Hello to everyone from beautiful downtown Helsinki, Finland,
The last we wrote was during one of our layover days in Copenhagen and lots has transpired since that date. The biggest problem we have had in Finland is to find a computer. Apparently the use of the Internet and home computers is so significant that Internet cafes are hard to find. We are at the public library where we have one hour of time for free.
Copenhagen to Markyard, Sweden 148km's
The day started out bad but little did we know it would get worse by the time we arrived in the campgrounds. We started off the day being advised by one of the senior organizers that the caterers for breakfast were late but were on their way to set up for breakfast. This was followed by an announcement from one of the staff that the caterers had arrived and breakfast would be set up shortly, shortly defined as 5 to 10 minutes. This was followed by the senior organization member stating the caterers were not coming and to find breakfast where we could and submit for compensation. We are still at a loss to figure out these three differing communiques, as my father once told me the truth is easier to remember than a lie.
As we were about to bike off to start the ride and find breakfast we saw others in the group eating with the hotel regulars and decided we would do likewise. I talked with the hotel staff to apologize about the confusion only to learn the confusion was "as a result of your group organizer" not the riders' fault.
The first 49 km saw us arriving at the ferry for a short 20-minute ride to Sweden. The remainder of the ride was along very quiet roads where we saw pine tree after pine tree and lake after lake. Nice rolling terrain with weather to be forever thankful.
Arrived at the camp to be advised one of our riders was in the hospital following a tangle with a truck. Little did we know just how serious the tangle was. We found out later that as a result of the accident Jim would lose his right leg, suffered a broken left arm and a crushed left foot. The mood a dinner was extremely somber. Reports are that his surgery went well, his spirits are as good as can be expected and as of this writing he should be at home in a USA based hospital. Our prayers are with Jim and we trust his recovery will go well.
Dinner prepared by the campgrounds was a good one but like I mentioned the atmosphere was extremely somber.
We had the pleasure of meeting one of the Swedish campers who invited us for tea, coffee and cookies at their trailer. We had a great time filling them in on our trip, taking pictures and learning about their neat country. The locals we have met continue to be the highlight of the trip.
Markaryd to Savjso, 153km
Following a very nice breakfast it was off again on what turned out to be a very nice ride, with flat to gently rolling terrain, which we tandem riders love. The landscape continued to be forests and trees and to say we had seen enough trees to last a lifetime by the end of the ride is an understatement.
The weather started out cloudy and overcast and we were subjected to a fine mist for a good portion of the ride. We arrived at the campgrounds, which was a sports complex where the town council allowed the riders to camp on the gym floor or surrounding fields. For those who chose the outdoors they were treated to overnight heavy rains and the opportunity to once again pack a wet tent, ugh. Supper was prepared by the locals and served at a local school cafeteria, the meal was average but the people serving the meals were great and did their best.
Savsjo to Kisa, 155km
After a very basic TK&A breakfast it was off again for another day of riding. Regrettably the weather was not to cooperate till later in the day and we were subjected to rain, rain and more rain until the last 10km. The terrain for today's ride was quite hilly through the countryside and along the logging roads where thankfully the trucks were not rolling. The campgrounds were some 8 km's from town and were situated on a beautiful lake. The dinner was superb with sufficient quantity, very nicely prepared.
Kisa to Nykoping, 172km
Following a nice breakfast we drove the car for Steve and Al to the checkpoint where we offloaded the bike and began our trek. The weather was cloudy and wet clearing later in the afternoon. The terrain was beautiful consisting of rolling hills a short ferry ride and lunch on a park bench overlooking the river we had just crossed on the ferry. We had a great welcome by the local community at the school grounds where the riders pitched their tents around the perimeter of the football fields. Four members of the local area had a lengthy talk with Mary and I and expressed their interest in our trip. We exchanged e-mail addresses as well as home addresses and we are anxiously awaiting a copy of the pictures they took. The tandem continues to create great interest everywhere we go. Dinner was in the school cafeteria and was a so-so meal; the dessert was the best part, along with two locals who entertained during the meal.
Nykoping to Stockholm, 100 km's
After breakfast at the hotel where we stayed, we drove the car to Stockholm as Steve and Al wanted to ride and Mary was suffering a severe back spasm that would not go away, even following chiropractic adjustments the night before. From what we hear the ride was rather benign with flat to very gentle rolling terrain. It was a great ride for those entering the city. In light of the fact we were slated to room in a hostel with 14 to a room and the showers in another building we opted to once again seek alternate accommodations (we hate to seek such accommodations on those days when the schedule says bed, but 14 to a room!). We had dinner at the hostel on the second evening as a meeting was scheduled for that evening to discuss the Berlin portion of the trip. The meal was a good one and well worth the effort to consume. We learned at the meeting that the gentleman who has the ownership of www.odyssey2003.com has been asked to leave the trip, the reason being the organizer does not want to worry about what is being put out on the worldwide web. We received a new itinerary and Japan is back (not sure in what format) and buses have been added to some sections of the next leg to lessen the miles and provide a few more layover days, a welcome for most on the trip. Stockholm is a great city and well worth a look by anyone going to Europe, just give it the time it deserves. Our thanks to one of my ex distributors who gave us a sightseeing tour and lunch, a welcome for us weary travelers. Thank you Rolf and Monica.
Stockholm to Turku, Finland.
Following breakfast at the hotel where we stayed it was a short ride to the ferry for a 12-hour ferry ride to Finland. This was a beautiful crossing and the weather was spectacular. The ferry passes many islands and is well worth the time one spends on a boat, this from someone who hates a boat!!!.
We rode 16km's to a hostel where we spent the night, some in rooms, some in the gym others camping outside. The dinner was great, the locals extremely accommodating and generous to a fault.
Turku to Helsinki, 181km
Following a super breakfast and a farewell to our hosts it was off for a super long ride to Helsinki. The terrain was rolling countryside with more than enough climbing to satisfy the hardiest mountain goat in the group. There was a bailout option at 118 km's that we chose not to take and we were thankful as we arrived some 2 hours ahead of those taking the bus.
The hotel is super, two or three to a room and we are close to everything. This is one of the better beds that TK&A have provided during this trip.
We have a number of days off in Helsinki and are enjoying our stay. Obviously we would have liked to be in Russia as we had contracted for and already paid for but such was not the case. There were two trips organized to Russia one by a rider the other by TK&A (for a price over and above the original $36K)
We had planned on going to Estonia but found out too late we needed a visa and three days were required to secure same. As a result we did our fair share of walking, had a guided tour by one of my ex distributors and were treated to an original Finnish meal, reindeer included (Mary will not forgive me for eating the remains one of Santa's friends)
What can we say about Scandinavia other than it has been a great experience, the scenery is super, the people great and the costs extreme. We found English is spoken almost everywhere you go and, if not spoken well, you are able to get by.
We leave tomorrow evening for Berlin by air, with our bikes and luggage already on the high seas. We will miss Scandinavia but as usual are looking forward to the next leg of our worldwide adventure.
Till we write again,
Dave & Mary