Its the time of the year, where we gather together with our family and enjoy the holidays, the presents and the fantastic dishes.
But, there is another side of christmas.
And so, since 3 years, a small group of east austrian bikers gather together on the last days before christmas, disguise there bikes as trees, slaighs, rendeers. Preps them up with presents, collect money, and then do a rally from all side to downtown, clad in red and white clothes.
And from there, in a big group and with police escort, they all drive to the St. Anna Childrens hospital.
There they are welcomed by the staff, as the children (most of them with cancer, or leukemia) are not allowed to get in direct contact with them, and are only allowed to observe the festiv spectacle in their yard, through the windows.
The presents will be dropped under the christmas tree for their later evening session. And the cheerful party will celebrate with hot punch (naturally without alcohol!), sing some christmas carolls (not their best part 😉 ) and then they all drive back to their first gathering point.
Aufgeputz und mit Süßigkeiten
Rentiere, Bäume und ..
Engel mit Flügel
On the way there and back they bring cheer to most of the onlookers along the streets. They will throw some candy into children groups along the streets, and this having a small warm glow inside.
And thats the reason why, it will be done over again, next year, for sure. 🙂
We are really here! As we wake up in the morning, we can’t believe it yet.
2750 km without any big problems, no breakdowns, no accidents, often rain, but also many nice and sunny days.
We’ve seen so much of the countries and the people on the way here. Now it’s time to get to know Estonia!
The program of the Estonian Wima’s is very impressive and shows that we will have only little time for other activities 😉
But the most beautiful is, that we can still use today (as arrival day for all remaining Wimas) for more discoveries. The official part of the rally will start in the evening.
The breakfast setting is already working very well, so the potential has been dramatically improved by the speed and number of the kitchen crew. After breakfast we mount our now lighter motorcycles and drive eastwards.
There are basically only 3 goals:
To travel as far as the Russian border in order to be, from our point of view, really at the limit.
The sun is shining, the traffic is very quiet, the navigation was already worked out weeks ago, what could possibly go wrong?
So we set off at a brisk pace, and around Rakvere following the main road. The striking and large castle has to wait until Thursday, as it is the focus of the rally and is therefore only seen from a distance.
So we are quite fast at the turnoff at Sake which leads us towards Velaste. The road is narrow, but has a perfect tarmac and runs in curves along of the steep coastline to the Baltic Sea, so that we can always have a view of the sea. This way we quickly reach Velaste Juga the 30m high waterfall (which is rather unexpected in this flat region) that Svenja has already visited.
It’s true, the waterfall funnel is impressive, the waterfall rather less, the broken-off spectator platform a little more. It’s a pity that this was not repaired. The locked double spiral of the spiral staircase leading to the platform would in itself be a challenge. 😉
So we look over the edge of the vertical rock, which is completely unsecured. For Austrian conditions completely unthinkable. And judging by the traces, the path to here is frequently visited.
After a short stop in the coffee shop on the opposite side of the road (WC for all, and coffee for Su and Renate, – I use the sun for a little nap) it goes on along the coast until we are spit out shortly before Sillamäe, again on the main road. From the main road, the slab concrete buildings of the Eastern Block era don’t look very inviting, and so we drive straight on towards Petersburg! Yes, that’s already written next to Narva as the streets target.
Finally, we reach Narva. The city looks different to the cities we have seen in Estonia so far. Both the size, as well as the dimension of the shopping houses in the outskirts of the city are impressive, and at the same time a little morbid.
We find out later that Narva is very much Russian-occupied, whether this makes the difference?
In any case, we are fighting against the increasing traffic swelling and a breakneck roundabout up to the border crossing.
Massive fences, cameras, barriers, etc… give a very gloomy impression.
And that’s where something happens for the first time that hasn’t happened before: we are not allowed to take a picture! A customs officer who explains to us in Russian and Estonian that we are not allowed to stand here, stop here or take pictures. Okaaay?
