Versya

My slanted Life

Arrival Day, Wima Rally 2017

Cheers, hustle and bustle, cheerfulness!

Today is the last day of the arrival tour! Tonight we are already in Jäneda and celebrate the WIMA Rally 2017 for the next 5 days.

In the guesthouse: http://www.janedaturism.ee/en

The castle: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A4neda

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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1096.

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 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.  😉

Riga, Tour Wima Rally 2017, day 7

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!

Long Way Kurdistan

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.

Looking forward to the movie 🙂

Season finaly (not mine)

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. 🙂

Criss, Cross to and through Latvia, Tour Wima Rally, day 6

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.

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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!)

Dune

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.

Tomorrow we will be back on our planned route.

Weather: Rainy and stormy, later cloudy and sunny

Temperatur: 17°

Through Masuria, Tour to Wima Rally 2017, Day 4

Yesterday I was thrilled by Masuria, the landscape and the small roads were nice to drive. At least with Su and me, because with the Versys a standing driving works very well. In addition, woman immediately sees more of the area, and that is actually very attractive. It reminds of the Waldviertel, only with more lakes, old avenues and even fewer people. So in sum almost equal; -)
Renate disagrees with her hard-suspended Duke and the hard seat, so she has to step off the gas again and again. But she also liked the area very much.
So it was clear to us, after a short voting round, that we are not going directly from here via Suwalki to Lithuania, but we are doing an extra lap.

Since the big lakes in front of Gizycko were only grey in grey because of yesterday’s heavy rain, we decided to make a spiral to the Lithuanian border. This will make the journey to Marijampole a little longer than planned, but it is still easy to make under normal conditions.
So we get up early and are happy about the nice weather outside, maybe it will be another warm, sunny day for us?

First of all, there is the breakfast, which is once again served in the form of a huge buffet on the ground floor of the hotel in front of us. It’s probably a Polish specialty.
These oversized buffets, with a strong emphasis on the hearty side, are a wonderful opportunity to eat all day long.
And so we always come with a little snack along the way throughout the day.

The hotel staff has been very friendly and courteous since our arrival. This makes it all the more irritating to hear an outraged German pensioner at the reception who complains loudly about the fact that her towels from last night have not yet been changed. And now I want to talk to the boss, who of course you don’t understand German; -)

I wonder why some of our dearest relatives still don’t get this:
German mentality exists only in Germany – and possibly still in the USA. All other countries have a national culture that can, but does not have to, be compatible.
The nicest sentence is always:”With us in Germany we do so… /would not be possible….” omg, why do you go abroad then?

But back to something more enjoyable, our tour.
After breakfast we turn back into motorcyclists, load our motorcycles and drive out of the yard to head south first towards Orzysz. Just like yesterday, the winding road leads us up and down hills through a mixed landscape of fields, forests and lakes. Again and again we can catch a glimpse of a small pond.

Afterwards we drive around the big lake in the south (Sniardwy) on the relatively small roads, with the farmhouses appearing again and again on the way, and also the old avenues are back again. Then we head north again via Mikolajki to Ryn, and continue to Ketryzn.

This would close the circle with our tour yesterday. But we drive curiously further north through Wegorzewo. We had hoped that buildings from the past would also be visible, but unfortunately the city was only colorless and dreary. So we immediately went back to Goldap, which is already on the border with Russia. enclave of Kaliningrad.
The city is beautifully beautiful and nestles in the hills of the countryside.
Why are we here, anyway? Of course, first and foremost because we want to go to the Wima Rally in Estonia, of course, also because we want to get to know as many corners and angles of Masuria as possible, but also because we have closed the enclave as close as possible to us – unplannedly – to complete the enclave. The idea originated with our “excursion” to the Polish Spit. Since we drove as far as the stop, we came up with this “crazy” idea. We have planned a reserve day in total, so why not fill it with a small challenge?

