500 km done! Here's what I think so far
I’ve now cycled the first 500 km of my trip form Finland to Indonesia! I’ve written up some of my thoughts on what cycle-touring has been like so far:
I arrived in Turku in Finland on Sunday morning, the 29th of April, and it was pouring rain. As it turns out, it would be raining for about two-thirds of my time in Finland. My first day was quite a long one since I had planned to sleep in a shelter in the forests east of Salo. I ended up riding through 5 hours of rain, and I can honestly say that I’ve rarely felt so miserable as I did upon arriving at the shelter that day. So now I know, that cycling in the rain seriously sucks. I’d made good progress though, having completed 62 km on my first day, which will probably end up being my average for most of the trip. The day after I woke up to a voice message from Jamie McDonald wishing me good luck on my journey. The excitement I got from receiving that message made me feel like a starstruck teenage girl. I’ve been idolizing this guy through the entire planning process of my trip, so it really meant a lot to me, and it gave me so much extra energy that day. It was a grey morning though, but I had bursts of sun lifting my spirits as well. And since I knew that it would be raining the day after, I ended up cycling quite a bit further than planned, effectively shortening my third and final day in Finland. I set up camp behind a couple of trees on a random farmers field. The third morning was another miserable one though, with even heavier rain slowing me down. On the ferry to Tallinn, I was cold, wet, and sore throughout my body. I’d only been riding for three days but I was already questioning my own sanity for even putting up with it. Arriving in Tallinn was a treat though, and within moments I was feeling a lot better. After a couple of beers in good company with some fellow travelers, I was feeling strong once again. Right until the hangover the day after at least… Nothing a day’s rest can’t fix!
Moving on, I set towards Riga. I had 320 km in front of me and planned on spending at least five days to cover it. But it was flat, and the weather was great, so I ended up covering the distance in four days! In between sessions of cycling, I did my best to check out the sites of whatever area I was in. Though I’m not religious, I’m a sucker for the architectural side of churches, and so I’ve been checking out quite a few of those. Apart from that, I spent a pretty long time looking for amber at the beach. Didn’t really work out for me… I did get some nice sunsets out of it though!
I set up my tent in the forest for all three nights. Most of the time I slept just fine, but you do get thoughts of horror-movie scenarios occasionally, especially when disturbed by some obscure animal roaring away like there’s no tomorrow. The thought of meeting a stranger in the forest in the night is sort of scary as well, but honestly, they are probably more scared of me than I am of them. After all, I’m the unkempt hobo sleeping out there… It’s a comforting thought anyway. You get some weird looks stumbling out from the forest onto the highway though, dragging along an overloaded bicycle. Thinking about it, you actually get weird looks quite a lot of the time, like when you stay at petrol stations for overly extended amounts of time, desperately trying to charge all your electronics. Or when you come shambling up the stairs at your hostel, pitiably trying to drag five heavy bags, a tent, and a mattress along with you. You generally don’t feel particularly cool as a cycle-tourist. On the contrary, you actually feel pretty clumsy most of the time. It’s all part of the charm though, and I’m enjoying it too much to really care. I also met an elderly couple who were cycle-touring Europe and had been doing so for about three months. They asked me where I had come from, and where I was going. When I told them I was heading for Indonesia, they simply started laughing and wished me good luck. I took it well though, thanked them, and cycled on. Most people get quite excited about the whole Idea though.
I’ve now made it to Riga in Latvia. Usually, when visiting new cities, I end up aimlessly wandering around for hours, soaking up as much as possible, and purposely getting lost. Riga is a nice place for wandering as well. It’s got a beautiful old town, full of bright colors and medieval looking buildings. You’ve got tons of little market stalls all over the place, and of course, the massive Central Market to top them all. Tallinn was a treat too, with one of Europes oldest looking old towns! Most European cities are somewhat manageable for walking, which suits my style of travel quite nicely. And since I’ve become pretty fond of my camera, I spent a lot of time taking pictures as well. I’ll make an album on here to go with the trip. Ironically, I very quickly get restless on my rest days, but I usually come up with some sort of a side-project to work on while resting.
Remember, I’m cycling for the Association for Greenlandic Children! If you haven’t already, please go check out the fundraiser through the button below and consider donating. The work these people are doing to improve the lives of the Greenlandic youth is incredible and deserves to be noticed. I’ve been getting some generous donations lately. Recieving these donations really keep me motivated, and boosts my energy, so thank you very much indeed!