So we’re moving away from the border crossing. We stop at the parking lot in front of it and take our photos from there. Afterwards we cross the roundabout to the southern part of the Hermanns Castle, where we walk from the parking lot to the Narva to see the border river from close up. The fortress on the Russian shore also looks defiant and huge. In addition, children are bathing on the shore. Are they aware of how tense the situation in Estonia has actually been since the Crimean annexation?
In the back country, British and NATO troops are practicing for emergencies, hidden in the woods. This is probably only a small hope for the Baltic countries in the event of a hopefully never happening annexation, as the Suwalki Gap is a bottleneck in the connection with the rest of Europe.
We meet a French couple on a Honda Pan European at the parking lot for the second time, and the name of the motorcycle is their program: For 45 days they have been travelling through Europe, across the Benelux, Scandinavian countries and Estonia you have already come, further south, via the rest of the Baltic States, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy and back to Paris.
11.000km are planned for the 45 days, we are impressed.
Only at home do we calculate the average of our last days, and are calmed down again. 😉
We are now on the road for the 9th day, have been in Riga for a riding free day, but nevertheless we have scoured some places of interest on the way. Today only half a day has passed, and I have 2.950km on my speedometer. How many KM would we have unwound on 45 days of pure driving? Whoever posts the most correct thoeretic kilometres performance to me in the comments will receive an original Estonian present from me, and I do not care where on this world I would have to send it. 🙂
There, we made it, 3 girls on two Versys and a Duke 390!! came up to this point.
We have travelled the long way here without mishaps, mostly in nice weather, visited many places, or seen from the way and would only have to drive 130km to arrive in St. Petersburg. We had only a few involuntary km of road, no falling over or loosing luggage …. And always been happy with our ad hoc booked hotels. Booking.Com App and free european mobile roaming for the win!
sand beach at the Narva
Estonia Folk dance
Jäneda Grocery store
Somehow this situation seems so unreal to me and yet, we are really there.
We take this moment with us and turn around. From now on it’s all about getting to know Estonia and the other Wima’s better.
We drive back on the same route to Jöhvi, where we turn south towards Lake Peipus. On the way is the Orthodox nunnery of Kuremaä and there we stop to make a round about the impressive terrain. The whole ensemble is beautiful, both the gardens and the buildings are in a perfect, beautiful condition.
Every now and then an elderly nun is waving through the landscape, and the other visitors also have the classical Russian touch. The whole scene has something like that from Dr. Zhivago and fits so well into the charm of the eastern region of Estonia. 😉
Despite the divine help (yes, we also drank the holy water on the spot) it is now starting to rain.
In the meanwhile used routine we put on our raincoat and drive further south. I recklessly kept the mesh gloves on without pulling the overgloves over it.
After just a few minutes, I realize that this was a mistake. The rain is getting stronger and stronger and the temperature drops to 14°. The gloves are soaked very quickly, but now it is too late, so heating grips to max. and through. Arriving at Lake Peipus we have to realize that the shore is not accessible. Either the houses of the villages are on the shore, or a dense forest belt prevents access to the lake. So we circle the lake southwards until just before Lohusuuu we see a trunk road that could lead to the lake.
We turn around in the pouring rain and drive back and into the forest strip. Unfortunately, the road also ends about 200m upfront to the shore at a private property. The signs are clear and the black Range Rover with darkened windows in front of the garage brings back memories of various James Bond movies.
But, the whole situation is so ridicolous for me and therefore I simply circle around the property until I stand on the shore of Lake Peipus.
The wind and rain make the lake look like a wide, turbulent sea, ok, the sight was definitely worth it to crawl through the undergrowth.
But now back to the waiting group, which is somewhat protected from the rain in the forest, but of course impatiently waiting.
As the rain is still raining, we turn back into Lohusuu and drive almost directly back to Jäneda. On the way the rain stops and the sun is shining again. Errr, really?
At Aravete we enter the main road again and fill our tanks up to the limit. At the petrol station there is a very modified Austrian Pinzgauer and a small Wima group that is looking for a gravel road. In recent years, many Estonian gravel roads have fallen victim to EU subsidies. And as beautiful and important as this is for the infrastructure, it will shrink an enduro paradise. So maps are only relatively up-to-date, but thank goodness I happen to know a gravel track just around the corner. 😉
I show them on the map the approximate start of yesterday’s gravel road and they set out to find it. (and so they did! 😉 )
But we return to Jäneda, now almost dry.
