Monday, 1 November 2010

Estonia

Red sky in morning, bikers take warning...

Little bits of snow starting falling from the sky in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is such a massive city, so best option was to get on the highway around it and start heading west from the other side.

Not long after, it turned into big rain and lasted the rest of the day. I knew this was coming, I saw the forecast, but as I said, I was ready to ride.

The goal is to get to Tallinn Estonia, where I will then take a ferry to Helsinki Finland.

Along with the heavy rain were strong Baltic Sea winds. It was not a nice time to say the least.. I was freezing cold.

As I get close to the border, a mass of rain, snow and ice were bucketing down at the same time. I pull in to a little cafe, which I needed anyway for my last big hit of borscht. And a hot tea.. It took forever to stop shaking but I eventually did.. sucked it up and got back on the road.

Arrived Estonia border.. the Russian side was a pain.. there were no instructions or indication of where to go.. and each door I tried they gave an angry snappy response.

Once through, I got to the Estonia border gates, and that was the tough one! I was there for 2 hours! They didn't like my Australian registration not having a water mark on it. What can I say?? I have my Carnet too.. she wasn't happy with any of it, left me there forever while I think she walked to town to make phone calls. I was fairly patient though, I have had super easy border crossings the entire journey, so I figured I was due for one of these. But Estonia!!?? And maybe everyone is grumpy today due to the foul weather.. go with the flow, it always works out in the end - and it did...

I made it to Tallinn to a little secure mini hotel/hostel..



Covered the poor bike up, it's worked hard.. and needs a rest. I stumble out of the place to track down some dinner and got pounded with HAIL!!! Gee whiz!! I should not be in this part of the world at this time of year!!!


Picture on blog probably too small to show, but it's the hail..

The next day, was even colder.. bike was covered with ice. I will stay put for the day.. no hurry to get to Helsinki.

And I am quite entrigued from what I see of Estonia so far.. as I rode into Tallinn, I passed ruins and interesting old structures, that may not have particular significance, but they are just different than I had seen in any of my other travels so far.

Remember the two women I met riding their motorcycles in South Korea, Sheonagh and Pat? They have many friends around here, and they put me on to Maura in Poland, who then put me on to Anneli in Tallinn. She sent me a message on Facebook and invited me to an end of season biker party that night.

Woo hoo!! I could go for some hard core biker entertainment! Here they are... singing away...


Ha - just kidding, this is not the biker party.... (from Ukrainian restaurant I went to in St. Pete)


We had a rock and rollin' fun time at the party. There were other clubs there, but these girls who invited me, Anneli and Maris belong to WIMA Estonia. www.wima.ee (Women's International Motorcycle Association) Which I had never heard of, but apparently has chapters all over the world. Everyone at the party was so welcoming and proud of Estonia.. I loved hearing their stories - between music sets and the obligatory drunk stripper girl intent to take over the dance floor!! Just in case the weather doesn't improve, I was invited to stay for the winter in the basement of a good looking young man... well hidden from the wife.. (who just couldn't believe for anything that I was from Australia until I showed him my drivers license) Lucky me..Mmm, no thanks!!!


As usual, I know little about this country.. and I learn that Estonia was Independent.. then occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941.. and then reoccupied by Soviet Union in 1944 until they regained their independence in 1991. Only a few years ago! So it was so fascinating to me to hear what life was like for these girls during Soviet occupation. One of my favorite stories was what it was like in school to go through bomb drills (we had tornado drills in Indiana). But the bomb drills included those scary gas masks. Young Maris was a rebel and sent to the office for not taking it seriously and laughing at everyone in gas masks.

SINCE, the weather is still bad, I decide to stay an extra day as Anneli and Maris have invited to show me around Estonia. I'm glad it was bad weather, otherwise I would have just passed through this little country and missed out on so much character!




Anneli has planned a day trip (the wind and cold was so bad that even these super keen biker girls opted for the car...)

They first take me to Padise Monastery. Started in 1220, the monastery went through many ownership changes as the land was conquered.



I put the second picture in because I am curious if that light that showed up next to me is a portal door to another world?? I didn't see it at the time, my head is turned the opposite way, or I would have poked my head in to have a look! Just kidding.. But honestly that light does not match the shape of the window above... so it does look a bit weird!


Exploring the attic of the abbey domed roof and then climb up to the tower. 


I loved climbing around in this old monastery and imagining what it must have been like to build it by hand, stone by stone, hundreds of years ago.



Clearly a bit cold today.. let's get back in the car!

Next stop to Haapsalu, Estonia where we visit this great old castle..


Another amazing structure, so full of history and hardship. But hardship no more!! This great castle comes equipped with free
wi-fi!!


Imagine what they could've done with wi-fi when they were fighting from the watchtower in the 13th century!!

A walk back through town takes us in to have a nice warm lunch and hot cup of tea.


And to finish off this most interesting taste of Estonia, we end at Ivar's house who along with his wife are keen collectors of the old Indian motorcycles.




The most impressive private garage collection I have ever seen!!


The seat was so comfortable on this 1929 bike.. can I trade???

Thank you so much to Anneli and Maris.. was a great surprise to meet these girls and who showed me and taught me so much about their country in such a short time.
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3 comments:

  1. delighted you had such a good time in Estonia! That's what WIMA is all about! Come to the international rally in July next year if you are still in UK. Cheers Sheonagh and Pat

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  2. Hey Sherri, my friend Caitlin and I met you in Berlin. Thanks for sharing your blog and adventures! I hope your trip south is going smoothly!
    Looking forward to reading more about your travels,
    Christine

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