Hannover to Arnhem and home

Weather is deftly improving. A quick 200mile blast up the Autobahn into Holland and to Arnhem. Quite a big town, bikes everywhere, difficult to see what was road bike lane or pavement. A really relaxed atmosphere to the police with lots of outdoor cafes and restaurants. The people all seemed to be very laid back, all ages cycling. The scooter drivers do not seem to wear helmets.


Pig


We visited the Airborne museum, the whole trip since Russia we have been tripping over the effects of WWII. Good museum and tribute to both the Axis powers and the Allies.

Homeward Bound


We are going to catch the ferry from the Hook of Holland and will disembark in Harwich at 6.30am. It seems like we have been away for ever.

Berlin to Hannover 180 miles

Had a nice couple of nights in Berlin. Toured the old Jewish Quarter. All very smart now, although still very sad. Lots of old factories with multiple courtyards have been turned into very trendy shopping areas. Went on a river cruise in the afternoon.

Reichstag


You know when you are in old East Berlin by the bullet holes still present on the older buildings and bridges. In the evening watched Germany play Sweden by the Brandenburg gate. The equivalent of watching England play in Trafalgar Square.

Bullet Holes


Berlin is relatively a small city and it benefits by this fact.


Germany v Sweden

Took the bike out of the garage, going around the barrier to avoid a €80 parking charge, only to find we had a puncture in the rear wheel, managed to plug it, but there is always some negative feeling riding a bike on the Autobahn with a plugged tyre. Made it to Hanover, lots of rain showers and wind. Hanover has a huge VW plant making T series vans and Amroks. Centre is very smart, but to tired to do any sights. Arnhem tomorrow, must see the bridge, unless it to far.

Szczecin to Berlin 88 miles

Nice short trip to Berlin. No rain, no roadworks. Had to buy new gloves on the way out of Szczecin, ours were still soaking wet. Hotel this time is the Uber smart Hotel Adlon. 5 star luxury, even 'The Rolling Stones' are currently in residence here. They are on tour and perform in the Olympic stadium tonight. Room is so smart it has a Nespresso machine, what bliss. Had a nice walk around The Tiergarten this afternoon, a huge park with a boating lake and beer garden as well.


Adlon Hotel


Coming off the Autobahn it was one 7mile straight road to the Brandenburg gate, which is where the hotel is situated in Pariser Platz.

Brandenberg gate



Sampled the local cuisine, a curry wurst, thought to have originated by the British Soldiers occupying Berlin after the war, basically curry powder sprinkled over the tomato sauce dressing.

Curry Wurst

Gdansk to Szczecin 225 miles

Another long day. Had a walk around Gdansk in the morning. Really hot at 8.00 am. Gdansk's really beautiful and in really good condition with excellent roads and buildings. The harbour side in Gdansk was being renovated, there were some old buildings as well as the rebuilt faux ones destroyed in the war.


Market sq Gdansk

Our ride today was horrendous. As we headed north to the Baltic coast the temperature was 29 C. Turning west we had gale force winds. When you see wind turbines you know its going to be windy. Turning south we had a respite from the wind, but it decided to chuck it down with rain for the last 100 miles. The temperature dropped to 12 C. More road works, so in all it took about 6 hours. Got into Szczecin soaking wet. Szczecin was originally German with a population of 300,000. Like Kaliningrad all the germans were moved out and the border moved so it became part of Poland. The population dropped to 26,000 in 1945. It has now grown to 400,000.

Harbourside

Kaunas to Gdansk 308miles

Only 308 miles but it took 10 hours. Poland is far more prosperous that Lithuania and Latvia. Even the older houses have been double glazed. There are a lot of new motorways being built and the large towns are only now being by-passed. So it can take forever getting around the towns. We would have better either going the back roads or cutting through Kaliningrad. Did go on a lovely "A" road through lakes and valleys, nice and twisty and undulating. Most of the roads through the Baltic countries were straight across wet lands.


Craft Beer Hotel


Staying at The Craft Beer Hotel. Surely a model for every hotel!!

Pskov to Kaunas 320 miles

Quite a long day today with a border crossing. The border was completely empty, very strange, just 3 cars and us. Got through in about an hour. Latvia was just as officious as Russia, for the first time ever I had to show my driving licence and insurance. You can print any insurance you like if they don’t check it. Just as well Russia didn’t ask!! The roads in first Latvia and then Lithuania were very good. Road signs proclaimed that the EU had sponsored 47,000km of road building. An amazing amount of money.LithuanisLenin2.to keep the Baltic states in Europe and annoy the Russians.
Gdansk tomorrow. Have to say I think most of our problems are attitude, Worried driving in Russia-Why? Just perception really.


St Petersburg to Pskov 177miles

Left St Petersburg for Pskov. Massive 8 line straight road out, new motorway to airport and then a mixture of the good the bad and the ugly in road terms, plus road works. The standard of driving verges on the suicidal. The hotel in Pskov was old school. £26 per night. No lift. Tons of staff, 3 cleaners full time for each floor and some old lady constaMemorial to the siege of Leningradntly sweeping the car park. Pskov is a 14-15th Century walled town with lots of historic buildings, badly affected by WW11.



