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More detail questions about coming to Estonia

Ohio
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More detail questions about coming to Estonia

My husband and I are seriously thinking of coming to Estonia for about a week to 10 days at the end of May 2011. We would like to rent a car in order to see more of Estonia then just Tallinn. I'm a history buff and my husband loves the beauty of nature and national parks etc. We both enjoy riding bikes in the countryside. How many days would you stay in Tallinn versus exploring the rest of the country? Is 10 days too many to explore the country? Is this High tourist season yet?

Also, in looking at other posts on trip advisor, it indicates that not speaking Estonian or Russian in Tallinn is no problem as there are many english speaking people there. But...what about when you get away from the major towns...will there be a major language problem? We have visited other countries where we have not spoken the language and been able to manage just fine with gestures and a few key words. Would that be the same here?

If we come in late May...do we need to make reservations ahead of time throughout? Can we "wing it" or should every detail be planned? We have done trips both ways and there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways of travel.

If we are in the countryside...are there facilities for travelers like restaurants and rest stops? In reading some TA trip reports of traveling in the country side, people indicated that restaurants can be non existent to few and far between or hidden so that you can not find them. There was no mention of rest stops facilities? Do gas stations provide these facilities?

These questions may sound trivial and picky...but important to 60+ year olds who love to travel. thanks

Helsinki, Finland
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1. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

Late May is an excellent time. The weather can be great (no promises, of course) and the vacation season is not yet underway. This being the case, I suggest you decide for yourselves how to divide your time between Tallinn and the rest of the countryside after you've had a taste of both . I've traveled without advance bookings in Estonia at much less promising times with little trouble. It helps to be flexible.

Ten days is enough to give you a good sample of this small country. Getting from place to place takes little time compared to Scandinavia, for instance.

You have the right idea about how to communicate across language barriers. I would suggest learning the names of a few Estonian dishes as this may help you in really out-of-the-way places, though if you're willing to settle for a pizza you will have no trouble - some words are international.

Tartu, Estonia
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2. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

I probably would reserve a couple of places here and there to be on the safe side. If you decide to travel into June it's getting closer to high season. I wouldn't worry about it just yet though - next spring will be fine! Ferries in particular can get busy in the end of May and during June, so keep that in mind if you want to visit the islands.

You won't have a problem without Estonian and Russian language skills in the countryside. (You won't find that much Russian spoken outside of cities anyway, unless you are travelling in the Eastern part of the country).

Estonian hoteliers/restauranteurs in the touristed areas will be happy to communicate, and most speak English well.

There really isn't rest stops like in America, except on the major highways - but the distances between towns isn't as great in comparison, so it's unlikely you'll get stranded.

Gassing up adequately before travelling makes sense though, as sometimes gas stations can be closed after hours in smaller towns.

I think there's plenty of restaurants to choose from, but knowing where they are first can help, instead of randomly looking in the countryside.

In towns, you will always find somewhere to eat.

gxp
Niagara
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3. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

Travelling around Estonia is great. If you are renting a car, also rent a GPS. This is a great aid in finding gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, as signage on highways can be non-existent.

For history, the castle in Kuressaare Saaremaa is amazing and has a good museum in it.

Karlsruhe, Germany
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4. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

For both nature and history/culture in one, have a closer look at Lahemaa National Park and its beautiful manors.

National Park website: http://www.lahemaa.ee/?id=670

Palmse manor: http://www.palmse.ee/

Sagadi manor: http://www.sagadi.ee/en

Switzerland
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5. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

I would suggest Lahemaa as well - lot of beautiful nature trails and wonderful scenery. You may find many nice places on short distance to enjoy culture and history as well. Lahemaa would be absolutely good choice! http://www.sagadi.ee/manor/surroundings

A good time for travelling to Estonia would be end of the May and beginning of June as well. The temperature not so hot yet but You may go around without seeing crowded of tourists:)

PS! Estonian biggest national party on 24th of June. If You plan to go this time, don't miss big parties with fires till the morning what they organize!

Estonia
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6. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

most service providers can communicate in English and even have menus in English and if not they find someone to help you.

Estonia is relatively small, not more than 400 km from one end to another, that means within 30 minutes you can reach to some civilized point with bed and food

Ohio
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7. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

Thank you all for your most welcome help and advice to my questions. I think we are sold on coming to Estonia near the end of May 2011. It definitely has what we are looking for. The manor houses, Lahemaa National Park and the castle in Kuressaare Saaremaa all look very enticing and I'm sure that there is much more to see also. I will start to do more in depth planning starting in January. I do hope to bring a GPS with us. We have a Garmin and for a recent trip to Ireland, we purchased an Ireland SD card for it. Hopefully, I can do the same for Estonia. Thanks again for all of your help and as I start more in depth planning, I will need your help even more.

Estonia
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8. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

There are Regio and EO-map, two map producers who sell also GPS cards. I also have Garmin models and have used them. Have also tested both map providers and as far you stay on the mayor roads they are equal

gxp
Niagara
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9. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

I use a Regio in my Garmin. It is not the most recent but shows all roads, even the small forest roads. Even ones that sre no longer passable.

Updated maps will have more recent info for restaurants, gas stations, hotels, etc.

Just google Garmin Estonia and it will give you the dealer in Pirita where you can purchase the maps. Either order on-line and swing through Pirita (east side of Tallinn) and pick up the map on SD card.

The store is in the yachting centre built for the 1980 Olympics.

It's right near the Pirita klooster, a tourist site.

Edited: 13 November 2010, 02:22
Ohio
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10. Re: More detail questions about coming to Estonia

Thanks citybike and gxp. As you suggested, I googled Garmin Estonia and found the dealer in Pirita. I also google translated his products from Estonian to English....but the translation is not very clear as to what I would need and I did not see a price. Which is the SD map card in the list on the dealers site and does anyone see a price listed?? thanks.