Spring recommendations: What to do in Estonia #1

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Luhasoo bog, Source: Kaisa Äärmaa/Minupilt.err.ee

Last year, ERR News published culture.ee's culture recommendations for what to do in Estonia. Now, due to a change in format, recommendations will be brought to you by the Estonian Institute with a focus on how spring can be enjoyed - despite the coronavirus restrictions.

The Estonian Institute in collaboration with podcast "Found in Estonia", republished by ERR News, brings you a series of recommendations from foreigners who live in Estonia.

Buluthan from Istanbul, Turkey, soon to be 28 years old, moved to Estonia for his master's degree and has now lived in Estonia for 3.5 years. He's also featured on an episode of the "Found in Estonia" podcast. 

These are his recommendations:

1) Go outside

I strongly recommend everyone to be outside as much as possible. Just because we cannot visit malls and enclosed areas, does not mean we cannot be outside. I think Viru Bog (Viru Raba), with its closeness to Tallinn, is a really sweet spot for a nice outdoors activity. 

2) Camping

Another idea, and something I also love, is camping. With proper equipment, it is actually very enjoyable to camp even during winter. And, since it is Estonia we are talking about, you have to grill. Tallinn is surrounded by forests that are already covered by RMK (State Forest Management Center) and through their website one can find out where to go for their next camping adventure. 

3) Winter swimming

An absolute must. Not only does it give a nice sense of achievement, but it is also healthy if done regularly. There are some Facebook groups for folks that like this, but you can do it yourself, too. Just grab your biggest towel, swimming gear, some gloves for swimming as well as swimming shoes to keep your hands and feet warm and you are good to go! Some people do this in Pirita where there is also a sauna that you can rent to run back into after swimming, and some people do it the harder way by just going to Noblessner and just swimming. An even better idea is to mix these all up. Go for a hike, camp, grill, then swim in a lake for a minute or two, and grill again. I'd say this is quite an Estonian way of enjoying the outdoors, I really do recommend it. 

Buluthan from Istanbul, Turkey. Source: Private collection.

4) Karulauk

In April (depending on the temperature early or late), there is this magical little veggie that pops up for a short period of time called karulauk (ramson). A very good friend of mine first took me to collect the leaves when they came alive in spring two years ago and if you are a person that likes garlic and onion tastes I strongly, really strongly recommend going for it. They are basically leaves of a plant, and super delicious and healthy. You can basically do anything with it; cook it, make it into a paste for long time use, mix into salads. The taste is very strong though, so proceed with caution.

Also, there is another plant with a white blossom that looks a lot like karulauk but is poisonous, so make sure you take a local friend with you that knows what to look for! 

NB: Also, note that ramsons growing in the wild are protected so you can only pick enough for yourself or purchase them from a local who is sure to grow them in their garden.

5) Cooking

During those days when we cannot go outside, I recommend cooking. I know, cuisine is not one of those things that come to mind when we think about Estonia but I think curd cheesecake (kohupiimakook) is an absolute star for an easy yet delicious local treat. I also love the traditional black bread, herring, egg and onion sandwiches quite a lot but perhaps they are not for everyone. 

6) Estonian movies

If you are stuck in your home and are looking for a local movie to watch and learn how the past in Estonia affected people, I recommend "Risttuules", "In the Crosswind". It is one of those movies that affected me very deeply. But mind you, it is quite emotional. Here is the trailer with English subtitles and film can be bought and seen here on Netikino.

This article was first published on the Estonian Institute's website.

The Estonian Institute is currently developing its web environment at Culture.ee to make integration and cultural exchange more accessible.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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