tank full of fish sitting next to the yoghurt at the supermarket.

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Moving on to Tallinn, Estonia brought with it a turn of good weather, which was perfect for drinking in the parks and molesting more statues. The views weren’t too bad, either!

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Nothing’s open in Tallinn on a Monday, but that didn’t stop me from exploring castles, climbing through Soviet-era buildings, getting addicted to pot and falling on a woman’s dog.

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Helsinki is the northernmost capital city on the planet, so it was a waste of time taking my G-string along. Still, I managed to sit on a turtle and annoy some old people, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

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Nobody does torture quite as well as the Soviets (well, my ex-girlfriend was pretty good at it, but that’s a story for another time), so my visit to the Patarei Sea Fortress Prison was a real opener. I was on my best behaviour, lest someone decide to cut my gizzards out and feed them to a dog.

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Parnu is Estonia’s summer capital, but when I went there I pretty much had the whole place to myself, so I took a long, romantic walk on my lonesome and then scoffed a whole pizza.

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I’m a rugged, outdoorsy type, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to explore Estonia’s Soomaa National Park. I kayaked, I climbed trees, I lost all my clothes in the middle of a frozen bog…

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Charles Bronson isn’t really dead, and he spends his time checking out Vilnius, Lithuania! I followed him around all day, until he became upset and went home. I just wanted to be his friend…

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There’s a hill in Lithuania with about eleventy-bajillion crosses on it, and they call it – get this – the Hill of Crosses! I went there to count them all, but got bored and confused after getting to 53, so instead I embarrassed myself on a train. Weeeee!

Bog off!


I love getting out amongst nature. Fresh air, plenty of trees, a few birds, and no dickheads to annoy me – bushwalking and camping and all those sorts of things are grouse. So, while in Estonia, there was no way I was going to miss out on seeing the country’s beautest nature reserve, Soomaa National Park. It was an awe-inspiring day in a remote and beautiful place, even if I did end up nearly getting eaten by inbred cannibals.

Soomaa translates to ‘land of bogs’, and is full of wetlands, forests and rivers. It’s an unusual ecosystem, with the strangest thing being the fact that massive floods of four or more metres roll through the park each year when the snow melts. This ‘fifth season’ came early this year – the floods usually hit in April – so I was able to check out the park without having to rent a submarine.

I’m like Indiana fuckin’ Jones!

Soomaa is a good 45 minutes out of Parnu, so I got in touch with Aivar from soomaa.com to arrange a lift and the use of a canoe. After he dropped me by the banks of the tranquil Halliste river, I was truly by myself in the middle of nowhere, with only a few shonky-looking hand-built huts and thousands of ghostly trees for company. With five hours to explore this bizarre land, I headed out into the wilderness, along a rickety wooden walkway, hoping no deranged Estonians would leap out of the scrub to rape me.

I certainly wasn’t ‘board’ during this trip, haha!

The meandering three-kilometre track too me up to Soomaa’s famous bog, which is seen as the pride of Estonia. Shit, you know you’re struggling when your country’s pride and joy is a bloody mud pit. As soon as I stepped out of the trees and into the barren wasteland of the bog, the icy wind dropped the temperature 10 degrees, and I was freezing as I set out into the tundra

Hail to the king, baby!

You know how sometimes you get so cold that you actually feel hot? Yeah, well, ah, that must’ve happened to me, so I stripped off all my clothes and started trotting around the bog like a dickhead. While I was carrying on like a pork chop with my sausage out, a little old bloke with a woolen cap on his head and a big smile on his came out of nowhere and started shouting at me in Estonian. I assumed he was complimenting me on the size of my penis, until he started wiggling his little finger in the air and cackling like a lunatic. I quickly put my clothes back on and left in tears.

It was so cold that the best way to describe my genitals at this point is ‘child-like’

The return leg took me through another section of the forest, where signs regularly reminded me of the record heights of past flood waters – some far above my head. I didn’t see or hear too many animals or birds, which was probably a good thing, because I wasn’t really in the mood to get eaten by a wolf.

During the Fifth Season, Soomaa gets wetter than Magda Szubanski’s undies whenever she walks past Pizza Hut

I spent the afternoon canoeing down the Halliste towards the village of Riisa, a six-kilometre journey that took me past farms, under bridges and through dense thatches of trees. Each time I rounded a corner I was faced by scenery straight out of a fairy tale – glassy water reflected magical trees, all of it under the blanket of endless silence.

I can hear the dueling banjos…

It’s possible to complete a 12km paddle, but I chose to start at halfway to have more time to go bushwalking, and I’m glad I did. There’s no point in rushing through Soomaa, so I was glad to be able to take my time floating down this meandering river. It was a relaxing and fairly easy aquatic journey, even though I was by myself, and I managed to make it to the end by the time my wanking spanners dropped off.