We are back in time for today’s opening evening of the Wima Rally and admire the grown tent city and the many Wimas, from all countries that have now arrived.
The evening event takes place again in the “stable” and starts with a lot of music, folklore performance, speeches by local politicians and a short introduction to the Estonian language, which, unlike the other Baltic languages, is closely related to Finnish. Yeah, and that’s what it sounds like. )
Important words are:
Hello – Tere
Yes – ja
No – ei
Thanks – aitäh
Please! – Palun!
Cheers! – Õhtusöök (sounds like: tarvesex)
And so the evening finds again a witty end. Even I find in the masses of Wima’s familiar faces from the last rally in Hungary.
For our older members there are again many girlfriends who they meet again and with whom the experiences of the last year are exchanged.
The exact time I don’t know, but since it wasn’t dark yet; -), it can’t have been so late, when I got back to the room and lie down.
junior owns his new SMC 690 since October. And despite the fact, that the Husaberg Fe350 did a wonderful job in this role before, its now time to rebuild the enduro it once was.
this weekend we took the opportunity to rebuild the enduro and strip all the road gear within 4 hours. Now it looks bright and shiny , but only one week from now, the looks will be quite different.
Mud battle commencing! 😉
To go into the wild isn’t very encouraging at this time of the year, though better than on road, as getting warm isn’t the problen.
And, having a companion with you isn’t such a bad idea. Junior can now join in, Mission accomplished!
The journey so far has been exciting, interesting, varied and accompanied by many wonderful impressions. It is almost impossible that our Estonian Wima’s can top this with the rally itself even more.
We enjoy the early morning and enjoy our breakfast once again, because it will be a long day.
The first half of the next 320 km lead us along the coast, the other half of the road leads us from Pärnu into the interior of the country.
It takes unexpectedly long until we reach the border to Estonia, just before Pärnu.
Before that, we drive through the foothills of the Positivus Festival in Salacgriva, with its miles of camping sites along the road. The festival stage itself is a little bit staggered into the forest.
The crowd of people is huge, the last day of this 3-day open air event obviously attracts a lot of listeners.
In the meantime, in good tradition, there is again a felicitous photo session at the border, which is in the process of being restructured, but still, with three motorcycles, a woman finds a quiet place in the middle of chaos.
We leave the highway to get an Estonian flag in Pärnu, so that we have a more decorated motorcycle at the entrance to Jäneda (we brought our flags with us)
In the morning we woven the blue, black and white woolen braids into our hair already.
The colors blue=trueness and trust, black=the ancestors and the past, white=snow and future which shall be symbolized by the Estonian flag, are already supported by us. Unfortunately there is no souvenir shop in Pärnu, and so we leave shortly after, without having done anything, for the interior.
Traffic will be reduced and limited to individual cars and trucks that will soon disappear from view.
At a construction site traffic light we are stopped and watch a truck, which keeps the torn road in front of us with plenty of water dust free.
After a while the traffic light changes to green and off we go. Did I mention that the Versys are pleasant to ride standing up? At high speed I drive eastwards for the next few kilometers, and eventually I pass the water distributing truck on the way. But it’s too late, the Versys is already full of mud splashes up to the seat.
Well, it’s raining again soon anyway; -) Then it’s best to add a dusty layer, then most of it will fall off by itself. And so I went on at a fast pace along the gravel road. Every now and then a car, bus or truck comes towards us, apparently the traffic lights have only a symbolic value? But as an Austrian woman is used to dealing with cultural idiosyncrasies in a flexible way, so we will do this in the future; -)
At some point, this endlessly long construction site comes to an end and I stop in the shade of a small fruit tree to light a purely virtual cigarette.
In total there will be 2 cigarettes until our small group is together again. 😉 Yes, Iron mountain Prolog for the Win…
But the silence in the shade was pleasant, and so we all take a short break and admire our beautifully dusty and dirty motorcycles.
