08-12 Day 33 (Preparing for the crossing)

Spending the day in Travelmunde, waiting for the ferry


Travel FromLubeck, Germany
Intermediate LocationHotel, for desparately needed WiFi connection
Ending LocationTravelmunde, Germany
Starting Odometer28,989
Ending Odometer29,005
Miles Driven Today16 Miles
Total Trip Mileage4462 Miles
Countries visited Today 
Countries visited on trip US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg

Today is obviously a very low mileage day, and I’ve focused my energy on working through all of the details related to the ferry journeys, from Travelmunde to Helsinki, and then from Helsinki to Estonia.

As of today, I’ve visited 12 countries, and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind adventure. One I arrive in Tallinn, I’ll spend 4 days getting acquainted with my fellow riders, and getting the bike serviced before I hit the road in Asia.

A positively civilized day

When I envisioned what the day in Travelmunde would be like, I made notes that indicated that I might be sleeping in a parking lot, waiting for the Ferry to open it’s gates. But, it’s not like that at all.

As it turns out, the ferry opens for boarding 6 hours before it leaves for Finland. In fact, what is so odd about this ferry is that the boarding process for reserved passengers ends 2 hours before departure. So, if you have not checked in by 1:00 AM, you could lose your reservation.

But, that’s not what makes it civilized. The “civilization” comes from finding a 5 star hotel, and camping out in the dining room, from noon, until I board the ferry at 9:00 PM this evening. And so, here I sit, having a 5 star lunch, and a beer, which will be followed by a 5 star dinner, which will be followed by less beer, but maybe I’ll have one at 6PM, giving me time to get on the bike, and make the 3.5 mile trip to the ferry.


My lunch consisted of a Becks beer, and cream of mushroom soup, with chanterelle mushrooms, and a ball made of ox tail. Absolutely delicious. I followed that with Caesar Salad, and 3 very small diet cokes. The total for this little dalliance into 5-star eating was about $55. But, considering the comfort, privacy, and ability to get food and drink while I worked, let’s say it was worth it.


It’s also kind of surreal to be sitting at this 5 star hotel, in a dining room that has no other customers at all. I’m the only one in the dining room, although there are about 10 people or so, located outside, on the deck, overlooking the port, and the beach.

More info about GPS maps

Well, you’re all probably sick of reading about mapping issues, but I just can’t help myself when I have a technical break-thru. And so, I’ve figured out that I am allowed to have two maps of the same region or country, installed on the GPS at the same time.

I installed two maps of Germany, one simply called Germany, and the other called germany2. I then started the GPS, and enabled only the first map. I let the GPS fix it’s position, and show me my location on the map. I then went into settings, and disabled this map of Germany, and enabled germany2. I exited the settings screen, once again, let the GPS fix it’s position, and voilla, I was looking at the same location, but the map was different.

This map is of my location, at the Atlantic Grand Hotel in Travelmunde. This map is the map that I was using as I traveled across Germany. Notice that the two maps also show the same GPS coordinates, to be at two slightly different elevations. Fascinating…
This is the new map, which I just downloaded, and installed onto the GPS. You’ll notice that not only are the colors different, but each map is layered with different ways of visualizing the data, and with different points of interest. This map shows toilets, while the other did not.

I’m fascinated by the information and knowledge that I’ve been able to acquire, simply by having to deal with a series of real-world problems, such as corrupted data, and routing issues. Each of these maps comes with a different .TYP file, which alters the colors, and how the map is visualized. But, each also comes with different points of interest. Compare the two maps, shown here at the same level of magnification, and you’ll see some of the differences.

And so, you might not see the significance of this, and certainly my buddy Scott was encouraging me to use Paper Maps as a backup, but I’ve figured out a way to have two maps of the same geographic region. In this way, if one of them ends up being corrupted, I’ll simply deactivate it, and activate the backup map.

I can only imagine that, as you read this, you’re saying… Well, so what. What do you mean you figured it out? This sounds really simple, are you and idiot, and why did it take you so long to figure it out.

