On The Way To Find Out: Tallinn to Lativian Border - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

September 10, 2013

On The Way To Find Out: Tallinn to Lativian Border

I didn't have much of a clue of the way while riding away from Tallinn old town Sunday lunchtime, as the best map I could find didn't show much detail. Trying to avoid the busy roads, I cycled along a quiet street which followed tram-lines. After a few kilometres, I passed the tram-terminus and then came to a pole-barrier across the street. The street seemed to continue onwards the other side and I didn't really want to go back; so, I began pushing the bike pass and was about to ask the security-guard, but the big burly security guard was already out of the glass-booth and barked "what you want?" "The way out of town" I replied. "Not here. This Baltic Ship".

I returned to a big junction, then followed the road which went towards the sun, my only guide, as the map was lots of place-names on a white background, and none of the places on the road sign could be found on the map. The road was wide and had a smooth shoulder, and better still, after a while I came to a small blue sign with the figure one in a red box: cycle-route one which follows near the coast, I thought. So, I was cycling south, the way I planned.

My next worry was food. I was thinking it being Sunday, no place would be open. But shortly, I came to a supermarket at the side with lots of cars in the car-park and people coming out pushing shopping trolleys.

The labelling of fruit and vegetables was a problem, what with the Estonian names. It was a help that each had a picture on the labelling-scale. But, the problem arouse with peaches as I couldn't find a picture of a peach to identify it to the machine, so that a label with price would be issued. A sympathetic looking woman came to weight and label, so when she'd finished, I showed her the peaches and put them on the scales. I think she understood, because she searched and found and press the button which issued the price label. I was thankful, but all I could do was smile.

It had turned out yet another warm day with barely a cloud in the sky. I now found on the map the town on the coast called Paktiski, which the road-signs now pointed to. While stopped looking at a cluster of cycle-signs on a post. I most've looked puzzled when a local cyclists on a randoneer, a racing-bike with rack for light-touring, stopped along side me. His English was a lot better than my Estonian. He opened by saying "German?" I put him right and told him Is from Ireland. "Ha. Long way" he replied and then told me he'd cycled on the bike he was on to the North Cape, then east to Kirkenes by the Norwegian-Russian border in the far north, and on to the port of Murmansk, before turning south and home via Russia. He also said that this Patriski "was Soviet Atom...." and he gestered with his hand to show a boat submerging under water. "Submerine base" I filled in. "Yes. Atom submarine base."

I stopped early, five o'clock as the road passed through forest with lots of tracks leading in on either side. So I rode a good kilometre in off the road. There were a few cars parked in a clearing. People picking berries and when I found a cul du sac clear of ferns, there was a family with children playing hid and seek a little way away. Their voices seemed to blend with the soft sound of the forest. I read the last couple of chapters of "In Patagonia" as sun-light slanted down through the trees and the children's voices grew fainter then stopped, before unpacking and putting up the tent.

The Fog.
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The one hour time-zone differents between Sweden and Estonia, means I wake-up at half seven but it only looks like half six. I was on the road shortly before half eight. A cool autumnal morning with the road still in shade of the trees either side. Before long it grew foggy and visabilty was no more than a hundred metres for a while. I by-passed Patriski, some kind of port, I didn't see much in the fog.

The fog lifted around eleven and the road Is on was to another place beginning with P, which when I'd got that far, was nothing more than a house. Then the road-sign pointed to Haapsula 56km. I had bread and a banana left from the day before, and made do with that for lunch as there wasn't any villages on the way. I thought this was perhaps something the soviets had done, relocated people in towns. The countryside that I passed through now was overgrown scrub.

I reached Haapsula hungry and dehydrated at four and turned-off at the first supermarket. Once I'd been in, I lunched again sat on the grass on two slices of pizza bought from the bakery and a bottle of sprite.

