13 December 2010

The Ferry to Muhu

On our way from the pretty lake town of Viljandi out to the island of Saaremaa, we had to take a ferry from Virtsu, on the coast, to Muhu island.
The crossing took a little over half an hour - a straight shot out into the sea ice, across the channel. The land was difficult to distinguish on the horizon because it's so flat. The sea was dead calm and the ice lay still on the surface. Even behind us, in the wake of the boat, the water seemed barely disturbed, the floes sliding heavily into place around the stern.
We left the car on the lower deck and went up for a bite to eat in the cafe. Rebecca had a piece of bread adorned with these small, silvery fish that she believes are Estonian "räim," or Baltic dwarf herring. They were barely cured, without much salt, and she said that they were delicious.
I had this blood sausage wrapped in bacon, which was much heavier. I had intended to have just one of them, but the serving-lady put two on my plate alongside a huge pile of sauerkraut. They were good, but it was more food than I really wanted on our short crossing. Around us, passengers sat without talking and looked out the windows. Something about the blankness of the ocean space and the low sound of the engines made conversation seem frivolous. Being on a boat - even for a short amount of time - always seems to bring out a contemplative quietness in people.
After we ate, we went out onto the forward deck to watch the port drawing nearer. The ferries had tracked a path in the ice (which you can see in the photo). The air was surprisingly still, which was nice because the temperature was hovering around 10° fahrenheit.

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