After a beautiful drive through the picturesque landscape of Estonia on roads, we arrived at the ferry port of Virtsu. Estonia is probably the most digital country on the world. Since almost 10 years, things like voting or submitting the tax declaration digitally are normal in Estonia. Of course, also buying a ferry ticket on the phone is an easy task. After being part of probably the smoothest “ferry-boarding-process” that we have ever experienced, we arrived on Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest island situated in the gulf of Riga.
Charging on Saaremaa
Estonia has an excellent network of charging station. The company Elmo is responsible for it. ABB is their hardware partner. A person working at ABB found out about our trip, contacted us and offered his help, whenever something wouldn’t work with the charging stations. We came back to his offer in Kuressaare, the capital city of Saaremaa. The first charging station that we approached didn’t really work (even though a Nissan Leaf was charging with the CHAdeMO charger). Unfortunately, our contact at ABB couldn’t help either. Luckily, there was another charging station in the city. That one worked without any problem. While we enjoyed the city and strolled through a local festival at the harbor, the car was nicely charging with 22kW.
Elmo charging app
One fact that we highly appreciate about the Elmo charging network in Estonia is that there is no special RFID-card needed to start the charging. One can download an app, create an account and manage the charging process through the app. Every charge costs around 4,50€, which we think is a fair price. I think, most EV-drivers are willing to pay the price for electricity for their charge. But no (travelling) EV-driver appreciates complicated authorization processes via RFID-cards that need to be organized before arriving to the country.
Enjoying our time on Saaremaa
We stayed one day longer on Saaremaa, because we just liked it a lot there. It’s a picturesque, quite island with nature reserves to hike and lots of streets with little traffic to cycle on. It is very likely that we’ll return to that beautiful place.
On the way to an Airbnb in the middle of nothing in Estonia, we managed to lock ourselves out of the car. The whole day the key already had a loose contact. Though, as soon as we moved it, the car recognized it again. During a short stop at the side of the road, both of us got out of the car, with nothing in our pockets, closed the doors and when we wanted to return, the doors didn’t open anymore. It took us a while to turn from panic into a working mood that helped find a solution. We thought about stopping a passing car to get other tools that helped us break into the car (maybe lift the key with a wire). Another option was to break into the frunk (supposedly that’s easier), lift the car with the car-jack and make the key inside move.
After discussing for a bit, we decided to try a different technique: we wanted to somehow try to open the door with the door-handle from the inside. To do so, we pushed several sticks through the isolation of the passenger’s door window. Even though we noticed that the technique wasn’t bad, we didn’t manage to have a stick stable and long enough to reach the door handle. Binding to sticks together was the solution in the end. After almost 2 hours trying to break into our own car, we finally succeeded! The door opened and the alarm of the car started to honk loudly. Both of us were so relieved. We managed to break into our own car without any tools and could continue our trip! I guess, we won’t forget a key in the car anymore…
Nature in Estonia
After the shock of the locked car, we needed some down time. The perfect place for this was a little cabin in the open land with not much more around it than some fields, forest and a nature park. We spend 2 nights in the nature and enjoyed a beautiful hike through the moorlands and nature park close to the cabin.
Easy charging at Schuko
While we enjoyed the quietness and the nature of Estonia, our car was peacefully charging from a Schuko-outlet that was situated at the front porch of our cabin. I always enjoy it, if we don’t have to spend any extra time or effort to charge the car (or to find a place to charge it).
The border between Russia and Estonia would be our last “real” one. All countries that we will travel through the upcoming weeks, are part of the European Union and the Schengen area (I am especially happy to not have to do any more borders – I really dislike border processes).
Luckily, I kept a paper from the border between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (see this post), when we entered the Russian customs union the first time. I just kept it, because it was pretty much a translation of our car documents into Russian. That helped a few times. I don’t know, what we’d have done without this paper… After a few phone calls to the border where we received the paper and 20 minutes of waiting, we got the desired stamps and left to the Estonian border. It only took about 5 minutes to pass this (super modern and professional) border. And there we were, back in Europe!
Back to Europe
Having the Tesla back to Europe, meant for us not only, that it is properly insured again, but also, that we did an epic journey without having to bribe anything, getting anything stolen or having any problems with the car. We are really proud of ourselves. It feels special to look back to all the places we have been, the roads we went on and the people we met.
Spending some time at the Baltic sea and charging there
We spoilt ourselves with a nice 4-star hotel right at the beach in Narva-Joesuu. Relaxing there felt good. The hotel allowed us to use a Schuko-Outlet to charge our car. We charged 50 kWh, which was great. Unfortunately, we got surprised during checkout that we should pay 15€ for this charge. For a nice hotel like that using thousands of kWh with keeping their large wellness facilities warm, we think it’s not the best attitude to try to rip-off customers with a price for a charge at least double as high as it should be.