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Soviet Nostalgia in Rural Estonia


I don't know about you, but I love sudden bursts of nostalgia at unexpected moments. Without our past, we're nothing. Everything about it shapes us into the person we are today, for both good and bad. It happened to me recently during the Mid-West journey, when I entered a shop that sold vintage games and toys from my childhood. For a brief second, I was transported back to age 10, when I used to sit with my younger sister and play with Transformers, Lite-Brite, Speak 'n' Spell, Mr. Potato Head and other treasures from the 1980's. Some of you probably don't even recognize these toys. :)

In the middle of rural Estonia last autumn, I stumbled upon a small village that houses old Soviet cars. A sort of refuge for abandoned cars in need of some care and company. While I'm fascinated with all things from the USSR, seeing these relics stirred no emotion within me but I could see it arising in my Russian travel companion. I don't know the feeling of boarding a bus in Soviet times, sitting on a hard chair, or being chased by a tiny police car. But today I'll show you some photos from this village, and perhaps for a brief moment your childhood memories will also be awakened...

1. I don't know the name of this place, but it sits in a residential neighborhood, with school children walking the paths on their way home. Entrance into the "museum" is free, but donations are welcomed. This reminds me of a matchbox car, so small!


2. When foreigners first visit America, many of them are amazed by our big, red, shiny firetrucks. I think it's a symbol of America, and I notice many people write about our firemen and fire stations in travel reports. To me, it's completely commonplace as our firetrucks and police cars have always been huge, ever since I was a child. I'm not sure what this is? A Soviet firetruck or ambulance? But I'm certain most of you will recognize it.


3. Larger police car? As you can see, it's difficult to write this report because I don't know the history of all these cars, or even their function. Only that they look very different from American police cars.


4. Is it a Lada? Not sure. :)


5. I think this is an old Volga? Go on, tell me what it is in the comments...looks like a luxury vehicle for Soviet times because it's much larger than the others in the car lot.


6. The inside of the same car, definitely no power steering! :) Cars to me are an essential part of life. I hate everything about public transport, and drive to work every day, even though a metro station is within walking distance from my apartment. Each time I visit Moscow, immediate anxiety sits in when I hear we're heading toward the metro station, because I've never seen anything so chaotic in my lifetime. Masses of humanity being herded along as cattle. It's my worst nightmare, so I'll sit in traffic, in my own private space, to avoid it. Even if it adds an extra half hour to get somewhere, as is often the case for my workday commute to Washington, DC.


7. Toy cars in the lot also! When my sister was young, she collected matchbox cars. Yes, some American girls prefer to play with cars instead of dolls. We're "manly," remember? :)


8. Common toy for young boys growing up in Soviet times? We have the same type of pedal cars in the U.S., but they aren't as well constructed.


9. Btw, if you have one of those old Moskvitch cars in your house, you can put it on eBay and earn thousands of dollars! It's true - there's a high demand for these classic Soviet toys in America. I found this ad today, and others where the cars were selling for close to $2,000 USD!


10. What follows are just a few photos. I don't know the names of these cars or the years of production. If you wish to share your knowledge, you can tell me in the comments so I know for future reference.


11. An entire section of the museum is dedicated to buses. How many of you rode in these as a child? I bet a lot!


12. I can only imagine how hard and cold these seats felt in the middle of Russian winter, and the intimate conversations shared between spouses, parents and children sitting on them during long rides. I've never once been on a Metro bus in the Washington, DC area. I think you either love public transport, or hate it. For me, it's absolutely the last resort. Not because I'm a snob, or because I think it's "lower class," but because I need a lot of personal space and don't want to be pressed against random strangers for extended periods of time. A sort of phobia, as I'm paranoid of claustrophobic situations.



14. Beauty in the middle of abandonment!


15. Sirens on the top of the car? I guess this is some type of public service car, but I'm not sure what for?


16. This Estonian village, as a whole, was very picturesque and cozy! And Estonians, I already wrote that they were friendly, open and happy to embrace foreign visitors. I like the country very much, and hope to return someday.


17. This apocalyptic scene reminds of the barren, tornado prone fields of rural Kansas, but in fact it's from the Baltic States. Somewhere in Estonia, but I can't recall exactly where. This is the problem when you try to write travel posts over a year after the journey. Yes, I'm a bad travel blogger, incapable of broadcasting live reports during the course of a trip.


18. As soon as I turned sixteen, the legal driving age in America, my dad put me in the driver's seat of his old Ford Tempo and taught me how to drive a stick-shift. My parent's house sits at the bottom of a big hill, and he held me captive in that car until I was able to safely turn right at the top of the hill onto the main thoroughfare. This took over an hour, and each time I wanted to quit he encouraged me onward. My father - the most patient man I've ever known! Since then, I've always driven manual transmissions, and am completely bored with an automatic. I taught many of my friends how to drive a stick-shift during my teenage years, lending them my car and circling abandoned school parking lots until they too mastered the task. My cars throughout youth included an old Honda Prelude, Honda Civic, and in highschool I drove a convertible 1980 Triumph Spitfire. :)) It was awesome, and still sits in my dad's garage, awaiting repairs. I guess someday I'll be able to take it for a spin again and relive my highschool days. It looks exactly like this:


19. What about my experience with Russian cars? Well, I've only been in one, an old Jigulee in Novgorod. I met a reader, four of us crammed into the small car, and headed down this snowy, rural village road in search of adventure...Maybe during my trip next month I'll get to experience a real Russian beast and go off-roading in a UAZ or Kamaz.  Who wants to give me a ride? :))


20. The Soviet Union - for some it was the best of times, for others the worst. A crossroad in history. Regardless of how you feel about this era, this post is dedicated to those readers who occasionally wish to reminisce and be transported to another time....if only for a few brief moments.


