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Along the Amber Route: Pärnu

I drove into Pärnu just as it was getting dark. Located on the estuary of the river of the same name, the city was an early member of the Hanseatic League, trading in timber, amber, furs and salt fish with ports as far afield as Lübeck and King’s Lynn. Since the development of its mud baths in the mid-19th century, it had been primarily a resort, but its busy harbour and thriving university generated enough activity to avoid the lassitude that steals over such places in winter. I wandered the grid of streets lined by weatherbeaten timber houses and neoclassical Russian churches in search of the Hotell Bristol, only to find a note on the door announcing that it was closed, and redirecting guests to the Hotell Victoria round the corner. This turned out to be a stroke of luck: the Victoria was a beautiful Art Nouveau mansion, built in the 1920s as the Grand Hotell and looking on to a small park laid out around a statue of the 19th-century Estonian poet Lydia Koidula, whose portrait adorned the 100-krone banknote until Estonia joined the Eurozone in 2011. My room was large and pleasingly irregular, with sloping ceilings and a rickety glazed door opening on to a wrought-iron balcony.

From Along the Amber Route by C.J. Schüler

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C.J. Schüler

C.J. Schüler