Paul Aron has been putting Estonia at the forefront the Formula 3 racing map this season and heads into the final round of his rookie campaign firmly in the fight for the top three.
Before the PREMA Racing driver heads to Monza, he takes us on a trip back home to Tallinn in Estonia. The Mercedes junior gives the lowdown on where to visit, Estonian culture and unsurprisingly, the motor racing scene.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
“So, I was born in Estonia, in the capital city of Tallinn and that’s where I grew up. I also spent a lot of my younger years at my grandma’s farmhouse, which is a two-hour drive outside the city. When I was small, we used to have cows and farm animals and I was spending all my summers and a lot of time there helping my grandma with all the farm stuff and taking care of the animals. I remember drinking the fresh cow milk every morning, but most of my childhood was spent in Tallinn. That's also where I went to school and where I'm still living currently.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT TO SOMEONE?
“Tallinn is a very beautiful city, even if you look it up online, there are a lot of reviews about it. We have the Old Town which is super nice and it really brings out the history of Estonia and the history of Tallinn. Also, it's quite easy to access through Helsinki, you can take a ship which is like an hour and a half.
“It’s a very nice place to visit in the summer because we have quite warm weather. As it's next to the sea, in the summer the beaches are open and it's very nice at the seaside. Then in the winter, it gets quite cold and we have snow. You have the nice Christmas lights and you can go to the Christmassy areas like in the Old Town. It’s normally full of snow and there are many beautiful decorations.”
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE SPOKEN THERE?
“Generally, the mother language is Estonian, but if you look at TV or movies in the cinema, everything’s in English. So that’s why most Estonians are fluent in English and pretty good at it. Also, the older generation are fluent in Russian and I learnt Russian for six years. So Estonian is the mother language and everyone’s pretty much fluent in English as well because all the media and the internet is in English, nothing is translated.”
WHERE SHOULD TOURISTS VISIT?
“Well, I think Old Town is a must visit. It’s one of the best things you can see in Tallinn and I would say it’s one of the best old towns that has kept its originality. Not many things have been renovated and it’s really like used to be. Then I’d take them on a boat ride because from the sea, you can see the full city, all the beaches and so on. There are a few islands nearby where you can go with the boat, which is super nice. Usually on the islands you have theatres, so it's a nice trip.
“Then I’d go out of the city to the forest and to the countryside and all the forests in Estonia. I think the percentage of how much forest there is per the amount of land we have is really, really high. It has many nice trails and getting away from the city is very relaxing, I don't think there are many places in the world you can escape the city like you can in in Estonia.”
FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO FOR FOOD?
“I think food is tricky because there are not many kind of traditional Estonian foods. We have many, many, many different restaurants, so depending on what you like, there are steak places, Mediterranean, are there are more classic places like in the Old Town. Basically, there's anything you want and whatever you want, you will find it. There are many modern places for brunch, which is super popular right now, and you have classic places. Then if you want a bit more of the traditional Estonian dishes like fish, you can get them in the Old Town.
“I love a good burger or some pasta, but it’s hard to talk about traditional Estonian food. I’ve done research about it as well in school and because we’ve been a part of so many different countries, there isn’t really a traditional food of our own. Our traditions are combined with those of many other counties. In the old days, they would mainly eat potatoes, bread and stuff that was easy to grow and farm. Usually when I go to my grandma’s, we have more basic food, but it’s super enjoyable and sometimes I do crave it and the fresh ingredients you can get.
“One of the most traditional things you can get is homemade black bread. It's hard to describe it, but it's nothing like you can buy in the shop. If it's properly made in the right way with the correct oven, it’s very nice and would say that's the most traditional food you can get.”
MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHERE CAN WE GO KARTING?
“Actually, there are quite a lot of karting tracks in Estonia. The closest one is Laitse, it’s like a rally park. It has a rallycross circuit and a car circuit, which is not a proper one. Now there's a professional kart circuit there and a rental kart circuit, so it’s a big area and it’s about a 30-minute drive from Tallinn.
“There are two big islands off the coast and one track is on one of those islands, and I would say that's one of my favourite ones because it was always cool. Everybody would pack their trucks and we would drive take a ferry to the island. It was always a different vibe, it felt a bit like you were racing internationally.”