Haapsula was a large town, so it was a few kilometres of riding busy streets, from traffic-light to traffic-light until, at a roundabout, the cycle-sign pointed me off along a quiet road through a park, then across railway-lines by an old station with steam locomotives and old frate wagons sitting at rest on the tracks. Then a little further on on a country-road, my head suddenly turned left as I was struck by the sight of a colosal stone ruin past the trees at the roadside. The story behind which according to an interpretation board at the edge of the green in-front is, the build was started by the landowner in 1893, after he'd visited Germany where, he'd fallen in love with the daughter of a castle owner. The girl said she loved living in her father's castle and would never leave the castle when he asked for her hand in marriage. The only way she would leave was if he built an identical castle for her to come and live in. The mansion that the man began building as soon as he returned home to Estonia took many years to complete. Then when it was almost complete, he got a telegram with sad news of the girl's death. He was understandably heart broken and his health began to fail after that. Eventually he was emitted to a hospital in Saint Petersburg where he died in 1908. His remains were brough home and laid-out in the new house for the night, the only night he spent in the house, before being taken out the following morning and buried in the local cemetary. The house was pillaged during the Great War, and further pillaged by the soviets when they built an air base "nearby" the text read, in reality adjacent the side-wing, where there is a great concrete hulk of a hanger towering over the trees on that side, an emply shell now that the Soviet Union is no more, and grass and weeds grow in tall lines through the divisions in the concrete aprons all along the landing-stripe.

Generally, photographs are a low priority with me, until I come across a good motive, and what better than a locomotives.
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Or, a station sign.
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A wagon.
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A Colourful Engine.
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The workings.
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The ruins.
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The following morning.
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Tuesday morning: from my campsite in woodland, I cycled back to Haapsula to shop, as I didn't want to be caught out like the day before with little to eat. While packing my purchases outside the supermarket, I saw another cycle-tourer pass. Riding on Is hoping to catch him up and did when he stopped at the interpretation board by the old railway-station. We exchanged names, he was Mikael from Tallinn and he was heading for a ferry to the islands of Estonia's west coast. He carried a lightweight tripod to take self-timed photos. So, we posed for photos, then cycled together until I turned off for Parnu.

Mikael and I pose for a photo.
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Wild apple tree by the roadside.
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They were bitter.
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Estonian road sign.
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I need not have bothered shopping as I passed through two small towns with shops during the hundred and eight kilometres ride to Parnu. The road was smooth and the traffic light and the country to the side was a mix of woodland and fields of round bales, crop-stubble and brown freshly tilled fields. The houses were horizontal boarding, except for grey blocks of the soviet era in the towns. The weather continued sunny and it got warm and sticky in the afternoon, followed by the inevitable dark thunder clouds moving across. I reached Parnu, a big hypermarket on the edge of town when the first spots of rain came down. I shopped and then had a coffee while waiting for the rain to clear.

Thunder storm.
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From the bridge on the way in to Parnu centre.
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I rode on on puddled cycle-path and crossed over a bridge towards the city-centre. It had passed seven o'clock and it was getting dark early because of the damp and dark cloud cover and it looked like I'd soon be riding in the dark. But then on the road out from the centre, I spotted at a roundabout, a sign for camping. The sign led me along a tree-lined avenue through a city-park, and on to a sports-centre by the river, with a sign on the boundary fence by an open gateway which read: Kamping Green. I rode into the grounds and had a look around. I even went into the sports-centre where there was a light on in a changing room inside of which two men were getting changed. There was no reception, not that I could see. Then outside, while Is still having a look around, the two young men, now dressed in smart business suits were leaving the sports-centre, one with a holdall-bag and both with rackets under arm. They saw me and paused, then one said something. I asked him did he speak English. "A bit" he replied while handling his smart-phone. "What country you from?" he asked, and when I said Ireland, he replied pointing towards the bike "On bike! You crazy?" he laughted and then said "I ring manager"; strolling down the list on the screen, he settled on a contact and pressed, raising the phone to the side of his face and began speaking "su-ki ratta....", well that's what I heard; and after the rest of what was not as comprehensible to me, he rang off, and said "he say, with tent you can camp, but takes no responsibility for you" "Is it safe" I asked. "Eeeh, much drunk people. But not this night" he assured me not on Tuesday, but on Friday and Saturday nights.

I settled down for the night with my tent alongside a picnic table underneath the bows of two stout sycamore trees either side providing a canopy. My campsite was on the unfenced riverbank side of the grounds, up a short bank from a riverside path. I sat with a view over the broad stretch of water with setting sun below the cloudbank glowing orange on the trees on the opposite bank which in turn mirrored in the water. There were dog-walkers that passed, then two early-twenty-something guys came and sat at the picnic table further along. They opened cans of beer and chatted quietly for around twenty minutes before getting up and leaving.

Today's ride: 304 km (189 miles)
Total: 5,795 km (3,599 miles)

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