Short trip to Pärnu

Last week my father-in-law turned 80 and decided to ”escape the country” so that he did not have to arrange a party. The solution was to gather his five siblings and their significant others and travel to a spa in Pärnu, Estonia for six days. Pärnu is a resort city in southwestern Estonia with some 40,000 inhabitants. The city overlooks Pärnu Bay and is bisected by the Pärnu River. The city is known for its 19th-century timber villas and for sandy Pärnu Beach, with its shallow waters and promenade. The city has several spas and is a popular vacation destination, especially in summer.

The birthday celebration was planned for Friday, so me and hubby joined the sibling gang on Thursday evening. We took the 4.30 pm Tallink Megastar ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn. We decided to splurge on the comfort lounge (EUR 20 or 24 per person depending on vessel) and on a priority position for the car (another EUR 20). The comfort lounge is a separate area with extra services, including a selection of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, newspapers, TV, wifi, power outlets, toilets and a bar. We really enjoyed the lounge, it was quiet and calm and you didn’t have to suffer the usual drunks, long queues and less than fresh toilets. The priority car service means that you are among the first to leave the ship once you arrive in port. This means you beat the traffic. So after relaxing in the lounge for a couple of hours we drove out to Tallinn and headed towards Pärnu.

Comfort lounge

The drive to Pärnu took around two hours and once we arrived at Tervis Medical Spa Hotel and checked in we caught up with hubby’s relatives. I must say this was not a hotel I would’ve personally chosen but since this was where the rest of the birthday party was staying, we decided it was easiest to stay at the same place. We had booked a standard suite, which turned out to be quite run down and in need of some upgrading. Turns out the standard rooms the rest of the party were staying in had been renovated more recently. The plus side of the suite was that it offered free bathrobes and a hairdryer, which the standard rooms did not. Once we had unpacked we headed to Muuli bar for a small nightcap and then it was time for bed. The next morning we visited the water center after breakfast. I had booked some salon treatments at Helmi Beauty Salon for the afternoon (a pedicure and facial) and before this we had a small lunch at the Book café Purje.

The suite had a living room
…and a bedroom
Lunch time
View from Book cafe Purje’s terrace
View from Book cafe Purje’s terrace
After my pedicure

On Friday evening it was time for the actual birthday celebration which was in the form of dinner at a restaurant called Trahter Postipoiss. As we were a group of 10 people the restaurant had asked us to preorder our food. This was actually quite handy as we only had to contemplate what to drink once we arrived at the restaurant. The food was good for the most part (there seemed to be some variation between the different foods as most were delicious but a couple of portions were a disappointment). Based on my meal, I would eat here again. Once we returned to the hotel we had a nightcap at the lobby bar before heading to bed. The next morning we had breakfast, packed our stuff and checked out. Before we drove back to Tallinn we took a stroll in the small old town of Pärnu.

Restaurant entrance
Inside the restaurant
The birthday party
Russian-style buckwheat and wheat blini with trout roe
Pan-fried pike perch fillet breaded with panko served with potato & pumpkin purée,
pumpkin & marrow salad and apple cider sauce
Pear cake with ginger and raspberry sauce

The trip was a nice way to celebrate a birthday and it might be interesting to return to Pärnu in summer and see the city in full swing.

Killing time

Monday was our last day in Dubai. As our flight was only leaving in the early-morning hours (around 4 am) on Tuesday we had a whole day to kill before needing to return to the hotel for packing and such. We had kept the rental car for a second day so getting around was easy. We started the day with breakfast at IHOP and were surprised by the quality of the food, once again the ingredients were super fresh.

After breakfast we jumped in the car and drove to the Dubai Mall and visited the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world and it illuminates the marvels of the ocean floor, showcasing one of the most diverse collections of aquatic life. Located just above the aquarium, Underwater Zoo brings visitors up close with penguins, piranhas, crabs, water rats, sea horses, jellyfish and plenty more. We enjoyed both the aquarium and the underwater zoo. We also checked out the Star Wars exhibition in the mall. Next, we drove to the Dubai Outlet Mall, where we managed to do some shopping. I bought a pair of Puma shoes and a pair of sunglasses and hubby bought a pair of jeans.

 

 

After shopping, we returned to Dubai mall to have dinner and check out the water show of the Dubai Fountain, which is the world’s largest musical fountain. There were masses of people but we did manage to see the show and get some pictures (luckily hubby is relatively tall with long arms so he could take the pics over people’s heads, which would be impossible for me at 160 cm). The fountain is located on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake and shoots water as high as 500 feet –that’s as high as a 50-story building. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and start preparing for our trip back home.

Dubai was a great experience and surprised us positively. We arrived with the idea that this would be a one-time destination but left feeling that we might come back one day.

Daytrip to Abu Dhabi

Sunday was the only morning we had a schedule as we had booked a rental car. We had breakfast at the hotel, which was a really good breakfast with great variety and a chef that made eggs to order. The car rental office was a five-minute walk from our hotel and once we got the car we headed to Abu Dhabi.

Our first stop in Abu Dhabi was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque is the UAE’s largest and most ornate place of worship. Construction work started in 1996 and took 12 years to complete at the reported cost of around $545 million. It is now the third-largest mosque in the world at 22,412 square meters covering an area equivalent to nearly four football fields. It holds more than 40,000 worshipers and has three Guinness World Records, for largest handwoven carpet and the biggest chandelier, as well as the largest dome of its kind in the world. The mosque consists of 82 white marble domes, 1,096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and seven 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers. The mosque is free to visit but you have to queue to register for entrance and then to the security control. You should wear modest clothing when visiting, women should cover their legs, arms and heads and men are required to wear long trousers. The mosque provides free traditional abayas (robes) prior to entry in case your attire is not modest enough. The mosque was a truly impressive sight and extremely beautiful. I would recommend anyone traveling to UAE taking the time to visit this mosque.

Sporting my abaya
 
 

Once we were finished admiring the mosque we drove to Ferrari World. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a mostly indoors amusement park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and has the record for the largest space frame structure ever built. Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, is also located here. The park officially opened to the public on 4 November 2010. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi covers an area of 86,000 square meters. The park features roller coasters and other rides, as well as exhibitions. You can also book a Ferrari ride around Yas Island or take a spin on a karting track. We focused on the roller coasters, which was great fun. The world’s fastest roller coaster was amazing and left me rather confused (“what just happened” feeling). Even though Formula Rossa (speed of 0 to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. Feel the surge of 4.8Gs in the pit of your stomach as you scale heart-racing heights of 52m) was amazing, the best ride in our opinion was the Flying Aces ride (scale 63m at a spectacular 51-degree incline, hit 120km/h, and fly through the world’s highest rollercoaster loop).

Found a lion @Ferrari World

On the way back to Dubai we stopped to check out Riverland. Riverland Dubai is the gateway to Dubai Parks and Resorts consisting of Motiongate, Bollywood, Legoland and Legoland water park. We did not buy entrance to any of these amusement parks but only strolled around Riverland to which entrance was free. It was a very absurd experience with e.g. a French village depicting a medieval French town displaying historic architecture of Europe in the late 1600’s. From Riverland we drove a couple of kilometers to Dubai Outlet Village. We roamed around the mall but did not buy anything. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Mall of the Emirates for dinner. We were a bit boring and had dinner at Chili’s. The interesting thing about eating at a chain restaurant was that the food was far better than I’ve had at Chili’s in the US. I think it is because the ingredients are of better quality, which makes the food tastier.

@Riverland
French Village @Riverland

 

One more Dubai post to come.