The Hannover Bike Boys Schahroch Mohsennejad Matthias Peuker Stephen Martin

2003 via Balticum: from Tallinn via Riga to Klaipeda: Log and Links

Day 1,   Fri, June 13th,   Departure from Hannover
The meeting point for the start of the tour is at the front of Hannover's main station. Shari turns up with Mahjid and Catherine also apprears. The first leg is the train from Hannover to Rostock changing at Hamburg. In Rostock, we ride hard to reach the harbour but we make it in time and board the Finnjet. It is no longer the newest of boats but still has some style. Waiting to board we talk to a group of cyclists who are planning to ride from Tallin back to Bremen. We meet several time later on during the tour.Nice on deck in the evening, very warm and thay days are long and there is a full moon. A bottle of Balantines is consumed with the expected side-effects. The pullman seats are too crowded and we all look elsewhere for a quiet spot to kip down. In the morning its bright and sunny as we approach Tallin at around midday. Shari the skipper

Day 2,   Sat, June 14th,   Tallinn
We disembark quickly and head for the B&B office where we are quickly fixed up with an appartment. Its not very central but turns out to be a nice old timber building which is quite modern inside. After a shower and a cold schniztel we head back into town on the bikes to e xplore. Nice city however the main square is overrun by Finns drinking themselves stupid. The Alexander Nevsky cathedral is an impressive sight in the old town but the are apparently some Etsonians who want it demolished. Easy place to explore on a bike.

Day 3,   Sun, June 15th,   Tallinn to Kuijöe, 98 km
Breakfast is a bit industrial and was supplied in it's wrapping the night before. We manage and early start but its quite cold and damp. It takes a while to leave the city boudaries but the cylce path is quite good and well sign-posted. After a while the cycle path finishes and we continue on the road, which is fairly quiet. The roads are flat but there is a strong headwind and we decide not to take the coastal route stop for a break just before Padise. Early afternoon in the woods some way after the town, we stop to set up camp and find a nice sheltered meadow sheltered by trees. One of my tent poles breaks as we a putting up the tents but Matzie has a repair kit. There is a small patch of bare earth and we decide this looks ideal for the campfire and prepare a logfire but don't light it. Matzie prepares our meal on the gas stove and just as we are finished a three people appear out of the trees, look a bit suprised when they see us and then make a bee line for site of the fire. It turns out they have planted potatoes there and we all have a good laugh about it! They give us a spade to dig a new spot for the fire and depart in peace. We enjoy the campfire and the warm light evening, however is seems very cold in the night.
campfire on the potato patch

Day 4,   Mon, June 16th,   Kuijöe to Röude via Happsalu, 86km

Its a night bright morning but we area bit slow in setting off. When we rejoin the road, we meet up again with 3 old chaps from Bremen whom we had met on the boat. We make Haapsalu and stop there for lunch - Pizza and a couple of beers. Nice town on the sea - like a spa town. "Kursaal" on the promenade. We leave the coast and head towards Pärnu, making good progress thanks to a tail wind. Around 5 we start looking for somewhere to camp and follow a sign to an historical monument and follow the track into the woods. After about a mile, we come to a clearing and a house with some interesting wood creations. Its quite intruiging, the house is half-finished but someone is obvously living there. There is a ruined manor house and several picnic areas nicely prepared with logs seat and flowers growing in hollowed-out logs. The mosquitos are bad but we are tired and decide to set up camp on a grassy area near the house. Just as we are erecting the tents somebody turns up on a bike - it seems to be the forrester who lives in the house. He seems quite happy to see us and for us to stay but communication is difficult. He phones a girl on his mobile phone and she talks to me in English and we mangage to sort out the details. Hans, our host, clears the area around the campfire and quickly carves a waste bin from a bit of log with his chainsaw. Impressive. Later he shows us the estate. The house is very "kaput". It used to belong to a German baron. Väike-Rõude. As we are making our tea, Hans is busy and clear a path to the toilet and then goes home to his wife. Great character!. We light a fire to keep the mosquitos away. It's a cold night. .