One of the rare times I wasn’t crashing into something

Aivar is usually more than happy to pick customers up at the end of their paddle, but he wasn’t able to today, so I was forced to take public transport. My bus trip through Estonia’s countryside was bizarre and confusing, but I’m happy to say that I made it back without being bashed, raped or eaten.

The nearest bus stop for those exploring Soomaa is in the village of Riisa, which is comprised of two weather-beaten huts and a dying dog. After a 20-minute wait I managed to flag down a bus and charm the driver with my mastery of the Estonian language (I managed to say “Parnu”), but he just shook his head and motioned for me to get off. I got off and stood around for a few minutes in confusion, until another bus rocked up from the opposite direction. When the door opened I was surprised to see the same driver. “Parnu?” I asked, and this time he shook his head and I climbed aboard.

Lovely downtown Joesuu – urban slums in the middle of nowhere

The bus didn’t go to Parnu, though. It went to Joesuu, a creepy little village where the driver barked at me in Estonion to get off the bus. Trust me on this one, you don’t wanna go to bloody Joesuu. There’s a boarded-up factory, a bunch of strange unit blocks that look out of place in such a rural setting, a burnt-out car and some of the ugliest locals you could ever have the misfortune to meet. As I wandered around, not knowing where to go or what to do, these hicks watched me with their crossed eyes, while their black tongues flicked from their toothless mouths. I was a long way from home, with no idea how to get out of Hicksville, Estonia.

As the afternoon wore on, the creeps started crowding around me, rubbing their tummies and reaching out at me, as if I was a home-delivered hot meal. The thought crossed my mind that the freaks of Joesuu probably live on the flesh of lost travellers, so I tied up my boots while keeping a keen eye on the Estonians, certain that I’d have to sprint back to Parnu if I was going to make it out of there alive. I was just about to start running when a bus came out of nowhere and pulled up, sending the hungry locals scattering like bugs. When the door opened, wouldn’t you know it, the bus driver was the same bloke as before! I climbed aboard and made it out of there safely, ready to have more adventures…


Parnu: Centre of the Universe


It’s time to get out of Tallinn, so today I headed to the world famous city of Parnu! PARNU! PARNUUUUUUU! What, you haven’t heard of it? It’s a little place on the western coast of Estonia, and the country’s summer capital. It’s where all the rich folk from Tallinn head when the weather stops being so damn cold, and is a bit of a resort town. However, I decided to visit out of season and in the middle of the week, so it’s been deader than a married woman’s libido.

Parnu’s bustling main street

There’s not a lot to Parnu, but what there is of it is pleasant enough. There’s a touristic main street with cute little wooden buildings and plenty of souvenir shops, a few parks that are, well, there, and lots of restaurants and bars scattered around the place. There’s also a shop for the city’s alkos.

The girl in the shop was shocked but impressed by my Raiders jersey

Parnu’s most famous landmarks are its twin breakwalls, which each extend more than two kilometres into the ocean. They’re not overly impressive, but dickhead here obviously had to walk all the way out to the end of one of them, and scrambling over all those rocks wasn’t an easy (or fast task). Tradition states that if a person makes it to the end while holding the love of their life the whole way, they’ll stay together forever. So, of course, I held my dick – I know you’ll always be there for me, baby.

I look like I’ve got a bad case of crabs. I don’t though… swear

There’s a wide, white-sand beach a few hundred metres south of the centre of Parnu, and I’m sure it would be lovely under the right conditions (say, 25 degrees, with heaps of cute Estonian sheilas frolicking around in tiny bikinis, maybe getting a bit lezzy with each other, and heaps of cold beer), but it’s a little bit creepy when the temperature is in single digits and even that’s outnumbering the people on the sand. Still, I was treated to a delightful sunset and one of the more unsual beach walks I’ve ever had.

Goodbye, Mr Sun (actually, that sounds like an Asian remake of Goodbye, Mr Chips)

It’s easy to see that Parnu would be a great place to stay when the weather’s warm and the whole town is humming with happy people, but it’s a little bit sleepy and lacking in interesting things to do at any other time. The main reason I’m here is to visit the nearby Soomaa National Park, which I’ll be doing tomorrow. It’s probably for the best – there’s only so many times you can walk along the bloody breakwall!

Alright, who let off the nuclear bomb?

Beer of the day:

I smashed three pints of Saku at Steffani’s, but I didn’t smash Steffani, because it’s a pizza shop, not a lady. I’ve gotta say, Saku is a fantastic beer – really clean and clear, and so bloody easy to drink. Puts most Aussie beers to shame, so it’s no wonder it’s the pride of Estonia!


Kebab of the day:

Today’s kebab was a pizza, which I also enjoyed at Steffani’s. Estonian pizzas are weird, because they coat everything in a thick layer of blue cheese, but it was a top meal after not having eaten anything of substance in two days.