This includes a visit to the border triangle of Lithuania, Poland and Kaliningrad, which is situated at the end of a nature park (Krajobrazowy Puszczy Rominckie) that runs along the border. Therefore, we follow the small country road through the nature park along the border area to Russia, to unexpectedly see the impressive railway viaduct, shortly before Stańczyki. Since the weather situation looks a little bit moody in the meantime, we do without the rocker and only look at it from a distance to drive on.
As soon as we leave the forest, the beautifully decorated landmark appears in front of us.

A number of vehicles are parked on the parking areas on site. We prefer to go on and so we continue our journey.
Very small roads lead us finally over an inconspicuous border crossing to Lithuania. The border sign alone stands abandoned in the area and so we use the peace and quiet on site to organize a small photo shoot. We crossed the great Poland first from south to north and then to west. Until our journey home we are now only travelling in the Baltic States!
The landscape changes of the last few days have been manifold, and we are curious to see whether everything is different in Lithuania?

 

 

From the border crossing we continue north to Vilkaviskis and from there to Marijampole, because Renates Duke urgently needs a refuelling stop and there is no petrol station. I have a fuel hose with me, which means that we could give her gasoline from the Versys tank at any time, but on foreign territory we prefer to fill her up in time. And, the breaks are also a welcome change from our “mileage eat”  ; -)
The search for gasoline almost leads us out of Marijampole again, when we finally come across a spacious gas station. The machines are being refuelled by us and just as we push them on the side, so that we can have a little snack break in peace and quiet, the rain falls unexpectedly over us. We quickly push the machines back under the roof of the petrol station and pull ourselves into the salesroom, because the wind drives the rain away.

Since we wanted to take a break anyway, we take the opportunity to have coffee, cocoa and various drinks. Sandwiches add a little bit of refreshing and waiting for the worst of the weather front before we set off again.

The rain persistently comes in dense waves and so we have no choice but to wait for the worst and then, protected by rainwear, continue on our way to Kaunas, where we have just booked a nice hotel room online in the Perkuno namai, above the city centre.

The short drive to Kaunas is humid at first, but soon the rain stops with perfect timing and so we can drift calmly through the urban traffic chaos, dry our rain gear and take advantage of the view of the old buildings of the city.
The hotel is actually located on a mountain overlooking the city centre and has a beautiful garden built into the hillside.

Unfortunately, the rain has caused a massive cooling, so we prefer to stay in the restaurant and enjoy the end of the day.
Although it’s getting dark, I still want to stretch my legs and Renate too. Therefore, armed with a rudimentary map, we set off to explore the city centre.

First we go down the mountain through a park and then we follow the pedestrian zone to the west.
Along the way there are many interesting buildings and restaurants, but it’s getting dark and the shops are already closed.

In almost full darkness we turn back and feel our way back up the mountain in the dewy darkness over desolate stairs and paths, until we meet again on the illuminated roads.

Since we have – again – changed our planned route, the itinerary for tomorrow is on the agenda.
The scenic valley of Memel and then, if there is still time, the Curonian Spit? So it’s time to go to sleep, because tomorrow is certainly an interesting day.

Weather:
Sunny, then heavy rain, then cloudy again,
Temperature moderate 20-25° C

Distance: 385km    Travel time: approx. 7h

Morning at the seaside, evening in Masuria, Tour Wima Rally 2017, day 3

At 8:30 breakfast!

This news has shaken us yesterday. How shall we use the day when breakfast starts so late?
Since we have grown accustomed to getting up early, we are naturally awaken too early.

As we didn’t want to wait hours for the breakfast, not knowing what to do otherwise, we decided to visit the old Kahlberg and the Baltic sea coast in a morning stroll.

(At Pension Lotus, there were also many black and white photos from the era before the First World War)
Only a small climb from the hotel is necessary to reach the top of the Spit, and there is the original village.

It has its architectural origin definitely in Germany. Remaining houses and the small Franciscan monastery recall this past very emphatically and take us to another time. The following epochs have left their mark on the outside and are mixed with their architectural condition and architectural quality. 😉

The old town center is relatively small and so the further path leads us down again the ramp to the broad and sandy beach, which is empty and deserted at this time of the morning. Only a few joggers join us there.

