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.