Border Hopping

29/7/17. Our departure from Lake Constance was delayed by our reluctance to head off into the rain that was falling on Thursday morning. Having checked out of the campsite, we “hid” in the local cafe hoping for the promised better weather.

Eventually the sky started to look a little brighter and we set off towards the ferry in Meersburg to take us to the city of Constance itself. (A mighty pretty place it is too.) After stocking up on provisions at the last supermarket in Germany we crossed into the land of the banking “gnomes” and the famously high prices through a deserted border post.

The route along the southern shore of the Untersee (the smaller part of Lake Constance) took us through villages that had a different feel to their German counterparts, more rural and less touristy, and even the clang of cowbell, and led us to the picture postcard pretty town of Stein am Rhein. Ignoring the cycle route signs we went along the main street thronged with tourists and passed out through the western town gate to find ourselves back on the bike path which obviously took the long and not so pretty route round the less busy ring road.

On the northern bank of the river we soon crossed back into Germany, and then back into Switzerland. It was a taste of things to come!

We were aiming for a campsite that appeared on Stephen’s Garmin but when we arrived it appeared to have only permanent caravans despite several road signs with a tent. We pressed on crossing the river and back into Germany for another campsite. This one accepted tents but there were big signs everywhere saying “Private Campground for the Canoe Club only”.

We moved on. The road signs changed again although there was no other indication of a border crossing. It was now heading towards 7 o’clock so when we saw a sign for a B&B and temptation got the better of us. As we entered the village it still looked like Switzerland but turning up the side road to the farm where the B&B was Christine noticed that all the cars had German number plates.

Once we were booked in we asked “Are we in Germany or Switzerland?” The lady laughed and said it was an enclave of Germany completely surrounded by Switzerland. “We are politically German but economically Swiss”. We noticed this in the prices – €70 for the room and another €20 for breakfast which we declined figuring we could buy some bread rolls at a shop in the village in the morning.

Well! We chose 4 nice looking but smallish rolls and we’re staggered to be told that, once converted from Swiss francs, that they cost €5.40 – say £4.50! Definitely Swiss prices!

Friday was spent battling against a westerly wind on the northern bank, mainly in Germany but with a couple of forays into Switzerland. The route veered away from the river taking a shorter but hillier path through the minor foothills of the Black Forest. We had been hoping to get reasonably close to Basel by the evening but the wind, the heat (the rain clouds having gradually disappeared over the last two days) and the hills meant that we reached the town of Waldshut (Germany, in case you’re wondering) where we had stayed just over two years ago when we were aiming for the Black Sea. So we made for the same campsite. The area for tents was “free form” in that there were were no marked out spaces so, because we were there quite early, we could choose almost anywhere. As more and more people arrived it became more and more crowded.

Looking back at what we wrote last time we stayed here Stephen was annoyed at the cost €17 plus €1 for 4 minutes in the shower. This was after a couple of weeks in France. This time round it didn’t feel as extortionate after time in Finland where we occasionally paid close to €30 albeit with “free” showers, sauna and kitchen. It all depends on your perspective!

We had good chats to two separate British couples – Derek and Linda who were 4 weeks into a similar trip to us heading for the Black Sea, India and points east so we were able to share some of our experiences – and Carrie and (Sorry! We’ve forgotten your name!! How embarrassing!!!) who were driving down to Lake Constance to meet their son and who told us about a really interesting museum in Neanderthal.

On Saturday morning the tent was very wet from free and condensation so we were even slower than usual in getting going. The first part of the day was through pretty German towns on the north bank looking over at equally picturesque towns on the Swiss side and we found a lovely shaded spot for lunch on the old walls high above the river.

The last 20 km into Basel were as uninspiring as leaving the city had been two years ago but eventually we made our way through the suburbs, crossing briefly into Switzerland for the last time before hitting the French border for the last 2 km to another previously visited campsite in Huningue. This was at the more basic end of campsites but it’s price more than reflected this at €12 for the two of us for one night – and, amazingly for a campsite in France, there were toilet seats!

It has been interesting revisiting these two campsites after 2 years as, for both of us, it feels a bit like “completing the circle” of our trip.

