Mayan Prophecy Countdown
I am getting caught out by the late lifestyle over here, because of the bright and late evenings, people seem to stay up later and get up later. So, trying to get breakfast at a nice hour(for me) of 7am is a bit hard, so 9am it was and side stand up at 10am! Because of the error in my thinking, re the Salt Cathedral I now did not have to go into Warsaw and in fact I did not have to go anywhere except Russia. I was still a fair way away at this stage from St Petersburg and I was not planning on doing 1000km days starting at 10am! Plus, there is always the actual border crossing, I have no idea what to expect, but can recall someone mentioning delays, so I would need to get there quite early just in case. From the Latvian border crossing to St P is 400km, but I was still in Poland and needed to transit Lithuania and Latvia. Anyway, I headed off and left the lakeside pension in the sun, a nice day for a ride, although a tad on the cool side and immediately got caught up in more toll booths. I had no money, cash anyway, and used my plastic every time, many times during the day!!!
The only way to Russia is on this slab which was in excellent condition or take the back roads, I am not sure what condition they are in, but I was now in ‘Russia’ mode, so I will pay the price. The roads were mostly empty, so I hope they make good use of my dosh on the upkeep of the road. I noticed that trucks had to pay 10 times what I was paying, a few bucks a time and a lot of trucks were on the back roads, so this choice seemed best at the time. On a bad note, my GPS is locking up again, these things are the bane of my riding life, this time it is was on a straight road and I had the white screen of death. A reboot and reset to factory defaults fixed it, but it is annoying, especially as this is a new replacement unit. I am still using the Garmin Europe maps so I am unsure what was going to happen when I hit Russia and using Open Street maps :(
As I used the ring road around Warsaw, I had to ride through glass roofed tunnels, I have no idea why this would be, it seems a waste of money really as it just stayed above ground and served no real purpose that I could see, but went for a long while, quite a few kms?
On the northern outskirts of Warsaw there were a lot of pedallers on the side of the roads, most were selling what looked like black or blueberries out of jars, and the people were of all ages. But, there were also a lot of side tracks into the woods amongst these people and here girls were standing, I am not sure what they were selling as their wares were not to be seen, only imagined!!!
I started to run into a lot of roadworks, so at least the money was being used somewhere and there were many fancy new bridges and overpasses to be seen as well :)
What is missing along the highways are parking areas, or layby’s with dunnies etc, lucky for me there was a bus stop every few kms and I just had to pick an empty one not near houses, not as easy as you may think as most bus stops indicated houses near by, but the occasional one was screened a bit from view!!
Reflections of Holland
A traditional house along the roads
So, it was late afternoon and I entered Lithuania, around 5pm or so and I still wanted to make some tracks so kept on going. Here once again were signs advising of the toll system, user pay seems to be the watch word of the day, I have no idea how many times I have stopped and handed over the plastic, but a lot of times, for a few bucks at a time.
So, I barrelled on with a possible destination for the day of Kaunas as it was only 20 odd kms from where I was, while Vlinus was 120km, it was not too far ahead by now and I even spotted a cache just on a side turn off. I had stuffed up the Poland ones and for some reason they were missing, so I never found one there, not to worry :) This one was a basic stop and an easy find but the cache was totally soaked, yuck. Next to the road Kaunas – Jonava (A6) you can find a huge stone. It is a table on it which announces – “Welcome to a region of Switzerland, London and Paris!” It was an original somones pitch during Soviet times – name countrysides after significant place-names :) I never saw the stone they were indicating, but only these wooden stakes
It was after this I got caught out, I found a hotel on the outskirts of Kaunas, but decided it was too much, especially when I had to pay extra for WiFi, so I decided to ride on north and see what I could find. Nothing basically, I was checking out the hotel signs 30km north, there was nothing in the vicinity and maybe they had been closed down but the road signs were left up? I could see I had made a mistake and it was gone 7pm, so rather than take a chance on ‘something’ being available I decided to return to the hotel I had stopped at. At least here they had secure parking, so I did that and accepted the knowing smile of the counter chica and booked in and had a great dinner of pork medallions and rice and salad, and a few beers mind you :wink:
Cheers from Kaunas, Lithuania