To get to my chosen start point of Tallinn in Estonia proved to be relatively simple. A direct train took me from Vienna to Warsaw and the following evening I caught an overnight bus direct to Tallinn. Flixbus may have its faults and 17hrs over night on a bus is never ideal, but now that many of the green machines have bike racks, it is so easy and affordable to make long journeys with a bike. Especially when you compare it with having to work out all the train connections and individual providers bike carriage regulations.
A friend of a friend had agreed to put me up for the night in Warsaw, but my first problem was getting out of the central train station – I couldn’t find an exit without steps and in the end had to half unload Raven and haul everything up to street level. A whirlwind tour of the city the next day took me to the old town, the Neon museum – Warsaw was a bit of an icon for Neon in the Soviet era – Lazienki park and a random but excellent Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.
The bus journey passed pretty uneventfully and I slept enough to wake up the next morning staring out at Riga bus station. By lunch time I was in Tallinn’s equivalent, which reads ‘Tallinna bussijaam’ – looks like a fun language to get to grips with! I found my way to my first Warmshower host of this trip with no problem and before long we were putting the world to rights in the kitchen; chatting about everything from bikes, to career changes, Soviet childhoods, the miracles and sometimes miseries of bike touring, to what constitutes cold in winter (-22C if you’re an Estonian school kid, because then you get the day off, if you are young enough!)
The next day I had planned to spend visiting Tallinn, but the weather had other plans with a big autumn storm throwing tree branches and walls of rain around most of the day. I did venture out long enough to see the beautiful and very deserted old town, before heading home to cook dinner for my host. I had forgotten once again how refreshing and self reflecting it is to meet new people and talk about different lives to the ones we are surrounded by in our day to day. I could have stayed chatting in that kitchen for longer, but I had come to cycle and Corona was already trying to nip at my heals. 5 days after I arrived, Estonia implemented a 14 day quarantine period for the majority of arrivals.
It was time to get riding.