DAY 1. DIRECTION OF ADVENTURE
Leicester, England –> Ladbergen, Germany (529 miles)
We waited a long time for this, but we managed. We are on the road again. After overcoming some problems related to obtaining approval for holiday, confirming dates and of course the problems of a financial nature, we set off with great pleasure.
We left very early in the morning, at 1.15 am to catch the early ferry. We managed without any problems and after a short nap on the ferry, we moved on. Today we wanted to cover as much ground as possible in order to enjoy the proper journey later on. For the first two days we had to drive about 1000 miles. Prior to setting off we found a campsite at about half way of that distance.
The weather was good. At the beginning it was a bit cold, we drove at night after all, but at least it did not rain. Later the sky cleared up and it got nice and warm. The drive went very well and we did not even feel those miles in our bottoms. When we arrived at the campsite, we treat ourselves to a big pork chops and we went to sleep early in the evening.
DAY 2. WHERE TWO SEAS MEET
Ladbergen, Germany –> Frederikshavn, Denmark (569 miles) –> ferry to Sweden
The day started and ended quite well, but along the way there were a few surprises. Let’s start from the beginning. We woke up early and by 6.10 am we were ready to leave. Although in the morning the weather did look promising, but with every minute it got more and more cloudy. All went well until we got to Hamburg, where while attentively looking for the road no 7, we missed the road no 261, which we had to go to get to the no 7. We’ve gone astray a bit, which resulted in unplanned drive through the centre of Hamburg, but in the end we managed to get back on the route. In Hamburg we put the rain suites on, because the dark clouds were covering the sky. As soon as we left the city it started to rain heavily. After some time it stopped raining, but it was quite cold so we remained in our rain suites on.
We left Germany and entered Denmark, where our proper journey has begun. Through Denmark we generally drove the motorways. Denmark is a lowland country and the road winded through fields and forests arranged in picturesque landscapes. We had a little incident and almost ran out of petrol. In general there were very few petrol stations on the motorway and to not risk that we won’t reach one, we left the motorway and drove into a small town in the search of the petrol station. Fortunately we found it.
As we had some time till ferry departure we decided to visit Skagen, where the waters of two seas meet: The Baltic Sea and The North Sea. We walked quite long distance along the beach to the very point where the two seas waves are crashing against each other. The wind was quite strong, but the sun was shining and the walk was pleasant. Frederikshavn, where we departed from and Skagen are beautiful, picturesque towns, clean, neat, bright and beautifully located. It is a very picturesque part of the country, worth a visit.
DAY 3. SWEDEN BY NIGHT
Goteborg, Sweden –> Camping Bredsand, Sweden (334.1 miles)
After a couple of hours of nap on the ferry we set off at once. It was almost 3 o’clock in the morning, but as we decided earlier we didn’t stop for the night. We managed to get out of Göteborg without any problems and for most of the time we were following road E45 searching for the daylight. As it was, we were sightseeing Sweden by night, although seeing is not the good word because it was dark:) I fought all the time with sleepiness, as on the ferry I couldn’t get any sleep. I had to be on guard, because the eyes were closing by themselves. We often stopped for short breaks to warm and wake ourselves up.
We were following road E45 for most of the time, and later E18. As in Sweden – forests and forests all around. Bu the drive itself was pleasant, even though it was quite cold (a bit from a lack of sleep and a bit from low temperature). Therefore we spent the whole day in rain suites on as the rain clouds hovered over our heads all the time.
Today, according to our agreements, we quite early stopped on the campsite, to make up for the lost sleep and to rest properly. We were a little baffled when we were told to pay for a camping card to be able to spend one night there, but as it was already the second approach to organize accommodation that day, so we just paid it without much protest. After a dinner at a local restaurant we went for a short walk by the lake and then we went to bed early.
SWEDEN – well-marked roads, we never got lost there
DAY 4. THE ÅLAND ISLANDS
Camping Bredsand, Sweden –> Bomarsund, Åland, Finland(152.7 miles)
The previous evening we fell asleep like children and we slept for about 12 hours. We left the campsite just before 9 in the morning, but that was our plan, to get the proper rest. That day we spend a little time on a motorbike, more time on a ferry. We got to Kapellskär. Without any problems and additional charges we rebooked our tickets (we had a reservation for the next day). We had 3 hours of waiting for the ferry. We went back to town in a search for the food, unfortunately without results, so we returned to the marina and had lunch at the local bar.
