Four years ago, I rode my bike across Latvia and Estonia by myself; a year later, I rode across Lithuania. As I watch what’s unfolding in Ukraine and the spillover into neighbouring countries, I keep thinking of those long quiet days on flat country roads, of discovering towns when I was fully ready to rest, sometimes finding sublime summer retreats, sometimes utilitarian places only memorable because I found myself there to sleep. Here is my post for the second last night of my bike trip in Estonia in 2018, where I stayed in a town with a military base, and where menacing fighter jets soared over me more than once as I neared the town.
Estonia has been occupied for all but about 50 of the past 500 years. When those planes soared over me, I couldn’t tell if they were NATO planes or Russian planes flexing in the airspace. I felt the weight of it, knowing that I would be leaving in a few days. That weight is with me now.