1100 km done! - And I've made it through the Baltics
Having now cycled well over 1000 km total, I’m starting to get accustomed to touring. That being said, part of the challenge is the ever-changing cultures and landscapes to keep you on your toes. Nevertheless, I’ve made it through four countries and I’m feeling good, ready to tackle some more.
The biggest challenge up until now has been the nights. Cycling gets tough occasionally, but the Baltics are pretty flat, and it’s really just a matter of keeping at it. After hitting Lithuania and Poland, wild-camping has just been a lot more challenging. Dense forests turned into open fields meaning that finding a suitable place for pitching my tent has been really hard. But I had prepared for this sort of scenario by bringing a bivvy bag, which is a lot easier to stealthily slot in just about anywhere. What I hadn’t prepared for was the insane number of mosquitoes, that made simply stopping for a few minutes of rest unbearable. So, the bivvy bag really wasn’t an option, and so I was forced to pitch my tent in between tiny little crops of trees. I’ve come to enjoy some of the animal noises I hear in the night. Especially after having figured out which animal makes what sound. Some of the noises that initially freaked me out, have turned out to be made by storks and roe deer. Once you’ve come to realize this, listening to these noises in the night is actually kind of interesting, and at times somewhat beautiful. But then every once in a while, you hear some weird noise you haven’t yet identified, and it’ll freak you out all over again. Especially when the noise isn’t very natural sounding. A good example of this, was an experience I had just a few nights ago, when I was woken up to the sound of a chainsaw cutting down the trees I was hiding behind just a few meters away from my tent. If anything will get you up and going in the morning, this is it! It’ll also give you a good idea of just how fast you can pack up your camp. Turns out I’ve been pretty inefficient most mornings.
Much of my cycling so far has been done on the E67, which is one of the main European highways. Most of the time, it hasn’t been a problem, but it gets a bit rowdy at times, and the final stretch leading towards Bialystok (from where I’m writing this post) was simply suicidal. So, I had to opt for a different route. I ended up cycling through a massive polish national park on gravel/sand roads that made progress very slow and tedious. The scenery was beautiful, but pushing through the park was a tiresome affair, and so I’ll be doing my best to at least stick to paved roads. And while it’s flat, I’ll be doing my best to make progress in good time. I’m planning on hitting Istanbul within a month from now.
I arrived in Bialystok yesterday, and checked in to my hotel. I went up to my room, which was spacious and very nice looking overall. Within moments of opening my panniers though, that sort of changed. It was like the contents exploded out to fill the room – begging to be cleaned, sorted, folded and so on. I guess that is the reality of living off your bicycle. It’s not exactly the most charming of travel-forms from a hygienic point of view to be honest. Keeping things clean is a real hassle, so everything gets really dirty and smelly within no time, and you feel pretty nasty. Suits me well though! It’s sort of embarrassing when you check in to dorm rooms at hostels though. But what can you do. Backpackers are often sort of smelly and unkempt anyway. It’s just part of travelling cheap, but it takes some getting used to.
Bialystok and Kaunas haven’t exactly been the most exciting places to visit. They’re both cute little cities, but a lot of the Baltic cities are somewhat similar, and so I’m starting to look forward to change. In between cities it’s just been a whole lot of farming to be honest, and though one can enjoy the peacefulness, wheat fields do get a bit monotonous after a while.
Upon arriving at my hotel in Bialystok, I also got to conduct my first ever radio interview with the Greenlandic KNR! Though it’s a fairly small station, it was somewhat nerve-wracking. We’re planning on doing more interviews along the way though, so hopefully, I’ll get better at it as time goes by. A couple of newspapers have been picking up the story as well, so hopefully, that’ll get the word out a bit. Because as most of you have probably figured out by now, I’m not just cycling for the hell of it. I’m cycling to raise funds and awareness for The Association for Greenlandic Children. Donations have been coming to a halt since my last post, so let's see if we can get it going a bit again! You can read about my motivation for supporting the association through the link below, and of course donate if you feel for it. Thanks!
I’ve made a Facebook page that I will try to update daily with pictures and a short description of the day. It’ll be the same updates as on my Instagram mostly, so for those of you interested, feel free to follow either of the two! (or both…)