Hey Dudes,

Guess what ! It’s over !!! We have finish our Bike Trip Around the Baltic Sea !!! As someone said, every good thing has a end, and so our trip has finally found his end in Klaipeda after our journey on the Curonian Spit.

On our last post, you saw a picture representing a kind of desert, it was taken at the really farest point we could reach on our trip, just before the border between Lithuania and Russia. After this picture, we went back in our guest house and we had a good dinner there as you already know.

The day after, our planning was to leave quite early this guest house to go back to Klaipeda where we had to spend some time, buying some stuff, packing our luggages cause our trip back was composed of 20 hours by ferry to Kiel in Germany and 10 hours by train to reach Sand am Main. And maybe it shouldn’t be so easy, have a plan, follow the plan. So we started the day by discovering that Ben’s bike was flat on the rear. And as we decided to ride light, we let all the tools to fix a punkture in Klaipeda, what a great idea ! The upgrade of the plan was to find a way to leave this lonely place to reach Klaipeda as soon as possible. We thought about the bus. Next bus in 2 hours, not possible. Hitch-hiking with two persons and two bicycle, not on the main road, really difficult. So, we had to find a way to fix the bike, and we found it. Luckily, there was a guest house where the owner was also renting bikes and he could fix our in 30 minutes, for free. We were so happy to find him !

So we left quite later, and had to ride fast. Everything was allright, we rode 22km in one hour, and we had to ride 17 more to reach Klaipeda. But maybe it shouldn’t be so easy… Ben started to feel something strange on the back of the bike, like if the wheel was flat. And it was !!! 2nd punkture for Ben in 20km though he hadn’t one for more than 3.500km !!! And this time, no tools, no bus, no city, no town, no one. We had to reach the road and hitch-hike desperatly, hoping to find a big-heart people to carry us two with our bikes. And we did ! A guy, around 50, with a beautiful car, kind of 4×4 stopped a few minutes after we reached to road. How nice was he ! Not enough to bring us to the ferry, he drove us until the house where we had our stuff, as well we finally didn’t waste any time, and could follow our plan how it was first.

So, once there, we wanted to find a gift for our last hosts there, Gvidas and Viktoria – and Ruth -, find some gifts and souvenirs – Vodka is really popular there – and get some food for our journey on boat. The time to do everything, we just had a couple of minutes to spend with Gvidas and Viktoria and we finally left the city to reach the port. On the road we met 2 cyclists with luggages and trailers, we followed them a while and finally the guy spoke to us… in french !!! Yep, in french, after 10 weeks spent on the road where we met several cyclists, main of them were german, we also met some australian, danish, swedish, spanish, but not french. We had to wait for the last day. What a last day !!! Then, nothing particular to explain, we went on the boat, we had reclined seats – cabins were too expensive for us – and when we discovered the room, we were affraid to have a hard time there. But finally, we put our matress and sleeping bags as we were camping and had a more or less good night. We arrived the day after in Kiel where we had a couch surfin in Alicja’s place, where she lives with Matteos. They’re both Polish and we were happy to meet them first because they were really nice, and also cause we didn’t go to Poland, so it was a kind of Polish night.

We left early in the morning the day after to take the first of of eight trains of the day. And we can say that, for once, it was pretty easy to get those trains with our bikes, we found lifts almost everywhere, available place almost on each train, no late in schedule… German precision perhaps ! We arrived in Sand around 4pm and the idea was to go to visit Monika’s best friend, Maria, who was celebrating her birthday. But it was a surprise, and we are glad that the effect was well done, she was so happy to see Monika. So we were too ! And there, the theme of the party was OktoberFest (the real name of the Beer Festival in Germany), you can imagine that we had a good party there with our german friends ; drinking beer and eating the piglet Maria’s papa had prepared on a grill…

The last day finally arrived after this party. We had imagine that we could ride not only the two of us for this last stage, so before arriving, we told our friends and family that they could join us for the last 20km of our trip. And as Monika’s friends were too drunk – tired – lazy (make your own choice) to do it, we knew that only some members of Monika’s family would do it. So we met her father at 12am, he was with one of his sister and his grand-daughter. Some kilometers later were waiting Monika’s mother, ‘sister and ‘nephew. So we were 8 for the last km. But after a while were also waiting the other Monika’s sister with her husband, second daughter and dog. We finally were 11 to ride the real last kilometers and after riding all around the town, we reached Monika’s house around 1pm where was waiting one brother and where they had prepare a grill with lot a good things to eat and dring all together.

