September 03, 2008 GMT
Hull to St Petersburg

We finally left on Sunday the 17th August 2008.
Nick is riding a 1985 R80 GS BMW, I am riding a 1995 R100R BMW Mystic.
The ride to Hull for the overnight ferry was uneventful, which was just as well as we almost missed the ferry. They closed the doors as we were tying the bikes down!

Rotterdam the next day was damp and showery, but we had an appointment to keep with Cor Dees at the Laverda Museum, Lisse. This is a must for any laverda fan, it covers all Laverda Models including some smaller machines which were raced in the classic road races of the 1950's. There are also great old photographs of the racers involved.
Our route then took us over the Afsluitdijk, this is a road along the top of the dam splitting the Zuider Zee, and onto a campsite near Groningen.

Tuesday the 19th of September took us into Germany to a choice of campsites near Scharbeutz, close to the beach. We set up camp and returned to Lubeck for an evening stroll and a beer. The discussion over the beer was interesting as we realised we had bought padlocks and chains, but the approriate keys were back at home. OOPS

Next morning we decided the best option was to remove the locked padlocks and buy some more. The look on Nick's face as I broke the locks off using our tyre levers was a picture!!
This was a day of bridges:-
A small one onto a small island for the ferry crossing to Denmark.
Then a long one in Denmark, The Sydmotorvejen.
Finally the most spectacular of the day, the magnificient Malmo Bridge.
Once in sweden we had diffuculty finding a campsite, they all appear to close around 5 or 6 P.M. Riding through a small town we found a group of local bikers enjoying Frites and Mayo who took us to a B&B. Thanks to Marcus, Matheaus and Emma!!

Thursday, Horby to Kalmar, we took the coast road as it looked more interesting on the map. The road was good and lined with thick pine forests I spent most of the day peering into the trees trying to see an Elk as there were many signs 'advertising' their presence, but no luck!
We rode to a beautiful campsite at Timmemabben on the beach, the best so far. We were the only campers, everyone else were in caravans. They were all concerned that we would not be warm enough in our little tent!

A very early start on Friday, as we have an overnight ferry booked from Stockholm to Tallinn. I found it very difficult as I wanted to spend more time relaxing. It feels as though all we are doing is hurrying through these interesting countries and I want to STOP AND LOOK!!!
One of the longest riding days so far with a few showers, until we get into the outskirts of Stockhlom when the heavens open!! There are very few signs to the ferry terminal in Stockholm and the traffic is heavy, what an experience!
Nick always rides with an open face helmet and finds the huge rain drops painful. He is tring to convert me to open face helmets, today I'm glad of my full face Arai!
We catch the ferry in plenty of time and have a lovely hot shower. A good meal and out onto the deck to watch the Islands drift by in the evening twilight.

Posted by Nick Statham at 10:20 AM GMT
September 22, 2008 GMT
Tallin to the border!

We sailed into Tallin 23rd August, on a lovely sunny morning. We were both looking forward to another new country.
We went straight to the tourist information on the quayside looking for a campsite close to the town. We end up camping on a boatyard which was the yachting venue of the 1980 olympic games. The facilities are adequate, but basic.
We catch a bus into the lovely medieval town of Tallin, which is now very touristy.

The next day it is raining, so we decide to stay another day and spend another day wandering the twisty streets. We visit the excellent Tallin Museum, which covers the history from the towns' medieval roots right up tp the 20th century history. Evenings are always a problem in a tent in the rain so we go to see a film, which is in English but with two diffferent subtitles, Russian and Estonian.

We move on the next day to Saaremaa one of the small islands off the west coast of Estonia. The weather is still not good so we stay overnight in a deserted hotel at Kaali. Next to the hotel is a huge meteor crater, beleived to be one of the last meteor strikes. We are served a breakfast of Estonian porridge, which I believe comprises four different grains and is delicious. This sets us up for a good day's riding to Kuressare. The countryside is flat and a little swampy, some tourist signs claim this is a special wild life area but we see very few wild animals.
Again we go to the Tourist information in the centre of the town. This is staffed by two of the most helpful ladies we have ever come across, and the internet is free in the library!!
We stay at some slightly tired lodges close to the sea, again these are deserted as it is the end of the tourist season. It is quite spooky staying here but we find that the local 10% beer helps calm us nicely.

Wednesday we take the GS and explore some of the island. The main roads have received E.U funding, and are good, but the back roads are mainly packed earth\limestone rubble. We find some picturesque churches and visit the north of the island. Here I atempt to take a nice photo of the bike with the island behind it but manage to get two wet feet despite wearing Doc Martins, much to Nick's delight

Thursday 28th August we move back onto the mainland heading for Tartu. We get a lovely guesthouse in the town of Viljandi. Whilst checking out a hotel in the centre of town we return to our bikes where a waiting taxi driver sends us to his guest house saying the magic words "motorcycle garaging". Not only is there parking but there is a shared kitchen and a cafe is attached so we spend a relaxed evening enjoying the facilities.

On Friday 29th August we get to Tartu and head for the tourist info. Again we fall lucky and the lovely landlady takes one look at us and opens the garage where her son's bikes are garaged.
Tartu is another interesting town, a little like Tallin, but much less touristy and with a lovely relaxed atmosphere. We stay here for two days, one of which there is a free open air music festival. It is so much easier packing when we have been in a B&B, we have a name for packing the bike called "Pannier Wrestling"

Tartu to Narva, not a good day, a cold and wet ride. The highlight (in my opinion) are the amazing stork nests balanced on top of telephone poles, about 1 meter across with the birds standing casually on top.
We arrive in Narva and search for a cheap hotel. We settle for a hotel close to the border. Narva has very little to recommend it and we spend a restless night, apprehensive about our first border crossing, taking us into Russia the next day

Posted by Gill Roger at 01:39 PM GMT

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