The sky has cleared up and it got quite warm. The crossing lasted two hours. The sea was calm, so we fully enjoyed the journey. We arrived at Mariehamn and went to explore the island in a search of the campsite. We found a very nice one by the small bay. In the evening we went for a walk to the nearby ruins of the ancient fortress in Bomarsund. Beautiful weather, nice and warm, the setting sun and great views, in such moments the soul rejoices, just simply. As we have already lost track of time (as it is usually the case while traveling) we felt as lost in time and space…
DAY 5. FERRY CROSSINGS
Bomarsund, Åland, Finland –> Camping Lomanauvo, Finland (62.8 miles)
We started the day with packing up the wet tent. We quickly set off in a search of food, as the previous day we didn’t took care of it and went to sleep hungry. We found a supermarket, but we had to wait until 9 for its opening.
We did some food shopping and went to Langnäs hoping that we will be able to cross Åland archipelago, as we didn’t have any reservation for the ferries. We arrived at the docks quite early, had some breakfast and then it started to rain heavily. Without any problems we got onto the ferry, we didn’t even have to pay:) During the crossing it stopped raining. We arrived at Kokär, where we moved inland looking for some food. We drove the entire length and breadth of the island and we found only one restaurant, which however, was open only from 17.00. So we went back to the docks and there we prepared a sandwiches feast, very tasty one to tell the truth.
Onto the next ferry to Galtby they took us without any problems (and didn’t even charge us!). All the crossings through the Åland islands were spent in a very friendly, almost family atmosphere.
As the ferries are the only means of transport between the islands, we were traveling with the same people, and at the last crossing we did not have any worries to leave our equipment inside and go for a while on the outside deck. We were only worried whether we will find an accommodation because it was already quite late. Once we arrived at Galtby we quickly moved on, but soon we were “stopped” by another ferry crossing. Waiting for the ferry our fellow riders, the Finns with whom we had the pleasure to travel through Åland, asked local drivers about campsites. In this way we learned that on the other side of crossing there is one and another one is in Nagu. Immediately after leaving the ferry we rejoiced at the sight of the campsite sign. The reception was already closed, so we quickly found a place and set up a tent as it was already quite dark.
ÅLAND – The archipelago consists of several thousand islands and islets, smaller and larger, mostly flat, but one noticeable thing is an amazing peace and tranquillity all around. No one is in a hurry, it looks sometimes like the buildings are abandoned, uninhabited. Red houses nicely fit into the landscapes of rocks and forests of Åland islands.
NOTE – see Advice/Roads on info how to travel around Åland
DAY 6. ESTONIA
Camping Lomanauvo, Finland –> Tallinn, Estonia (177.5 miles)
In the morning we packed up shortly after 8 o’clock. We wanted to pay, but as the reception was closed till 9 so we decided not to wait and we moved on. We arrived at Turku where we turned onto the road no 110 towards Salo and then no 52 south, no 25 and no 51 towards Helsinki. The route was very nice, the road meandered through the forests, sometimes lakes, rocks and fields full of ripe grain. Pleasure for the eyes. We arrived at Helsinki and we went inside the ferry terminal. There we were greatly surprised by the price of tickets to Tallinn (€113), but anyway.
With tickets in hand we returned to the bike and at that moment our faces got pale. We noticed that the rear tyre was so worn out that the wires started to pop out!!! “Well, we have a problem” – our first thought. We moved to the queue for the ferry thinking how we can find out where to change tyres. One thing was certain – it had to be done as soon as possible and it meant staying for the night in Tallinn, where we had the best chance of finding a garage. Fortunately for us, a motorcycle rider from Estonia stopped right behind us in the queue, as it turned out later he was from Tallinn! We quickly used the opportunity, we explained the situation and asked him for help in finding a place where we could replace the tyres. On the ferry we got hold of a map of Tallinn and our colleague explained to us where we should go. We were very grateful to him.
On the map we also located a campsite in the city and there we went. However it turned out that it had no free spaces because they were reserved for the military group. There we met a group of Poles, in four jeeps, who were also looking for places for tents. We were pointed to another camping, where we headed. It was a city camping at the marina with only few places for tents. To take a shower we had to go to a nearby tennis club and pay €3, but at least the water was warm.
Already during the crossing the wind was blowing very hard and towards the evening the wind picked up even more. The masts of yachts moored at the marina were doing a lot of noise, it was difficult to sleep.
DAY 7. BOOTIES FOR „BUSU”
Tallinn, Estonia –> Kuru, Estonia (169.4 miles)
During the night the wind was blowing hard, but fortunately before morning it calmed down. We packed up quickly and set off in a search of booties for Busu.
The first problem was to find BIKER24 shop, which was pointed to us the previous day, we managed to find it. Unfortunately the shop was open only from 10.00, so we had an hour of waiting. We used that time for a quick breakfast. With every minute the sky was clearing up and it was getting warmer. At 10.00 Marcin went to sort out the tyres. They didn’t have the one we wanted, but on offer were similar ones and most importantly they could replace them straight away, which they did. With a wallet lighter of €335, happily we moved on again.
