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Trip Log
Day 6 – Breaking into Russian Federation
Walnut Grove, Beautiful Fields and Relaxing
(nearly got caught with that one, had the other word in there that begins with s and ends in eenery)

@JasonWD, you are the man, thank you,

Lads, thanks for all the comments, this is the first time I have written up a trip and everytime I see something, or think about something, I immediately, think, I will have to tell the lads about that. It sort of feels like ye are all here, or that ye will be there in the evening. Thanks for reading.

On Day 6, I have breakfast sitting down for the first time since leaving home. Ye can’t beat some herrings, pickled gerkin and a few raw onions to start the day lads. Forget an Irish fry, try the full Polish. It keeps you regular.

Big Crash, not the bike
There was a pretty girl in the breakfast restaurant with her CV, looking for a job. The waitress went off to get the mananger to interview her and while standing there, what did she do only knock over and completely smash about twenty five glasses all neatly stacked up. She was in shock and started crying and the staff all came running to check if she was ok, she was not cut but I doubt she will get the job.

Still Able for it
On day 6, the goal was to ride from Suwalki to Klaipedia which is my purpose for this trip, so I have only 288 KMs to go. For the first time since I hit the road, I feel I can relax a bit.

Also, because it is ten years since I did this sort of long distance riding, I am starting to think I might be ok, perhaps I am able for it, at 47. I was nervous that I would calve half way through and have to get a van to ship the bike home, and even worse, get one of those luxury coaches that you see elderly Germans and Scandinavians being shipped around Europe in. I think that is one reason I posted here online, so that if I even considered bailing, you guys would slag the arse off me for giving up.

My Second-best Ride Ever
I had a short ramble around the town on the bike, and once again, was ready to ride. Weather was lovely, about 10 – 13 degrees, so just perfect. No rain gear, summer gloves and chain lubed. There are two or three roads to ride from Poland to the west to Klaipedia, I chose the small road but I got lucky and ended up on a fantastic, gorgeous road. Baring Norway, this was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on. Each village looked like Walnut Grove, for those old enough to remember where that was. Little streams running through a village, with wooden farm houses, with outhouses, and logs all stacked neatly and gardens as neat as a pin. I could see Pa and Doc Baker in the distance.

Getting Clipped
I stopped to take a picture of the empty road. Not a sinner and such a contrast to what seems like weeks ago. Crossing England, crossing Germany with truck after truck. Here I am now with not a car in sight. I jump off the bike with the helmet still on to take pic of this road. What I did not hear was the Audi 100 circa 1988 doing about 160, black smoke belching from the exhaust. I came close enough to getting cliped by him. A moment later, the road was back to what I intended to photo.

Admin, I only mention this as I was getting off the bike, no photos of that dirty, stinkin' cage.

If you fancy a little light off road, or off tarmac anyway, there is any amount of roads like this to play around on. Good for bikes like the Africa Twin. Not muddy enough to get bogged down.

Enormous Skys
One of the first things I noticed when I rode into Lithuania was the enormous skys. Not sure why it is, probably the flat landscape, and after riding through forrests in Poland, the entire place seems to open up, lighten up, the air seems less thick, and these enormous skys just fill your visor view. I am not doing it justice with this image but it is the best I have for you.

It was a little windy, or perhaps that’s the bike, or perhaps it is the bike plus the three boxes, plus the not insignificant 18 stone guy sitting one it, whatever, all I know for sure is that the bike blows around a fair bit. At one stage, I felt the wind turbines were mocking me, sort of saying “yes, yes, the rain is gone but we can still f**k with you”

What do GS’s or FJR’s think of the wind when you are touring, do you get constantly blown around at 100 – 120 Kmp/h?

The Bike
Usually, at this point, we would be starting to find the odd niggle with a bike. Mirrors not quite good enough, flat spot, not enough power low down, or not enough top end. Seat cutting the hole off you, back breaking, luggage rattling and worrying us that it is going fall off. All the usual stuff. Honestly, I have non of that. The Honda is great. Other than maybe being liable to blowing around a bit, it is perfect.

