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Crossing the Border Into Another World!

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The Eastern Euro journey is in full swing now, after a very long drive on Thursday from Moscow to Estonia. Yes, the same horrible roads but a different Russian "highway" this time than the one we drove to St. Petersburg. It doesn't matter the "M" number, M9 or M10, I will say the same thing I said before but in a more polite way. Russian roads and drivers are freaking scary! Panic for the entire day as we passed huge trucks in head on traffic. We entered Estonia at a tiny border crossing, only a short wait in line but then there were some problems when Sasha told them he had cigarettes. Too many under Estonian law, and thus a duty tax was to be imposed. But no one could figure out the amount!! So, after wasting a lot of time they eventually let him go with no fees. Great! We're on our way to Estonia and then I look in my passport. No stamp!! They somehow forgot so a quick turnaround back to the border and everything was fixed. Customs/border agents were all very friendly. The section of the road right before the border crossing at Pskov is in very good condition. Magnificent cloud filled sky as we entered Estonia!

1. Some lovely scenes near the Russian/Estonian border.

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2. Estonian home in the middle of nowhere. Yard is well maintained, some color on the house, no disrepair. Noticeable difference from the homes I saw in rural Russia.

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3. Lots of cyclists riding on back streets and even the main Estonian roads, without fear of death. Some Russian drivers would probably be bored in Estonia. Almost everyone abiding by rules, passing only when allowed and not speeding or driving aggressively. No real adventure or cat and mouse games on the Estonian roads. You can see also that autumn has set in, great colors on many trees. Cool, frosty air. Wonderful! I saw the same in Moscow, but under very rainy conditions.

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4. We're driving through very rural areas. Oh how I love it! Peaceful landscapes, lots of farm animals, open fields. Estonia is beautiful!

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5. I'm sorry to say it, but here in Estonia I received a much warmer welcome than in Russia. People amazingly friendly, open and kind. One quick example. At a tiny market by the Estonia/Latvia border I met this woman. She saw my camera, it was probably immediately clear that I'm a foreigner. Did she stare at me in a cold way or say "NYET" when she saw my camera? No! She smiled, opened her hand and offered me free fruit. I will tell you more about her when I write my full post on Estonia. Same thing walking down the streets of small Estonian villages. Many locals were very surprised to see foreigners in their tiny towns. They wanted to chat and learn more about us, but no one in these rural areas speaks English. I spoke to one Estonian man in broken Russian and he invited us for coffee, but unfortunately we didn't have time to accept his offer.

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After the border crossing I learned something new - that there are a lot of Russian jokes about Estonians! :) Sasha tried to tell me some of them. Yes, all focused on Estonians being slow and I believe this perception is accurate. Perhaps in larger cities like Tallinn the pace of life is more comparable to Moscow or a big American city, but I didn't see it in the areas we visited. Estonians are lovely people and the country itself very beautiful. Simple and slow, not such a bad way to live.

Later in the week I'll try to write a full post on Estonia and share more impressions. Our travel schedule is very hectic, seeing so many interesting things each day. We've already driven through Estonia, Latvia and are camped out tonight in Lithuania. The rest of the journey will be spent only in Poland and Slovakia, the two remaining countries of the trip. So far, very fun and interesting for me!

Comments

( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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real_marsel
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
Good luck in your brave trip!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
The trip would only be brave if I was traveling alone! It's very difficult to find English speakers in these countries. Now we move to Poland and Slovakia, where Sasha will not have the luxury of communicating with most people in Russian. Tonight is the first English I've heard as the receptionist at our hotel spoke it perfectly. Nice to hear my language! :))
kdementi
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
It seemed to me that Estonian slowness is only a stereotype. Likely it's formed because of specificity of Estonian language. But they are really much friendly than Russians!
Have a nice trip!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, the Estonians were great and the same with Latvians and Lithuanians. Warm, friendly people. These countries even had tourism infrastructure in some of the small towns we visited.
(no subject) - kdementi - Sep. 29th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 29th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Sep. 29th, 2013 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
york_shambles
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
Hey, what about Belarus? You excluded it out from your plans? that visa was for nothing?
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Belarus is at the end of the route! :) But only a very quick stop.