The negative: A clean motorcycle is quite the opposite. The positive thing is that the motorcycles look as if we had covered half of the journey on gravel roads. That means we are now real adventure motorcyclists! 😉
We continue our journey shortly afterwards, and that what has not happened yet, is happening all the time now: We come across Wima groups, at gas stations, cafés, or in front of restaurants where we pass by.
Most of them are from Germany, but also Britons and Poles are there. We also stop briefly for refuelling, but we continue on, after such a long journey we finally want to arrive.
It still takes a relatively long time, until shortly after Aravete, when the first time Jäneda is written to. The direction is right, the way is clear, so let’s go onto the final streak!
We mount our Austria flags and are looking forward to the finish line after about 2750 km of an exciting and varied ride.
About 12 km before Jäneda we leave the main road and turn north at Käravete (hmm, the name comes to me well as I have heard it before?) and the tension rises. The pictures of the manor house were already very inviting, now it will be a ladies residence for the next 5 days. A classic Estonian property, like many others that we have already seen along the roads along our way so far, lovingly restored and surrounded by lakes and meadows.
After a few minutes we see the town sign, and at the first crossroads we do see the sign “Wima”, which will lead you to the parking lot in front of the guesthouse.
We park in the front row, grab our first pieces of luggage and march to the reception where we are received by the Wimas from Estonia with “Tere”!
This greeting has something of Benjamin the elephant, but also other words like Aithä (thanks) sound for our ears first after something else. But more about this in the next evening, even if we don’t know it yet.
First the formalities are done and then we go to the room with our welcome goody bag.
The view from the window shows in the direction of the camping meadow, where the first tents are erected.
First a little ballast in the form of robe and helmet is thrown in the room and then back to the motorcycle to bring the remaining bags and suitcases into the room.
While the others are looking around the area, I use the early arrival to hike a little on Svenja’s paths.
There was a piece of gravel road about 10km south of here, on which Svenja passed on her baltic tour. Exactly this is the section Albu – Paunküla, which somehow leads over Napu, that’s all I could see from the maps. The area is made up of woods and moors, and the wrong roads always end up somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But where a KLX comes through, I can do it with a Versys and her road tires too. ; -)
Of course, it’s not that bad, except for a few deeper passages with damp subsoil, it’s a wonderful track. At first it goes mostly over meadows, then through woodland, at Napu again across a meadow and then back into the forest and moor.
Nevertheless, I am glad that I removed the luggage, the track is only 1 lane, and there is surprisingly 2 times a car that comes towards me.
In the maze of paths I try to stay on the right path and manage this without ever having to go back for the 30km to the Paunküla reservoir.
The sun is shining, There are a lot of people on the “beach” and in the water. Of course, they are gazing at the Versys and me in the full motorcycle outfit like an alien. Somehow I can’t blame them either.
So, just a short photo stop and then I pass the famous campground, continue north over gravel and then over the newly asphalted 207 and further over the 125 in the, admittedly, very fast turn back to Jäneda.
After this little (80km) joyride, which made me want to do more, I come back to the quarter.
Now it’s time to make myself pretty (the moto gear is ripped off, then showers and normal garment) and to walk to the “Black Stallion Stable”, which is about 200m away from the guesthouse.
Here we will find the food and also the respective evening events according to the Program folder.
Hopefully it doesn’t rain too often, otherwise the whole thing will be a wet and cool affair at the expected average temperatures of 14-20 degrees Celsius.
Arrived in the “stable” I meet the cheerful, but also famished flock of the already arrived Wimas. Somehow, I guess the service and kitchen still have to be put the right way.
We pass the time with an improvised band from all women’s countries and have our fun. When the food finally arrives, I believe at almost 10 pm, it is very good, after all. Let’s hope that tomorrow, when all the Wimas are here, everything will run more smoothly.
on the way home, at 11PM
Since it is much too late this time, there is no time for the diary. As tomorrow is the official arrival day and the official program starts in the evening, I have to plan an tour for tomorrow, but I do have some ideas. 😉
We got up very late this time, maybe it was a little too late yesterday?
