After a well spent weekend in Tallinn, it was time to hit the road and head off to Pärnu along the Via Baltica. Because we were going to visit many different places not so easily accessible by public transport, we had taken our car across the gulf to Estonia with us to make the journey easier and more flexible.
We did spend two days in Pärnu, which ended up being more than enough for us. I actually think we set a new record on how quickly we got bored with a city – with Pärnu, it took us only 2 hours! In that time, we had visited the beach walking along the shore for a while, had lunch, walked around the city center and the riverside. And of course, several times had time to wonder what we had missed, since the city did not feel as pretty nor exciting as some people had claimed it to be.
So yes, as you can probably guess by now, I did not fall for the city, at all. Let me tell you why. Several times, I’ve heard people say Pärnu is a lovely city during the summertime and that the beach is one of the best ones in the Baltics. Based on this, we decided that a few days on the beach would be more than perfect after the weekend in Tallinn. All I can say after our visit is that my opinions now are very different from the expectations.
Did the city offer a paradise-like beach? Hardly. When the first sight hitting your eyes is a greyish shoreline bustling with people like ants in a warren, all you want to do is turn around and run. I mean, there were just tons of people along the two kilometer long beach. Although, must say it really was no wonder how crowded the place was. On a sunny Sunday, when temperatures hit record highs for the summer, it is understandable that many people head to the beach. But somehow, the beach with low water level and muddy-looking sand, did not make me feel tempted to join the crowds. So we continued our walk, hoping to find a place for lunch next.
We tried to find a place for a quick lunch on the beach, or right next to it, but failed miserably. You’d think that when a city is famous for its beach, there would also be good services available. But no. All there was were a few shacks offering beer and snacks, plus a few hotels where there probably would’ve been a restaurant, but usually we try our best to stay away from those. So we left the beach, found a nice restaurant a few blocks away from the beach towards the city center. We did actually return to the beach later on the day when the sun was already setting, mainly because we could not come up with anything else to do. Once we got back to the beach, most people had already left and the beach seemed a bit nicer by then, so we were happy to sit down until the sunset before going back to the hotel.
If the beach was not that nice, what about the town then? If the place has a reputation of being a nice city in the summertime, I’d expect it to mean that there is a lot of people and a lot going on. But again, nope, not in Pärnu. We did most of the ”sightseeing” on a Sunday afternoon, when the streets were empty, shops and stores were closed and where we could find only a few restaurants/cafes open (with barely no customers). The whole town just seemed so deserted. On the first day I thought that maybe it was because all the people were at the beach, but when it was all the same on Monday, I could not help but to think it was all normal.
What comes to the sights the city has to offer… Well, all our sightseeing in Pärnu was planned based on a quick browsing with the help of our friend Google. You can only imagine how we felt as our tour culminated in the attraction in the photo below. I gave up. Or I don’t know, what do you think – if an attraction is mentioned in all the lists you find on Pärnu’s top attractions and this (Red tower) is what you get, how exiting can the city be?
Also, after the positive feelings about Tallinn, I was somehow sad to see in how bad of a condition many of the beautiful wooden buildings were. It kind of felt like even the locals had given up on the city. With just a little bit of love and care, and a few caring moments with a paintbrush, the look of the city would be totally different (although, no paint can bring the life into the city)..
On our second day in Pärnu, we had more or less given up on the city and headed out of the city. The day was spent getting to know the surrounding areas of the city, and the evening was well spent in our hotel spa. Now that I think back to our trip, all I can think of is that two days in Pärnu was too much for us, and how we should have spent longer in Tallinn instead. So what is my opinion about Pärnu? “Been there, seen the beach, no need to go back”.