Left my Footprint there

The sand is still cool from the rain and so we pull of the shoes to stroll along the sea for a bit. The water feels fresh and does not invite you to a deeper walk in.

 

The fact, that we face a wonderful day at the Baltic Sea, will be noticed only in our second encounter, but we do not know yet.

Since Kahlberg (Krynica Morska) also has a red lighthouse as a landmark, we are looking for it. We have to search the coastline for a while until we can see it behind the treetops.

So we go uphill again, through a new part of the town, consisting of new luxury apartments, and there it stands in all its red splendor.

Unfortunately, the access is closed. So we can only walk around the foot of the tower, and imagine the view from above.

Meanwhile, the time has went by, therefore we head back to our pension.

There is already a group of German tourists waiting for the entrance (which is possible only from the garden, a strange construction). The door opens shortly afterwards and we discover a truly sumptuous breakfast buffet. The reviews on booking.com, which point to this fact, have not lied, omg! Well, we have already stimulated our appetite through the walk, so we can unrestrained enjoy the many delicacies.

Later, we are groaning up the stairs to our room, to force ourselves into the – strangely somehow narrow-feeling – motorcycle clothes.

The loading of the machines is all the more speedy, getting used to the routine to strap the luggage to the motorcycle.

We start the engines and roll back the road, we went yesterday, a little way, then follow the course of the lagoon towards Elblag. There, after a short photo stop, we cross the canal to follow it for a short distance. The peculiarity of the canal is that it overcomes almost 90m heights in its course, not with locks, but with a railway similar system, which uses transport vehicles, to carry the ships over to the next hill 😉

 

At least ,now we are in Masuria.

Yes, Masuria! We had already read much at home about this largely unspoiled area, and of course were anxious to see whether the full-bodied stories would be true. The descriptions of wide arable land, many lakes and woodlands and small villages are very appropriate. In a sense, it is Waldviertel (NW, Lower Austria) about 60 years ago with even fewer people.

Particularly striking are the many old avenues that line the narrow streets. These are closed by the high alley trees. Trucks are only allowed to drive with reduced speeds, otherwise the avenue is too much damaged.

So we move through the slightly hilly area, always interrupted by woodland and lakes, and sometimes a small village. So we move from west to east, preferably on the small minor roads. So we reached Elblag, there we cross the famous canal – with its railway similar ship transport system over the hills (hey, Fitzccaraldo was right!) and ride further on via Orneta, Dobre Miasto, Rezel,

 

Swieta Lipka (pilgrimage church holy Linden tree) and Ketrzyn.

 

Again and again we stop briefly for photos. What we already expected at the departure from the lagoon, at about 1pm onward, it starts to rain.

It is perfect that we have our rain cover handy, because except for short interruptions, the rain remains today and ensures a pleasantly cool, but unfortunately also moist Masuren.

Short before Ketrzyn, also known by the nearby bunker system Wolfschanze, the rain is so violent that we are glad that the next village on our route will be Gizycko (Lötzen), and thus the end of today’s planed track.

We drive through several centimeters high water puddles right in the hotel Masury yard.

Again we receive a large spacious room on the second floor including a perfect view on our parked motorcycles.

Of course we hang our wet rain gear up to dry, and it looks in the room cozy chaotic already, good, that it is really big.

Afterwards we check the last online news and learn that our second team has been stopped by heavy rain and therefore is staying in a hotel in Gizycko. Hmm, Gizycko? Gizycko!

We are pleased to hear that their hotel is located about 1.4 km away, and we are organizing a meeting on the canal so that we can look for a common place for an exchange of experiences.

The rain has subsided a little now, so walk on foot to exercise our legs. We arrive at the canal just in time, to cross the bridge, before it is locked, and afterwards swung for the passage of several boats. The rotating mechanism is still operated by hand. Later we read that the mechanism was operated with motors at some time, but the mechanics of the bridge were damaged by the strength of the motors. So they restored the old manual way.

