Saturday, January 30, 2016

Estonian Travels - Kiltsi Airbase

 After a lovely morning in Haapsalu we headed to an abandoned Soviet airbase - Kiltsi

Officially it is closed, and one is supposed to check in the the Estonian military before entering! We simply left a detailed note with our rental car parked outside the gate. Mostly to avoid the expense of the phone call...
 There is a good reason for such caution, the buildings are the finest in Soviet architecture (i.e. they were thrown up quickly with sub-par materials.) Thus, the occasional collapse makes this a slightly risky venture.
 Look at that lovely map! The good ol' CCCP...

 The offices and barracks in this building may have once been rather nice, the remains of patterned wallpaper and floor tiles remained.

 The entire area had been well graffitied, and the site of some drunken benders (judging by the garbage left behind.) We were far from the first to poke around in these abandoned spaces.

 A hobbit hole? No! These are large bunkers, for 50s-60s era fighter planes. The bumps are intended to both camouflage and protect the planes within. However, since Estonia is about as hilly as Kansas they had to make artificial bumps which would be rather obvious. Not to mention the miles of runway...

 From the back of each bunker extended a small mechanics room which exited into the forest which had sprung up on the untilled land.
 Many such spaces appeared to have been the temporary homes of  folks with heavy drinking habits.

 Ammunition bunkers, a few hundred yards from the plane bunkers. These were conceivably more hidden, but still connected by a net of obvious roads.
 Nature was doing a good job of taking back her space, growing up and over the man-made structures.

 There was a profusion of herbs and fruits, and I did pick some. However, the Soviets notably dumped large quantities of chemicals while pulling out to prevent their use by other parties. I wouldn't source too much of my diet from this potentially tainted ground until it's had a few more years to clear out. Nature is good at that.

 The bunkers were situated in semi-circles, with four in each set. There were dozens of sets and we had only time to explore two or three.
 It turns out that we were not the only ones ignoring the closure. As we walked around there were several people driving the old runways, and it appears that impromptu drag races and rallies were held here. Several spots had spray painted marks for driving tracks.

 It was, in fact, a rather lovely afternoon. The sun and breeze was pleasant, the birds and bees had returned to the area. Alas, although the sun appears to be high noon in this shot it was in fact late afternoon, and we had driving to do!
 Oh look! Just when you thought you were off the base, here's a machine gun position to wave good-bye.
More post to come, we are almost the entire way thru Estonia! Then, it's back to Finland for the final leg of our trip. (We are already planning a trip for this year, whew...)

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