A judicious fast and farmlabourOut of the sauna and into a bracing bathThe sauna: the Nordic spaNortherners’ resourceful and industrious ancestorsknew that a person is a part of nature – andthey lived and behaved accordingly. In naturethe movement of energy is presupposed and ofall living beings it is incumbent upon humans tocare for all living things, including themselves.The sauna, the quintessential northern spa, combinesthe influence of heated air with the employmentof thin tree branches against the skinfor improvement of circulation, and cold water.Since ancient times, Estonians who have workedin fields, forests, by lakes, or at sea, have developedand loved their sauna culture.preclude development or fantasy. At some tourismfarms, guests may energize both body andspirit under the ceiling of the night sky in a barrelsauna or in an Indian-style sweat lodge. Atmany rivers and lakes, a chimney may be seenprotruding from a raft sauna. This floating saunahas become a tourist attraction in itself.Increasingly popular with diet-conscious peopleare fasting camps that cleanse the body with theaid of natural substances. The fasting person’sorgans cease to produce poisons which are theresult of a poor diet and overeating, the onlyrequirement for cleansing being to undergo apurge. One of the most effective gentle cleaningagents is mineral water. Water containing mineralsis suitable for consumption as well as bathingand is not inferior to mountain spring water.Southeastern Estonia’s Värska mineral water,pumped from deep within the earth, along withbottled water from Alpine valleys, is available atalmost every cafe, restaurant, and shop in thecountry.Estonia’s many tourism farms have helped thenative health culture thrive. Guests in these environmentsof wood, reeds, linen, and cottonare fed with locally grown organic foods andthe vacationer may augment these with ecologicallyfriendly, classically healthy activities suchas hikes in the forest and bogs, canoe trips, orhorseback riding. Elderly guests, or those whoprefer a more relaxed tempo, may opt for a walkwith trekking poles or a bicycle ride in order toBalance of body and soulfacilitate deep breathing and allow oxygen intothe bloodstream.Tourism farms enable guests to learn ancientcrafts by actively taking part in the work of thefarm. Fabric weaving, sheep shearing, flax spinning,honey straining, smith work and ovenbuildingall involve intense physical movement.The work is generally not without a bellyful offorest air and ample good cheer. A fairytale existence?This is everyday life for many of Estonia’s1.4 million people. This sort of romanticismisn’t a cheaply manufactured souvenir but rathera reality based on the energies of life and experience.The northern sauna unites all of the planet’s baseelements: fire, water, air, and earth. The batherwarms himself at 100-degree Celsius and thenwhips himself with birch or juniper branches,charges into cold water with his body steaming,and cleans the skin with salt, honey, milk, andplant infusions.Being a traditional people, though, does notA barrel saunaNever out of reach4 Wellness Holidays in EstoniaWellness Holidays in Estonia 5
Closer to the earth andthe childrenThe homes and summer cottages of Estonia’sleaders, scientists, writers, and musicians areusually located in the forest or on Estonia’s islands.Tourism farms in Estonia offer relaxationand opportunities for self-development to guestsfrom near and far. Often, bread is baked, cheesemade, herbal medicines grown and stress is reducedthrough the maintenance of a beautifulgarden. Frequently, these intellectual but primitivefarms contain a small training centre, wherehealthy lifestyles are advocated and guestroomswhere the holiday goers lodge. Plenty of theseactive and intelligent holiday centres are oftenalso family homes in Estonia. Many farms,manors, country spas, and children’s camps arecreated around different themes. One mightbe a ranch, another a Native American camp,a shaman’s domain, or a viking stronghold witha watermill and traditional artificial lake. A childlikenature is the hallmark of a whole spirit andgood health.Breadmaking at a tourism farmOld friendsA wellness holiday on Estonian islands with somehistoric hiking trails or in northern Estonia’s highestcategory of spa is ideal for those who wantto relax, and free themselves from the burdensof the business environment, and discover theinner child. That inner child can even very happilymeet other children. If not while on holiday,then when?Rowing, swimming, skiing, horseback riding, orarchetypal farm work are all activities which lendthemselves fully to relaxation and playing withparents. Rocketing down a waterpark slide withfather, entering a rowing contest with mother,or making a rug for the children’s room togetherwith a brother and sister are the moments whichform a happy childhood.Estonia also features plenty of idyllic hiking trailswhich are used for more than simply hiking, running,skiing, skating, or just walking. Often thetrails are designed or decorated with items ofcultural significance, such as wood sculptureswhich introduce the hiker to pagan gods fromfolklore or mythological fairies and heroes. Thisis mythology which opposes no one or no thingand it is in complete harmony with nature.Dining al fresco—Estonian styleA wide choice backed byqualityIt is both pleasant and healthy to be in Estonia.On farms or in the midst of forests one will findan ecologically wise and ancient lifestyle andsparse settlements which drew Baltic-Germannobles to build their homes. In Estonian forestsand at the edge of lakes, manor homes are frequentlyencountered. What was once a beautifulcastle is now a stylish resort or an especiallyhigh-quality spa.There is a wide choice for the health tourist inEstonia. Is a grass-roofed farmhouse preferredwhere wooden spoons are carved? Orienteeringin primeval forests? Or a week or two in a comfortablecity spa? The spas of modern Estoniameet higher standards of quality than anywhereelse in the world. The Estonian Spa Associationhas a rigorous and demanding quality controlsystem, which distributes stars to hotels andspas, by which the guest may judge the spa.Quality is also found in the kitchen. FamousEstonian chefs cater fully to those who preferinternational, gourmet, vegetarian, and nationalfood menus.Estonia’s organic energy drink6 Wellness Holidays in EstoniaWellness Holidays in Estonia 7