 

The second attraction in Gizycko would have been the fortress Boyen, the best preserved in Masuria. But the visit unfortunately rains off.

We meet the CH.AT troop at the bridge and leave enter the nearby pizzeria Mariza. The choice is unfortunately not the best, both speed, as well as quality of the food are, from our point of view, rather mediocre.

This is, thank God, the only time on our trip that this happens, but we do not know yet.

 

But really, we don’t bother, we chat, exchange experiences and the time flies by.

Before it gets dark (lol, it is only from 22:00) we are back in our hotel. Back to the route planning for tomorrow and for me there are also another pages in the diary to fill.

 

 

“Let’s polish (sic!) up, our English” – Journey Wima Rally 2017 day 2

“Let’s polish (sic!) up, our English”
With this slogan starts our second day in Poland. First, we enjoy the ample and sumptuous breakfast buffet and prepare ourselves mentally for the next stage.

Actually quite pleasant taking a hotel room; you arrive, throw your gear off, shower extensively, have toilets and breakfast in top quality in view range and a comfortable bed to lie in.
We might get used to this way of traveling. But big disadvantage: The country and the people are thereby more at a distance, than at a campsite. To compensate this we use our walks in the evening hours to get a little more feeling for country and the people.
And, of course, not only to have motorcycle photos for those poor ones, left behind 😉

Perhaps also a small side comment on the used navigation equipment?
Each of us has a map and GPS in the tankbag as backup.
I navigate with the help of my smartphone and OSMand, which also knows gravel roads and footpaths and talks via Bluetooth also with me, but does not listen in between, thank God :blush:
This makes it easy to put together a more or less reliable route for the next day – even without a PC, and allows a flexible deviation from the route too.
Renate maintains the tradition of the roadbook and so we always sit together in the evening in order to write down the essential points, but we didn’t get close the next day often.
Sometimes temptations along the road, sudden inspirations, aberrations, or simply the desire for more, which lead us from the planned route. And sometimes these new tracks are the ones that give us the greatest surprises.
We also planned a buffer day in Riga. So, what can happen, nothing! What can we lose, nothing!
If this will be really so, stay tuned. 😉

 

Back to Today:
We paid our room yesterday, so it is easier to march directly to the motorbike in full motorcycle gear and stow away the pack bags without breaking into the first sweating at the front desk.
Still, sweating is the return journey to the A1, in the rush hour of Lodz. The need for Euro4 is more plausible after this experience, heck, I wonder whether Euro3 has already arrived in Lodz, at all? Having arrived safely on the A1, we continue “true North” towards Gdansk (Danzig) to leave the A1 a little bit upfront Torun.

Torun

From the distance we take a photo of the old town which is very nice and invites for a stop.

The GoPro mounted on the helmet provokes “en passant” photos. And this opportunity is used often.
What I do not know yet is, that these photos are very imprecise (I just call it so, and we are not talking of legions of dead mosquitoes on the lens … ..: – /) . In the course of the further journey I do reconsider this in my thoughts and a change to the smartphone Photo phalanx will more often occur.
Hey, 8 days ago the dataroaming borders in Europe have fallen, so why not keeping the guys home updated directly 😎

Grudziadz

But we continue and follow the road to the hills north of Torun to turn later towards

Grudziad and follow the Weichsel towards the Baltic Sea.

We continue northwards over Sztum (where we lay low from the sun in the shadow of big trees, surrounding the miraculous lake) to escape a temporary construction site road close.
In https://youtu.be/RRuwzNo0w1o

Malbork (Marienburg) we stop again to overlook the enormous brick castle (largest of Europe) from the opposite river banks and to make a group photo with a “bow”.
We use the time to recapitulate the previous miles and talk about a deviation from the route plan.

Should we visit the Polish lagoon instead of Elblag? Krynica Morska and up to the end of the peninsula?
This idea finds broad agreement and so we continue northwards, to ride around the lagoon from the west and to steer towards the lagoon opposite to the stream of Polish guests.
The places all sound familiar and a later look in Wikipedia shows the why: The German past of the places had formed the names of towns and villages.

