Estonia has some 1500 islands off it's shores ..many too small to be inhabited but Saaremaa is the largest and prettiest of them all. To get to the island we boarded a large ferry since there is no bridge connection due to the stong port activity on the Baltic Sea. Here life was pretty much unaffected by the two World Wars so you find the towns and villages well preserved and good artifacts still can be enjoyed from the 12th - 18th centuries. Such as Wind Mills, village houses with thatched roofs, pagan churches from before the vikings. Even the language on the island is slightly different than the rest of the country. Native Estonians used to have to have a pass to even get on the island. Today it's open to everyone and has become the second largest and expensive Spa center of Eastern Europe, with Carlsbad , in Ck Republic being the first. Here I was fortunate to arrive during a music festival and both nights here attended two shows. One was four men harmonizing inside the castle doing ancient church, folk, and medieval songs. That was terrific. The Estonians are now members of the European Union (EU) and soon will convert currency over to the EURO as will the other two Baltic Countries also members of the EU. This means that any citizen from any other EU country can work without permits , travel without visa and live in any other EU country.
The main attraction on the island is the quaint medieval town of Kuressare where there is the original Bishop\s castle. A spendid 14th c castle, home to the most powerful Lutheran Bishop of that century. Inside we toured multiple rooms, after a few minutes we were completely lost and could not find the way out. There are passaways, doors, dungeons, a lions den, and who knows what else lurks inside this fortress. But it\s all accessible and you are free to wonder and explore all day if you like. There are exhibitons in some rooms of old artifacts, farm tools, household tools, etc used in the 14th centure. I even found one of the first SHELL company signs..humm I wonder if SHELL USA knows about this. ha .
There is also an open air museum on the island where you can see and explore actual houses and village shops from the 14th c..not just fakes..the actual one,s that were lived in at that time. I reallly enjoyed this part of the trip since so much of the other cities had restored churches and palaces. here they were untaouched by the war .