LAKE PEIPSI - A LAKE AS BIG AS THE SEA
The foreign tourists' visits to Estonia have so far concentrated
very strongly to the cities of Tallinn, Pärnu, Tartu as well
as the Saaremaa island. Eastern and southern parts of Estonia have
remained relatively unknown.
I wanted to see Lake Peipsi, Estonia's largest and Europe's fourth
largest lake, which lies between Estonia and Russia. The waters
of Peipsi flow to the Gulf of Finland through river Narva. In the
south, Lake Peipsi is connected with Lake Pihkova, Russia. The area
of Lake Peipsi covers 3584 square kilometres - about one percent
of the surface of Finland!
There are excellent bus connections from Tallin to the small town
of Mustvee, only less than 200 kilometres from the capital. The
bus fare is cheap, and anyway, what you pay for the bus or other
transport, you save in accomodation and food expenses. So much lower
is the price-level here in comparison with Tallinn and the west
of Estonia. And as a bonus, the traveller has the opportunity to
take a morning swim in Lake Peipsi, close to Mustvee Guesthouse!
I noticed Mustvee Guesthouse, situated only about a kilometre away
from the bus station, through the bus window when first arriving
to Mustvee. That's my place, told my intuition.
The friendly owners, a couple, gave a warm welcome.
Tidy, cozy rooms with fresh linen. Showers in the corridor and
a breakfast room/living room downstairs.
Here, one finds no crowds of tourists. The athmosphere on Lakes
Peipsi's shores, in the small villages, is idyllic. Time seems to
have partly stopped. You could describe the feeling as Checkhovian.
Even the basic Estonians feel like being abroad here.
The shores of Lake Peipsi have traditionally been the home area
of old Russian-Orthodox believers, so-called "starovers".
They settled here after being in opposition with the policies of
Tsar Peter the Great, after Peter's return from the Netherlands
his head full of new ideas for Russia. Characteristically, the houses
here are placed in rows on both sides of the road by Lake Peipsi.
Only a few kilometres from Mustvee lies the boundary of Eastern
Virumaa, the most Russian region of Estonia.
Fishing has been the source of livelyhood for the inhabitants of
this region. Pike-perch, pike, vendace and smelt are the principal
catch from Lake Peipsi.
The major agricultural products on the shores of Lake Peipsi are
cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and herbs. Thus, harvest time in August
- September is one good choice of time to visit Mustvee and its
Mustvee Guesthouse also organizes guided fishing tours. Ask Viktor
for an offer. The Latvians come here in numbers in the winter for
The inhabitants of this region are among Estonia's poorest. Therefore,
their hopes for developing the tourist industry are high. The situation
is due to change in what regards the tourists from Finland during
the coming years with the opening of the Kotka - Sillamäe ferry
I'm happy to have found Mustvee Guesthouse for my "base"
for excursions around the Lake Peipsi region!