Becalmed Beside the Bodensee

25/7/17. The absence of updates is an indication that not much has been happening in our lives in the last week or so. We have been waiting for Stephen’s back to recover and we’re pleased to report that it is much improved. One morning it took him the best part of 10 minutes to get out of the tent amid much grimacing and swearing under his breath but the last couple of evenings have seen it almost as good as new (it seems to regress during the night and then improve as the day goes on). He didn’t leave the campsite for the first two days – which was not too much of a problem as it is in such a lovely location – and he has hardly been on his bike the whole time which shows how much he has been suffering! However, with it just about recovered we should be making a move in the next day or two – assuming the weather improves. He will, of course, take things very carefully at first.

Friday and Saturday were glorious although there were spectacular electric storms both nights (with a group of young lads “next door” having to vacate their tents for the sanitation block at 1 in the morning because everything was soaked). Since then, though, the weather has been much less friendly with frequent heavy showers and strong gusts of wind.

We have enjoyed watching a family of mallards that periodically leave the lake to wander around the campsite. The mother is doing a phenomenal job of shepherding her 17 (yes! Seventeen!!) ducklings around and they are growing fast. There is a family of swans with 4 cygnets and one of the adults takes exception to the ducklings whenever they stay too close to his/her family chasing them away with much hissing and flapping.

On Monday evening we had a blow out at a favourite restaurant of ours, spending two days’ budget on the meal. But it was worth it! Especially Christine’s most favourite dessert – the Grosse Dessertteller or “Big Pudding Plate” which is a selection of 8 different dishes all served on the one plate. She has been told on previous occasions that people normally share it but she offers Stephen only a mouthful or two! [Photo to follow]

She found cycling the 3 km back to the campsite a bit of a struggle.

Boats and Trains (but no Planes)

20/7/17. The last few days have been spent travelling down to our favourite place in Germany – the Bodensee or Lake Constance where Germany, Austria and Switzerland meet at a widening of the Rhine. We have been here numerous times before (at least 10) and it is our favourite place – it is so beautiful and easy and German and good for cycling and lovely! In fact we often say if we ever had a holiday home it would be here!

We took the ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde, near Lúbeck, in northern Germany, but not before Stephen had a last bike ride in Finland while Christine had her pill “sitting down” session! The ferry sailed at 5 in the afternoon but check in was only between 1.30 and 3 and, because we declined the offer of a cabin at €290, we wanted to be one of the first on board to grab some of the best reclining seats for the 30 hour trip so aimed to get there early.

Of course the inevitable happened! We and the other 8 cyclists were put into one of the last lanes to be loaded. However, it was not really a problem as it seemed that most of the motorists were in cabins and mainly the cyclists who were slumming it. It was an unexciting trip across the Baltic which was at its most placid – thankfully as Christine had not got any sea sickness pills.

We arrived in Travemünde as it was getting dark (a real novelty!) and quickly made our way to the campsite nearby to get some shut-eye as, while better than it might have been because we had used our camping mattresses rather than the reclining seats, our sleep onboard had not been the best.

After a lie-in we slowly made our way to Lübeck, some 20 km away, enjoying loading the bikes on the bus to go through the Herrentunnel as we had almost a year ago en route from Berlin to Dieppe (see The Baltic Bummel 3). We were more than happy to use the same campsite and Christine went for a walk around the city while Stephen loafed around at the tent to rest his right knee which has been giving him “gip” for the last couple  of weeks when walking (but thankfully not cycling!)

On Tuesday we embarked on the first leg of our rail trip from one end of Germany to the other. We used a cheapo ticket which meant the second person (and also up to 3 others) to go anywhere for €8. The only problem was that the ticket was only valid on the slower regional trains rather than the fast Inter City ones. Thus we had to make five! changes of train and after 10 hours of travelling we had only reached the northern edge of Baden-Wurttemberg. However, Christine in particular enjoyed watching the changing landscape go past and it was a good opportunity to catch up on podcasts and reading.

The changes of train involved changing platforms and while there were generally lifts, at one station there were none so Stephen ended up carrying the bikes (minus a couple of panniers) up and down steps. At the last stop of the day, there were lifts but the one from the platform down to the tunnel to the exit was out of commission necessitating more carrying. In addition, most of the trains were such that we could wheel the bikes on and off but one, at a station where the train only stopped for a couple of minutes, required the bikes to be lifted up and down 3 steps. Somewhere on the journey Stephen didn’t do a “proper” lift and by the evening his back had seized up in protest. This combined with his dodgy knee left him feeling about 30 years older than he had at the start of the day!