BTW, I usually use a magnetic tank bag, and for this trip I decided to try it without the tank bag. Very glad I did, if I had it, it would be full of crap, but without it, the bike is nice and easy, and no fretting when I park it up.

Breaking into Russia
For those that haven’t noticed, there is a small piece of land between Poland and Lithuania named Kalingrad. It is still owned by Russia. In effect it is Russia. I was riding quite close to it so eventually I got to a road that offered to take me to Kalingrad.

I knew that you cannot get into Kalingrad easily. Even when you get a Russian visa, it says access to everywhere except Kalingrad. I decided to give it a shot anyway.

I rode up to yer man at the bridge. It was quiet with a couple of **** rust bucket trucks with Belarusian regs. You can see him looking at me thinking “not in a million years comrade”. First of all he makes we wait about ten minutes, then when he saw I was not leaving, he asks me what I want. I told him I want to cross Kalingrad to get to Ireland on me bike. No way he says, no happening. So I played dumb and push it a little, eventually, he goes off to another office and out comes a younger, more important looking soldier, who politely but very firmly informs me this is Russian Federation and to f**k off. Well he did not say it that way, he was extremely professional but that was the intent. I asked a bit more, can I pay now and get my visa now, but it was not happening. Said I was wreaked and did not want to go back all the way around Kalingrad. Norhing doing.

I had no expectations that I would get into Kalingrad, but I have it on my list of things to do to try in Dublin to request a visa for Kalingrad and if I get it to skip back over there and have a spin around inside. Very few westeners get to do this, so while some people have told me it is a shithole inside, would still be nice to see.

Mr Putin is not far from here.

I had a ride around that back of the area and took a few of the photos below of Kalingrad, this is a section of former USSR from 1950’s, hardly changed, I guess.

Warning - Level Crossing Ahead
I experienced this in the past in Poland; level crossings with no barriers. If you are not watching what you are doing, you might just ride across one without realising it. Back home, we have those gates, either automatic, or where yer man jumps out of the cabin and closes the road. There is little risk of forgetting to stop. Over here, all there is to stop you is a sign and a couple of lights.

As if to prove the point, just after I crossed what do I see in the distance only a train. The locals were giving me a few funny looks at how facinated I was with the train.

It might not look to impressive but standing up close to it is daunting enough.

Lunch in Lithuania
I stopped in a sort of underground, or semi-underground diner. A very charming waitress did her best to help me order from the menu, which was only in Lithuania. You can see that I did well, and had a great lunch. The soup was a beetroot soup. Including a coffee afterwards, the total price as a fiver. While I was there, a women came into the bar, I thought it was the waitresses mother perhaps. She was wearing a pair of leather trousers. I was sitting there in a hi-vis and the bang off me boots enough to knock a horse. The Ma was still giving me a few funny looks. Was not really sure what the craic was, but the road was calling so had to go.

I had a few of these potatoe cakes in Poland also, they are just grand.

Old Railway
I love thse old railway stations, if you listen carefully, you can almost here the people from a hundred years ago heading off to far off places. They are exciting in a reverse time sort of way.

Finally reached Klaipedia
Other than the emergency on day 3, you will notice that all the places I have been staying have been costing me around €30. In Klaipedia, I staying in the IBIS Styles hotel for €35 per night including breakfast. Not bad money and a class hotel.

Happy and Sad - Midpoint reached
End of day 6, I reached my point of return, Klaipedia. Distance covered so far about 2900 KMs. Day 6 was just a fantastic day of relaxed riding, stopping when I wanted to stop, good weather, and sheer and utter total contentment. I had at least made it to Klaipedia.

Sometimes we are sad when we get to this magical midpoint on the trip. Up until this point, there is more journey time ahead than behind you. Everything is possible and you have plenty of fear, anxiety, hope, expectation and excitement. Once you hit the midpoint, you feel you have conquered the bulk of the trip. I spend the remainder of the next part thinking where to go next. Kalingrad, Lvov, Nordkapp, Turkmenistan.

Next decision now is what route to take home. Suggestions welcome.
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