Saturday, July 31, 2010
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
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
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
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
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!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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.