This post is about planning the trip – how I decided where to go and how to get there and how I found my hosts. The latter one was connected to the fact that I am EVS volunteer and it made things far more easier. And as a volunteer, I also tried to do everything very low cost.
At the beggining there was a vague idea of going to visit Tallinn since there are very cheap tickets to go there from Vilnius. Prizes range already from 5 €. Of course, you have to buy your tickets in advance. I bought my ticket approximately one and half month in advance. Usually you have to do small research which days are still available for the discount price and then pick the most suitable dates. So the date of beginning of my trip was Thursday, 2nd February!
I have had already known some EVS volunteers in Tallinn. I hosted couple of them one weekend in November in Vilnius. We had really nice time together and they offered me to stay with them in case I come to Tallinn. It was a good feeling to go somewhere where I already know somebody! Another EVS volunteer (doing her EVS in small Estonian village Abja-Paluoja) who I hosted during Christmas time recommended me to visit Tartu, a student city, and a small but beautiful town Viljandi, not forgetting to metion that there are some EVS volunteers there, too. This gave a more precise shape to my trip.
I spent some time thinking about the route of my trip, so I have bought ticket to go back to Vilnius bit later. I decided to end my trip in Pärnu – seaside town, that is probably more interesting to visit in summer, but since I wanted to go to visit also Tartu and Viljandi on south of Estonia, there was no reason to go back to Tallinn. The decision to end up the trip in Pärnu was easier also thanks EVS volunteer who replied to my inqiury in our „EVS Baltics“ group on Facebook. After agreeing with her upon my stay at her place in Pärnu for one night, I bought the ticket. I adjusted end of my trip to cheap tickets options – there was ticket from Pärnu to Vilnius for 5 € on Tuesday morning, 7th February. Ok, that meant that without travelling days I have four whole days for exploring Estonia!
For a long time just the beginning and the end of my trip were clear, but all that time I was considering when exactly and how to move from one city to another. I decided for travelling in the evenings (since it is dark soon in the winter) and starting new morning always in a new place. The same LUXury bus company offers cheap tickets inside Estonia, too, so I bought the ticket for 3 € from Tallinn to Tartu. Discount tickets were still available less than one week in advance. For Viljandi and Pärnu I considered hitchhiking with back-up plan of taking the last bus.
Approximately one week before my trip, I agreed with volunteers in Tartu and Viljandi about the dates when I could visit them and sleep over night there. I did a research about the places of interest in the cities I wanted to visit. First I checked official tour guides and websites of the towns for general ideas, but the most interesting are usually the travel blogs. For an alternative view of Estonia I recommend you the blog Hidden Tallin. Of course, I had prepared also the basic Estonian phrases written in my notebook.
So I started my trip with a couple of bus tickets, notebook full of telephone numbers and adresses of my hosts and with the sketch idea what I want to see. But I left some space also for the magic of the moment and lucky accidents – and that’s what I will try to present you in the next posts.