The conclusion of all that, in some numbers, looks like that : we letf 10 weeks, we rode 3 624 kilometers, we have been in 7 countries, we spent 41 nights under our tent – 19 in Couch Surfing / Warm Showers  – the others in pensions / hostels. We had 3 punktures together, we lost more or less 12 kilos together (but they already came back), Ben broke 6 spokes and we had 0 serious problem.

The last words will be for all the people who helped us during those weeks, we think about all of you who lend us a place where to sleep, to all of you who gave us water and sometimes more on the side of the road, to all of you we wet and with who we had good time, to all of you who read and wrote us here on the blog. Many many thanks for everything ! And even it could be a “cliché”, we would like to dedicate this trip to Yannick Mace who left us too early some years ago, and who permit us to live this extraordinary experience, we thought about you every day. One photo is for you, guess which one 😉

Here’s a little video we recorded up to Nida, on the Curonian Spit, and then, the pictures !

Ben and Monika, around the Baltic Sea

Advertisements

Hi !

It’s been a long time we didn’t write, and as you can imagine, we have lot of things to speak about. So, let’s do it !

We left Riga in a strange way, cause we decided to cheat a little bit and we took  a train for 40 kilometers, and re-start cycling in the middle of a national park, cause it’ also difficult to leave a big city. When we saw the train we thought that it was maybe not a good idea cause the door is about 1 meter high over the floor, and carry bike loaded inside should be difficult. We finally managed to do it. Then, our plan was to go straight to the west, leave the coast for a couple of days to finally reach it in Jurkalne, famous for his beaches. The idea was good, and so we had to follow the Eurovelo 10 which cross Latvia and reach Lithuania by the coast. But after some kilometers, we realized that we’ll start to have a problem : the main wind in the region comes from south-west, just where we were going to. And that’s how we had to ride during 3 days against the wind, it’s really hard for the mental to see that your current speed is around 10km/h and you want to ride 60 ou 70km, but we finally did it. You have to know that sometimes the wind was so strong that some trees felt down on the streets, and broke electricity in some cities. This part of Latvia was otherwise really nice, it was kind of the first time we were in the country side and could enjoy the peaceful of fields, lakes and forests. We cross some nice cities and particulary Kuldiga which has the widest waterfall of Europe.

We reached the coast 3 days after leaving Riga but unfortunately we arrived there under the rain which didn’t stop until the day after so we didn’t have the luck to enjoy those wild sandy beaches. While leaving this city, we also realized that our way was leaving the coast one more time until Liepaja that we reached in one day. There, we arrived after the summer rush and it was not so easy to find a place where to sleep cause hostels and guest-houses were already closed. When we finally find something, it was a really nice guest-house that we had for only the two of us and we enjoyed a great crepes-party with a bottle of french wine : luxus ! Afterwhat the day after, we wanted to visit the city and one the the famous attraction is an old russian jail, so we decided to see it. During our way, we met hundreds of bicycles going in our direction so we joined them qnd qfter asking what was it about, we learnt that it was the day of the eco-mobility there. We rode with them half an hour and left them on our way to the jail. This visit was really interesting and makes you realize – or try to – how conditions of “life” were there, just hardcore.We spent the rest of the day hanging out in a restaurant, just chilling outside, having a sun bath, speaking with greman bikers we met there…

We left Liepaja in the end of the afternoon cause we already knew where we would sleep, it was about 20 km from the city, in Bernati, a place also really famous for his white sandy beaches. Once arrived there, that was actually one of the most beautiful beaches we ever saw and even it was windy and already 7pm, we couldn’t resist to have our first bath in Latvia. We perhaps stayed only 50 seconds in the water, really cold !!! Well, the day after, we knew that we could visit a park where there are wild horses and oxes and as Moni loves horses, we thought that it was a good idea. The bonus is that it was a place where you can pitch your tent, make a fire. This day was really cutting with the previous, was cold and rainy – the firsts colours of autumn started to arrive – and when we arrived there, it was impossible to go to see them cause of the rain. But after a while, rain stopped and we could visit the park with a guide, and as we were the only people, she could spend time with us and we had a great moment there.