Day 5,   Tues, June 17th,   Röude to Pärnu, 86km
Hans has prepared the hot water boiler for us before he left so we has a nice warm wash. After breakfast, we set off towards Pärnu. We meet the 3 old boys from Bremen again. Nice cycling on flat roads through woods and past unspoilt meadows. Pärnu seems a lively place and the girl at the tourist office directs us to the campsite which is surrounded by fatories but is next to the river. Friendly girl at the reception. Most of the other guests seem to be from Finnland. The lads from Bremen also staying there. Nice meal in the towm. There is a big beach and some fine villa's.

Day 6,   June 18th,   Pärnu to Kabli, 76km
Today we are heading for Latvia. The road is very good, the going is easy and there is a great smell of pine trees. We take a detour from the route to visit a viewpoint of Pärnu bay. Strange spot - a lot of old containers sitting around a somebody gutting fish and putting them out to dry in the sun. Nice red brick church. The cycle route leaves the main road and follows the old coast road. Very pleasant.

We stop at a museum - Captain Jakop Markson's House. The granddaugter shows us around and talks non-stop. After the museum we look for a camp site but the mosquitos are so big and aggresive we push on toward the border and look for somewhere on the coast away from the trees. Matzie spot an ideal spot - fabulous meadow - wild flower, birds, mild breeze and few mosquitos. Very peaceful. We are glad we have some provisions with us.

Day 7,   June 19th,   Kabli to Saulkrasti, 108km
Peacful night on the meadow apart form the birds. After brealfast we rejoin the old road and soon reach the border crossing at Ikla. First impressions of Latvia are mixed. At Salagoriva we stop to buy water and are overwhelmed by the selection of hard drinks. At Tüjla, we stop and the beach and Matzie goes for a swim. The plan was to head for a campsite at Saulkrasti which is about 40 km short of Riga but the area has bad vibes, the road is busy and there are lots of drunk people around. There is a small hotel thats looks nice and clean and we rent some rooms in a cabin in the garden. Dinner is in a cafe recommended by the hotel. Small place but good service.

Day 8,   June 20th,   Saulkrasti to Riga, 50km
breakfast Nice cooked breakfast in the hotel. The main road into Riga is busy so we turn off and try the road via Carnikava. It is quite cold to we stop for an early lunch - shashlik followed by coffee and brandy. It's raining when we set off again and Matzie has a puncture which he repairs in a bus shelter. The roads are busy and rough but we have no choice but to press on, in full rain gear. Its still pouring when we reach the city centre. breakfast
The girl at the tourist office helps us book an accomodation in the Hotel Multilux in a district called Barona Iela which turns out to be a pleasant suprise - quite big. The stair is a bit like an Edinburgh tenament. After settling in, we head off to tour the old city. It raining when we set off and we have to stop a several cafe's to dry out and warm up. Coffee, beer, pancakes, girls. The rain stop later and the evening is dry. We spend it a square in the old town where there is some live music. The beer is good and we try Riga's amazing garlic bread - seems to be fried, dark and dangerous. The beer is good - Zelta I think. Back at the appartment we make use of the washing machine. breakfast

Day 9,   Sat, June 21st,   Sightseeing Riga
Breakfast is downstairs in another appartment with fried eggs and served by some very busy womenfolk. There is some uncertaintly about the ferry back from Klaipeda and we loose some time trying to sort this out. Out sightseeing starts are the market in the old Zepellin hangers. Very busy and great fun. Then we meet with an old friend of Shari's called Ivars. We enjoy a good meals and a few beers together and then go to look at some of the wonderful art nouveau buildings. There are some suprb examples but also a lot in need of restoration. Afer saying goodbye to Ivars, we go to the local supermarket, making sure we get there before 22:00 as boose if not sold any later than this.

