Like in a Fairytale: Viljandi

It is 66 kilometres to go to Viljandi from Tartu, so the car ride didn’t take even one hour. It was already dark when we arrived to Viljandi. My driver left me near some shopping mall, so I used it to make some small shopping (food for upcoming days and also some chocolate and sweets for my friends in Vilnius), and I was prepared to use the rest of the evening to explore Viljandi!

After being in Tallinn and Tartu, I think I had a bit wrong expectations about the city and I forgot that it is actually Sunday evening. On Sunday evening in February, Viljandi is like a ghost town. I was wandering around the empty streets, trying to find some nice place to have a tea. Viljandi looked like fantastic town from fairy tale even when it was dark. At one point when I was passing by some square with picturesque houses, subtle snow flakes slowly falling down and sparkling in the street lights, I could hear bells ringing some song and I truly felt like in Harry Potter movie J Anyway, I was not successful in my search of some nice cafe, even if my host recommended me some places – I found it, but they were just closing – so I ended up drinking tea and charging my phone at some place that I will really not recommend you. Then it was time to go to see my hosts – three very nice EVS volunteers, working with people with disabilities in Viljandi, sharing the old cosy soviet flat with the most comfortable couch in the living room.

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Next day sun shined so brightly all day long that I was just excitingly running all around the Viljandi’s sights and taking pictures of everything like crazy. First I wanted to go to see the castle ruins. I walked through some nice park, I saw the beautiful church of St. Paul, the old manor with its small lake and cemetary and the small song festival arena close to it. From there it was just few steps to cross the mounds and enter the Order Castle ruins. It was Monday morning and I was the only person there, so I could enjoy the magic of the place and the beautiful views on my own. First I thought – such a big field down there! And then I have realized that I had seen on the map that there is a big lake next to the castle. It was completely white and sun was reflecting from its surface. I entered also the dungeon and crossed the Suspension Bridge to enter the Philosophers‘ alley. I must say that I almost got frozen – but the freaking cold was worth the sun! I ascended down the hill from the castle ruins on the other side and walked to the lake. I couldn’t resist to walk on the frozen lake since I can’t do it that often in Slovakia. Views from the lake were also amazing.

I walked up the street lined with the old villas back to the city centre and I came acroos the Water Tower. It is really extraordinary building and you can not miss it in Viljandi. Now it serves as an observatory tower – but of course, during the winter season it is closed. It seemed that I will not get up to any tower during this trip! On the same square like the water tower the Town Hall is, looking like a church, the oldest stone building in the town. Passing by some more villas, some of them renovated, some of them desolated, I was descending down the stairs again. I was going in direction to the place that my host recommended me for a lunch, but I was taking as many detours as possible because each street looked very appealing. And actually it was worth it, because I found some interesting buildings and place with the beautiful view!

Roheline Maja is the name of the cosiest place in Viljandi, if not in the whole Estonia. Besides selling local vegetables and fruits and various bio products, they have rich offer of fresh baked pastries and cakes and they serve also lunch. I went for the bean soup and I think it was the best bean soup I have ever eaten!It worked like self-serviceand you could take also the extraordinary freash bread with the garlic spread. I could spend there whole day, that’s how cosy it was, but I still had some places to see.

With warm soup in my stomach it was pleasant to walk around the sunny Viljandi. I sneaked into the tourist information centre that is right next to the St. John’s Church. They have a lot of nice postcards of Viljandi and I bought one with the scenic view of the castle from the lake in winter. They had also the summer version J I wanted to visit one more cafe that my host recommended me – Fellinn Kohvik, but unfortunately it was closed as every Monday. Looked like really nice place, too, so you don’t miss it if you are in Viljandi. I went for a walk to another lake, I crossed over the all surface (huhuhu) and it was already time to go for hitchhiking again. Going early enough was worth it, as it turned out later.

If you want to hitchhike out of Viljandi towards Pärnu (distance is 93 kilometers), you have to follow the Vaksali street and after graveyard continue still straight along Pärnu maantee street that will bring you to the hitchhiking spot at the roundabout. Or you can start hitchhiking already while walking to the point and get the car on your way there as I did.

This time the driver could speak English and it was really enriching to talk to him. I have learnt so much about Estonia as a country as I haven’t learned during my whole journey. He was talking a lot about surrounding wetlands and about the peat that is naturally creating there, about the forests that cover the most of Estonia’s area, about villages that consist of few houses, but the neighbourgs are so far away from each other that they can just see the smoke from each others chimney, about bogs where people used to hide during the war time and occupation from the enemies, about spruces, birches, bears, deers and lynxes… I haven’t even realized how fast we approached Pärnu.

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