Monday, July 31, 2006

Because I want to

So, okay, I don´t usually "dig" memes and I certainly haven´t been tagged but I´m going to do this one anyway (thanks to Kilowatthour who found it at BehindTheStove). Please feel free to do it yourself and let me know!

YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME
(grandfather/grandmother on your father's side, your favorite sweet/lolly):
Dorothy TurkishDelight

YOUR FLY GIRL/GUY NAME
(first initial of first name followed by "izzle", first two or three letters of your last name followed by "dizzle"):
Jizzle Lodizzle

YOUR DETECTIVE NAME
(favorite color, favorite animal):
Purple Ferret

YOUR STAR WARS NAME
(first 3 letters of your name- last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name repeated twice):
Jacxon Leoleo

YOUR SUPERHERO NAME
("The", your favorite color, the automobile you drive):
The Purple Bulli

Some random photos (albeit without fondue)


Here´s the russian border in Estonia. the photo was taken quickly out of a moving car by DrH with lots of "Ooh, KGB will be after us for this!" so it´s out of focus and you can´t see much. BUT the fence posts are there and the yellow ribbons are tied on the fence that marks the border to the EU. Pretty ridiculous hey?







The midnight sun.
Bright bright daylight with the
sun along way off the horizon.





DrH doing his The Edge impersonation at 2am on the North Cape.

Reindeer. Motley looking creatures.



More I´ll put up in Flickr shortly, so feel free to peruse.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

We´re Back!

9763 kilometres later and we´re home. Ahhhhhh.

For a quick overview, here´s a CIA map with our path marked in:



It´s missing our path to the north cape unfortunately, but you can imagine that - IT´S A LONG WAY AWAY - about 2000km down to Bergen on the south-west Norwegian coast.

So now we are doing laundry, airing the house (hah! in this weather? It´s actually cooler inside) and filling the fridge. But boy is it nice to be in my own bed again and not a tiny foldout bed in a small bus.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fjordland

Well,after 2000km we're in the fjord region.
I won't talk to much about our little detour to the Lafoten ,partly because it was so cloudy we couldn't see any of the famous craggy mountains at all, but mostly because the heaving, rolling ferry gave me such severe seasickness I thought I wasgoing to die. And DrH's olive brown complexion was a decided olive-green and between us we filled at least 5 vomit bags they so helpfully provided.

The one road that exists in northern Norway runs along the coast and then down here there are hundreds of tiny roads winding along fjords - think extreme Ocean Road, multiply the excitement, height, danger and scenic factors by 500 and then lengthen it by a factor of a thousand and you're close. I've had some hairy scenes with these big camperbuses on the way.

Speaking of which- those things SHOULD BE BANNED AND ANYONE DRIVING ONE LOCKED UP FOR THE REST OF THEIR SHORT LIFE. They are as wide as the lane is and spend a lot of timeon curves on the other side of the road and are driven by people who should be in Volvo's with bowling hats on. KILL THEM ALL!!!!!!!

Am I a bit touchy on the topic? YES INDEEDILY DO.

We detoured off the main E06 highway (hah! single lane the whole way and in some places only with ferry, but with some nifty tunnels - one 8.6km long) at Trondheim and have headed to Alesund over a couple more ferries and some cool bridges. Today we'll take another ferry to Geiranger fjord and then through small roads and tunnels to Fjaerfjord to touch the glacierwith our bare hands. We have to be in Oslo on Thursday because DrH is flying back to Berlin for a day as Supercool Matti is tying the knot.

Congrats guys, sorry I can't make it!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hopping through Hammerfest

It's raining and we're in Hammerfest. We made it all the way up to the North Cape from Helsinki in 4 days which was a hell of a lot of driving. Three hours after we arrived and set up camp it started to rain and didn't stop for another 16 hours. Luckily, about half-time in the World Cup final, the clouds started clearing and so straight after the game (and did you see Zidane? What a cheek! I wouldn't want to get headbutted by a guy that can slam speeding balls into goals with his head) we went to the North Cape itself.

