Seen in Tallinn, the latest craze over here is a bunch of guys get together as a mobile bar – there is a bartender and a driver. The guys pedal the bikes which makes the cart/bar move but they don’t steer.
Posts Tagged With: Estonia
794km down: 5,431km to go.
Thankfully although the weather forecast had said rain all day there was no rain when we set off. We had a good flat and gentle climb once again through forest. The rain played games with us all day – the sun would come out then the sky would go dark and the rain would spit, we would stop and put on our wet weather gear then the sun would come out and so on ……. All day must have changed 6 or 7 times!
We went through the border to Latvia at 43k – no border control, just the Estonia flag and the Latvia sign together. Immediately though the condition of the road deteriorated!
Mostly the ride was flatish with a few steady climbs, 10k before lunch it was a dirt road again but not too bad. When we got to the lunch stop we were joined by a drunk elderly Latvian man on a bike who had a long conversation with us.
After lunch we continued the “rain versus sun and changing clothes” game. We saw another storks nest, but in this one 3 young fledgings were practicing flying. They were rising up and down on the nest but not actually going anywhere.
The ride seemed to stretch on and on today, I was very pleased to get to the last turn off the main road – unfortunately it was my old friend a gravel road again for 6k. This was really dreadful – the bike wheels kept losing traction, a number of people came off and it seemed to take forever. Finally turned into the camping ground which is very nice.
Today was also meant to be a tent day but convinced Shirley, Walli and Daphne to come in with me on our own villa at 11euro each – a bargain with its own toilet and shower – and no tent to pack away again in the morning, or rain to worry about overnight.
Tomorrow the weather forecast is rain but thankfully we have 95k to Rigga and we have a rest day the next day to look forward to. I am refusing to think about how the only way out of here is back along the same horrid 6k stretch of soft dirt!
676km down: 5,549km to go.
The rain that had started during the night unfortunately did not stop in the morning – taking down tents and packing up in the driving rain is an experience I could happily live without repeating. We all huddled under the awning and ate breakfast. There was a horde of Mosquito who also wanted to have breakfast on us – I had one have a big drink on my forehead before I realized it was there.
We set off and for the first 10k the rain had stopped and we had a flat road with a good surface then we hit the dirt track – I had thought it was only 10k but it was actually over 30. It was not pleasant as it was soggy and we got stuck often, by the time we got out we were covered with mud but happy to be out of the dirt. This happiness lasted for about two minutes until the rain started – it pelted down! We took shelter in a shop and hoped the rain would stop. I was standing under a warm vent thinking it is amazing how you can be so happy about such a small thing.
A group of us waited for about 30 minutes but it was clear the rain was not going to stop. We set off again and rode in a glum convoy to the lunch stop where we huddled under the awning again. The rain tricked us and the sun came out so we road off feeling quite hopeful but five minutes later the rain came back and pelted down.
We road for about 40 minutes and then today of all days Daphne got a flat tyre – back tyre of course. We looked for a safe spot off-road to change it, we walked up a drive and met an Estonian who was building a house there and he showed us his barn so we could change the tyre in there. Off we set again with rain still pelting down, by this stage it was after 2:30pm and we still had 70k to go. The lunch truck came past with one seat offered to Daphne or Shirley but they decided to keep going. I thought what the hell I know I could ride another 70k but in this rain why would I want to so I packed my bike on top, jumped in and rode to camp.
The good news of the day was when we got to the camp there were rooms available so I did not have to put up the tent. As the place is a cross country skiing site in winter there were lots of rooms – I got a 4 bedroom bunk room to myself for 5 euro! It had a shared toilet but hey it was inside! Also there was a drying room where we managed to dry out all our wet gear and tents, cleaned and re-lubed my bike. Have to say – I slept the best so far this holiday, only woke up once.
556km down: 5,669km to go.
Set off with renewed energy following the rest day. The first 11k was in a convoy until we got out of town, after that we rode in a bunch until lunch and then spread out. The riding was pretty flat, with the usual forests and churches and small villages. We stopped at one amazing church which had been built on the site of another one that was built in 1300. The church was in Hagudi with a population of about 5,000 – the congregation was 3,000 to 3,500.
We arrived at the camp site at around 2:30pm and set up the tent, had a cold beer and sorted gear out. There is a riders meeting every day at 6 pm – apart from rest days – where we go over the next day’s ride then dinner.