We stopped in the small town of Lauda which appeared to be on a popular cycling route judging by the number of other cyclists in the hotel. The advantage of having reached here the previous evening was that on Wednesday we could buy a cheaper ticket for travel within B-W which would get us to our destination of Friedrichshafen on the shore of the Bodensee.

We arrived at the station in plenty of time in case we needed to use the broken lift so Christine could carry the bags and bikes in about10 trips up and down steps because Stephen’s back was completely out of commission. However, this was thankfully unnecessary.

While we sat waiting for the train a man walked along the platform carrying a cricket bat – something we had never seen in many trips to Germany. We got speaking to Khan, originally from Pakistan, and he explained that he played for Karlsrühe, a team in the cricket Bundesliga. He noticed Stephen wincing when moving and had a quick look at his back. He got out his ice-spray (very welcome) and gave Christine some physio-tape to apply that evening. Clearly he has some role in keeping the team healthy as well as being a player.

Just before the train was due sure there was an announcement that it was running 15 minutes late. We eventually caught the next train which was due an hour later and was itself half an hour late. To further discredit the reputation of German railway efficiency it stopped two stations short of its destination, Stuttgart, so we had to catch a suburban service before we could get on our final train to Friedrichshafen – so our journey across Germany involved 9 trains and one damaged back!

By the time we reached the Bodensee the clouds that had been around since a thunderstorm just after we arrived at the hotel in Lauda the previous evening had blown away and we were greeted by lovely sunshine and a cool breeze for a short ride to the campsite near the small town of Immenstaad, where we have stayed on all our previous visits to the lake except one. Here Christine took responsibility for pitching the tent on her own for the first time ever – but Stephen kept a close eye on her and issued detailed instructions!

The campsite is idyllicly situated right by the lake, with a small area exclusively for cycle tourists in the best spot. From our tent we have wonderful views across to Switzerland and the Alps. Just perfect!

Last Few Days in Finland

15/7/17. Having been unsuccessful in locating a Warmshowers host in Helsinki for the last two nights, it made sense to stay at the campsite in Kouvola and catch the train to Helsinki on Sunday morning in plenty of time for the ferry to Germany at 17.00 – or so we thought!

That was until we had the thought, on Friday evening, that it would make sense to check where the ferry port was in relation to the main station in Helsinki. It was a bit of a shock to find that it was 15-20 km away and we started to have doubts about the wisdom of staying in Kouvola on Saturday night given that trains were not very frequent and, in addition, some of them did not allow bikes on board.

To make the decision to move even easier we discovered that there was a campsite only about 5 km from the port. The only fly in the ointment was that we had already paid at the Kouvola campsite and they operate a strict “no refunds” policy. Still, an extra night’s camping fee was a small price to pay for Christine’s peace of mind – she gets extremely nervous if she is not at the station or airport or ferry or bus stop well in advance of the scheduled departure.

On Friday Stephen had taken the train into Helsinki. The bottom seams on both of his rear panniers had split during the journey through Finland and they were held together with a mixture of super glue and duct tape. He had emailed the manufacturers, Ortlieb, in Germany as the bags were less than two years old and have an excellent reputation with touring cyclists for being hardy and waterproof. They had made arrangements for an exchange to be made at their main dealer in Helsinki but would have sent replacements to any address specified, only asking for photos showing that the old ones had been destroyed. That’s impressive customer service! He is very pleased to have some smart new bags as the old ones had become quite scruffy even before the addition of the tape and glue! When the dealer pulled at the seams they split further easily – a sign that the material was not welded properly and he expressed done surprise that they had lasted as long as they had!

In an attempt to extract some value from the wasted campsite fee, Stephen had a sauna before we left on Saturday morning. Then we climbed the steep hill to the ridge overlooking the lake and campsite and made our way to the station. We had more than an hour and a half to wait as the first train was one of those which did not carry bikes. We were puzzled by this as we had checked this previously but then noticed that on Mondays to Saturdays it was a Pendolino train (no bikes) while on Sunday (which was the Shanghai we had checked) it was an Inter City train (bikes allowed)!

The next one, an hour later, was an Inter City so we waited in the main hall using the free Kouvola City Wi-Fi (excellent quality!). Christine was excited to see a train for St Petersburg arrive at the next platform just before ours pulled in. The journey into Helsinki took almost an hour and a half but was very comfortable on a smart double-decker train onto which we could roll the bikes straight from the platform. No lifting meant that we did not have to unload the bags before the train arrived and then rush around throwing 12 bags onto the train after the bikes!

