Though Estonia is a fairly small country - about the size of Denmark - there are still many places I have never been to. This post is the first in a line of posts I plan to do about future destinations in Eestimaa. The first in line is Pärnu, a city of about 45,000 in the southwestern edge of Estonia, known to all Estonian's as "the summer capital of Estonia." Estonians will recite this fact the same way Danes will tell you that Danish sounds like speaking with a "hot potato in your mouth."
What makes Pärnu the summer capital is its long sandy beach, which Finns, Swedes, Russians, and, yes, Estonians, will tell you is bodaciously rad. It is the beach that draws bathers here from Stockholm and Turku, where they are fed up with rocky beaches and want some white powder between their toes. It is also assumed that because Pärnu is the summer capital one might catch a glimpse of former PM Juhan Parts playing beach volleyball with Tõnis Palts, or Kristiina Ojuland sunbathing with Ene Ergma. Pärnu, I am told, is a place to be seen.
Pärnu is an old Hanseatic town whose history goes back to 1251 when it was founded by Bishop Henrik I. Another important date is 1837, when the first mud baths were opened up. Ahh mud.
In a 1979 edition of National Geographic on Estonia, Priit Vesilind had some photos about the mud spas which were a favorite of all Soviet vacationers. I am not sure I am into submerging my torso in mud, but, while in Pärnu, do as the Pärnlased dictate.
A final cool thing about Päarnu is its awesome flag (at left). In some ways I think that Pärnu's flag is superior to Estonia's flag.
This is fitting because Pärnu was the city where the Republic of Estonia was proclaimed in 1918.
So if there is a t-shirt with that flag on it, I'm snatching it up. To sum up, Pärnu has a bit of a reputation. I will be visiting it in just a few weeks, and I hope it lives up to all I have heard.