Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tallinn to Tartu

We finished our first leg of the journey across Estonia yesterday. Arriving at my second cousin Maria's house just outside Tartu.
We had a wet night of camping on the way. The camping site we had aimed for was closed and had to keep riding an extra 15km. Stopping to admire a rainbow above the beautiful landscape the rain caught us and followed us to our campsite on a large lake.
Unfortunately we had no water but managed to get a fire going despite the wet ground and branches. Boiling water from the lake to drink was tedious and time consuming. Our tiny kettle holds about 600ml and half was gone after boiling for 10 minutes to insure it was safe to drink.
The next morning looking at the map we were so close to Maria's house.
I didn't have an address so I needed to check my email as she had sent us directions. We found a shop hoping there would be Internet before we could check a voice
was calling out our names. It was Laurie, Maria's husband,  he had recognized us from the blog and gave us directions to their house.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Latvian Cycle Tourists

We met these guys on the road. They were carrying a plastic sheet to make an outdoor Latvian bath. I think it's a sauna using hot rocks from the fire.

The rains are here

The sight of these clouds approaching and we scurried for shelter. there has been lots of thunder storms but luckily they pass quickly.


Furry woodland friends

Estonia is full of suprises like this little hedgehog snuffling round our campsite.
In the town we stopped for groceries there was free Wifi Internet but you had to pump water from the local well?!

Diving tower

This was the dodgey diving tower but I still gave it a go. It was about 6 meters high.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Camping in Estonia

Train Station

Train station in a tiny town to make up some time we lost due to late start.
There was a man on the tracks that had fallen and blood was coming out of his head.

Goodbye Tallinn

Goodbye Tallinn!
We had a fantastic time in Tallinn enjoying the warm hospitality from family, it was hard to leave.
The ride out was a little bit more difficult than expected. Riding through the city and along the bike paths to avoid the main roads made it a lot easier. There was still one big road we needed to cross and it was a doozy! This was the main road linking Russia to Estonia and it was clogged with huge trucks, one after the other.  
It was near impossible to turn left across two lanes with trucks and cars speeding past at 100km.
So we went right and had to walk our bike in the grass on the side of the road till we got to a traffic island and could crossover. When we reached the other side there was a mass of roadworks and no shoulder so we ended up pushing our bikes through the sandy unfinished road. I can easily say it was the worst bit of road I have every been on!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Soviet Car

This was the only type of car you could get in Estonia when it was a soviet state. The Estonians hate them so now they drive Germany and Japanese cars.

Miriam Nora Katrin

Retro Shopping Tallinn

Food Markets

The fruit and veg at this market was great especially
the pickled gerkins yum!

Old town

Factory chimney

This chimney is for a giant boiler used to heat apartments in the cold winter months.

Block style apartments

These soviet style apartments are all around Tallinn.
They where built in the 1970-1980s.



We are woken in our dark windowless cabin by the sound of an Estonian voice over the p.a. Feeling a little worse for wear after drinking mixed drinks of Swedish cider and Finnish vodka and that our cabin was directly above the disco-tech that went till 4am.
When we ride out of the boat with our passports on the ready we are surprised to find no custom or passport inspection. We are on the lookout for Marcus' second cousin Katrin and we see her waving and introduce each other. 
Katrin takes us for a ride through the cobblestoned lanes of Old Town on the way back to her place, a lovely wooden apartment block very close to the centre of Tallinn.
We unload our bikes and head upstairs to meet the rest of the family. Katrin's husband Üllar, kids Aron and little Nora. Katrin prepares us a lunch of soup using Estonian cantarella mushrooms from the local market and a hearty homemade dark rye bread.
We chat and eat in the backyard under the shade of beautiful maple and apple trees.
After lunch we all set off to explore Tallinn on bikes and head to an open air museum that is set up like old Estonian farms. One of the farms that belonged to my great great grandparents and has been transplanted to the museum. Katrin was excited to show me. Unfortunately the farm house was shut when we arrived but after a couple of phone calls an older Estonian woman appeared she seemed a bit annoyed but still unlocked the doors. When she found out we were relatives of the family that lived in the house she became very cheerful telling us about a relative that was a famous Estonian sculptor. There was even a family tree with Marcus' dad and grandparents listed. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sunset over archipelago

Tax free booze

There is a flurry of excitment as we board the ferry and
search for our cabin in the endless maze of bright lights, mirrors and themed bars.
After dumping our things we set of to explore the boat.
What do we find? A giant tax free supermarket! selling 2 litre goon bags of Estonian vodka for 20 euros. We settle for one litre and retire to our cabin to mix some drinks with Swedish pear and berry cider yum!

Goodbye Sweden

On the ferry to Estonia watching Stockholm disappear behind us. I feel a little sad to leave had a fantastic 3 weeks of sunshine and scandianvia.

Last days in Stockholm

With an extra two days in Stockholm we have done alot of riding around sight seeing.
Met some friendly finns at the hostel and they shouted us drinks they brought on the ferry thanks Sami and juha.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cheez doodles

Nothing like munching on some cheese doodles to keep your energy levels up.

Bike traffic lights

Riding in Stockholm is a plesure. Not only do you get our own lane they even give you traffic lights.

Back in Stockholm

We are back in Stockholm waiting for ferry to Tallinn.
Unfortunatly it was all booked till Tuesday night.
But it has given us an extra 2 days to explore.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gotland from north to south

Pine lined road

Old Citroën

Rockabilly Cafe

Forest road

Haircut at Miriam's Salon


Another red barn

Freshly picked

Coolest Bike shop


Campsite Cooking


Today we completed our circumnavigation of Gotland it was a full week of cycling and around 400kms.
It has been really hot 30-33 degrees with over 18 hours of sunlight we are looking more than a little sun touched.
Gotland is a fantastic place for riding around because it is almost totally flat and the scenery is amazing.
Gotland is littered with countless beaches, dense pine Forests, ancient stone farm houses, bright red barns,
towering church steeples, golden wheat fields and millions of mosquito's!!!
There are lots of Swedes taking their summer holidays here. Riding hire bikes, shirtless with trailers full of camping gear squinting into the sun. No one here wears sunglasses or hats ever! and they lie in positions ensuring every nook and cranny gets some colour.
We have been taking full advantage of the law in Sweden that states you can camp anywhere for one night for free. The exception is campgrounds that can cost up to $60 for a site!
We have been lucky to find some fantastic spots to cook our dinner, watch amazing sunsets at 11 pm and sleep the night. At one spot we had set up our tent and after a full day of riding in the sun we were quite sticky and disgusting.
Marcus went to see if was possible to find somewhere to have a swim and could hardly believe his eyes when he stumbled across a 5kr (less than $1) shower at the boat wharf opposite to the field where we were camping.

We have been a little surprised by the beaches in Gotland. It's not the lack of waves but the smell! There is this thick layer of brown sludge on the edge of the water that stinks and most of the beaches have a small jetty so you can get past it to the clear water. Everybody seems not to notice the smell but we have to hold our breath to go near it. Once past the stagnate stink the water is nice and clear so we didn't worry to much about it. That was until a friendly farmer told us it was algae and it caused from all the untreated sewerage that get dumped in the Baltic Yuck!! He was from Holland and lived on the island for 10 years and never swam in any of the beaches here.
Tomorrow we will get the ferry back to the mainland and ride back to Stockholm. We are starting to get excited about arriving in Estonia, apparently it is quite similar looking to here in Visby.

When we look at the map of Sweden we have really only seen a tiny part but it feels like a lot when you pedal over every bump and past each flower on the side of the road.