At about 7:00 am we lifted our legs out of bed for the first time. Afterwards, we calmly enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast buffet.
It was funny that Austrians, from a bus group, were also on site at the neighboring table, including a motorcyclist.
He was wondering, and so he did ask us, why we were driving here when the country seems so flat?
So far, the flat was not so bad, country and people have compensated this by far. And, the roads were not so straight and flat as feared. 😉
After this short talk, we made our way to the town centre again. We had already studied the travel guides extensively the day before and therefore we know exactly where we want to go today. In principle, the entire Old Town.
The Petri Church, which was rebuilt, is a striking feature at the start. It was destroyed in World War II and could not be restored until the end of the Soviet era.
There is no ascent but only one single elevator, which is probably also from the Soviet era.
Stuffed up like sardines, he moves with us slowly between the upper floor of the church on, up to the tower.
The tour of the tower is also very narrow, but it is enough to get a quick overview of Riga.
It’s really warm and we run to a pastry shop to get some fluids and rest our tired feet. Strolling slowly over the paving stones is unusual and requires constant concentration to avoid stumbling.
During the day we will walk through the entire Old Town and a little more.
The old Guild buildings are great and the Dixie from Hot Express is even more stimulating for us. For a short period we enjoy the great music.
The voice of the main singer is close to perfect.
A small sound example from the bought CD you will find here:
Many small lanes and old buildings, all lovingly restored, invite us to take pictures and stay for some while.
The colorfull ribbon plaids in Krynica Morska are still in good memory and so we start the search for blue, black and white ribbons, which we want to weave into our hair to enter Estonia according to the agreed status.
In a wool shop, which is really crammed with wool, we find what we are looking for and stock up on wool knobs and a few woollen accessories.
On the way back we briefly stop at the main station and the shopping center and stock up on water and provisions for tomorrow.
When we get back to the hotel, the prominent parking lot right in front of the main entrance door is free , so we relocate our motorcycles there, to be faster out on the way tomorrow.
At about 8 pm we leave the hotel once again for the old town to enter the Steik Haoss .
It was just so pleasant and fine yesterday that we’re not even looking for an alternative.
Afterwards we stroll through the beautifully lit lanes again and crowds of people are still on the move.
The crowning finale is then a Russian motorcycle gang, mirroring all the clichés of Russian and gangs, alltogether.
Tired, but a little earlier than yesterday, we finally return to the hotel.
Today there was no rain! And tomorrow, for uor last leg on the tour to Estonia, the weather report shows fine weather too!
I have seen the trailer, and instantely ordered the movie, (will be available approx. Nov. 13th?)
A lot of good memories rose from the past where the two Long Way series. Though this one is without Charley and Ewan.
Ich habe mir jetzt den Trailer angeschaut, und viele Erinnerungen an die beiden Long Way Serien sind wach geworden. Wenn auch ohne Charley und Ewan.
Last week the general weather was rather bad with 9° Celsius and the roads were slightly damp. And then the many leaves on the street? Not necessarily very inviting conditions. It was clear that our planned Wima season finaly was postponed by one week.
And this decision turned out to be the right one. We drove directly into the Indian Summer of the hunchback mountains.
In the morning it had cosy 9°, but during the day it rose up to 21° , thanks to the sun.
The sky was bright blue, the trees were red, green and golden and the fields in between filled the colour scale. A wonderful play of colours for the eyes.
And, because that wasn’t enough, we had asphalt and also a little bit of gravel under the tyres, which carried us from corner to corner and from hill to hill.
It was simply fantastic to wave around and have so much fun.
Simply cool! There is really nothing more to say. 🙂
The day starts with breakfast on the balcony, the alternative: having breakfast in the hotel-assigned restaurant was not so tempting in comparison, despite the voucher.
The selection is plentiful and enough for all of us and a small rest is shipped to Su’s topcase bar, as a tactical reserve for the day. nearby
We enjoy the calm and stress-free start to the day, slowly we manage to adapt to the area and leave our hectic everyday life behind us completely. Similar to pilgrimages, the “monotony” of the daily routine is very meditative and creates a unique atmosphere.
