A few days after arriving, Carl and his girlfriend Sandra, Harper, Luke (another American we met out and about) and I all went to Aegna Island—an old Soviet military base that is now just a haven of pristine forest and beach just to the north of Tallinn. The island is about 3 squared kilometers, and a mere six very, very lucky people live there year-round. In a stroke of luck, it was pretty much the only nice day while we were there.
To get there, you take the ferry next to Klaus Café (which is excellent, though the service was so slow you may begin to think that your order is only theoretical—have faith, the food will come.) It was a small boat, and I was amazed that there were maybe only 15 people total heading to the island on such a gorgeous day. All the better, I often like being where other people are not. It’s 4 euro for the hour ride, and on the day we went it was clear skies, but with fog rising off the water so that it felt like riding into a different realm. In a really unfortunate decision, I opted to only take my iPhone and not my real camera. Hopefully the photos below can give some idea of its beauty.
When you first get off the boat on Aegna, there are these enormous cement structures all piled next to the dock, like jacks for giants.
There’s also beach made of nothing but soft and squishy seaweed, smooth skipping stones, and a calm and glassy sea.
Right by the dock is a small stand that sells beer, cider, and food, and also rents bikes.
We rented bikes for a few hours and took off on a trail that led us through a dense pine forest that cuts clear across the island, ending in the beach on the other side.
It smelled amazing, fresh and green, but best of all there was no one around—it felt like we were the only people on earth.
After about ten minutes of biking, we reached the beach on the other end of the island.
There were roses, dune grass, and soft sand—a combination that reminded me of Cape Cod.
We stayed here a long while, skipping more stones and drinking cider.
After a bit, we tried to find some old Soviet war stuff (allowing us to, for perhaps the only time in our lives, seriously say “let’s go to the rocket launchers.”) We found some old abandoned buildings, and a labyrinth made of stone, though not the rocket launchers that we were after.
Other than that, we just biked around through the forests, around old abandoned houses, and through large and empty fields of tall dried grass.
I didn’t want to leave Aegna, but the last boat was at 7:30 pm. My whole time there I was full of wonder and gratitude and preemptive nostalgia. I desperately wished I could dig my heels in and stop time from moving forward, just for a little while, just until I could get my fill of tranquility.
On the boat ride back Luke and I stayed out on the back deck and shared a hot chocolate (given to me by Carl, because he thought I might want one—such a lovely human he is!) and toasted the true summer solstice, at 7:39pm.
If you ever find yourself in Estonia (which really, you should) you must go to Aegna!