2 Ferries in 2 days, I’ve become an expert
|Travel From||–||Helsinki, Finland|
|Intermediate Location||–||Baltic Sea|
|Ending Location||–||Tallinn, Estonia|
|Miles Driven Today||–||25 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||4487 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–||Finland, Estonia|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia|
Today was a light mileage day, but a relatively complex day, nonetheless. We enter Russia in 4 days, and once over the border, we’ll begin to make miles in the faraway lands that are at the core of this trip.
Morning has broken
It’s 5:00 AM, and I’m sitting on the 12th level of the ship, looking out at the horizon, and watching the waves go by as I wait for the sunrise. You’ll recall that Level 12 is an open-air level, with a small area for people to sit inside, while the outside area on deck 12 has deck chairs, and large open plan.
As I sit here, I can see that it’s getting lighter outside, and I’m excited to know that the sunrise will be here soon, and it should be beautiful.
But, alas, after waiting an hour, and TXTing with Robin about the sunrise and other things, I discover that, as we are heading East towards Helsinki, and so the sunrise will be at the front of the ship. From the observation deck, there are big (huge) pieces of the ship in the way, so I’ll be unable to see the sunrise.
But, all is not lost. I scamper down to level 11, knowing that the restaurant is at the front of the ship, and I’ll be able to look out towards the horizon from inside the restaurant, but when I arrive, I discover that the restaurant is closed, and I’m out of good ideas. Borrowing a line from the old Seinfeld episode… “No soup for me”, not today anyway. So, I head back to the cabin, to write a portion of this post.
Wi-Fi, Internet and Cell service
I purchased the WI-Fi package for 25 Euros, and although the bandwidth was not all that I would have wanted, it was worth it to be able to post the videos, answer email, and complete two more blog posts. All of this work needed to be done on a computer, and I couldn’t effectively do the work on the phone, although I can write very simple posts on the iPhone. That said, my Internet access package ended at 1:00 AM this morning, 12 hours to the minute after it started.
So, if I wanted Internet access, I’d need to buy more time, which would cost another 7 euros, for a single hour. I’m not generally a cheap guy, but this type of predatory pricing really rubs me the wrong way, and I’m a tech guy, so I look for another way to solve this problem. Hmmm, I think I’ve found one.
As we approach Helsinki, the Baltic Sea narrows, with Helsinki on one side, and Tallinn, Estonia on the other. The ship will “turn to the right”, bringing it relatively close to Estonia, that is to say, within about 20 miles or so. I noticed that even though I’m out at sea, 20 miles offshore, the cell connection to Estonia Telecom was available on my phone. So, I put away the computer, and started up the phone. It only took a minute to get connected, after which I was able to download email, TXT messages, check the news, and a few other things. So, I avoided the need to spend another 7 Euros on Internet.
As part of my meal package, I am provided a hearty breakfast on the morning of the arrival. The boat arrives at 9:0 AM, and breakfast is served from 7:00 – 9:00 AM.
Disembarking the ferry
As I leave the ferry, I have to make my way to another ferry terminal, located somewhere across Helsinki. During my Internet period yesterday, I was able to use Google Maps to pinpoint the exact location of the other terminal, and have discovered that it’s only 5 miles away, not 15 as I had been told. That said, its time to make my way to the terminal, and get ready to wait for the next boarding process.
Getting to the 2nd ferry
Well, after exiting the boat, I discovered that the trip to the 2nd ferry terminal was 16 miles after all. It took me about 30 minutes to arrive at the Check-in point, where I was able to confirm that I had arrived at the right place, but that check-in would not be open until about noon. So, that left me about 90 minutes to kill, so I went looking for someplace to have lunch.
VIDEO OF 4 CAMERAS WILL GO HERE
Unfortunately, as I write this post, I realize that I left my helmet at the dealer this afternoon, and I neglected to get the Memory card from the helmet, so I’ll need to get it tomorrow, if I’m ever going to insert my first 4 POV video footage.
Lunch – Be my guest
I exited the terminal complex, and in about ¾ mile, I found a restaurant that looked perfect. It would allow me to have visibility of the bike, they had a bathroom, and they would be glad to serve me lunch, once they opened, which would be at 10:30. So, I parked the bike, and sat down. I quickly made friends with the proprietor, and we started talking. His name is Son, and he’s Vietnamese, which is likely why he was recruited to run this Vietnamese restaurant. He spoke fluent English, as well as Vietnamese, but he did not speak fluent Finnish, which was pretty funny. He said, “I’m working on it”.
I placed my order, and asked him if I could take a video, and he said sure, no problem. So, without further ado, let’s see what happened during my quick interview.
After the interview, Son set out to make my summer rolls.
With all of the hard work done, he brought my order to the table, and I enjoyed a light, yet great-tasting lunch.
To be honest, I thought it was really nice of him to let me film him as he made the food, and he seemed like such a positive guy, it was kind of infectious. So, by the time I left the restaurant, at 11:45, I was in a really good mood.
The check-in process
This whole European experience is a bit bewildering to me. For example, in order to locate my reservation on the ferry, and presumable to prove who I am, I have to present my passport. But, I don’t think that the passports are used for any customs or immigration tasks, simply to “know me”. And, just was the case when I exited the ferry in Helsinki, and did not need to show my passport, or any other paperwork.
I was handed two tickets by the check-in representative. One was my reservation on the ferry, for me and the bike, and the other was a ticket that granted me access to the Comfort lounge. When I crossed from Harwich to Hook of Holland, I had access to their version of the comfort lounge, and I found it to be a nice place to sit, have a few drinks and snacks, and have access to separate bathrooms, etc. So, building on that experience, I purchased the comfort lounge for the crossing to Tallinn, Estonia.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. You see, after I cleared the check-in booth, I was sent to another staging area, where we’d wait until 12:45, when we’d board the ferry.
Loading and securing the bikes on the Ferry
Real-time tracking (Oops)
During the ferry trip from Travelmunde to Helsinki, I had turned on the InReach Explorer, but each time I tested the Garmin website, to look at where on the Baltic Sea I was, I found that the website simply didn’t show me anywhere.
Arrival in Tallinn
I exited the boat, and I wanted to be sure to get the bike to the BMW dealer so that when they started to work on it tomorrow morning, it would be cool to the touch. Marten had suggested that the adjustment of the valves is sensitive to heat, so I figured I would drop the bike today, and free myself from having to go back to the dealer until Friday, when I’d pick up the bike.
Arrival at Inchape BMW, Tallinn, Estonia
And so, I made my way to the BMW dealer, and wandered around outside, riding my bike in circles, as I tried to figure out where the Motorcycle service door was. I gave up, and parked the bike in front of the dealer, and just as I was walking inside, Marten came out to meet me.
I have to say that it was really great to meet him, and to get a chance to thank him face-to-face, for all of the hard work, and preparation he did to be sure that my bike would be ready for the trip.
So, as I was preparing to leave the dealership, and head to the hotel for the evening, I had a chance to get Marten on video.
I arrived at the hotel at about 5:30 PM, where I quickly checked in, and put all of my gear in my room. It seems like I’ve already had 3 or 4 meals today, so I figured I’d go out for a beer, meet some folks, and then call it a night, getting ready for some sightseeing tomorrow.
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow was scheduled to be a a pretty relaxed day. I don’t have to ride anywhere, and the only obligation that I expected to have was to attend dinner at 6:30 PM, at the hotel’s restaurant.
But, since the rain-gear at the BMW dealer did not fit, I have to to out and visit a couple of shops, looking for rain gear. So, I’ll start with addressing this problem, and then, time permitting, I plan on walking to Old Town Tallinn to take in the sights.