Europe

We entered Finland and the Shengen zone and immediately noticed the amount of English spoken and the change in prices!


We planned to stay in Helsinki for several days and stopped at Porvoo on the way. Finland is beautiful, green and lush. Porvoo was a picturesque, tourist town set near the Gulf of Finland.


Riding was easy, good roads and freeways. Finally we could pull up at a service station and fill up without translators and pre-payment!


Helsinki is a  beautiful, small city. Easy to get around, although some of the cobblestone streets aren’t the most pleasant to ride on, and there seemed to be traffic lights every few hundred metres. It was mid-summer holiday and most of the locals head to the country side so the streets were quiet, but lots of tourists. We saw lots of motorbikes, I guess making the most of the long days and warm weather. I imagine winter in Helsinki would be a very different place.


We caught the ferry across to Estonia, and had a quick look around “old town” Tallin before heading south. Estonia too was very picturesque, lots of crops and green farm lands. Good roads, lots of English, and prices were cheaper than Finland. 


We made a rush trip through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as we wanted to get to Poland in time to vote at the Australian embassy in Warsaw. We only stayed one night in each country and avoided the capital  cities in Latvia and Lithuania, instead taking back roads. 


As we headed south into Lithuania the scenery changed, it became more undulating, still lots of crops and open farmland. 


We made Poland despite a couple of wrong turns….blame the navigator who initially missed that our route was going to take us through Belarus

Porvoo, Finland
Finnish countryside
Helsinki
Modern Helsink
....and old
Bikes and trams...summer in Helsinki
On the ferry to Estonia
Foggy coming into Tallin, Estonia
Tallin old town
And another cathedral.. Tallin
Old town, Tallin
Latvian countyside
Storks nests, we saw many through the Baltic countries
Peat fields in Latvia


We spent over a week in Warsaw. We organised a major service on the bike and spent some time relaxing and looking around Warsaw. We tried out their public transport, good tram system, probably even better if you can read Polish! From Warsaw we went to Krakow ….more beautiful old buildings and lots of history. We visited Austwich -quite confronting, but perhaps should be mandatory for all politicians to ensure extremist views aren’t allowed to ever take hold again!


Driving through Poland was like all of Europe, pine forests and large cropped areas, undulating country.


We decided that time was going against us going south through Italy to Spain so went directly across the Czech republic, Germany, France to Ireland.

We spent a few days in Prague. Vin somehow got a corneal tear so spent a day or so resting while that healed, and we checked out another medical system….in this case straight to an eye clinic.


Prague is a very popular tourist destination, and it easy to see why. Magnificent old buildings, cobbled streets, loads of history.


We didn’t spend any time in Germany, just one night in a quaint little town, Limburg.


We visited Metz in France, renown for its cathedral, but the drawcard for us was the aqueduct nearby.


We only drove through Paris to see a few sights, take the long discussed pic of the bike at the Eiffel Tower, then out through Versailles to see more amazing buildings. We stayed a couple of nights just outside Paris in the picturesque French countryside, then a few nights at Cherbourg before catching the ferry to Ireland. We stopped at the maritime museum at Cherbourg where we toured a nuclear submarine and had a quick look at their Titanic tribute.


Driving through Europe was uneventful. Much of it on the freeways, but some picturesque winding backroads. Traffic was fast but respectful. We got plenty of waves and especially in France were constantly getting thumbs-up!


As always, the bike attracts attention and we invariably get into conversations wherever we stop. We get numerous facebook messages and email contacts through our website, hopefully we respond ok, I think occasionally we miss some... for this we apologise. We love receiving pics that people have taken of the bike, especially those taken of us driving.


The bike continues to go well. We replaced the front tyre in Cherbourg, it had been on the bike since India. Only concern is a slight knocking noise which Vin is still trying to diagnose.


Next stop Ireland and the UK....

Images of Warsaw
Kracow castle
"Work sets you free"...Auschwitz
Auschwitz Birkenau...never to be forgotten.
Prague, impossible to sum up in a few photos.
Limburg, Germany
where they grow beautiful hydranges
Cathedral at Metz, France
Aqueduct near Metz
23,000km for this pic!!
Cherbourg, France
Sampling the local cuisine!
loved this sculpture in the Cherbourg gallery
At least it wasn't raining, patiently waiting for the ferry. And waiting...and waiting...
Created by Vin and Mary Dowd