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May 23rd 2011
Published: May 23rd 2011
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Well, it's been a few days now since I last wrote and i can say i have finally got some kilometers under the belt (and in my legs). Yay! But not today. Four days of riding, a little bit of rain and already I'm calling a rest day. Not bad eh?

But first, the nightmare that was trying to get out of Tallinn. As you know, not the most adept at map reading but... to say I was lost was an understatement. In my defence though I will add that the bike paths do not follow the roads as such and so I managed to get completely off track. I think I found the right road after some 10km of cycling aimlessly in circles. But once out, well what a relief. I had hoped to make it to Haapsalu which was some 100km away. I think I could have made it if not for the unfortunate beginning. Still, it was a pretty good effort to get to just near Linnamae (a little town 12km or so from Haapsalu). I found (read surprised) the owners of a farmstay and had the most wonderful night's sleep (aided somewhat by 1/2 litre of Saarama beer which does kick quite a punch as far as beer is concerned).

I was bound for Hiiumuu island the next day but, as luck would have it, I didn't time my arrival too well and just missed out on the 10;30 ferry so had to wait until 14:30 for the 1,5 hour crossing. But I was blessed with lovely weather and provided with a perfect opportunity to sit back and do nothing.

I really enjoyed riding on Hiiumuu island and in fact, so far at least, I get a really positive vibe from this country and people. The riding has been spectacular on brilliant smooth roads with lovely hard shoulders so no one (me) gets in the way. I have been told that it's not necessarily so further in the west of the country. Oh dear.

That evening I was heading towards Kärdla but, as the guesthouse was fully booked and I didn't fancy riding another 11km to where I was told was some nice camping I headed towards Tubala instead. I seem to be taking many cabin/farmstay owners by surprise because it seemed my arrival was something of a shock. What, you want to camp? Why, it might rain. It might get cold. Better you stay in the cabin. Yeah, ok whatever. I'm tired. Showers seem to be something of a novelty when you camp in the cabins it seems. I showered in their own bathroom. That was kind of weird going through the house, towel in hand whilst dinner was being prepared. Still, I think I've done weirder.

The next day started early as there was no tent drying involved. The road, although normally very quiet, was even more so. Normally you can hear cars and trucks approaching from quite a while away and but I really did have it all to myself for quite a long time. It was a beautiful way to start the day. Just with birdsong and the sound of my not-so-oily chain going around. The stillness really is other wordly here. And the trees. There's lot of them. Beautiful forests of birches and pines (gives new meaning to the term Baltic pine), bogs (!!), and the most gorgeous abundance of wildflowers. Add to that no wind, flat smooth roads, cool crisp air with sunny skies and you have the making of a perfect cycling holiday.

I was riding the secondary road number 81 to Käina and then around on an even smaller road to Kasseri and Sääretirp. Now there was a lovely place to camp! Out by sea, no one around but the birds. But it was onwards. I had another ferry to catch, and as there are only two every day on the weekends I really did not want to miss it. I think I was overly paranoid because I got to Söru with a couple of hours yet to kill. But it was a decent ride that day, with an early start so when I got to Saaramaa island I just wanted to find somewhere to sleep. And I found the perfect place in Kongi Farmstay. It had a windmill which I got to spend the night in. It was undeniably cozy and that was just with me in it. Add another bunk and well, really you would have had to take turns to move. It made for a squeeze and that was just with me (plus all my stuff!), There was also a bird watching tower which was wonderful. There was only enough room for the comfortable, cowhide covered stool but it was so wonderful being up there and watching the birds in Triigi Laht. It was yet another wonderful way to spend the time. There were lots of terns, swans and herons and in the tower a little book to record the sightings. I wish I'd brought my binoculars.

The following day (yesterday) I was Kuressaare bound and where I am at the moment. Again, another wonderful day's cycling with the skies even bluer and the sun even stronger (I ended up with a not-so-wonderful red nose at the end of yesterday and am already getting that weathered look ie freckles and straw-like hair).

The scenery is markedly different to what I experienced in Hiiumuu. More wide open spaces, agriculture is quite predominant here too. Windmills here too as on Hiiumuu (can't keep track of how many photos I now have of windmills) and churches. It makes me wonder about the population of this island in days of old. The churches are almost cathedral like in scale, especially the one I saw in Kaarma,

I also spent a fair bit of yesterday getting lost. Surprise, surprise. So I decided, that as I'm still cycling during my lost time I need to be keeping tabs on it. Hence today I bought, and got fitted, a speedometer. I also asked the good man at the bike shop to look at my rear brakes because yes, one side was rubbing on the rim (!!), oil my chain because yes, it was noisy (!!) and pump up my tyres because, yes they were flat. The bike shop only charged me for the speedometer and not for any other labour. Even when I offered. The Estonians are a pretty reserved bunch, but I've found if you ask for help, they are they for you. And polite. Ever so polite. Now, if only I could understand what they're saying...

Today I spent the day with a Dutch man who is also cycling (fancy a Dutch man cycling) and staying at this hostel. So we spent some time cycling around, some time walking around, some time eating and some time doing stuff like trying to find methylated spirits for my camp cooker. We shall soon find out if what I bought is what it should be... just need to make sure I have an extinguisher nearby in case it turns nasty.

Random meat. I've had a fair bit. But not always because I mean to. The other day I bought what I thought was a beetroot salad composed of, what I thought was a ridiculously high ratio of mayonnaise to beetroot only to find that they had also shoved bit of ham in there as well. Ugh. Think I'll just stick to the processed meat from now on.

Anyway, tomorrow it's onwards again. I hope to make it to just near Kuivastu and then take the ferry back to the mainland the following day. All going well I will be in Pärnu in 3 days time. Weatherwise there may be a few showers and the wind is going to pick up too. We shall see. I do feel a lot better physically for having rested today (but mentally a bit guilty).

Thanks too to everyone who's messaged or emailed me. I will try to respond next time I get on the internet. Hopefully will get to post some photos too.


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