“He who throws the water must sit highest in the sauna.” My grandfather taught me this phrase in Estonian in hopes of improving my language abilities, but the saying has proved equally useful while roasting in wooden hot boxes. Saunas, not passports, are how real Estonians prove their lineage. Less water and lower benches are my cooling keys to success.
Second only to the Finns (Finnish Saunas are to die for), Estonians love their Sauna. After my paragliding escapade, I headed to what my hosts described as just a “normal Saturday night gathering” at the skydiver’s club. It was normal in all respects (beers, a few drinking games, chitchat – thankfully in English with me – ), except everyone was naked. When you’re steaming in a sauna half the night, no point in drenching clothes with your sweat. Makes deciding what to wear to a party easy, I guess.
The aforementioned sauna was welcomed in an attempt to relax my muscles which were raw with pain following a day of paragliding. After spending 6 hours training on the ground, I took four successful solo flights above the plains of Estonia. If you’re thinking, how do you paraglide over plains – great question. Given the lack of mountains in Estonia, a towing vehicle drags you up to to 1,200 feet where you detach and glide down. Think water-skiing but with air instead of water and wings instead of skis.
View a short compilation of three separate take-off attempts below (one successful, two learning experiences…):
I topped off my second week in Estonia with a weekend trip to Helsinki, Finland, after convincing the previously-met French girl to join me. On the agenda for the upcoming week: paragliding round two and a SCUBA excursion at an old Soviet sunken prison.
Tšau! (goodbye in Estonian – pronounced “Chow”)