We went through Tallinn and followed the road no 1 along the coast. Along the way we drove through the national park Lahemaa Rahvuspark. It was a pleasant drive, and the road was nice and the surroundings pleasant for eyes. We drove through the Võsu – a charming seaside town hidden in the forest, which captivated us. Estonian cottages – wooden, old, faded but how enchanting, hidden among the trees and the life going on in its own, slow rhythm.
Then we went through Kunda – like a completely different world. Grey, dark, industrial city (sawmills, cellulose) with empty streets looked deserted. And there you can notice the difference between the West and the Nordic countries, and the East – it is dozen years of difference in development. This country remembers the Russian-communist influence. Along the way we passed a lot of plants, however all of them neglected with their glory days long gone, but everything was still somehow working.
We also wanted to see Valaste Juga (north from Johvi) – a picturesque waterfall, which reveals layers of soil. The signposts led us to the place, but the attraction was actually closed for tourists. The remains of the viewing platform all rusted, gates closed with padlock, all around overgrown. It is a strange thing, as it is marked on the maps, sings lead to it, but you can’t see it, which is a pity, as for sure it would be well worth.
We found a very nice campsite that day, but trying to communicate with the owner a little misunderstanding came out, he thought that we wanted to rent a cabin and we wanted a place for the tent. But as the owner quickly recalculated the price, so for a €25 we didn’t have to unpack the tent and we had the pleasure of sleeping in beds.
ESTONIA – well marked roads, even to the smaller towns, however not of good quality
DAY 8. SPECIAL STAGES
Kuru, Estonia –> Kekava, Latvia (276.6 miles)
After a good night’s sleep, we quickly packed up and set off. Already in the morning we were bombarded with signs informing about smoked fish for sale.
Unfortunately, most booths were still closed, as it was still early in the morning. When finally we had an appetite for these fish, we could not find a place to buy them. Therefore we were driving rounds near the Peipsi Lake hoping that we will find something. Unfortunately, we had to stomach the disappointment, maybe another time…
We were heading in the direction of Latvia, to Valga. There we refuelled the bike and did some shopping in order to operate the Latvian currency as little as possible. We crossed the border and headed for Gauja National Park to visit a few places of interests.
However we haven’t even got to the first place and we already had enough. This because of the poor quality of roads, to be more precisely gravel roads. We were driving rounds unable to find the right way and tired of that we agreed to give up on any attractions in that park. We got to the road A3 and headed towards Riga, hoping that we will be able to drive through smoothly. We reached the ring road and as it was already a bit late, we decided that we will stop on the first campsite on our way. And so we did. We found ourselves on a very charming site, by the river, where in the evening in the rays of the setting sun, we were planning our journey while sipping tea.
LATVIA – nightmarish roads; side roads are mostly gravel roads, or simply field roads. These major ones not any better, because of the hole over the hole, patch over the patch. Poor access to tourist attractions due to the quality of roads, but also due to poor markings, actually a lack of markings.
DAY 9. ON THE SPIT
Kekava, Latvia –> Nida, Lithuania (277.7 miles)
We greeted another beautiful day. Unfortunately I did not feel so “nice”. The day before I started to feel the soreness in the throat and I couldn’t sleep all night because of that, and in the morning I did not feel well. I think I caught a chill at the marina in Tallinn.
We packed up quickly and moved on passing through the Kemeru National Park. It was a pleasant drive, woods and forests all around, pleasant coolness of the morning and clear sky. We headed in the direction of an attraction called Pokaiņu Mežs. On the way in Dobele we bought some medicine and surprisingly quickly we found the right way. The road was of not good quality, and the last part was obviously gravel road, but this time we did not give up. There we agreed with the little old lady and for 4€ we went on a tour of the forest. Pokaiņu Mežs is an old forest, full of good energy (so they say), full of stacks of different sized stones of unique shapes or making up various formations such as stone brook. A very large area to explore but we had enough at the first stage of the tour.
We walked into the woods without the map and we started to wander around. Once we managed to get back to the motorcycle we agreed to give up on next stages. So we ate breakfast and headed towards Lithuania.
We crossed the border in Ezere and without any major stops we moved towards Klaipeda, to cover ground quickly. We only stopped in Kretinga to do some shopping and eat something – we bought meat dumplings with sauce, which we quickly ate and moved on. Losing our way in Klaipeda (the marking of direction were breaking off at some points) we finally got to the ferry crossings to Neringa, from where we started our search for a campsite. We admired incredibly looong queue of people returning from the weekend rest on the spit. Note: there is a charge for entering the spit! We got to Nida, on the very end of the Lithuanian part of The Curonian Spit, and there we stayed.