Pskov Hotel

Peterhof

Our last day in St Petersburg. Went to Peterhof. Peter the Great‘s summer palace. Took the Hydrofoil boat from near the Hermitage. Massive grounds a bit like Versailles.



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Lots of fountains and separate little palaces, so that the Tsars could experience middle class life. All in all, a great tourist experience.





Frog



Tomorrow we leave for Pskov.





Pyramid fountain





Walked done to the Hermitage today. Huge great palace, renovated after WW2 but the scars are there. Also went on the Metro, not as extensive as the underground but very deep. Went round St Issac’s Cathedral, now basically a museum, all renovated after the precious remodelling by Adolf Hitler, that renowned interior redecorator and exterior redecorator as well.


church of spilled blood



Relaxing in our tiny room

Helsinki to St Petersburg 240miles

Reaching St Petersburg was quick and easy. The border crossing was the usual bureaucracy. On a motorbike we were summoned to overtake the queue. If I could have been quicker if I had filled in the customs form correctly. The road to St Petersburg was good, however as it was single carriageway the lorries


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drove half in the hard shoulder to let vehicles overtake. Reminded me of Mexico. Some cars were doing ridiculous speeds I was undertaken by a merc doing at least 120 mph. The traffic in St Petersburg was grid locked, but sally sat nav got us to the correct destination. Have not seen a single foreign plated vehicle yet. The bikers all wave but a lot of stony faced stares from the car drivers. Hotel is basically a converted apartment. Huge with a bath and a piano, guess the hassle in getting it down the stairs made it easier to leave it behind. It’s the Hermitage today and more sight seeing.

Helsinki


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Vaasa to Pori 120 miles



On the ferry managed to pick up some duty free wine, balanced the bike up very nicely. We were the only bike on the ferry. Have not seen a UK plate yet since leaving England

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Fro Vaasa we headed to Pori, quite a nice medium size town on a river. Already you can see differences. Finland is a much more European country. The speed limits are higher and the alcohol cheaper. Wine is only sold in stae owned shops called Akol! Beer is sold in supermarkets but only up to 5.5%. There is a crazy amount of high strength beer here. Ate in a vaulted cellar under the Rudhaus. Picked herring and Finnish white fish and smoked salmon, really good stuff. Also tried to leave the hotel without paying. Finland is the first place we have stayed where they didn’t take payment first.




Cellar

Crossing the Golfe De Botnie

Just caught the ferry from Umea to Vaasa in Finland en route to Pori.

Dolphin?Wasa Ferry

Mo i Rana to Umea 286 miles

Chilly start from Mo I Rana. Even colder as we climbed to cross the border into Sweden. 3.5 degrees is a bit much on a motorbike. However the Swedish roads were fantastic. Zero traffic, any car you saw was commented upon. All the cars are like rally cars with 3 to 4 extra large spots added. What its like in the winter I dread to think. It soon warmed up to 23 C. Sweden is marginally cheaper than Norway. Stayed at Umea a pretty university town on the river.

Crossing the borderNice road

Pining for the Fjords

Followed route 17 which is Norway's coastal route which includes lots of ferries. Wet misty day so no pictures of stunning fjords. We got to Mo I Rana where we were staying dumped the luggage and headed north for the Artic Circle. I estimated it was 30 miles, turned back at 45 miles no circle. There are road works all the way to Narvik, must be costing a fortune. Back at the hotel using google maps it was 81 km from Mo i Rana so we were short by 3 miles. Rhonda most upset. I was most upset that a beer and a bottle of wine cost me £66. The tax on the alcohol is funding the roads. In spite of that gravel is following us around. Even saw "Gary the Grader"

Ferry across the fjordyGravel

Trondheim to Sandnessjoen 286 miles

Tried some klipperfish in Trondheim last night a type of salted cod, quite nice better than baccala. Leaving Trondheim a reasonable amount of traffic which disappeared past Seinkjer. Then nothing but empty roads and camper vans. Lots of tree lined valleys and roads twisting around following the river. Not sure how Sandernessjoen existed in the past as now it is quite ferry port accessible by a 11km tunnel and a bridge and causeway. Tomorrow, Mo i rana and the Artic Circle.



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Oslo to Trondheim 326miles

Nice ride through river valleys and finally high across moorland to Trondheim Noway is never going to become a stag venue with beer at £10 a pint. But it is a beautiful place. Trondheim has some great old warehouses and is a typical port town.


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Bike pick up Oslo

Oslo to Trondheim 326miles Read More…

Arrived in Oslo

Well, we made it to Oslo. Only forgot my mobile phone, iMac charger, contact lens solutions. So about par for the course. Can't charge up my Revolut card but what the hell. Have just had a fantastic meal of whale!!! and Hake. The whale was a dark meat, I suppose not surprising as it is a mammal but nothing like fish at all. What type of whale? Sustainable I hope. Saw an Egg outside a wine bar so John should be happy here. Bought a box of wine in the duty free at Oslo which is in the baggage collection area. ( what a great idea) for £20 A beer and a small glass of wine in town was £22.


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