Truck driver Aare Saal, who on Monday got trapped on the German-Polish border with fellow Estonians trying to return to the country in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, made it to the Swedish port of Kappelskäri and is ready to continue the journey home. Saal says his previous displeasure with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is starting to calm down now.
On the evening of Tuesday, March 17, Saal with his small company made it to Malmö Sweden. By the morning of Wednesday, March 18, they had arrived in Kappelskäri port and managed to get tickets to a Tallink (Estonian largest shipping group) cargo ship going to Paldiski.
"We are almost happy," Saal told in a phone interview with ETV´s "Terevisioon".
"I feel quite proud that our country is taking care of its citizens. That the ship is being sent there. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Saal said the foreign ministry communicated really well with those stuck at the German-Polish border, after a promied escorted convoy across Poland - which closed its borders on Sunday, two days ahead of Estonia - failed to materialize.
"They have been interested in how are we doing. They called to ask whether we can get home, and with what ship we can get home. In other words: things are turning out for the better."
Saal also didn´t have any reason to complain about the essential side of things. Most gas stations were closed to entry while driving through Sweden during the nighttime but everything was done via a hatch and with rubber gloves, as a precautionary measure. The group made just two stops in Sweden since it is reportedly a country at a high coronavirus risk level.
Saal said there were many delivery vehicles in line to get on the ship and only a few smaller vehicles. The cargo ship bound for Paldiski left at 10.00 p.m. (Swedish time) on March 18.
Some Estonians, including Saal, managed to get to Sweden after breaking border fences, and then drove the 400 kilometers to Travemünde in northern Germany, whence they got the ship to Sweden.
Tallink ship heads for Sassnitz, Germany
On the evening of Tuesday, March 17, Tallink vessel the Romantika left the Port of Riga to take on the parcels carried by the delivery vehicles and also some German nationals who had been trapped in Latvia.
"The journey to Sassnitz, Germany (destination of the Romantika-ed.) lasts for about 24 hours and all passengers are supplied with cabins. On the evening of Wednesday, March 18, the ship will leave Sassnitz and take on Estonians and Latvians with their vehicles," chairman of Tallink Group Paavo Nõgene said.
Nõgene added that the Estonians who have made it to Sweden have two options to get back home.
"One is through Turku or Helsinki and then to Tallinn. And exceptionally, there is a chance to come by cargo ship leaving from the Kappelskäri port and this is coming to Paldiski (i.e. Saal's choice-ed.)."
Editor: Roberta Vaino