It was already the last week of August when we arrived in Haapsalu, but the place still seemed busy with tourists. The weather was warm and sunny. This beautiful old town was full of people sitting on the streetside terraces, cafes and restaurants, walking along the waterfront in the shady parks, visiting the old castle and enjoying the town’s many spas.
The town of Haapsalu dates back to the medieval times. The bishopric castle with its cathedral was founded in the 13th century. The construction went on for several hundred years, and today it’s still largely preserved. We enjoyed a day of wandering along its walls and ramparts, the cathedral and the ruins of the monastery. There’s a legend of a restless young maiden, the White Lady appearing on the cathedral wall during full moon in August. Unfortunately we missed her by about a week.
We strolled along the narrow streets lined with beautiful old houses, with their carefully carved details, forged iron hinges and door knobs, sunny verandas with windows made of blown glass. Here you get a feeling that the time has stood perfectly still for centuries. But that’s not true. Anyone who visited Estonia during or shortly after the Soviet occupation will remember a completely different scenery.
I could describe my first visit in Estonia over 20 years ago like a black-and-white photograph, with all the joyful colours drained from it. Today we can only marvel at the amount of work, skill and imagination involved in creating this timeless and charming atmosphere. It’s as if the colours have been put back into that photograph. The Estonians have wasted no time in their 25 years of regained independence.
While we were happily immersed in the city life, the wind was gathering force again, with the seas getting more and more agitated. A storm was expected from the west, and we got company at the marina as several boats came in to wait out the bad weather.