Sandy beaches—as far as the eye can seeFrom roughing it to thetop resortsResort- and water-treatment culture have beena part of Estonia since 1820. The entire westerncoastline from Pärnu to Haapsalu, from Toila toNarva-Jõesuu, including the island of Saaremaa,is packed with beaches and spas. There havebeen periods where vacationers came from Germanyand Moscow. Today’s visitors come primarilyfrom the Scandinavian countries, but visitorswill find Americans, Japanese, and southern Europeansamong their ranks. City spas and manorhomes alike are designed to inspire guests fromanywhere in the world.chemical properties of mud and minerals are abalancing tonic to the human skin. In addition tomud baths, rocks which have energizing and rejuvenatingqualities, including the most magicalof all, “shungit” from Karelia, are actively used inmodern spas.An inspiring andharmonious holidayDuring a holiday in Estonia it’s always possibleto combine unique activities which have inspiredEstonians to give honorary titles to their beautifulsmall cities. In the Winter Capital of Otepää,combine healing stones with skiing, chiropractictreatments with snowboarding or snow-tubing.The Summer Capital of Pärnu – like the legendaryHaapsalu – offers spa enjoyment combinedwith sailing, windsurfing, river rowing, rollerskatingon the promenade, flights in a Delta plane,and trips to forests from stables near the citywhere horseback-, carriage- or horsedrawnsleigh options are available. The town of Värskais the Mineral Water Capital. The unique citiesof Võru and Rakvere have built their own spas inorder to be dignified 21st-century cities.Without a doubt, Estonia’s health tourismbrings added value with concerts throughoutthe country, festivals, and open-air eventswhich take place year round. Entertainment isthe cherry on the cake of health tourism. Danceevenings of almost any style are as relaxing andstress-alleviating as an adventure park with itswide variety of climbing activities at the top oftrees.While there once was a time when universitiesissued doctoral degrees in spa medicine, today’sinstitutions of higher education teach physicalrecreation. This area is truly a complicated andbeautiful art. A person is whole when he ishealthy. In a healthy body lives a healthy spirit,and this spirit can create and fly only when itoccupies a harmonious, pain-free, loved- andwell-cared-for body.Within the capsule of modern and virtualcivilization, the idea that we are a part of naturecan easily become lost. We are a collection ofchemical elements which react and performimpeccably when our body is in motion, whenprovided enough air and light, and when clothingfits well and activities are suitable for one’s age.Estonia’s coastline from Kabli to the northeast,from Hiiumaa to Ruhnu is dedicated to tourismculture, and next to developed areas are foundprivate and untouched sandy beaches whereone may be alone with nature.As early as the 19th century it became clearto spa operators that in addition to water, air,warmth and light, the earth itself was extremelybeneficial for improving a person’s health. TheSpa pools have something for everyoneAn experience in the treetops8 Wellness Holidays in EstoniaWellness Holidays in Estonia 9
Living from morningthrough eveningSpecifically for the elderly, Estonia has manymedical spas of the highest order. Just as a childhoodis beautiful, so may be a person’s twilightyears. In early youth, wellness holidays requirea safe, interesting, and fun environment. In themost active years, preference is given to moreextreme activities or stylish and educational activities.In later years, bodies require a bit of rehabilitation,and this is possible with the aid ofprofessionally-educated experts who have studiedat Tartu University or many higher institutionsin Tallinn.A gem of Estonia is its variety of spas which enrichthe setting of theme parks, hiking trails, herbfarms, and manor homes. A person’s goldenyears are happy if they are without pain. Physiotherapy,chiropractic treatments, mudbaths,pearl baths, cold-treatments and salt chambers—allthe world’s top skills and treatmentsat their highest levels are available in Estonia’smedical spas.A medical spa procedureEnjoying the quiet of the forestfessional world for its unique addition of beautyservices to health tourism.Estonian people are so accustomed to theirunique romantic environment that they occa-Once joints are invigorated with extreme cold,respiratory organs and the skin’s surface soothedwith salt, spinal pain removed with massage andstretching, then all that is left is a new hair styleand a manicure. Estonia is famous in the prosionallyforget to be happy about it. But everynew and welcome guest brings back the sparkleinto the eye of the host and gives new energyto this land of courageous and complicated history,where future guests are then even morewell received.And more and more guests continue to arrive.The reason for this is simple: Estonia’s regionsare so different from one another that even ona third visit it’s impossible to see everything. TheLahemaa National Park and Haanjamaa, the islands,Setumaa, the northern coast and Soomaaare unbelievably different places. They are unitedin one respect, which is that every place has anexotic holiday village or extremely comfortableand safe city spa.A relaxing wellness treatmentRefreshments awaitA fortunate choice and fine vacation – the breaddough has already begun to rise and the lindentea is steeping. By the way, Estonia’s nationalfood is kama, a mix of rye, oats, barley, andpeasmeal, mixed with the sour milk of cows. It’sdefinitely worth a try!10 Wellness Holidays in EstoniaWellness Holidays in Estonia 11
ENGLooking forward to meeting You!12Wellness Holidays in Estoniawww.visitestonia.comEnterprise Estonia, Estonian Tourist Board © 2010Text by Kati Murutar. Data as of March 2010.