As Helsinki was the final destination we also had a relaxed time unloading the bikes before setting off on the short but very pleasant ride (bike paths all the way!) through the city to the campsite in the suburb of Vuosaari.

The Barents to the Baltic

Done. Box ticked. Finito. 1,700 km ridden from the top of Norway to the bottom of Finland.

13/7/17. We made it! Today we cycled the last stretch to the Baltic Sea and a lovely ride it was too!

There were a few spots of rain in the night but by the time we woke it was a beautiful morning. Just right for completing our journey. From the lake shore it was a short but stiff climb of the ridge overlooking the campsite but this was made considerably easier by the absence of most of our luggage – we had only one lightly loaded pannier each containing rain coats (ever the cautious accountants!) and lunch.

From the top of the hill we made our way to a road that followed a river (so downhill!) and enjoyed the next 30 km on excellent cycle paths passing through farmland with crops other than hay. These included oilseed rape which was in full flower and perfume – so at least 2 months behind the UK. The only slight disappointment was a breezy headwind but being sans baggage this was not too much of an issue.

At the end of this stretch, the road we had been following joined a major road heading down the coast so we turned away from the river to what we hoped was a quieter alternative. We had been half expecting it to be gravel but should have realised that in the more heavily populated region along the coast this was much rarer than in the “wilder” parts we had passed through.

The road may have been paved but in other respects it was quite typically Finnish. It was undulating (ok, not as much as many we had risen but it still had its ups and downs) and it passed through lots of trees! After about 20 km we passed out of the woods and into a built up area so it was back onto cycle paths for the last 15 km of the journey through the town of Kotka to a rather lovely park (on the site of an old oil terminal) at the end of the promontory jutting out into the sea – the Baltic Sea!

We took the obligatory photos to mark the end of this stage of our journey and had a celebratory (expensive but tasty) ice cream before heading back to the rather elusive station to catch the train back “home”.

Down Came the Rain

12/7/17.  The rain continued intermittently throughout the night – at least at the times we were awake – but when we woke there were, on a positive note, no drumming noises on the tent. A quick poke of the nose outside quickly dispelled any optimism. It was a gloomy, grey day in the best traditions of a British summer! There was no way Christine was going cycling on a day like that if she didn’t have to – and even Stephen was going to see if things improved before throwing his leg over the crossbar! The blast to the coast was going to have to wait a day, at least.

Things did not improve! By the time we had both made our way to the kitchen the rain had set in and it went on and on and on! We had pitched the tent in an idyllic spot down from the main part of the campsite, very close to the lake shore. However, when Stephen went to get his wash things and towel to have a “morning sauna” it was starting to get squelchy underfoot close to the tent.

We started to have thoughts of the “exciting” night in Japan when we had to evacuate the tent at 4 in the morning to avoid floating away (see Drying Out) and so took it in turns to inspect the state of the ground at half hour intervals. By lunchtime, there were puddles pretty much all round the tent but, amazingly, we had put it on a piece of ground a few centimetres higher than the surrounding area (a complete contrast to Japan where we managed to do the opposite!)

Old site in Kouvola.

We decided to quit while we were ahead and move the tent about 30 metres away to higher ground which, of course, involved packing everything away first.

House move in progress!
New site in Kouvola

We were just grateful to have the kitchen area to sit in while the rain fell – such a contrast to the day spent in the tent in Donaueschingen in Germany 2 years ago (see What a Difference a Day Makes) when Stephen almost went stir-crazy.

The rain continued for the rest of the afternoon but just after 6 o’clock the sky started to get a bit brighter and by 7 Stephen was of off on his bike to the supermarket for supplies of yoghurt, fruit juice, peanuts and beer!

The forecast for tomorrow. Thursday, looks much more promising so we are hopeful of completing our journey to the Baltic.

Almost There!

11/7/17. The route from Mikkeli to Kouvola was too far to cover in a day at almost 140 km so we were resigned to splitting it into two. The problem was finding somewhere to stop for the night.  There was a town at about 55 km where we could find no details of any accommodation and was not really far enough as we preferred a long day day followed by a shorter one rather than the other way round. However, the next place, a campsite, was nearly 90 km which was, possibly, a little too far. We decided to set off and see how it went. We could always wild camp if necessary.

Progress in the morning was slow as the route we were taking south from Mikkeli, to avoid the manic Finnish drivers on the main road, was undulating and largely on gravel roads. In addition the sun was blazing out of a cloudless sky and there was a headwind. Christine, in particular, wilted but Stephen also found it tough going.

