No plan, no matter how good
Survives first contact with the enemy
You’ll recall from yesterday’s post that I was planning on sightseeing today, and I had a number of places in mind. but as it turns out, from a series of discussions with the the guides (Marc and Mike), I realized that I had not planned well enough (yet again), so I was going to need to do a little shopping. And so, I threw out the sightseeing plan, and headed to the mall.
|Miles Driven Today
|Total Trip Mileage
|Countries visited Today
|Countries visited on trip
|US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia
Chocolate as a breakfast food?
It’s 6:00 AM and yesterday, from halfway around, I received a gift of chocolate, delivered from across the street. It was very special indeed to receive a gift like this, to celebrate the start of the trip, from the E Coast, so many miles away.
I”m hungry. So, with breakfast an hour away, I had to try the chocolate. I think that I would have eaten a piece yesterday, but it was simply too risky. You see, the hotel placed the chocolate, which is in a see-thru plastic container, on a table, near the window, in the sun. So, by the time I got to it, the chocolate needed some TLC. And so, into the fridge it went for an overnight repair. And now, it’s morning, and the chocolate is healthy, and might I say, delicious?
Here’s a picture of a piece of the chocolate covered moss.
The official hotel breakfast doesn’t start until 7:00 AM today, and since the gift included chocolate with reindeer moss, I thought it was time to get a grip on exactly what reindeer moss is.
Reindeer moss, (Cladonia rangiferina), a fruticose (bushy, branched) lichen found in great abundance in Arctic lands. It is an erect, many-branched plant that grows up to 8 cm high, covers immense areas, and serves as pasture for reindeer, moose, caribou, and musk oxen. In Scandinavia it has been used in the manufacture of alcohol, but difficulties in obtaining reindeer moss arise because of its slow growth rate (3 to 5 mm per year). Its periods of most rapid growth are spring and fall when high humidity and cool temperatures prevail.
The real breakfast
Last night at dinner, I mentioned that the fresh fruit that the hotel served with breakfast was great, and that I was surprised that they were able to get such great fruit her, at the Savoy, in Tallinn, Estonia. Well, Karen, one of my fellow travelers quickly made it clear that Estonia is a real country, where they have ships and planes, arriving all the time. Some of these ships and planes, have fruit on board, so I shouldn’t be so surprised.
Ouch, she’s right, and this is an example of how easy for me, an American, to think that only tropical places, can have fresh fruit, which is clearly wrong. It’s wrong in the same way that it’s certainly possible to eat caviar, in Baton Rouge, even if the caviar came from Russia.
I won’t take pictures of the fresh fruit, for fear of sounding even more like an idiot, spouting off on the wonders of fresh fruit, but I do plan on enjoying some fruit, nevertheless.
A chance meeting yesterday
On Thursday afternoon, after I had picked up the bike from the dealer, I arrived back at the hotel. Carrying my helmet, jacket, and a bag full of stuff (Rain gear, spare parts, etc.), I entered the elevator, where there was another gentleman already standing.
I’m not good with names or faces, so I was racking my brain to figure out where I had met this guy, assuming that it was at a BMW rally somewhere, but I was wrong. I looked at him and said, I know you, where did we meet. He simply reached out his hand and said, I’m Ron Wyden, US Senator from Oregon.
Now, I’m not usually short on words in any situation, but between laughing at myself for not recognizing Ron, and being generally surprised, I couldn’t really say much, but I rode to the 3rd floor with him, got off of the elevator and went on to my room.
I saw on again the next morning at breakfast, and with my laughing having stopped, I met him in the restaurant for breakfast. I walked over, introduced myself, and he introduced me to his wife Nancy, who also happens to own the Strand bookstore in NYC, where I had gone looking for books when I was caring for my sister Laura during her time at Sloan Kettering.
I visited the Kiek In De Kok museum, which has a series of towers, and some underground fortification tunnels. The most bizarre aspect of this museum is that almost every time I followed a path, looking for interesting exhibits, I found it was a dead end, and I had to turn around.
Certainly the most interesting part was climbing the stairs to and from the towers, where the passages were narrow, and clearly not designed for someone of my height. So, I tried to capture some video to show all of this to you. Enjoy
What will tomorrow bring
I’ve just learned that I will need to have about $50 USD worth of rubles, in order to enter Russia. So, I’ll need to change some money, and prepare for our first, true, official briefing of the trip.
In addition, I’ll need to take a long look at the GPS and go through the process of loading backup maps, way-points, etc. And lastly, I had another poor night’s sleep, so I’ll get caught up on sleep, some time today.
Well, it’s about time for this whole thing to get real. On Sunday morning, we’ll leave the hotel, leave Tallinn, and leave Estonia, through the border crossing at Narva. Given the recent nuclear accident in Russia, and given that there have been some protests in the streets, we’ll need to stay alert, and stay away from any situations that erupt.
I’ve crossed remote borders, into remote countries before, but never have I crossed a border like the one that we’re about to cross. This will be the first of many crossings, where culture, customs, and control dictate what happens.
I’m traveling with a bunch of seasoned travelers, and I expect that, over the next 73 days, we’ll help each other get through borders, solve problems, and have fun. Wish us luck!