The day after was the day when we cross this new border between Latvia and Lithuania on our way to Klaipeda, and this time we had a real border cause we were on the main road. It was funny to arrive in Lithuania cause after 8 days one the road in Latvia where nothing is dedicated to the cyclists (we mean : any signboard, any bicycle path out of the big cities), we reached a new bike-friendly country, everything was really clear and easy. But. But, one more time, we arrived after the rush and the first city we crossed was almost completly close, difficult to find internet, find food… The second town was more alive but the thing it was really a touristic place full of souvenirs shops, useless to say that we didn’t stay a lot there. This time, we slept in a forbidden place in the forest cause we had to stop cause of the rain that was strong and the day was over. We also already knew where we’ll sleep in Klaipeda, a new-comer on Warm Showers. We finally reached Klaipeda early the day after, really easily on a brand new bicylce path and we had to meet Gvidas and Viktoria, our hosts there. We where hosted in their place like princes, they really care about us and also permit us to have a wonderful room on the Curonian Spit where we planned to go then. After dinner, we went riding with Gvidas who was on his trike, and he lend us his tandem, so we had a surprising night-bike-tour in Klaipeda, went to the sea and in some sight-seeing places.

To stick to our plan, we left the day after in a light way cause we had two lucks : we had a real bed for the night, so no need to take matrass and everything, and as we will be back in Klaipeda, we could drop some stuff there, and we rode with only 3 bags instead of 7. The first day, we were going from Klaipeda to Nida, in the south of the spit, really close to the Russian boarder. As we said before, the wind was still coming from the south, but the weather was really good and warm, and we get a chance to have our lunch one the beach after crossing wonderful and mystical forests. Imagine a beach realy white, a sand really thin, for kilometers, and nobody to disturb you. Of course, we also swam into the sea, we were in Lithuania and so we can say that for the moment, we had a bath in every country we crossed. So, we reached Nida around 6pm after having been like children watching everywhere around us this fabulous nature. The city was nice, but our purpose was to follow some more km to the south to go uphill, on a famous dune. So we went. And what a surprise, you arrive there and on the highest point, around 70 or 80 meters over the sea-level, you can sea the Baltic sea to the West, the Curonian Lagoon to the East, and kilometers of dune, like a desert, to the South. For real, it was one of the most wonderful place we saw since our departure 10 weeks ago.  We stayed here for one hour, just amazed by the beauty of the moment, just looking far for all the directions, and finally left to reach our guest house 15 kilometers away. And of course, as we stayed looking for the place, the night was arriving and we had to finish crossing the forest in the dark. It was funny and also a bit dangerous cause our lights were not so good and we didn’t planned to ride during the darkness. Finally, we reached our place and could enjoy this cosy house before coming back to Klaipeda the day after.

What’s coming after Klaipeda ? We let you guess it. For now, enjoy the pictures !







Hello together.

Many things to tell since the last time connected. As we told you on the last article, we were not in the best form when we arrived in Parnu. But one night in a hostel and with a fixed bike we had our force back to continue our way to the second balitc state Latvia. On the road we met Jose, a spanish guy, cycling from Spain to Finland since 7 moths. He already spend more than 6000 km on the road and just crossed Latvia and Lithuania. We changed some experiences and gave each other some advises about the countries and roads we passed and had a great moment, even though we were standing next to the highway.

We continued the road and in every city we were checking emails, because Monika was waiting for her results of her Theses. Most we went to Tourist Information or to library but when she get her mark, it was acctually in a @cabine as you can see on the photo.

The last two days in Estonia the weather is becoming a bit better and Monika decided to change her bicycle against a horse for a couple of hours while Ben was resting his painful knee. Moni: “It was really great but I could feel my backside for the next two day’s :-)”.