We reached the “55km town” by mid afternoon and it definitely felt too early to stop so we pressed on – at least we were on paved roads and a few clouds were taking the edge off the sun’s heat by now. After many more small hills we were thinking of stopping but just before 6 o’clock we received some welcome encouragement in the form of a signpost to the campsite showing 18 km to go. That’s “doable”!

With about 5 km to go Stephen stopped waiting for Christine at the top of hills and headed for the campsite to get checked in and erect the tent. He was just starting to put his bags inside before going to find Christine when she arrived – hot, tired but proud to have covered a tough 88km!

A quick dinner and refreshing showers were taken before we hit the sack for some very welcome sleep.

Waking the next morning to a thin layer of cloud keeping things a little cooler we had just enough food for breakfast as we had been scoffing supplies throughout the previous afternoon to keep us going. It wasn’t a problem as we knew there was a small supermarket about 15 km down the road where we could buy lunch and then we would be close to Kouvola which is a large town.

Another undulating road to start of off with slowed things down somewhat but by the time we came to eat lunch it was flatter and we were approaching the outlying villages around Kouvola so we arrived at the campsite around 3 o’clock and checked in for 2 nights.

We are now a day’s ride from the Baltic so we intend to leave most of our bags here and have a “blast” down to the coast without luggage returning by train. That is always assuming the weather plays ball – the forecast is not promising and it has started to rain this evening!

A Tale of Survival

9/7/17. After a grim start on Friday when we survived the “14” for about 10 km we have had a lovely time passing through pastoral countryside on mainly quiet roads, combined with a rest day.

Leaving the campsite at Savonlinna we had a few km on a cycle path beside the main road but then had to take our chances with the traffic. All that can be said is that we lived to tell the tale! Christine was not far off a gibbering wreck, reduced to dismounting whenever she heard a vehicle approaching from behind (which was a frequent occurrence and made for sssssllllloooowww progress), while Stephen was reduced to gesticulating wildly (and fruitlessly) at just about every second car that passed for coming too close. It was not a pleasant experience and has confirmed our reduced opinion of southern Finnish drivers – they are definitely on a par with New Zealanders for their inability to turn the steering wheel enough to pass a cyclist at a safe distance. And yet, like the Kiwis, they are lovely people when not behind the wheel!

The plan had been to follow the 14 all the way to Juva, some 50 km from Savonlinna, but we were both unequivocal in our desire to take the first turning off that presented itself. It added more than 20 km to the trip but it increased our chances of living to see Juva many fold! That is not to say that we didn’t experience some crap driving on that road (cue more gesticulations and heart palpitations) but it was far less frequent and we had the opportunity to enjoy the country we were passing through.

Arriving in Juva in the early evening we felt a great relief and were surprisingly tired from the emotional strain of the early part of the day. With the campsite being in a beautiful location on the shore of a lake

it was not a difficult decision to take Saturday as a pill/rest day and a chance to recharge our batteries (literally and figuratively). Stephen suffered from a temporary panic when his tablet started to malfunction raising fears that he would not be able to listen to podcasts (He is downloading 4 regarding the Tour de France every day at the moment!) but he managed to sort it out (hallelujah!). This freed him up to take his statutory ”rest day” bike ride while Christine mooched into town and generally took things easy once the period of no movement post pill swallowing had passed.

Sunday’s route was from Juva to the town of Mikkeli, only 40 km away – but that was via the “14” and the “5” (which looked as though it could be even worse). However, there were minor roads that, although wiggly, went in broadly the same direction and only involved a km or so on the 5. They added about 10 km to the route and, being mainly gravel, were much slower but they had the major advantage of not being lethal. It was a lovely relaxing ride through countryside that is much more pastoral. Interestingly it is almost exclusively grass/hay that is being grown which can only be to feed animals (?) and yet we have seen very little evidence of them. Perhaps they live inside all year round. Anyway, we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, particularly when we contemplated the alternative.
Just realised that the weather hasn’t been mentioned! Thursday had been really cold and the forecast that we saw said that Friday and Saturday would be the same with the possibility of some rain thrown in. So when it was chilly on Friday morning we were not surprised and donned our warm weather gear (Stephen even put on his woolly bobble hat). However, the sun soon broke through and we were stripping off like there was no tomorrow! And it has been glorious (low twenties and wall to wall sunshine) ever since. Much more like it!

