If you're looking for some ideas where to spend Christmas break this year, read on!
In 2017 we decided to travel to Estonia for Xmas, not an obvious choice for many, but we like to explore countries that are not necessarily at the top of Lonely Planet list. Well, actually Tallinn was voted Lonely Planet's best value destination for 2018! Indeed, it's a lovely little capital with a great mixture of Estonian and Russian vibes. We stayed in an Airbnb apartment close to the Old Town and the port, so could walk everywhere. Xmas is a cool time to visit Tallinn, it's not too busy there, so can comfortably enjoy Xmas markets there, walk up and down cute little streets in the Old Town, sipping their version of mulled wine - glögg. That's exactly what we did on Day 1.
Day 2 - we took a ferry across to Helsinki. If you're planning the same, avoid booking online well in advance . We went to the terminal buildings a day before and it turned out they had a promotion - €30 return ticket for a couple! Off we went. On arrival we took another ferry ride to a nearby island - Suomenlinna Fortress, walked around and enjoyed a salad buffet with a chef preparing an extra vegan meal especially for us - very nice people there indeed :). Back on the mainland, we went to see a church in a rock and then for more vegan goodness in a tiny little Vietnamese restaurant.
Day 3 - we went for a great winter hike through a forest in Lahemaa National Park, not far away from Tallinn.
Day 4 - Tartu, a student city, with a cosy Old Town Square, and lots of trendy cafés.
Day 5 - Varska region, South East Estonia, where Soto community live. It's like a mini country within a country, politically unrecognised minority, with their own Old Estonian and Russian traditions.
Days 6 and 7 were spent in Otepaa, in Estonias skiing paradise. We tried cross-country skiing and failed tremendously, with everybody taking us over and us, like two clowns, trying to walk up a slightest hill. It looks so much easier on TV :-). The other day we could hardly move, but managed to go for a nice snowy walk around a lake there and did some downhill skiing. So much easier than cross-country skiing, if you don't fall of a lift, that is...
On Day 8 we travelled to Saaremaa - Estonia's largest island, in the west of the country.
Day 9 we visited quite a few places on the island, such as Kuressaare Castle, Windmill Village and museum, Estonia's largest meteoric crater (yes, quite a few of them there!), as well as Panga Cliff and a nearby beach.
Day 10 - travelling back to Tallinn (tip: if you want to avoid waiting a few hours for a ferry, book it in advance, unlike the ferry to Helsinki), a great vegan feast in a fancy restaurant, we were very lucky to grab there the last table, as most vegan restaurant were fully booked till at least NY! Good to know, though, that people are embracing plant-based diets :-).
Day 11 - fly back home to be reunited with this beauty! The beauty that needs to go on a diet ;), so our he wants it or not, that's his NY resolution!
In general, it was a very cool trip, though we could have done it in fewer days, so there was lots of chilling, watching Xmas movies and reading! We loved using Airbnbs there, most of the time we booked a little apartment with own kitchen when we could cook our own meals - much cheaper this way, as Estonia is not as cheap as we had initially thought.