The border between Estonia and Latvia was not so spectacular as we expected, but it is still a great feeling to cycle from one country to another. (Before we crossed the border always by boat or by train.) We bought some food in a little store on the border, because we didn’t know when we will managed to get some Lats and if we can buy in Euro there.

So we cycled along the coast to Riga. The most of the way we have to take the highway but as you can see we’ve been prepared and were wearing our nice orange and yellow jackets. About 20 before Riga we passed the 3000 km and we celebrated it with a fresh cold beer on a service station next to the highway. Even thought there were much traffic it was a nice way, because we found many nice places for a break or to sleep just next to the beach. We also stopped in a private bicycle museum, where you could find really old bikes. Ben don’t like so much museum but this one he didn’t want to leave.

On Saturday, we finally arrived in Riga .  Through couch-surfing we found a place to stay in Val and Helens home. A really nice Latvian couple and they took us to the white night in Riga, where we saw a some alternative bands, arts and also a crazy-bike exposition. On Sunday we went sightseeing in Riga and it was a really warm day. So we enjoyed to go to the market hall and then we walked around in the city. We also love to visit churches and we’ve been lucky because when we arrived in the 3 main churches there was some classical concert in there. So we had 3 unexpected free classical concerts in beautiful environment. Today we decided to stay for one more day in Riga, to prepare the next part of our journey…

Here are the pictures.

PS: We added some more pictures to the last post, too. Enjoy!

Tere,

First of all, we have to say that the computer of tonight is not really friendly, and we have to fight to get caps, ponctuation, etc…

So. We are now in Parnu, in the south of Estland, we made a stop cause we met our first real technical and physical difficulties. In fact, Ben’s bike had to be fixed, the rear wheel was too used and after breaking 5 spokes in a raw, we had to change all of them, hoping it will be enough to reach Germany back. Physically, Moni was a bit illy, and Ben has a painfull knee, nothing really important but it’s ennoying and we must take care of that.

Our last week in Estland was really impressive in other way, we spent more than one day in Tallinn, a beautiful medieval city where we stayed in a Australian hostel – Givic Pension – and had a dinner in a restaurant, cocktails and beer. You must know that alcohol is really expensive and difficult to buy in Scandinavia, so we really enjoyed our arrival in Baltic states. After leaving the city, we started our way to the west, to follow the european bicycle path Eurovelo 10, which is absolutely well signed and easy to follow. It’s funny to think that one of the smallest and and last country to join Europe is already so well developped in cyclotourism.

So, after this first surprise, as we were decided not to pay for camping as we did since the 5 last weeks in Sweden and Finland, we knew that we’ll camp where we find a place. And what a place please. Only public spaces with benches, tables, fire possibilities…. Just what we need. And nobody to say you that it’s forbidden or what, people here are really helpfull and friendly, perhaps it’s also because we arrive after the summer rush and there isn’t so many people on the roads and everywhere.

Otherwise, the landscapes are surprising too. During many kilometers, there is only virgin forests and fields, some villages less than 300-people-living, and after a while, you meet some medievals ruins, then old russian buildings left some years ago, really dirty in this fabulous nature and finally you reach one of the most beautiful spot to spend a night that you can imagine. And this is like that everyday, you can feel the cross between the old past, the close past, the nature. It’s a bit like an-european-country on the way to be developped, there are several works on the roads, in the citys, like they prepare to be busy by tourists in some years.

About the weather, we can say that we realize that summer is nearly over, we had some autumn rainfalls – but fortunately, we got those fantastic blue rainjackets in Hlesinki – but in the average, we have more sunshine than greysky. Tempatures are going colder but we can ride and sleep easily.

What’s going next, we’ll leave Parnu tomorrow to the south, on the way to Letland or Latvia or Lettonie, depends on where you read us, we already have a plan to spend a night in Riga, and then we’ll probably go on sticking to coast to Klaipeda, going down to the Couranian Spit or something like that, we have not a real idea of what will really happen, the only thing sure is that we’ll take care of our healthes and bikes to finish quietly our trip, around the Baltic sea…

Some pictures now, not to much cause of this old computer, like in the digital-third-world, enjoy