Sunday Special – Estonia


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Cliffs at Saaremaa Island, Estonia – Photo credit: Margus6Varahommik ja Panga pankCC BY-SA 3.0

This small Baltic country of Estonia has history that goes back for centuries and centuries with a Finno-Ugric language ancestry.  Throughout these times the Estonian’s faced German, Danish, Swedish and Russian control. In 1918 they became an independent nation but were forced into the Soviet Union in 1940. 1989 they demanded independence and gained it officially in 1991, with much credit going to their peaceful Singing Revolution of the 1980s. In 2004 they joined the European Union and switched to the euro in 2011. Today it is a tourism hot spot with plenty to offer. 

  • Capital city of Tallinn boasts an outstanding Old Town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Sight
  • Experience “White Nights” from May through July when the sun barely sets
  • Take in the Suur and Väike Taevaskoda (Small and Large Heaven’s Hall) along the Ahja River for some hiking and seeing some caves
  • The Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast is filled with beautiful landscape and perhaps you will see moose, foxes and other animals
  • The south’s Soomaa National Park showcases a primeval forest and quiet nature
  • Get your adrenaline flowing with activities such as repelling, rafting, ATV rentals, go-karting and even a precarious walk along the ledge of Tallinn’s TV Tower 
  • Visit any of Estonia’s plentiful islands, many just a quick ferry ride away
  • Take in all forms of popular music at any number of clubs offering rock, jazz, alternative, electronic and more. Music festivals are popular as well.
  • Admire the architecture of old in the many lighthouses, manor houses, churches, castles, and forts throughout the country
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Katariina Passage in Tallinn’s Old Town – Photo credit: -jkb-Tallinn Katariina KäikCC BY-SA 3.0

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Panorama of Tallinn’s walled Old Town – Photo credit: Ivar LeidusTallinn Toompea Upper Old Town 2013CC BY-SA 3.0 EE

Sunday Special – Andorra


The Sunday Special will be trying out a new spin so let’s see how it goes. In the past I have done series on natural landscapes (deserts, mountains, etc). My own travels have been highlighted. And of course, bucket list worthy destinations have made it here too.  This time ’round I am going to alphabetize. Yep, I will go through the alphabet to select a place, sight, or event (and possibly even food) to showcase to you.  Let’s see the world one letter at a a time.


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Ski hills of Andorra – Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Michael Karavanov [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Snuggled high in the Pyrenees mountains of Europe lies the landlocked micro-nation of Andorra. The sixth smallest European nation is found between France and Spain, which means entry into it is via one of them. There are no airports or train stations so bus and car is the way to enter (or by helicopter is you have the funds). So how can one spend their days here? Here is what I found:

  • Hiking and walking for various skill levels. Being a mountainous country there are plenty of places to explore on foot in the summer months
  • Skiing. It’s the mountains so there is a bounty of ski resorts to choose from. Heli-skiing is also available. It’s a winter sports wonderland
  • Cycling – both mountain biking terrain and asphalt-lined paths
  • Activities such as zip-lining, mountain slide, horseback riding, archery, rope circuits high in the trees, camping and more
  • Shopping and good food
  • Museums

It seems to me that Andorra may be a micro-sized country yet has large-size itineraries. 

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View of Andorra la Vella, capital city of Andorra – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Tiia Monto [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Ferran Llorens (Flickr: Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror 63) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Sintra, Portugal


Sometimes heading out of major city centres for a day trip is what you need. Located 28 km / 17 miles outside of Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is the picturesque coastal town of Sintra. One may see why this locale is a popular destination for those looking to escape the big city for a day, though a longer sojourn to truly experience all this UNESCO World Heritage sight has is suggested. Meander through the narrow streets; explore the historical castles and palaces or take in the views as Sintra is situated atop the mountains that shares its name. When I finally make my way to Portugal I will certainly seek out Sintra. The town sounds simply charming and inviting.

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Pena Palace, Sintra – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

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View of Sintra, Portugal from the Castle of the Moors – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by By Chris Yunker from St. Louis, United States (Castle of the Moors  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Park Güell, Barcelona


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View of Barcelona and a portion of Park Güell – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned  Marrovi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 mx (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/mx/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Antoni Gaudi has his stamp on Barcelona. An architect and with a penchant for what is now referred to as Catalan Modernism.  His attention to detail and in his designs extended to use of wrought iron, ceramics, glass and more. One of his popular contributions is Park Güell, located on Carmel Hill. It was built during the years of 1900 – 1914. Its beginnings as a housing development failed and the area was then turned into a park in 1926. In 1984 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (classified as part of the works of Antoni Gaudi). Today people flock to see its buildings, statues, pillars and more. I do know that I will visit this place should I make my way to Barcelona. The curves, vibrant mosaics and bold structures are reminiscent of candies and fairy tales. I expect I will be taken with the wonder of the design.

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Terrace filled with onlookers – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By es:Usuario:Rapomon [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Curved bench at Park Güell – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By deror avi (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons