Sorry for the lack of updates – as mentioned before there is a distinct lack of computers at the accommodation we’ve been staying at – though lots of Wifi, for which you need a laptop or iPad to use, so I asked my daughter Kelly to look up computer stores in Tallinn for me, even though she said I could use the Wifi on the phone. Everyone else on the trip has iPads and I have to join the 21st Century some time so . . . on Friday I went into an Apple Store in Tallinn and purchased an iPad for myself! Unfortunately it took a few days (and two computer savey guys the better part of two hours) to get it up and running, and then the Wifi coverage in my tent (in the rain) was a bit hit and miss. But, I have now got the hang of it, so I have a week of catching up to do!
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Day 1 – 8th July: St Petersburg to Peterhof
We set off from St Petersburg in a convoy to Peterhof, we had a guide called Peter escort us out of the city and show us some of the interesting sites, a number of which I had not seen. I was a bit tired as I had been up until 230 am the night before on the Russian night tour watching the bridges being raised on the river Neva at 1am in the morning.
So for the first day the ride was very short, only 45km. As I have paid for the single supplement on the tour I get to have my own room. The room is very small with a single bed and is facing into the evening sun which is nice until you remember the sun lasts until midnight. Anyway was pleased to be on the way.
The meal was interesting, it was some sort of stew with rice, after some discussion we decided that the food was chicken rather than fish.
We stayed at a place called Hotel Aleksandria Peteroff. The stand out thing about this hotel was the rules – not sure who translated them into English but I hope they did not pay them much:
Having visited our hotel you will touch to fine, will have rest at worthy level, will relax and become for us the most expensive and welcome guest.
On observance of rules of behaviour in hotel
Check out time 12:00
Into duties of visitor enters
1. In case of damage of property of hotel to indemnify a loss in order provided by current legislation the size of the damage is defined under the prices according to the price list confirmed by the general director.
2. To keep quiet from 23:00 till to observe fire prevention rules.
3. Leaving number, to close water in talking cranes and windows to switch off lights and other electro devices.
In hotel it is not authorized to
1. To leave a number of extraneous persons in absence.
2. To transfer to extraneous person keys from number.
3. To live in number with pets without the coordination of administration.
4. To rearrange the furniture in number (heck already broken this rule as moved the chair that was in the middle of the room – hopefully I won’t end up in jail!)
5. With a view to you safety and visitors of the hotel smoking in numbers is strictly forbidden. It is authorized to smoke in strictly taken away places, balconies 23 a platform before an input.
So hope you are as confused as I was, I worked out a number was your room, but was a bit worried about the talking cranes and windows!!!!!!
The comment about the room being hot, as an example in the morning my shampoo was hot!
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Day 2 – 9th July: St Peterhof to Kingiseep
We rode the first 9k (of 118k) in a convey again (Christiano, one of the tour leaders, said this was partly to get through the remaining traffic but also to make sure no one ends up back in St Petersburgh. I am sure he was looking at me when he said that).
I rode with a couple of groups but ended up settling with Daphne and Shirley, two ladies from Canada. Shirley is 69 and Daphne is 72, and it was hard work to keep up with them. I found out later they have done three tours before with Tour d’Afrique, plus spend quite a lot of their free time riding, but still!
At the start of the ride it was nice and cool but the heat soon kicked in, and by mid morning the sun was beating down and the wind had followed me, not as bad as Wellington wind but enough to add an additional challenge.
Oh my god the road! After about 20k we hit the pot holes, and not like any pot holes you have ever seen! As one of our group said “these were not like regular pot holes, these were like left over tank traps from the Second World War”. As it was a main highway you had the pot holes, the heat, the wind, hills, large trucks and Russian drivers. The road was so bad that when we hit 10k of road works it was a relief. This was route one, the main highway.
At the lunch stop, Ciaran, one of the tour guides, set up camp at an intersection between two main roads. At the fork in the roads was also where the local Russian women set up their market. They got quite agitated when Ciaran was setting up and came over and talked quite loudly to him, not that he could understand Russian. However once they realized that he was not setting up in competition with him all was ok. Once a couple of the riders bought their produce they were all smiles.
This day seemed to go on and on and I was very pleased to get to the end at Kingiseep and enjoy a cold beer with some of the riders. I have taken a photo of the local hospital which I will upload as soon I sort out the connection, just in case anyone is tempted once seeing it to apply for a job there.
The hotel we are staying at looks like an abandoned building but actually inside the rooms were better than St Petersburgh and Peterhof, have taken a photo of it as well.
For dinner we once again got to guess what we were eating, we decided it was dry boiled pork with lentils and dry bread, yum – not. But it’s amazing what you can get down after a long day riding.
Interesting points for the day
1. 160k so far and no road kill? Are there no animals? If there are what happens to the carcasses? Oh my god that was pork right?
2. The fennel is like on Viagra and grows to the size of small trees.
3. We saw the first standalone house. Until now it has all been apartment buildings, they are mostly quite run down and a number of them have an attached barn where they keep their animals in the winter so they don’t have to go outside to feed them. I guess at 30 degrees below you would not want to, but crikey it must stink!
My room is nowhere as hot and is three times the size as yesterdays, unfortunately the Russians in the room next door had a party and a number of their guests knocked loudly on my door by mistake. And last night the staff at the hotel next door had drinks after work outside my window. Thank goodness for the music on the phone and the ear plugs, I just wish I could work out how to get it off shuffle as I am nearly asleep and then it goes into 60s rock!
On the down side of things I did bring, there is also a list of things I forgot
1. I would really like some snap lock bags as I have not been able to find them anywhere
2. I did not bring my ice breaker t shirts or sweat shirts, instead I bought my puffer jacket and two cloth t shirts which are a total pain to wash and dry. Next time I go away I am going to write a list, tick off the items and not leave it until an hour before I have to leave the house to pack.