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Images and experiences of regional identity: landscapes, heritage and tourism in Võrumaa (South-East Estonia). Ester Võsu , University of Tartu Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Tallinn University Maarja Kaaristo , University of Tartu. Research questions.
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Ester Võsu, University of Tartu
Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Tallinn University
Maarja Kaaristo, University of Tartu
Ethnographic fieldwork in tourism farms of Rõuge and Haanja
municipalities in Võru County: July, September 2008; July 2009
TOURISM FARMS STUDIED (9):
“One of Estonia’s most pictureresque settings, the tiny village of Rõuge lies among gently rolling hills, with seven small lakes strung out along the ancient valley floor. /…/ Rõuge is a good base for exploring the countryside, enjoying fresh strawberries in summer and going for swims in the pristine Suurjärv, in the middle of the village.” /…/
(Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania 2006)
Actually, nowadays there’s such a distance between you and your self, so that people are frightened; they are afraid of themselves. They get nervous; something is not right. So you have to calm them, maybe with soothing herbal tea. And so people want some kind of noise. [...] Quite often they wake up in the middle of the night. This happens mostly in the winter, not in the summer. And then they realise it’s the complete silence. [...] And also in the forest, it’s a place where you can meet yourself… This frightens people. What can you do…?
(Merike, Suhka Farm, Haanja)
One thing that we offer here are day-hikes. They consist of different activities,such as a horseback ride, walking, or a canoe trip. But quite often people are rather lazy, so they’re not very interested in walking, so we have to adjust these activities. We have to offer different things and be willing to change and modify them according to the wishes of the guests.
(Vello, Eha Farm, Rõuge)
A hike in the forest of the Piusa primeval valley in Haanja.
We had seven cows and pigs but then the dairy farming went down and we kept some just as a hobby. Now we have a cow, three sheep, a goat and a pig. And we also have dogs.
(Luule, Mäe talu, Rõuge)
At first they [the ostriches] were just a hobby. But then the people got curious and started to bother us: show them to us too [--] The fact that I have ostriches from the South and reindeer from the North living peacefully together here… it’s very attractive to people.
(Alar, Tindioru Farm, Rõuge)
An old granary transformed into a smoke sauna (Sepa Farm, Rõuge)
A “barrel” sauna in Vaskna Farm, Haanja
It’s about the peace. [---] Every Friday, the same way [naked] I come out from the steam room, I go for a swim in the pond and afterwards I sit on the terrace of the sauna and tell to myself, that this is exactly the kind of Estonia I always wanted. (M, 38)