Day 10,   June 22nd,   Riga to Tukums via Jurmala, 102km
We leave Riga after an early breakfast following a cycle path to Jurmala. Somehow we loose Schahroch and at that point I realise I have left my mobile phone in Riga. Fortunately there is a good train service and I am back in Jurmala in time for lunch. It's cold and spirits are a bit low as we set off, folowing the coast road before turning inland towards Tukums. It seems a failry depressing sort of a place. We leave the town to look for the campsite and ask a young lad on a mountain bike, Igor, for directions. He takes through the woods on a difficult track to the campsite where we meet Siegfried who is quite a character and suggest a sauna at 9 followed by more action. The campsite (SVEIKULI) consists of a lonely house, a few containers, a football pitch, a half-finished pond full of frogs and a nice meadow for tents.
We pitch our tents an go of for a walk. It's a fine evening, nice rolling coutryside, very unspoilt and a large population of storks - we count a 12 perched in one tree. Back at the campsite al the other guests have gone and Siegfried is about to leave with his family and dog. One lonely woman remains who manages to find 2 beers. The suana is on as promised.

Day 11,   June 23rd,   Tukums to Kuldiga (midsummer's eve), 98km
We leave the camspite by the normal road, the one we could not find the day before, head back to Tukums and take the road to Kandava. Its a good road with light traffic. The preparations for the midusummer festivities are in progress - most cars are decorated with oak leaves and branches and we see fires have been built and pavilions erected in many places. We stop for a rest at Kandava and go to the supermarket to stock up with supplies (and beer). We are enjoying our beer near the market and one of the market wifies brings us a some bunches or radishes as a present - delicious. Nice countryside on the way to Sabile.
There is not much to see in the town and we can't find a campsite so head on for Kuldiga. Its warm now and we are battling with a strong headwind. By the time we reach Kuldiga we are tired and thirsty and stop for a bear near a fine old bridge. By the time we leave and reach the town centre we find out the town is shut and there are hardly any people around and everything is shut.- everybody has left to go home for the midsummer festivities. A young couple warn us the the hotel reception has just closed and we rush to the hotel - the Jana Nams. Matthias goes round the back and finds a young girl who is very helpful and fixes us up with a double room and a spare bed.
The next problem is eating - all the cafe's are shut but we find a supermarket and stock up with some food which we cook in the room back at the hotel. After resting a bit we head off on our bikes to try and find some action. Most of the festivities seem to be private but there is a fire down near the river and a few people hanging about. There is some loud music and an oper-air dance area but nobody is dancing. Very disappointing alltogether - somehow we have missed the midsummer celebratons. The view over the countryside is memorble - lots of small fires and smoke rising into the pale night sky. Hotel Jans Nams, Kuldiga

Day 12,   June 24th,   Kuldiga to Liepaja, 96km
It cold and damp when we leave Kuldiga after a good breakfast at the hotel. It stays damp and we stop at a cafe for quite some time to warm up and dry our clothes. We try coffee with brandy, coffee with amaretto, coffee with.....
We set off again but by the time we reach Leipaja we are soaked again.
There is no way we are going to camp to we try one of the hotels in the centre of the town - the Liva Hotel. They don't have a 3-bedded room but offer us a suite on the top floor which is magnificent is a soviet sort of a way. We christen this the Brezhnev Suite. The weather improves and we do a bit og sightseeing. There is quite a lot to look at and the city is more interesting that the first impression suggested.
Great meal that evening and then a game of billiards in the Pablo, also known as 'Latvia's 1st Rock Café'.

Day 13,   June 25th,   Liepaja to Palanga (Lithuania), 81km
Today we are heading for Lithuania. We make reasonable progress on quiet roads. Uneventful border crossing. As we get closer to the Palanga, it is clear that this is a major holiday area, lots of cafes and bars.
There is a great cycle path amonsgt the trees but its quite busy. Shari races with a young boy on but his luggage rack breaks as he takes a corner and he crashes off. The boys family catch up and offer to help.
After much discussion we are invited to stay with the famaily and the children are vary excited by this. We go back to their summer house which is quite impressive and have good wash before taking two of the older girls out for a meal. The parents appear just to check up on us.

Day 14,   June 26th,   Palanga to Klaipeda, 52km
It does take long to reach Klaipeda but it takes ages to reach the ferry from the town centre. Uneventful crossing. This is basically a ferry for freight traffic and the eating arrangements are limited and the duty-free shop is tiny. We cook our remaining suplies on the deck.

Day 15,   June 27th,   Keil to Hannover

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