So those people who make three-day weekends are seriously on to something!
This was the first full weekend I have had off in a while, so I took an extra day and M and I headed to Saaremaa, Estonia's largest island. It wasn't my first time there, but the last time was in November when I did a quick out and back to speak at our American Corner there. I literally saw nothing of the island.
So this trip, we spent the whole long weekend there and it was just what doctor ordered! And we planned our trip the way all my favorite trips end up being planned: we picked a few highlights that we wanted to make sure we saw and otherwise just explored.
We stayed at Georg Ots Spa (and I highly recommend it!) and could see the Kuressaare Castle from our window.
We explored the castle our first night and then headed to an Italian place, La Perla, in town, for dinner.
The next day, we just drove, first down to the peninsula, then up to Panga Cliff, then back down into the interior of the island, stopping at things that looked interesting.
I decided I wanted to visit the church in Kaarma because it has a plaque on the entrance that was written in 1407 and is thought to be the earliest example of the written Estonian language. Even cooler? I can read it.
It says, if you are curious, "In this year, this church was completed. Peter and Paul in the year 1407."
When I got back to the hotel, I looked for more info on the church on the internet. And then I realized that I had missed the GIANT PENTAGRAM on the wall. I stood right next to it, and totally missed it. Doh!
And what is sad is that the pagan overtones to Estonian belief is something that really fascinates me. I knew that they are one of the most recent societies converted to Christianity (roughly in the 1200s). That I didn't know is that they put pagan symbols in some of their earliest churches.
So today we went to another church, in Karja, to see the pagan symbols there. This time, I didn't miss them.
We also went to the church in Valjala, the oldest church on Saaremaa and in fact in all of Estonia.
It was while there that I got the idea of trying to see and photograph as many of the historic churches in Estonia as possible during my tour here. I already have a good start. I like photograph churches, so through my travels in Estonia, I have taken lots of pictures of old churches. I have now organized them into a folder of Estonian churches.
Now I just have to find out how big a project I have just created for myself.