A Travellerspoint blog

Days 66 and 67

Stockholm

We spent most of these 2 days trying to sort out our onward travel plans. It's still too cold, too snowy and too mountainous to get safely to the very North of Norway and back down on motorbikes, but rather than curtail the route we still wanted to head all the way up somehow and take the bikes with us if we could. We explored all manner of solutions involving trains, boats, cars, transporters and vans and kept hitting brick walls (figuratively). At one point we were seriously considering hiring a van and loading the bikes in to drive North, then ferry back South to drive back to Stockholm in a 2500 mile oval loop, before realising that that was ludicrous, so we finally found a compromise: we will catch the train up to Narvik inside the Arctic Circle, get a bus to Tromsø and from there catch a ferry down the West coast to Bergen. From Bergen we can work our way back across to Stockholm and pick up the boys to continue the riding via Götenburg.

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With the train tickets booked we had an afternoon to kill. After a lazy lunch we tried to catch a film, but had issues with the listings and ended up in a couple of pubs for some beer instead!

We got on the train in the nick of time and found our way to our double cabin. More James Bond thoughts, but there was no-one hidden inside. We read and went to sleep hoping Jaws wouldn't burst in in the night . . .

Posted by EdAndJames 08:50 Archived in Sweden Comments (1)

Days 64 & 65

Stockholm

sunny 8 °C

After breakfast we sampled a bit of culture in Helsinki. I tried to go to the modern art gallery, but like most galleries I try to go to it was closed, so we both went to a design museum instead and saw an exhibition on the best of Finnish graphic design 2008 which was very good.

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Later on we saddled up and rode 2 miles to the ferry port and parked on-board amongst the cars and lorries. It was a huge ferry with 11 decks and was the first boat that we had been on with electric doors and lifts! The sailing was a long one to Stockholm, so we had a James Bond style folding-bed cabin as well. We set sail at around 17:30.

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The ferry was surprisingly presentable as well and we had some dinner in a nice restaurant before taking in the dodgy dancing at one of the clubs. After that we found a pub to sit at and enjoyed a guitar man playing classics. Finnish people seem to be very easily pleased and they can definitely handle their drink too!

We woke up pulling in Stockholm, 300 miles later, passing the small gaps between the hundreds of islands dotted around.

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As we got off the ship the local police were breathalysing every driver which I suppose isn't a bad idea. We rode the 6 miles to Jamie and Paulina's place (Jamie is the good friend of a good friend of Ed's!) through central Stockholm which we both thought straight away was really nice. After lunch with our hosts we went into town to explore and took in the sights at the waterside and visited the modern art and architecture museum.

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When we got back their young daughter Emelie was pleased to see us and found our level very quickly by shouting poo and wee-wee at us in Swedish for an hour or so.

Jamie and Paulina cooked us a lovely meal and we took Jamie out for some beer with Paulina's brother Erik and took in the 'sights' before returning home to bed.

308 miles in 2 days felt easier than normal!

Posted by EdAndJames 05:45 Archived in Sweden Comments (2)

Day 63

Helsinki

overcast 3 °C

We had a rather expensive breakfast at the Ibis we had stayed in overnight. Nice though!

We were off on the road at 12pm but knowing we would gain an hour going into Finland! So 11am really! We navigated through St. Petersburg fairly successfully until there was a slight misunderstanding as to the direction we should be going and we sat waiting for each other for 20 minutes 1 mile apart!

The weather was fairly bitterly on the road and didn't climb much above 4 degrees and when your hacking along on a motorbike at 70mph it feels a lot colder! The road was in far better condition than coming from Estonia to St. Petersburg much to our relief.

We stopped for some petrol quite soon after leaving and are still quite surprised at the price......20p/litre. A quick bite to eat as well and then to the border.

The border was smooth enough both getting out of Russia and getting into Finland. We arrived at 4.15pm and were on our way by 4.30pm. We had altered our clocks as well mind you!

Then we sped to Helsinki without drama, (except perhaps for the extra 1 Euro on the petrol!) arriving at around 7.30pm. A quick face wash and we headed out to eat. The hotel receptionist recommended if we like garlic we go to a restaurant around the corner called Kynsilavkka, which is Finnish for Garlic! Some very nice food though, but the smell may last with us for some time!

255 miles ridden today.

Posted by EdAndJames 01:25 Archived in Finland Comments (0)

Day 62

St Petersburg

We had given ourselves a short leg to St Petersburg today, our most Easterly destination, and with hindsight that was a good decision.

After breakfast we packed up and as we were about to leave noticed the F1 qualifying on the telly, albeit in German. We delayed our departure!

After a lunch at the hotel we headed for the Russian border. It was all quite methodically laid out and we were a dab-hand at filling the forms out, but it still took around an hour an a half to get through.

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We kitted up an headed off East only to be stopped at a police checkpoint 500m down the road and asked to show everything again. 10 minutes later we were on our way again.

The Russian countryside was in a word broken. Brown, bleak, frozen and with a horrific road surface. No worries about speeding tickets for most of the ride as we couldn't do more than a few miles an hour picking our way around enormous potholes, cracks, and completely broken tarmac. Straight into the top 3 for contention as the worst road we've experienced.

We got to the sprawl of St Petersburg and spent a fair while homing in on the centre and despite the frustration finally found a part of the city to appreciate and shortly after that another helpful biker at work in his van who guided us in the right direction.

Helsinki is the plan for tomorrow then, starting back West, but it has started to snow quite heavily outside as we eat our dinner . . .

110 difficult miles makes 11 119 miles total.

Posted by EdAndJames 14:00 Archived in Russia Comments (1)

Day 61

storm 6 °C

Narva

I spent a frustrating half hour or so trying to put a replacement bulb into my headlight assembly this morning. I was getting angry with myself for being so inept at clipping it in until I realised that part of the assembly was broken off and there was nothing to clip it in to. I settled for the previous bodge and we set off from Pärnu into the sunshine and a noticeably warmer air.

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Stopped in Tallinn for a very healthy lunch and spent a while outside talking to the porter who spoke about 7 languages and was dressed in period costume apart from his trainers sticking out underneath!

As we headed East along the coast passing more ice lakes it started raining and getting cold. Passing a place called Püssi it was getting quite wet, but rather than stop for a cuppa we carried on to Narva and our hotel just a few miles shy of the Russian border.

We had a nice dinner downstairs where there was some sort of function on and a guy placing cheesy guitar along to his backing tracks!

222 miles today.

Posted by EdAndJames 00:25 Archived in Estonia Comments (1)

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