One of it: Sztutowo (Stuthof) a former concentration camp (hidden in the forest). A Muzeum, reminds of the crimes of the past. Panels along the street point towards the museum.
We ride along the road until it ends, almost touching the enclave of Kaliningrad, then we turn back.

Su would like to take the opportunity to spend the night here at the port, so we start our search for a suitable lodging. We had enough along the way, but will it be possible to get a free room in the main season?
The first hotel on the way back is Neptune, a huge hotel complex in the forest, we drive right in front and park directly in front of the front desk (I guess, this is why it is called so?). The lady at the desk did either have a bad day, or loathes motorcyclists in principle, because on the friendly question whether still rooms are available, comes a scarce “nie“, although Booking.com still shows vacant rooms. The answer in respect to the accommodation rates is answered with 2500Zlt per person. 😯
Lol, we rather sleep outdoor.

However, Booking.com is our friend and so, only 2km away, we find a nice Pension named Lotus, which offers us a cheap room for 3 persons. Not quite as spacious as the last room, but with balcony to ventilate the sweaty motorcycle gear and stow away the luggage. The day is young, we are showered, so we leave for an evening excursion to the port, to watch the ferries to Fromborka (Frauenburg) and the departure of a speedboat.
The breeze from the lake is cool and so we walk back to the beach promenade which is full of tourists.
Striking are the street vendors who braid colored strands in the hair of their customers.
An idea is born!

It starts to rain softly, so it is time to look for a restaurant.
Since we are at the sea, for us domestic Austrians of course only fish is a potential food and we obviously make a good choice, the fish is faultless (also the next day 😉 )
From our seats we see the busting activity on the Road. You easily can imagine sitting in Lignano, or Rimini.
As the rain pauses are getting shorter and the rain getting fierce, we return the shortest way home.

 

I sneak out again at dusk (23 o’clock!) to photograph the sun setting on the horizon over the Baltic Sea.

The silence, which radiates from the scenery is in stark contrast to the hectic bustle over the day,
I enjoy it and remain sitting there. But, the next rain shower drives me back to bed, too.

 

 

Weather: sunny and hot (27°), in the evening rain, short thunderstorm over the night

Journey to Wima Rally 2017 day 1

Where does Theo go?

And where are we going? Correct! To Lodz!  Why are we going there? This year the Wima Rally takes place in Estonia, and we decided to participate there and to enjoy the ride to Estonia to the max.

The last days were just stress. Business trips, and approvals at construction sites, and I finally managed to come home  on saturday.
I had only the evening to pack and to print out the route map for the coming day sections in detail .

Additionally I changed the complete tank lock, as it did block over the last weeks mre and more, and I do not want to risk to get stranded in Estonia on the way, without fuel. Also a small rivet arrived yesterday and I finally could fix a hole in my fairing. But now, we can really start the adventure!  🙂

 

Today it is still cool and the first rays of sunlight flash through the treetops when I do a final farewell round through the park with my dog.

The rest of the family will have to look after him for the next two and a half weeks, because the great adventure of traveling to the Wima Rally 2017 in Estonia starts in 30 minutes.

Su and I meet, as usual, at the Green Mountain, then we will go to Hochleithen together, where Renate will join us.

Su arrives at the meeting point a minute after me, our bikes are filled up, and so we ride further on.

Our two Versys are equipped with the side paniers and a tankbag and in addition with a top case or saddlebag, respectively.
It is always an interesting challenge to estimate the weather and the basic conditions to expect on the journey, and on this basis to estimate the actually required clothing and utensils.