OK, OK, I get it, it sounds simple, but I’ve never seen any articles, or technical content, on any of the hundreds of GPS and Garmin sites that I’ve visited that mentions that you can load two similar maps. In fact, it seems to be implied that you cannot do what I’ve just done, and we won’t know if it works completely until I test it while on the Ferry. But, in the meantime, this looks like a victory for guys with corrupted maps.

The Crossing

Arriving at the check-in gate, I found that I was the second vehicle to arrive. Jose and Alencia had arrived before me, riding a 1400CC Kawasaki Sport Touring motorcycle They are riding 2-up, and they live in Spain. They are traveling to Helsinki to enjoy a month-long vacation in Norway, where they will visit the northern-most point of Europe, and enjoy a day of almost complete daylight.

After some time, more cars, start to arrive, but very few motorcycles appear. I had arrived at about 7:15, and had expected that the check-in process would begin at 9:00 PM. I would have arrived a bit later, but once I was told that they needed my table in the hotel, and considering that there was confusion about where the check-in location is, I decided to check-in early, to avoid any last-minute panic, as was the case when I arrived at the docks in Harwich.

Jose and Alencia were kind enough to watch my bike, as I walked to the restaurant for a light snack. To get to the restaurant, I had to walk up 4 flights of stairs, and cross 200 yards of pedestrian bridge, before arriving at the other side, where I walked into a brand new, Finnlines management building. This looks to be their corporate offices, with a restaurant and dufy-free shop in the lobby.

At 8:30, a woman opens the windows of the check-in booth, and we’re off. I offer my passport, and she finds my reservation and checks me in without any delay. I’m handed a meal-ticket, a room assignment card, a receipt for access of me and my bike, and a few documents that explain numerous processes, such as eating, boarding, etc.

We scurry through the gate, up to the front of the next line, where I’m told that we’ll sit, until 11:00 PM, when we’ll board the ship.

Here’s a look at the entire process

The Mass Exodus

And so, as we sit in our line, waiting to board, more and more bikes start to join us. As it turns out, the bikes will be the first vehicles to board, and we’re told that we’ll be in the upper level. When I hear this statement, I don’t really comprehend what it means, or the implications, but more on that later.

Sitting on or near our bikes, the inbound ship arrives at about 9:30, and the exodus begins. Bikes, Cars, and then inevitable surge of trucks begin to disembark. It takes about an hour for all of the vehicles to exit the ship, yet we still sit, waiting.

Final Staging

At 10:50, we’re told that we’ll board in 5 minutes. So, I take that chance to visit the WC one more time, put on the helmet, and sit on my bike, waiting for what comes next.

At 10:59, a white van pulls in front of us, and flashes its lights as an indicator of “Get ready, here we go”. The van runs up the short bit of road, and then we begin to enter the ship. The boarding system seems to be a series of very large metal grates, which can be adjusted, and moved, to accommodate all of the different vehicles, their size, and the deck that they’ll park on. Motorcycles, as it turns out, will park on Deck 7, the highest deck for parking vehicles.

As I approach the ship, I begin to see these huge ramps, which I’ll need to ride up, enter the ship, and navigate to Deck #7. The first ramp is wide, almost as wide as the rear of the ship itself. But, after we’re onboard, we’re directed to ride up a second ramp, which is steeper, and narrower. This ramp seems to give way to a third ramp, where we eventually exit on Deck Level #7. As we pull onto deck 7, we’re marshaled into the parking spaces for motorcycles, which are on the extreme edge of the ship. Each parking space, perfectly sized for a motorcycle, with steel fastening loops, welded to the floor, which we’ll use to secure the bikes.

The on-boarding staff direct us to the parking spots, and the motorcycles take their places along the side of the ship, one after another, in what looks like a beautiful ballet of bikes. With all of the bikes, now sitting in their parking spots, with riders on top, we all begin to get off of our bikes, and take the next step.

