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European Island Finder

Estonia: Muhu

Until 1991, Muhu, a small island in the Baltic sea, was part of the “border zone” between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world. No one—not even Estonians—could travel to the area without a visa. Even since it became part of the European Union, the island has seen few visitors. We can thank that isolation for the loveliness of Pädaste Manor hotel, whose origins go back to the 16th century. It is one of the few manor houses in Estonia that wasn’t neglected and crowded out by corn silos and apartment blocks during the Soviet era. Staying at Pädaste, you can project yourself into a fantasy in which it is your own ancestral estate. The series of low stone cottages and a main house are arranged around a beautiful quad, and thick old trees sway high above the lawn, which is intersected by paths that lead to a gate and the shore of the Baltic. At the hotel’s Sea House restaurant, get into the carnivorous, hunter-gatherer vibe by ordering the roasted and dried ostrich or the moose carpaccio—like pork but smokier and gamier. The landscape seems like a Dutch Renaissance painting, with its iridescent green grass, pale light, and calm if slightly ominous water in the distance. The stillness of it all is especially striking during sunset, the distant shore dark with trees, the streaks of pink light playing on the water. —Thomas Beller

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