Although we have left the Land of the Midnight Sun far behind we still have not seen real darkness in Finland. While we are turning in early (generally between 8 and 10 o’clock, but sometimes by 6 if we are wild camping in Mosquito City) we have woken at, say, 11.30 or 1.00 and it has been more what we would call “twilight” than “night”. It is an indication of how far north we still are even though we have cycled almost 1,500 km since leaving Kirkenes. We were surprised to learn that Helsinki is on the same latitude as the Shetlands.

Of Cycle Paths and Fast Narrow Roads

6/7/17. Again we were left to our own devices for breakfast in the hotel. The fridge was well stocked with cheese, cold meats, yoghurts, hard boiled eggs, etc. and the coffee machine just needed the button to be pressed so it was not a problem – just a little unusual!

With the inner man & woman satisfied, it was time to hit the road again. Unfortunately the fairly quiet one that we had been following the previous day had joined with a busier one but was no wider. The traffic fairly raced along and a significant proportion of drivers seemed to be reluctant to move out to pass. It reminded us of many roads in New Zealand – which is not a flattering comparison!

We endured this “excitement” for upwards of 10 km until we noticed a gravel road running parallel. The Garmin showed that, while it was less straight than the main road, it went in the same direction and was clearly the old superseded route. We took it and it was a great relief – even for Christine and her dislike of loose surfaces since her accident near Belgrade.

After another 10 km we reached a junction on the edge of suburban Joensuu – a city with a population of 74,000 according to Wikipedia (although this may include outlying villages in the metropolitan area). Here we joined a “proper” cycle path (shared with pedestrians but there were few of those until we reached the centre) and it was bliss.

The campsite was only about a km from the centre and was amazing value at €12 a night, including decent loos & showers and a substantial kitchen/dining area. There was also a morning sauna which Stephen would have used if we had stayed a second night (we were tempted but feel the need to press on towards Helsinki). Walking into the centre once we had made camp, it felt strange to be in such a large city after all the tiny “one horse” towns we have passed through since leaving the UK.

It was a cloudless sky when we woke and so we were slapping on the sunscreen before we left. This had the obvious effect and the clouds started to roll in. Soon we were getting the raincoats out as we headed southwest into the wind.

On the plus side our route was along cycle paths for almost 30 km but these ended as we left the town of Liperi and we were back on a narrow road which was surprisingly busy and fast. With the occasional rain showers, it did not make for pleasant cycling.

However, as we got past lunch and further out into the “wilds” again (the countryside has been much more inhabited and pastoral for the past 2½ days) the traffic thinned and was less intimidating. An initial look at the map showed that we were heading into an area that looked to be as much water as land so we were anticipating a picturesque and relatively flat ride. A closer inspection, however, showed that the road we were on went across the only large land mass in the area so we had only limited sights of water and encountered more than the expected number of climbs. It felt very much as though we were back in the countryside that we had become a little fed up with and which the South Africans had been complaining about so vociferously.

It was also sparsely populated and lacking in campsites so after 80 km and 500 metres of climbing we found a spot for wild camping. Although we had not been bothered by insects for much of the day as soon as we started putting up the tent clouds of mosquitoes and midges descended. We scurried into the tent and forewent a hot meal in favour of bread and cheese munched in the insect free zone of the inner tent. We also restricted our liquid intake to avoid trips into the bushes in the middle of the night!

Thursday morning saw us up and on the road before breakfast in order to avoid our flying tormentors. A 12 km ride took us down to the lake shore to a ferry which was really a floating bridge – the gap was a couple of hundred metres and it operated “on demand”. We rode straight on and it set off with us as the only passengers. We had got about 5 feet when the operator noticed a car coming down the hill so we went into reverse to allow it to join us.

Once across the other side we sat down to eat and were munching away when a lady waiting for the ferry called us over to her car to offer us a pastry each from a large basket full on the back seat. We were more than happy to accept!

Leaving the little ferry crossing we were back on an undulating road passing through lots of trees with little view of the water. It was however the reverse of the previous afternoon as, overall, it was downhill but the road gradually became busier as we neared “civilisation” again.

We could see that we were coming to a major road, the “14”, but thankfully just before we reached it a cycle path appeared which took us into the city of Savonlinna. The campsite here was not as conveniently located as the one in Joensuu, being on top of a hill a few km the other side of town, but we took the opportunity to stop in town for coffee/chocolate, an ATM and to stock up on supplies.