Daily Archives: July 17, 2012

Day Four: Saka to Kasmu – Full Blog

366km down: 5,859km to go.

Unlike when I got to Russia my phone did not automatically reset when we got to Estonia but I did not realize this. Walli had not bought an alarm so I told her that I would wake her up at 6 – so unfortunately the next morning I woke her up at what I thought was 6 but it was actually 5!

Our first night of camping last night, at Lainela Camp – it was also the first night of rain, but I managed to stay dry. Thankfully the rain had stopped in the morning, we packed the tent and gear and set off. The day was a bit overcast and quite mild. Some of the riders complained about the wind but to a Wellingtonian it was just a mild breeze. The first 20k was on a dirt road, we slipped and slid over this. My legs just did not want to bike ride after the gravel we turned onto the highway for 5k which was a bit of a worry with the really large trucks, however we quickly turned off onto country roads again. I was really struggling to keep up with up with Daphne and Shirley and convinced them to go on without me. Nothing worse than feeling like you are holding people back and they are not enjoying riding. I caught them up just before lunch as they had stopped. At this point I was seriously doubting my ability to complete the ride. I set off from the lunch stop before them, thinking they would soon catch up with (and then overtake) me but suddenly my legs had come right and I ended up catching up with the group in front.

We rode the rest of the day through woods – kilometre after kilometre, with the occasional scattering of quaint little houses. It would not have been surprising to see Hansel and Gretel walking through the woods or Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. At one stage going through the woods we came to a clearing and it was right by the sea, there were heaps of boulders and hundreds of white swans sitting on them.

So many swans!

The gradient was a gradual downhill the rest of the day with a glorious downhill at the end (thankfully did not have to climb back up this the next day, which I thought we might as it was just before the camp, but the road carried on past the camp). When we got to the camp we were able to rent a bunk room each instead of having to tent. This gave us the added bonus of being able to dry our tents out in our rooms.

Food so far:

Breakfast
Muesli or porridge with or without banana, dark rye bread with spreads tea or coffee (have started drinking coffee instead of tea first thing in the morning as the tea water is always lukewarm).

Lunch
Sandwiches, spreads, cheese, meat, tuna, fruit

Dinner
Fresh salmon steaks with noodles and salad
Chicken thighs charred and simmered with rice, celery root, cabbage and carrot stir fry.

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Day Three: Kingisepp to Saka Full Blog

258km down: 5,967km to go

We started off with breakfast at the hotel which was porridge with butter in it, dry bread, no milk, and rock hard boiled eggs? Did my best to wash it down with water.

We crossed the border today into Estonia – I had a moment of panic at the hotel last night as I thought I had lost my departure card, but after tossing my belongings and getting stressed I found it in my passport where border control had put it when I came into the country. Not sure what would have happened if I had not been able to find it, but certainly would not have been straight forward and would no doubt have held me up for hours if not more.

We set off at 7:30am, it was still quite cool at that time of the day. We were riding 75k to Saka, which is in Estonia. It was 20k to the Russian border, when we got there we went through the first gate, then at the second gate the sentry starting pointing and waving his arms, and talking loudly until we figured out that he wanted us to ride down a steep bank, down a path on a detour, then come back just in front of his station – rather than just letting us ride past him on the road (like the Russian cyclists were doing), just because he could I guess.  We got through the border ok, in the 1.5k between the two borders were two amazing old castles/fortresses facing each other (will have to look up what they are called).

Our tour guide Greggo (driving the car) had a bit of trouble at the border as he had gone into Russia the week before with 4 bags and 2 people and was now coming out by himself with 40 plus bags and no people! It still did not take as long as when he went into Russia though – they lined at up at 7:30am, they got one part of the entry stamped but had to wait until 10:30 am before the office that stamped the second part opened. I am sure you will not be surprised by now to learn that the same person stamped the second part at 10:30 that had stamped the document at 7:30!

The change was amazing the moment we got into Estonia, things were brighter, newer, the people were friendlier and the feeling of oppression just went. There was a supermarket that looked like a supermarket as we know it (still no snap lock bags though). We still had to ride along the highway for the first part of the day – another way you knew you were in a different country: the traffic actually stops for you. We found this out by accident when we stopped on the side of the road to check our bearings and suddenly noticed both sides of the traffic had stopped and was waiting patiently to see what we were doing.

The lunch truck stops somewhere around the mid-point each day depending on a suitable place to stop, and we can make sandwiches, eat fruit and fill our water bottles. It also allows the guides to check that everyone is on the right ride. The tour guides alternate the lunch truck and sweep. Sweep is the person who rides at the back behind the slowest rider (so far not me ) and also can help with any bike problems.

After lunch we rode away from the highway through the country side through kilometre after kilometre of canola fields and grain fields with the odd stork nest. Our accommodation in Saka was the first night in a tent, I had a new tent so tried hard to remember the directions from when my son had shown me. I ended up getting a bit of help from Daphne and Shirley. I was more comfortable than I had expected but of course the first night in a tent was also the first night of rain. Of course even though I had checked the tent carefully for bugs and sprayed insect repellent it was clearly not well enough as I still ended up providing a bug buffet during the night.

The place was at the top of the cliff and we walked down many steps to the beach, I was very pleased we did as it was very beautiful. There were trees down to the golden sand, and the water had hardly any salt taste. I could tell however that I was a long way away from home as the Baltic seas stretched for miles with no sign of land islands or otherwise.

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