Search This Blog

Travel Blog

Travel Blog
Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sweden, the Baltics and Lenin

After the ferry by Hamlet's Castle, arrived in Sweden and went straight to visit another ADV rider inmate who invited me for a homestay. 
When I arrived the questions were; 
Do you want to do laundry? (heck yeah my shoes smell funny) 
What needs to be done on the bike? (check oil, lube chain, clean a bit) 
Anything else? (yes my new antlers don't seem stable) so he had the brilliant idea of putting wire around them and securing them to the helmet, which turned out a good idea because the right one kept laying down in the wind and I would have eventually lost it. 
I called it the lazy antler. 

Then he asked. When and what do you want to eat?
You'll see lots of food photos because just like the Tiger needs fuel, so do I.
Frequently. In large quantities.
So I found a place called 'M.E.A.T' that served the bread in these cute little paper bags. 

Had a perfectly cooked burger and salad.

This cute shop had me in stitches. 
Dad's nickname for me most of my life. 

Walked around town and found a shop that had a bunch of Tin Tin stuff. 
Arka grew up reading Tin Tin stories. 
If I didn't love Grindle so much....
but then Snowy wouldn't be snowy long on my rides. 

Meet my sweet host. 
He even had eggs and three packages of bacon for breakfast. 
I think I cooked all of them.
Cleaned and had a chance to socialize I was ready for more.

I read about these cool spiral trees but they were somewhere else in Sweden then my host said, 'Oh, we have those here, not far and it's a short dirt road' and he plugged it into my GPS and off I went.

They were so eerie. 
It was a narrow small road to get there.
Through farms and fields.

So as you know by now, I'm solo. 
I'm doing what I can to enjoy myself despite the heat. 

Prior to this ride, I had been communicating with multiple people over the ADV forum and due to the strong urging by someone, also Facebook groups for ADV and Horizon's Unlimited. 
I deactivated my FB account a decade ago.
I felt it was a tremendous amount of wasted time.
But like I said, someone urged me and voila I got a couple dozen homestay invites. 
Compared to just a few on ADV. One of them was in the cat house. 
More on that later. 

Or shall I say 'Whereisbobl?' was one possible rider that might meet up with me.
We had talked on the phone before I left the US. 
He has the same motorcycle and is from New Hampshire. 
He's retired so no schedule, no real trip plan, and an Iron Butt rider. 

So this day we were communicating trying to meet up. He was in Southern Sweden too.
And the idea was to meet at the ferry to Lithuania. 
Or before.

So this town had a rebuilt viking fortress and I think I got here just before he did.

Walked around the thing then hit the road.

Today I learned my lesson with Google Maps.
Don't follow it.
It will always send you the fastest way.
Which for touring by motorcycle is no fun.
Except....I did get to take a walk around this windmill.

I had passed it on the way into town but hesitated turning off the road.
Something in my head around jumping the sidewalk and going down a pedestrian path on the motorcycle kept me from stopping. 
Obviously I had no such concern when I had a second chance to go by it. 

The funniest part...had I not listened to Google Maps.
I would have taken the slow coastal road. 
But NOOOO, did a big loopty loop that had me arrive at a roundabout precisely the same time as another Triumph Tiger entered it, who had taken the coastal road.
Yep. You guessed it. 
Bob L. 

He didn't see me, so I leapfrogged cars until I rode up next to him and we both gave each other a "what are the chances of meeting up like this" look and he waved me forward.
See, he already knows I have a plan. 
Much like the Cylon.
And I'm type A. Or so he told me throughout the ride together. 
So he graciously fell in behind me and followed me to Ale's Stones
It looks a lot cooler without a hoard of tourists walking around them. 

I was so excited to meet up with him.
He seemed awfully nice and easy going.
And he obviously had great taste in motorcycles.
Although his Tiger is filthy. 
I was so excited I left my ipod on the seat of my bike.
It was still there when I got back.
With a stern warning from a local who apparently kept an eye on our bikes while we were gone.
But remember, Type A, I had a back up ipod just in such an emergency.

So we rode together to the ferry port and checked in.
It's worth noting how much effort this man went through to meet up on this day.
Book his ticket with a website that won't work.
He had a radiator leak he had to get fixed.
Then his rear tire had a blow out, just like I did in Argentina.
Despite all that he made it.
Once we checked in, we rode into town where we found a place to eat and I sold him on my general philosophy that life is short, especially for motorcycle riders, so eat cake first. 
Which he did. Oh and that was his first experience of my love of parking on sidewalks.
We had a nice get to know each other chat then back to the ferry.

Here is Bob chit chatting with a Lithuanian rider. 

Based on the adamant recommendation of my host the night before, I reserved a bunk in a female only room instead of the chairs in the salon. Boy was that a good idea. This ferry was full of smelly, smoking, drinking, loud, lonely truckers. And I had a pink sweat pants outfit to lounge in.
I have a couple changes of clothes. That's it. Not much more than that. 
So I did my best Unicorn imitation when I passed by them in aforementioned pink sweat pants. 

Arrived the next morning in Klaipeda Lithuania and because Bob made me aware of a time change difference, woke up in time to get ready properly and have breakfast. I was quiet, didn't turn all the lights on but it didn't stop the other two sleepers from glaring at me, until they realized they only had an hour to get ready because they overslept. 