Securing the bikes

As it turns out, this ferry’s staff does not help bikers in any way at all. When I boarded the ferry in Harwich, for the crossing to Amsterdam, I was immediately assisted by the boarding crew, who attached a chain to the floor, and then ran a strap over the top of my bike, attaching to the chain on either side. The process took about 2 minutes, and I did not have to do a thing.

Securing the bikes on this ferry would prove to be a wholly different experience. Getting off of the bike, I see in front of me, hundreds of straps, apparently to be used to secure the bike. So, I look at these things, with very little of an idea of what to do next, so I put on a bewildered face, and watch what the others are doing. After a few minutes, another biker lends me a hand, and shows me the ropes, or more literally, the straps.
I quickly learn how to secure the bike, and I take a quick video.

I get to the end of the row of bikes, and find Robert and Si, with that same bewildered look that I had, just moments before. And so, in an attempt to repay the many kindnesses that I’ve had directed at me, I give Robert a hand securing his Ducati to the deck. It takes a couple of attempts, but we get it locked down, and ready to make the crossing.

It’s amazing how these little bits of exertion and stress, coupled with a humid steel chamber can quickly cause a human to start sweating, but as I look at Robert, and many other riders, we’re all sweating, but we all share that same look of satisfaction, knowing that we can now go get a beer for our troubles.

Beer me, please

We had been warned that after we board the ship, it may take a while for the cleaning crew to finish servicing the cabins, and in that regard, we’re not disappointed. As Robert, Si and I are sitting in the bar, we’re informed that “Level 7 cabins are now ready to be occupied”. Some time later, after drinking a beer, we’re told about Level 8, and then, after sitting in the bar for at least an hour or more, we’re told that Level 9 cabins are now ready for occupation. Of course, my cabin is on level 9.

And so, off to bed I go.

What time is it anyway?

Let’s take a moment to frame this whole situation. The ferry is scheduled to leave port at 3:00 AM. We checked in at 8:30, boarded at 11:00, and now it’s 2:00 AM, we’ve been drinking for an hour or more, and we’re still an hour from departure. Once again, this is surreal. I can’t imagine what the hell they are doing from 11:00 PM until 3:00 AM, but we al believe that it is a delay tactic, put there to simply cause us to eat and drink, generating revenue, but it is possible that they were doing other things, presumably necessary things, as they prepare the ship for departure.

My Cabin

I don’t think that these cabins will ever compete with a Ritz Carlton, but they are comfortable, clean, and reasonably roomy. Have a look for yourself.

What will tomorrow bring

OMG, where do I begin. I’m just starting a 30 hour ferry trip, across the Baltic sea, where I’ll wake up0, 800 miles away, in Helsinki Finland. For Gods Sake, that should be enough of a talking point, but there is more. You see, I will need to get my bike to Estonia, from Finland. It turns out there are 3 ferry lines that make this crossing, several times each day. I purchased a ticket yesterday, for one of these ferries, and discovered that it leaves from the West Dock, #2. Now, that’s all well and good, and I figured I would get off one ferry, simply go to another terminal, and get on the next ferry. So, with a 9:00 AM arrival in Finland scheduled, I figured I’d need an hour or so, to get on the other ferry.

I could not have been more wrong. As it turns out, the ferries to Estonia leave from a completely different Ferry terminal, which is apparently some 12 miles away from where we’ll arrive. So, it’s good that I booked a ferry for a 1:30 PM departure. (Always thinking, right…).

And so, when you ask me what tomorrow will bring, I can only say that I expect numerous surprises, and obstacles. But, I’m getting better and better at this world travel stuff, and I think I’m ready. But, that’s what I said last time, and the time before that. Those of you that Know me well, know that I tend toward over-confidence, which has served me well, but also caused me to be in situations that should or could have been avoided. So, place your bets, and you’ll learn what happens, tomorrow, when I make my next report.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.


    1. Thanks Nance
      I have recorded a really fun, and different video for the post of 08-14. I hope you enjoy it.

    1. Hi Clara, thanks for the nice words. I am trying to make it to be somewhere between a motorcycle blog, adventure blog, and travel blog. I hope I am achieving this, so that everyone finds something interesting.

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