So we start the day very easy by throwing the luggage over the balcony parapet to the motorcycles and shortening the towing around the block dramatically and since the “packing up” is already routine, we are on the road very fast despite all the silence.
The sun is shining, but it’s still quite fresh (17°) and we are happy to have a few more layers underneath the motorcycle outfit. Shortly we meet extremely low “clouds”? that sometimes float away within reach, and sometimes lie like fog over the landscape.
In the shade it is even cooler, so we hold it again to increase our layers even more.
So we drive through slightly hilly terrain in Siauliai and then a short distance to the north on the A12, in order to turn right again. So quickly we have reached Kryziu Kalnas, the mountain of crosses.
The parking lot is almost full and the first buses arrive already, so we leave the souvenir shops on the left for the time being and enter the toilet (the first and last time on our trip, where it really costs something – is also tip, top. That’s really the only thing I envy about male bikers, zip down, do business, drive on.
This usually takes less than a minute. With us queing and undressing and putting on again we need about 20 minutes in total, until it finally goes on foot the last 400m towards the crosses.
Nevertheless, the bus mob is still behind us and so we can almost undisturbed take the first lap on the narrow paths through the enormous accumulation of crosses.
There are large, small, old, new, wooden, stone and metal crosses and all this shows, despite the mass, a certain deep spirituality that exists here in Lithuania, despite, or even because of the oppression during the Soviet period.
We also see a family (which despite the ban) erecting a new medium sized cross.
As far as I can understand, it is probably dedicated to a child who died about 1 month ago. Greepy. I distance myself spatially from the mountain, in order to let the whole thing affect me with a little distance, it is simply too violent from close up.
The temperature has meanwhile risen to 25° and so we get rid of ourselves on the way back to the motorcycles of our shifts, in order to drive now around some more freely to the north, towards the border. But before we enter the souvenir shop and finally we manage to buy patches and stickers from Lithuania.
Once again we stop at the border crossing, which is also picturesque in the area and with its shady shrubs offers protection from the warm sun.
In good tradition, this border crossing is also documented for the loving ones at home, before we continue on our way.
And again we turn off from the Direttissima to Riga and drive eastwards, parallel to the border to take a closer look at the castle of Rundäle.
The idea came up, together with the castle Bauska of Renate, and the visit is definitely worth the detour.
The castle complex of Rundäle is a classical baroque summer palace with a park. Little Schönbrunn, so to speak. The small, but subtle difference?
Moose antlers; -) on the wall of the main corridor.
The grounds are very spacious, with parks and cafes and beautifully shaped. The whole complex shows the efforts to restore lost values of the past and to incorporate the changing history of the Baltic States into its own history.
During our tour through the terrain, a large black cloud stretches in the sky to the north. We know the sign nowadays only too well, that means putting on raincoats or taking an alternative course as soon as possible.
We decide for the second one and start off towards Bauska to stop there for a short while and have a look at the partially restored castle of Bauska before we swing on our motorcycles for the last time for today and head towards Riga.
This time the navigation doesn’t leave us in the stick on the last kilometres and so we arrive at our hotel Mercure Riga Centre.
A view of the hotel and our booking leaves us in doubt?
130, – € for three persons and 2 nights, incl. breakfast? Probably the broom closet at the attic and mattresses on the floor to sleep? Hmm, that reminds me of my wedding night in Bergen, where we, soaking wet, because of a wrong booking by the travel office, have been accommodated in just such?
Okay, let’s get rid of the thought. We’ll see about that.
And what we see is a huge room with a view over the square in front of us, huge beds, a monster tv screen. And, an enormously large bathroom, which we turn into a laundry room right after showering, with crisscross stretched laundry lines. In any case: It doesn’t look that noble anymore. ; -)
Afterwards, a short rest is called for. Su sews her new patches on the robe, Renate checks the extra bed and I write these lines.