It was cafeteria, on a ferry, type food, but it was food.
First stop. Nida. And the Hill of Witches. 
It sounds wickedly cool so why not?
Even though it was one more ferry.
For those of you having read my blog on the Bulgaria to Portugal ride, you'll know how much I detest ferries and given that Norway has a lot of fjords...but I won't jump ahead, I'll have plenty of time to complain about those ferries later.

At the entrance to the park there were many signs saying 'no this or no that' but the 'do not catch butterflies' one was too funny.

So we walked this neat path through the woods 
with all these awesome witch themed carved wood statues.
This is a stair and slide for kids.
With no warning signs to be careful.
Guess the kids are more careful over here. 

Flying dragon. Bob figured out that some of them were built to move. 
But since then rusted to a single position.

Neat Owl. 
Arka loves owls. 

Oh my gosh!!!

Creepy baby. Soon we will stay in a creepy baby house. 
Again, more on that later. 

Lots of trolls, snakes and weird other things too.

I loved these googly eyes. 

Went for lunch. 
Exotic Chicken Not only for Women.

So I took their advice and had pork. 

Next was a pagan stone on a hill in a national park. 
I trusted Google Maps.
We ended up on a teny, tiny double track dirt road that dead ended on some woman's home. 
Where she was busy beekeeping. 
Good thing she didn't have them trained. 
Whoops. (remember sign)
Turned around and found this cool church.
Next point on my trip plan.

Then.....taa, daah! The Hill of Crosses!

The tinkle, clanging of all the dangling rosaries and crosses was eerie. 
It was still warm but at least only in the 90's. 

We traversed the whole of Lithuania to go all the way to the southeastern border because I found something cool there to see. I worked on Bob to trust me in booking a two bedroom Airbnb. He is a hotel guy. We rode maybe an extra two hours to make it, only to find it was a dump and didn't look anything like the photos, so after much rigamarole, he found a hotel and I found a single studio.

Now it was time for food. This is a tourist town so we found a place playing the Minions movie in Lithuanian and excellent wings. The ones on the right are balsamic and chocolate. 
There was a blue cheese sauce that was amazing with the carrot sticks. 
Boy do I love finding great food.

After dinner, Bob followed me to my Airbnb.
It was dark and late. Probably 11 pm. 
This is the building during the day. 
2nd floor balcony room.
It looked even more questionable the night before.

Rough, cement stairs and dingy entrance.

Up a poorly lit flight of stairs. 
Creepy. Stifling hot. Run down.

Voila. Gorgeously renovated place.
They even had a 3 pack of chocolates and a small split of bubbly!

With a super nice bathroom.

Next morning, I went to meet up with Bob. 
Given my love of the minions, I constantly feel like calling him King Bob.
Anyway, I saw this shop on the way to his hotel and do you get the irony?
Triumph lingerie. 
Bob told me later how these shops drove him bonkers when he was trying to find actual Triumph motorcycle shops. 

First stop on our 2nd day of riding Gruto Park.
This place sounded unreal by my research and it certainly impressed the both of us. 
Founded by a local 'Mushroom Magnate' at the fall of the USSR.

This man went around all the Baltic states and collected statues of the Soviet Regime. 
Much of the youth were tearing them down and destroying them. 

Lot of controversy about this park to this day. 

This woman. 
Professional Revolutionary. 
That was her official title. 
We also saw often, Saboteur. 

To give you a sense of scale. He went all around the countries with giant trucks and cranes. 

Often there were photos of their original place. 

It was always the stern heavy brow.
Oh and a balled fist. 

It's worth saying that nearly everyone that had a statue was executed or killed in combat. 
We started joking about extending my name.
Special Agent Nancy Professional Revolutionary and Saboteur. 

See, balled fists.

And here I am. Having fun with Lenin.

Inside the cafe was the Mushroom Magnate's collection of stuffed animals. 

And one giant soviet era steam train.

On to Trakai Castle and lots of tourist. 
Still hot. 
Had a nice lunch with, aw heck, I'm gonna do it, King Bob. 
Its day two and I'm enjoying riding with him.
Bob has a funny sense of humor. 

Waited quite a while to get this photo without tourists. 

It's common to set up artistic performances inside these old castles. 
This one was an opera.

After that stop, we tooled around, slowly making our way to the Latvia border. 
We rode through beautiful farmlands and rolling hills. 

Stopped for some mushrooms to make in an omelet the next day.

Omelette next day. 
Cooked it in the camp kitchen. 
I bought cream cheese by mistake.
I was hoping for some soft goat cheese but realized my mistake when I opened the package.
The lady who spoke no English did give me a look when I pointed at the package.
Note to self. Pick up on cues. 
Omelette without cheese. 

Oops I skipped a meal. The night before...
Went for a traditional food restaurant where I got a stew and essentially burned all the skin off the roof of my mouth so that afterwards I couldn't really taste it. That's ok. Wasn't very good. 
Bob ordered a an I.P.A beer. The girl corrected him. 'Eepa'.
OK from now on, when I go in a store to buy eggs, I usually pick up an eepa for him. 

Walk back along the river while the sun was setting.
Was the first time it felt like the weather was cooling down a bit.
Being next to water helps.
Errr. wait, water. oh yeah mosquitoes too. 

Oh and don't forget to pick up the dog pooh.
Except this smart little dog is telling their  human to pick it up.
Still haven't translated it. 
Think it's more fun to imagine the dog saying something cheeky like 
"So who's the boss now?"

I love camping. So much easier. 
It's also much cheaper. Still taking cold showers by the way.
Didn't use one bit of warm water. 
Slept really well. 

Tomorrow Riga Latvia. Art Nouveau City.