How about you? What was your first car, or do you prefer public transport?

Have a nice weekend!

Other Posts from the Baltic States
Estonia and Life on the Border                                       Ventspils, Latvia
estonia           ventspilsjpg

Eastern Euro Hollywood


( 159 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 30th, 2015 03:04 am (UTC)

5. МОСКВИЧ 406

Jan. 30th, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
Доброе утро, спасибо!
(no subject) - drfunfrock - Jan. 30th, 2015 12:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:23 am (UTC)
"...15. Sirens on the top of the car?..."

No. It top-lights that were matt white glass with red crosses. This is a special medical car.

Wonderful post you did! Thank you!
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC)
You're welcome! And thank you! :) I would have never guessed it was a medical car, because I thought it had back seats in it. Usually medic cars are open in the back, to allow room for transport of patients via stretcher, etc.
(no subject) - asharky - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:30 am (UTC)
Good selection
It's your photo?
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:30 am (UTC)
Yes, of course my photos. :) Otherwise, I would not put the copyright logo on them.
(no subject) - crazyseo1 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazyseo1 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crazyseo1 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:31 am (UTC)
I love cars include an old. Me first car was Moskvich 2141 ))). I called him “My red horse"
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:33 am (UTC)
Me too! I couldn't survive without a car. :) I need one because I'm traveling a lot on weekends to visit my family. Plus, there's nothing more fun than a long road trip!
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:42 am (UTC)
I think it was joke on pic 1 and 20 - never saw militia (police) car on ZAZ platform. Usually it is Zhiguli in cities and UAZ (seen on pic 3) in the country. UAZ rather good for cross country. Plan was to start UAZ sales in US about 15-12 years ago but it was not realized. On pic 2 are firetruck for country use. No tall buildings in there. Firetruck for cities are on very first photo.

As to buses in winter, those actually were quite cozy. The has powerful heating system, but no A/C at all. So in the summer, especially in hotter parts of USSR those were not comfortable. But I survived. 8-). +40C and you climb on back seat right on top of very hot engine. Nice and warrrm!
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:57 am (UTC)
"Militia" - strange that Soviet and even modern day police in Russia were referred to by this term, which typically represents soldiers/military personnel. Didn't they recently change the name to police or some close variation thereof? I think I read something about their uniforms being changed also. I've never had any encounters with Russian police during any of my visits. Maybe it would be an interesting experience? :)
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 04:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Jan. 30th, 2015 04:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadevil001 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:55 am (UTC)
Russian firetruck!
Porsche Cayenne :)

In fact this one was presented to Moscow government by Porsche, and Moscow chief firefighter used it. Later he died when burning building he worked inside (having saved several people) collapsed.

LAZ-695 (right bus on your photo) was extremely popular with several hundred thousand produced.

This one was very funny Soviet car: toyish look and great off-road performance.
Jan. 30th, 2015 04:00 am (UTC)
Re: Russian firetruck!
Now you're missing Soviet transport? :) Are firemen paid in Russia, or work on a volunteer basis? In America, we have both. Some firemen who make it a career, and others who only volunteer on weekends or holidays. Brave men! The last photo looks like a Jeep Wrangler!
Re: Russian firetruck! - drfunfrock - Jan. 30th, 2015 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Russian firetruck! - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sometimes they use volunteers, - xpo_xpo_xpo - Jan. 30th, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Sometimes they use volunteers, - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 04:10 am (UTC)
Первое фото без номера - пожарная машина ЗИЛ 114-130.
Jan. 30th, 2015 04:17 am (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2015 04:24 am (UTC)
Great, thanks for the investigative research! :)
Jan. 30th, 2015 04:19 am (UTC)
You wont believe, but take a closer look at #2: this is an American truck! International Harvester, or perhaps Navistar (who bought the trade mark in 1986). This is the fire chief's vehicle.

Jan. 30th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC)
Are you sure? :) The fire chief vehicle in the Wikipedia leak has a different body shape, at least it appears that way to my tired eyes. I grew up right by a fire station, with sirens going off at all hours of the night!
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 04:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - orangetreedizzy - Jan. 30th, 2015 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 05:11 am (UTC)
#14 is Moskvitch-412, circa 1970. My mother won one in a state lottery in 1971. She sold it to her brother, and we had many pleasant rides in it to our country relatives. The old clunker lasted for almost 30 years!
Jan. 30th, 2015 05:15 am (UTC)
What do you mean she won one in the "state lottery?" Some people were given free cars during Soviet times? How did it work?
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Jan. 30th, 2015 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pin_gwin - Jan. 30th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 30th, 2015 05:35 am (UTC)
You can find some interesting things about USSR in http://76-82.livejournal.com/ community. It's all about 76-82 years in USSR - clothes, toys, TV, food and etc. Thank you for Your attention to our culture and history!
Jan. 30th, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC)
Hello! Thanks for the link to the USSR blog. Very interesting. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
Nice! These types of junkyards can be found all over America. I sometimes see them while driving and stop to view the treasures and collections.
Jan. 30th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC)
You're one peculiar bitch without a good lay for so many years.

Need some batteries?

Edited at 2015-01-30 06:10 am (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2015 12:13 pm (UTC)
Excuse me? What's so peculiar? And who taught you to speak to strangers this way? Your parents must be very proud.
Jan. 30th, 2015 06:25 am (UTC)
I like it
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
Good! I'm pleased you enjoyed the post. Visit again! :)
Jan. 30th, 2015 06:32 am (UTC)
Ich würde sagen, das ist ziemlich cool
Jan. 30th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
Danke! :)
(no subject) - icontr - Jan. 30th, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
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