After dinner I found the rider with the laptop and the computer savvy guy to get my iPad working – what a mission! Almost had success but then needed my credit card to complete the signing in to iTunes, without which the whole iPad will not work. I could not find my credit cards so I tossed my entire tent (found the umbrella I thought I had lost ) – just when I was convinced they had been lost or stolen I remembered I had put them in the small carry around bag I had bought in Tallinn. Then just had to convince the iTunes that although I had bought the iPad in Estonia I really could use a New Zealand credit card – finally was successful and I am up and running!
I couldn’t do much of an update the first night as it started to rain heavily and the Wifi coverage wasn’t working so well – I didn’t fancy getting out into the rain!
I woke up ready to go and buy an iPad as I had realized the lack of internet access is going to be an ongoing saga. I bought one at an Apple store and was assured by the young salesman that I would not have to do anything but switch it on – which of course was not the case as it turned out.
I then looked around for stuff I needed – still no luck on the snap lock bag front. I bought another umbrella as I appeared to have lost the one that I bought in St Petersburg. I then did the sightseeing stuff – I did a double decker bus tour around the city and then went and looked at the Old Town, this is the original 1300 walled city which is now mostly a tourist destination. They get tourists from the cruise ships. I had a coffee in a 600 year building and looked at the shops. I wanted to get something with amber in it – this cycling trip was originally going to finish in Venice, which was why it was originally called the Amber Trail. Of course as always I had champagne taste but a beer budget, I saw some I really liked but after having bought an iPad I decided to settle for a pair that were 70 euro.
The Estonians are very friendly and all speak really good English. It was the Estonians who developed Skype and txt mobile phone parking. To be able to graduate from school you have to have computer literacy. I was surprised going through the country side at how run down a lot of the houses were, but still better than Russia. I was surprised to learn on the tour that serfdom was only stopped in Estonia in the early 19th century!
Daphne, Shirley, Walli and I went out to dinner at a restaurant that served modern Estonian food, it was called ÖÖ – it was amazing. I had Bruschetta with whipped goats cheese, pear and beetroot, and a seafood linguine – it was so good. When I got back to my bedroom I found of course that you can not simply buy and then use an iPad – you had to sync it to iTunes first and to do that you need either a PC or a laptop. Most people on the trip have an iPad, luckily one of the guys has a laptop so he can help me with it.
461km down: 5,764km to go.
So off we set from Kasmu to Tallinn – 95k – with the lure of our first rest day and staying in a hotel at the end. Good riding day, not too hot, through forest, lots of interesting churches etc.
Got to the lunch stop by about 11:30 then into Tallinn. Even with the orange flags and directions I still went the wrong way a couple of times but realized quite quickly. We went past a beautiful cemetery – it went on for miles, in a forest. Getting into town was a bit scary as there was traffic everywhere and as in most large cities the motorists were not as courteous. The “in” thing appears to be roller blading – there were a number of people racing along the foreshore.
I got to the hotel, luckily my room was ready so I went up with the intention of sorting some stuff out but I ended up having a nap for a couple of hours. I woke up and set off to the laundromat to get all the washing sorted, unfortunately there was also a line of people with the same idea so it took a while. Also it had started pouring – luckily it had held off while we were riding.
After finishing the washing I went and looked around the malls – it was great to be back in a place where there were friendly people and stuff to buy. I met up with Walli from Canada and Jenny and her Dad Rob from Australia for tea. We ended up having tea at the mall due to the relentless rain however it was surprisingly good. I had stuffed chicken breast and rice with a lemon sauce – it was really good. I checked out the supermarket on the snap lock bag hunt but still no luck.
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.
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:
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).
Sandwiches, spreads, cheese, meat, tuna, fruit
Fresh salmon steaks with noodles and salad
Chicken thighs charred and simmered with rice, celery root, cabbage and carrot stir fry.
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.
366km down: 5,859km to go.
108km ride today from Saka to Kasmu. The first 52km were dirt roads then highway, luckily after lunch the last 56km were through forest – mostly downhill. Tonight we are staying at Lainela Camp. Last night was my first night camping – it was also the first night of rain, but I managed to stay dry.
Tomorrow is 85km to Tallinn, then a rest day. The riding is going ok, looking forward to a rest day though.