When the hair is dry again, we leave for the old town. Since it will be dark at almost 24:00 anyway, and we don’t have a day of driving tomorrow – yes, we still have our reserve day completely unspoiled and so we will use it for an extensive Riga tour. This evening it can take a little longer until we get to bed….. ha, ha, ha… as if… (but we don’t want to know that anyway).
On the way to the Oldtown we pass the main railway station (incl. huge shopping mall), the canal (old town moat) and the National Opera House. And take pictures of a historic tram set that circles around the city, before entering the narrow alleys of the old town.
There’s a lot of activity, all the places are full of guests. We decide to visit the Steiku Haoss because of the hot live music in front of the restaurant.
And the name is the name of the game and therefore it is appropriately slammed.
I almost feel like Svenja and of course I have a….. Entrecote selected!
It takes a while, the restaurant is also full, but from our place we can hear the music well and we see the musicians in action all the time, so there can be no boredom. An astonishing number of staff is on, too. No one in Austria could pay for these personnel costs, it seems that personnel costs nothing compared to the well-off European prices on the menu.
After a – longer – while the steaks (upps entrecote) arrive and they taste delicious!
The atmosphere is good, but at some point (it’s getting really dark now) we want to pay, but we are invited by Renate to dinner – she enjoyed the day so much!, and then we head back to the hotel.
On the way back we briefly raid a souvenir shop so that we also have Latvian stickers and patches for our collection, and we watch the rowing boats in the canal as they glide quietly over the water with lanterns.
A truly atmospheric end to a wonderful day. (And, not a single raindrop!)
Is it the late evening walk yesterday? The time zone change?
Or, just the cloudy weather outside? It’s not easy for us to get up today, except of course Renate, she’s already awake for a long time. We still wonder, how does she do it?
Surprisingly, on this side of the border, there is also a sumptuous breakfast, so it’s more of a northern “problem” and not limited to Poland alone?
But the better, we cherish it and get onto our todays ride.
It’s cloudy, but it’s not raining. Therefore we load our motorcycles and start our tour through the Nemunas (Memel) valley in a westerly direction. We haven’t left Kaunas yet, and the rain starts.
Through the experience of the last few days, we have become wiser,
stop immediately and put on our raincoat. A truly wise decision, because shortly afterwards the water comes down in an intensity that still puts yesterday’s rain in the shade. The visibility is reduced to a few meters, but thank goodness there is so little traffic that we simply continue on slowly.
About 1 1/2 hours later the rain finally gets weaker and turns into a regular rain.
It’s a pity, because the Nemunas valley is very scenic and the villages along the way have their own flair. Only petrol stations are rare.
So we drive to Pagegiai, approx. 2 hours or approx. 150 km from Kaunas, until a Milda petrol station nestles on the road as a rescuer in the wet emergency. At the beginning the shop is completely overwhelmed with us 3 girls in “Marshmallow costume”, but in the next half hour the petrol station is a dry hoard, with hot drinks, snacks and rest.
We watch the locals coming to the petrol station with their old and new vehicles, filling up a little, but spending much more in the shop. Since Poland, we have also noticed that consumption of food, beverages and “other” goods normally exceeds the cost of refueling by far. Shopping at the petrol station seems to be IN here.
For us hectic people: refuel, went into the shop, pay, get out, get up on the bike, leave! This is a nightmare when goods are still being searched for, food ordered, etc…. But today we have time to observe this calmly and we see that the communication between the petrol station attendant and the customer, and also between the customers themselves, is an important part of the ritual. Somehow this is the information hub of Pagegiai (at least for the men) and radiates a mighty calm.
That’s why we are being sampled like aliens, but also greeted with a smile. Women on motorcycles are probably not likely to have gotten lost here quite often, This is acknowledged with a nodding and here and there also with questions.