LITHUANIA, LATVIA – poor markings of tourist attractions and nightmarish roads (but I’ve already mentioned that)
DAY 10. THE WALK
Nida, Lithuania –> Trakai, Lithuania (304.8 miles)
We were woken up by the rain. I barely slept again because of the sore throat. We got up quite early with the intention of driving as many miles as possible. Before that however we wanted to have a walk on the dunes. We wandered around searching for a spot, from where we could get to the Juodkrantė dunes. Finally we came across a forest path, where signs showed 1.7 miles to the dunes. We decided to go. So we walked, and walked and walked, it was getting hotter and more difficult to walk in all the motorcycle clothes.
We came to a crossroad, unmarked of course, and not knowing where to go and where we can end up, we decided to go back. We moved on, but unfortunately somehow we turned in a side path (and yet it seemed to us that on the way to, we walked only one, main path). When we realized that it wasn’t the right path we started to wander around, choosing at random paths at a crossroads. So we were wandering, angry because we did not see much and we wasted so much time. Finally we managed to get back to the motorbike. We quickly drove away from there.
However we decided to stop at the next parking to eat some breakfast. It turned out that the car park was the right starting point for a walk to the dunes. Marcin did not feel like going and we decided that he will prepare breakfast and I will quickly run to the dunes. So I ran, to the top of the dunes, a few quick photos, and ran back down. The weather was beautiful, even too hot for such an exercise.
After these adventures we finally were back on the right track, on the motorway to Kaunas and Vilnius. We made up for some miles, the drive was going well, the weather was nice. On the way we visited Cultural Reserve of Kernavė and its main attraction which are settlements. We also wanted to explore the Europas Parkas, but as it started to rain heavily, we did not see any point in wandering around the park in helmets on our heads and in the rain suites.
We turned back then and headed to Trakai and arrived at the lake, where we found the campsite. Immediately after setting up the tent we went to the local restaurant and indulged ourselves in the local cuisine.
DAY 11. MASURIA
Trakai, Lithuania –> Tumiany, Poland (311.5 miles)
We woke up in a completely wet tent. It did not rain, however it was very humid in the little valley near the lake.
So we packed up wet stuff, took few photos of the Trakai Castle in the morning fog and we moved on. We headed to Dzūkija National Park, where we made sure to pay a visit to the Marcinkonys village. A very beautiful park, adapted for tourists, with picnic sites. We also stopped at Merkinės piliakalnis – remains of the ramparts, embankments, which offer a beautiful view of the Niemen River.
Next we moved towards the Polish border and headed to Suwałki. We stopped in the city for a while, in order to decide where to go next. We decided to take the tour around the Mamry Lake. In Ogonki at the lake we stopped in a restaurant because we already had an appetite for a smoked eel. And there we were a little disappointed, because they gave us a cold one from the fridge, and we were expecting a warm one straight from the smokehouse. Then we moved on towards Kętrzyn, but we were going very slowly due to the omnipresent road works. The route is very picturesque, the drive was pleasant, just very long. In Kętrzyn, we took the opportunity to visit the castle.
Then we got on to the road no 16 towards Olsztyn. There was little traffic on the road, and the surface was of good quality so the drive was going really well. It was already quite late, so as soon as we spotted a sign for a campsite we headed there at once. We got to a very nice camping in Tumiany, located by the lake. The only downside was to set up a tent, as it was completely wet. We ended the day positively, enjoying the tea.
WARMIA AND MASURIA – beautiful region, lots of woods and lakes
DAY 12-15. KONSTANTYNOWO AND KOSTRZYN NAD ODRĄ
Tumiany, Poland –> Konstantynowo, Poland –> Kostrzyn nad Odrą, Poland (338.6 miles)
DAY 16-17. THE WAY BACK
Kostrzyn nad Odrą, Poland –> Leicester, England (869 miles)
We left quite late, around 9 am, but that was our intention, as we wanted to spread the return way over two days, with an overnight stay. The drive was going well, the weather was on our side and before we noticed we were already in the Netherlands. After brief considerations, we decided that since it was going so well so we won’t stop for the night, but we will get home.
We set off in the direction of Dunkerque. We bought tickets for the ferry and at 22.00 pm we left the port. On the ferry we had dinner and we laid down for a short nap. After we left the ferry, once we gathered the speed we’ve done 68 miles and only then we stopped. It was quite cold, so I put the rain suite on. The drive wasn’t going so well, because of the fatigue and sleepiness. We stopped once more for refuelling and with heavy eyelids we got home at about 3.00 in the morning. Then we quickly jumped to bed.