You have to pay an entrance to get out there, which didn't bother us too much as they've spent lots of money on creating drivable roads there. The sky was clear, the sun was shining and about 500 tourists stood there and had their glass of champagne at midnight. We had a dodgy bottle of Australian red we'd bought in Estonia and had to neck it 'cause we'd forgotten the glasses but it was almost the same. Could even phone Australia from the mobile which is just a bit nuts when you think about. By 1.15 am only 10 tourists remained, we'd written postcards to everyone and the sun was on the upward curve again.

We left the next day, somewhat late, and made it to Hammerfest where we've made camp next to the Meridian marker. We're on our way south now onwards towards ALta to see some 400BC rock carvings and see how far we get.

Oh and today I became a member of The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society and got a naff little pin I've stuck in my beanie. Cool.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tallinn du bist so wunderbar

We´ve made it to Tallinn, capital of Estonia. Yesterday the Bulli/Combivan/Microbus/OldHeapOfTin passed 3000km on this trip and we´ve had no problems with it at all.

We left Riga and headed directly across the border as we´d used up all of the 4 days alloted to Latvia. Yes, I am fully aware of how ridiculous it is to do a country in four days, and how much it just smacks of Contiki, but I consider this just a prerun and we can come back later anyway - there are flights from Berlin to Tallinn/Riga/Vilnius for 30Euro thesedays. After all the whole point is to get ALL the way around the Baltic Sea AND get to the North Cap and if we´re not careful we´ll run out of time at the other end.

We crossed the border at Valka/Valga, a little town which is split in the middle by the border between Latvia and Estonia. There are three border crossing points in the town, but only one is for cars. Apparently the locals are quite used to foreigners going to the wrong one as we had several bored looking natives on bicycles waving us impatiently to the right control point so that they could cross the road. And I´s got´s me´s another stamp.

We spent the night on Lake Purhujava (forgive the spelling, I don´t have the map with me) which was created by the tears of mother´s whose sons had died in an Estonian epic. It´s said by psychics to be full of positive energy and the Dalai Lama blessed the place. However, two days later, on the highway to Tallinn, we came across a tree that had been planted by the Dalai Lama - in a random place on the side of the road - so I´m not so sure he wasn´t just wily-nily planting/blessing/bestowing across the country.

We then spent the following day cruising through south-eastern Estonia, near the Russian border and the area of the Setu people, who speak still another language and have their own culture going on. Half of it is now in Russia and the people are dieing out, with the youth not learning the language or traditions. It may be due to the upside-down metal mixing bowl breast plate the women wear once married - I must admit that I wasn´t sure in the end if you were meant to try and squish both boobs inside it, or leave it sitting on top of them to whack you in the chin with every step.

We also nipped over to a small border area where the only road connecting several Estonian villages actually runs through Russian territory. You can drive down it, providing you don´t stop for the 2 km stretch, so we did. Then did a u-turn and drove through it again. It is a truly bizarre experience - the border to the European Union was a rusty, sagging, unguarded wire fence running through a field of purple Lupine flowers.

We did a bit more sightseeing in the area - up to Räpina and Lake Peipsi (not named after the drink), and then decided to bang through straight to Tallinn. It was interesting watching how the housing improved along the way from east to west. What were rundown, paint-peeling wooden cottages with collapsing barns became shiny, newly painted wooden cottages with perfectly repaired barns and BMW´s parked outside.

Tallinn itself is amazingly touristy. The other capitals of the Baltics have been normal cities, but the centre of this is just awful. So it was a surprise to discover that if you go just one stree over, literally 25 metres from the screaming throng of German and English tourists and costumed estonian girls, the next street was quieter, containing empty art galleries and cafes with a single patron. And only one street further and the houses were boarded up, youths sitting on steps and 300 year old buildings stood in which people are happily going on with their lives without the clamour of "Hey Dan! Wouldya look at that!" We climbed a tower in the city walls and walked along them, completely alone up there as all the other tourists were playing follow the leader up the hot, steep hill to the upper city, something we´ve decided to give a miss as we´ve already seen too many castles as it is.

Tomorrow we´re on a ferry to Helsinki, there to start the Scandinavian tour.