Where from, where to? Alone? These are the most frequently asked questions in English. The vocabulary is poor, in our Lithuanian language knowledge, as well as in the English language of the locals, so a big exchange is almost impossible, but we can understand it anyway – at least I hope, in retrospect 😉
The rain is coming to an end and so we take off our rain gear again
The rest of the route to Klaipeda is remote from the river and therefore not so attractive, and the route also takes an unexpectedly long time: Many small villages, more traffic, which becomes even more intense around Klaipeda, and as a special surprise my navigation system freezes before the right exit/departure to the Curonian Spit. Mistake detected, and blue-eyed into the traffic jam of Klaipeda, and so we promptly almost drove into a barrier zone (the old town). After that we looked for a shady place and started up the navigation system again. Which, of course, brought us to the landing place of the ferry to the spit, in the shortest way.
Together with the other commuters and tourists we pay our fee and are squeezed onto the ferry. On the other side of the river a large construction site awaits us, through which we are still struggling on the first kilometer. In order to end up in front of a toll barrier, where another fee is demanded, before we are allowed to continue our journey on the spit. (No serious sums in total, it’s only a little bit cumbersome to dig up the money)
We continue our journey and have a view of the lagoon and then, after a relatively high dune pass, we have a glimpse of the Baltic Sea through the forest again and again.
Since the tourist caravan in front of us is only stressing, we stop in the middle of the road at a pedestrian crossing (where from, where too, it doesn’t show in the moment) and decide that we are looking for the baltic sea now. The forest opens up quickly and a staircase path to the dunes becomes visible, which we simply follow.
Arrived at the ridge a stiff breeze blows into our faces, the wind is very strong!
Unlike Krynica Morska, there is no need to defoliate, the motorcycle robe fits quite well to the temperature and wind and so we march down the steep stairs to the beach to take some photos again. A long Sand beach, as far as the eye can see, wonderful flowers and plants on the dunes and far and wide (except us) nobody! Wonderful.
We enjoy the view of the high waves and the rushing of the wind. But we still have a part of the way ahead of us and so we leave after about 30 minutes to get back to the engines. 15min later we arrive at the Russian Border. With this we have successfully circumnavigated the enclave of Kaliningrad!
Of course, we take some souvenir photos and then we start our journey back. It was planned to climb a large dune, but there are no parking spaces for motorcycles and all car parks are subject to charges. For climbing a dune on foot (max. 53m!) okay, no, thanks.
Su is still looking for souvenirs in Nida, but there is no space for motorcycles as well, so we park in a bus stop fork and wait for Su. We glimpse other female motorcyclists for a moment, but somehow they disappear in a shop from our field of vision, were they perhaps Wimas?
The day is already well advanced and we still have the trip to Palanga on our schedule. Klaipeda was more or less fully booked and therefore it has become the next coast town -Palanga – for tonight.
But first we have to head back to the ferry and there we have a bad surprise: Upfront the ferry a 1 km long traffic jam has formed, and on top of that, regular customers (yearly ticket owners) are driving past us on an fast lane to the front. The temptation is great to drive forward too. But the hatred of all motorists in the queue would probably be enormous. Since there are three of us, we have at least the opportunity to chat with each other, but it still takes an eternity until we are finally on the ferry.
Now, that we have really lost some time, we drive the last part of the way on the expressway to Palanga. Hotel Tauras is found quickly. This time we have a room on the ground floor again with a view of the car park. Since we have a balcony too, we decide to go shopping and have dinner on the balcony.
In the nearby supermarket, the wall of alcoholic beverages is very impressive, but also sausage, bread and cheese are to be found in many variations and so we stock up and return to the hotel. We make ourselves comfortable on the balcony and enjoy the delicious food we have bought.
After that, we’re full to the brim. When we check the beds, we notice that one of them creaks terribly. Since the apartment consists of two separate rooms and double beds, we exchange the beds, because with one person the creaking is almost non-existent. Since the day is still young, we go to take a look on the baltic sea. We know the approximate direction. Fortunately, we find a kind of corso that is dotted with restaurants, souvenir shops and many people. We walk along this path towards the sunset, and right, behind a last hill the Baltic Sea lies in front of us, again. The wind is a little bit friendlier than in the afternoon and with sunset. This is wonderful for us landlocked countries.
As the breeze is still very cool, we enjoy the atmosphere for a short time and then retreat to the hotel.