My approach was as follows:

First, everything is spread out at the bed, unnecessary parts will be removed first.
Second, items, only used at the destination, or items used only in emergency cases are in the left side panier. The garment and regularly used items in the easier accessible (right) side panier. The saddlebag is usually equipped with sleeping bag, sleeping mat and other camping equipment, but this time it carries the flags for the national Wima presidents, as well as stickers and pins for the participants of the rally. Our Austrian flags for the parade are stored here, too. For the return way I will use it for my souvenirs. So it does not return empty, the poor one  😉

Renate has arrived in Hochleithen already, she has chosen the Duke 390 for her ride to Estonia and so she will sit the next 2400 km wedged between tankbag, luggage bag and luggage reel on the thin seat, admirably spartan to travel and perhaps also a little masochistic? We will see.

So we take a photo of us, and the big adventure starts.

For the first stage – in Polish Łódź – we only use expressways and highways, according to the plan.

It is also the longest travel distance for a day. After about 650km we should reach our destination in the evening.

The weather is fine and so we drive without great obstacles over the A5, then in Czech the A1, close to Ostrava, where we refuel the first time. In our case, the Duke measures the refuel distances, the Versys covers almost 400km with moderate gait and this will be our pace traveling in the group, nevertheless we refuel in such cases too. Of course, we use these stops also for toilet visits.

Su and I always share a fuel station, so we alternate the payment and do not have to reckon much.
The border crossing between CZ and PL is a new motorway (A1), it was unspectacularly, at the least,  to get through here, only a few signs on the roadside indicate the border crossing, and we are in Poland already.

Here, too, the road continues for the time being without any special incidents, but the motorway soon becomes a kind of expressway with traffic lights. Sometimes we manage to cheat with the loaded machines to the front row, sometimes we just have to wait for the green phases to go on again.

In Czestochowa there is still no bypass, so we have to torment ourselves with the cars through the city. After that, we continue on the same expressway system for a while, until a fully-fledged highway suddenly appears in front of us, this in the area around Kamiensk.

Of course, we have to refuel and so we fill our tanks again in the “same procedure as every tank stop”.

Lodz, Łódz, is already much earlier than expected announced on the signs. Short after Piotrkow over the S12, then over the S8, the S91, and in between there are even smaller exits, which are also signal Lodz as exit.

So, how big is this city? Finally, the expected Lodz Centrum exit appears and we take it, just to turn right at the first roundabout in the wrong direction. Now, you might suspect that there is an alternative route after so many exits to Lodz. That was at least our hope, after we had noticed our mistake, but it took us almost 10km until there was again a possibility to turn towards Lodz and take aim at our hotel.

This we had – on the basis of the good progress done in the afternoon, on the road, with the help of booking.com – reserved and we were not disappointed. Housed in an adapted old factory building, the Hotel Focus offers newly furnished rooms, which also provide a lot of free space, a well-developed Wlan infrastructure (important to keep home updated), a locked parking lot. What can You wish for?

After we had set up – photos of the room afterwards will not be shown – we decided to go by tram to the city center, maybe to eat a little. Because, up to this point, muesli bars were our only food, which was supplemented with plenty of fluids – of course alcohol free.
But, to use the tramways in Lodz isn’t so easy. They drive regularly, but the intervals are about 20 minutes and our tram had just driven off.
Short discussion, we will walk to the center.
Now, in the former Eastern bloc countries there is the tradition to cover pedestrian ways with tiles, but for a long time they do not represent a flat area, anymore. So, a walk on foot means to get to know the ground of a city very thoroughly, but the rest of the city is only very schematic to get to know. This improves however, the closer we get to the lovely restored city centre.
Wima Rally 2017 Tour Day 1Perhaps it was also not so bad to lift the view not too often, the rest of Lodz shows only a glorious past. 😉
In the centre, street musicians and restaurants change at very short intervals and so it is not too difficult for us to find a place where we sit down in the garden in the pedestrian zone and dine delicious Shoarma. Not necessarily a usual Polish meal, but it is excellent. May the following days be as pleasant!  🙂


Returning back to the hotel is easier than in the other direction and en route we discover a few nice sculptures and buildings.
While Su and Renate visit the hotel bar, I return to the room to let the impressions of the day set on me and fill the diary with the first scribbled pages.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Gallery for day 1:

 

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