Edited at 2013-09-29 06:02 pm (UTC)
rider3099
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:09 pm (UTC)
Wow! It's so impressive! I've never been to Estonia and always thought people are not friendly!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:14 pm (UTC)
Olga, they are very welcoming! Maybe it's different in larger cities but not where we visited. The country is nice and infrastructure is decent.
igorbasic
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
I like Tallin. One of the best places to visit from Moscow for a weekend.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
We're not seeing any major cities on this trip with the exception of Bratislava. However, I would definitely go back to Estonia to explore more places.
(no subject) - igorbasic - Sep. 29th, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Sep. 29th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
Nice photos and the tale!
peacetraveler22
Sep. 29th, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
I will continue! Lots of interesting things to tell. Maybe I'll write one or two more posts during the trip, but the rest will wait until I return. Today we visited a Soviet military prison in Latvia. This was so cool and scary!
fesma94
Sep. 30th, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
Thank's Shannon ! Tallinn in my plans, I wait for low cost flight there !
peacetraveler22
Sep. 30th, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
Estonia, a very pleasant place to visit. At least in the small villages.
andrey_kaminsky
Sep. 30th, 2013 05:42 am (UTC)
Пока другие веселятся...
Every time I have a pain in my heart when I read that russians are not friendly enough... This is because I understand that I have some of the blame for this. I don't sex-troll you and you are deprived of the opportunity to get acquainted with this important part of russian culture. (deep sad sigh) But you must not think that this is your fault. You would have sex-trolled well if the force of circumstances were not been present...
inamora... Even the fact that she is he, can't get me to stop to think about her. I just cannt sex-troll anyone but her. Her sexuality is a curse on me. I hope you will understand and forgive me. Have a nice trip.

Edited at 2013-09-30 05:43 am (UTC)
amandakysses
Sep. 30th, 2013 12:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Пока другие веселятся...
Excuse me, can you please tell me what sex-troll means? Please.
amandakysses
Sep. 30th, 2013 12:03 pm (UTC)
Looks like a nice adventure. Relax and enjoy your trip. We will wait patiently for your travel stories until you get home and unwind. Stay safe. Have so much fun! Loves! Xoxo
peacetraveler22
Sep. 30th, 2013 04:04 pm (UTC)
There are so many places and sights that it will be difficult to sort through photos and remember things when I return, so maybe I'll write a few [posts from the road. So far, the trip is very good!
(no subject) - amandakysses - Sep. 30th, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
e-Stonia - jack_cracker29 - Oct. 4th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: e-Stonia - peacetraveler22 - Oct. 5th, 2013 06:14 am (UTC) - Expand
anna_sollanna
Sep. 30th, 2013 12:07 pm (UTC)
Glad to have news from you during your trip! Did you cross the Russian-Estonian border in Pechory? And did you have time to visit the monastery in Pechory? It is very ancient and is definitely worth to visit!
Btw the ladies on your last photo are rather interesting! The one on the left looks rather Soviet-looking, as the one on the right (with a stretched arm) looks as West European.
peacetraveler22
Sep. 30th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
We crossed the border at Pskov. These ladies, and others in the market, were great. So friendly and happy to pose for photos.
andrey_kaminsky
Sep. 30th, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
Что-то
I worked hard today, i'm tired, i'm not in the mood. I find it hard to realize that I was somehow cursed by reason of nationality. Forgive me please. I will be kinder. Everything passes and this will pass.
nar_row
Oct. 1st, 2013 07:17 am (UTC)
Good luck, Shannon. :)
peacetraveler22
Oct. 1st, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! So many miles on the road each day traveling long distances between points but so far the trip is great!
(no subject) - nar_row - Oct. 1st, 2013 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
nochnaya_ximera
Oct. 2nd, 2013 11:17 am (UTC)
Hello, Shannon! Sasha recommended your blog in his entry about Estonia.
I liked your blog very much! It's very pretty and interesting, and also good photos, so I'm going to read both points of view - yours and Sasha's - about your rural trip across Estonia, Poland and Slovakia.

Thanks a lot for sharing your impressions! :)
peacetraveler22
Oct. 2nd, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
Hello! Welcome to my blog. :) I will write my stories about this Eastern Europe trip when I return to America. Until then, I hope you find some other interesting stories here which you like.
qi_tronic
Oct. 4th, 2013 11:34 am (UTC)
I see you are already in Slovakia.
Not too much time until Belarus? :)
qi_tronic
Oct. 4th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)

www. buzzfeed. com/juliapugachevsky/foods-russians-grew-up-with

peacetraveler22
Oct. 5th, 2013 06:10 am (UTC)
I saw this and wrote a post about it. I'll publish it next week. Food, a favorite topic of mine! :))
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