Well, what can I say, 2 weeks in and I already failed to not only remain consistent once but twice! I think there’s a fairly good reason for both, but I’ll try and cover it in this double part weekly.
I’ll try and run through the weeks separately but they’ll likely bleed into each other, and if I am honest there’s not too much to write home about for the precious ~20 days on the road.
Highs and lows of the week(s)
High moment: Spending two nights in a bear hide in Eastern Finland and seeing wild bears. Finally reaching Scandinavia. Staying in a posh apartment in Lithuania. Restarting the Shred.
Low moments: Approximately 2000 miles of driving and £2.20 diesel in Finland.
I finally left Austria and headed back to Germany, where my new bank card would be delivered too.
In my final days in Austria, I stayed at a wonderful park that was run by an old Austrian lady who essentially opened the local football club to campers. There were unlimited hot showers, wifi, and cooking facilities too. Was a bit of a dream to find to be fair.
Austria had basically rained for 5 days straight so some of the waterfalls were unbelievably large and their force was strong. The weather wasn’t great after the rains but managed to get out to see some waterfalls and then managed a lake/glacier hike finished with a beer and apple strudel!
Then I left Austria and headed back to Germany, where my new bank card would be delivered too. Some walking around small towns, a gorge walk, and then a full day exploring Munich.
Leaving Munich city center having being told off by the police for parking facing the wrong way and for not having my emissions sticker. Parked up about an hour outside of Munich for two days where I would wait for my bank card, unfortunately, it didn’t arrive in time.
I decided to leave and head north towards Finland. Knew that time, and the weather, would be against me should I leave it any later.
In the following days, I drove from Munich in southern Germany through to Poland, into Lithuania, into Latvia, and eventually to Estonia where I’d catch the ferry. I’d have loved to spend more time in these countries, but my heart and the sole purpose of this trip was to spend more time in Scandinavia.
I did, however, manage an afternoon in Riga which is a beautiful city in Latvia, and would recommend a visit. Despite having to dodge lightning and thunder for most of the trip.
The aforementioned thunder and lightning stopped and the afternoon in Tallinn, Estonia so instead I booked an earlier ferry and boarded to get across into Helsinki, Finland!
After an easy ferry, I was greeted by three Finnish policewomen and a sniffer dog. They proceeded to interrogate me and ask many questions before searching the van. Thankfully there were no bottles of piss on the show and the sniffer dog didn’t manage to sniff anything worthwhile.
Finland is as amazing as I remember it as my first Scandinavian country 6 years ago! Driving through the incredible woodlands, past mirrored lakes, and hopeful a moose or reindeer would appear on the road, it all makes for a wonderful road trip.
Parking near water is SUPER easy here, so the first stop was near a lake for a morning bath and wash, which is always welcomed despite the cold waters.
The temperature is the biggest difference so far. It was always going to happen, but to go from 34 degrees to 5-6 degrees in the matter of a week has been testing. But just means getting comfier in clothes, layering, and actually wearing a coat!
The final destination in Finland (apart from crossing the top eastern part to get to Norway) was the Bear Centre which is in eastern Finland, less than a mile from the Russian border.
There was one more stop to make before making the near 700km drive from Helsinki to wild bears and I managed to stop in a small Finnish town called Kuopio.
Luckily for me, there was an unreal gym that was just €3 a session. Including an energy drink, hot showers, a sauna, and some of the best gym kits I’ve ever seen.
It blows my mind how poor the facilities are across the entire of North Wales, and then a small place in the middle of Finland can be equipped with the best kit I’ve seen.
It does make me want to come home and change the health and fitness scene in North Wales for a second time though…
My beard was getting wild after nearly 5 weeks of being untamed I decided it was time to let a Fin loose on the beard. 25€ later and at one point I thought I was going to have to trim my mustache myself, I was back looking somewhat presentable and on my way for an experience of a lifetime…
The Wild Bears of Finland.
PS – Thank you to those that nudged me when the weekly went missing, that really hit me in the feels as I’m almost certain it’s only my Step Dad and my Nan that give a shit about my travels, but turns out some more people do too.
I’ll be honest, these two weeks haven’t been anything exciting, especially with so much mileage done. Across 3 days I did 1400 miles, which was necessary but not fun. Anyway, normality should resume from here, a planned weekly every Thursday, and if I don’t? Nudge me again, please.