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Trip Log
Fantasy, and Reality

To get home, there was a couple of choices,

Option 1)
Ride back through Poland and Germany
- this would involve backtracking on the same roads I had been on, and sitting on autobahns again

Option 2)
Somehow break into the Russian part and travel with no visa in there
- not the best idea

Option 3)
Take a ferry from Klaipedia, the ferry port is 100 meters from my hotel. The photos of the ship were from my room window.

I decided to go with option 3 and booked the ferry, to depart at 21:00.

Leaving Klaipedia
I was sad to be leaving Klaipedia. The hotel was very comfortable, and at €35 per night incl breakfast, it felt like it was good value.

Breakfast was great

But sad to be leaving

Value for Money
I had a beer with Tadas before heading down to the ferry, and was shocked at the comparison in prices. Two beers in Germany had cost me €11, you can see the price for two beers here.

First a mini-drama with the lovely Viktorija
Having booked the ferry, I was now looking forward to relaxing, a few beers and dinner on board, it was feeling much more appealing than heading back through Poland in the rain and wind.

Viktorija, on the check-in booth for the ferry politely asked me for my passport and my vehicle registration documents. "My what", says I. She assured me that I could not have gotten this far with no registration documentation for the bike. My initial thought was to be indignant and assure her that in all the bike travel I have done, I have never brought the log book with me. Instead, I took the alternative approach and smiled and told her that I am really, really sorry but I simply did not bring it. She paused for a moment and I could see the Polish rain bekoning. Then without further ado, she just said "well let me see the passport anyway". Thirty seconds later I was on my way.

As a parting comment she did say that the next guy at the customs might turn me away but the number of f**ks the next guy could give about me and my bike was zero. I was getting on board.

Climbing Croagh Patrick
I tied down the bike, as best I could. The operation on the Jonathan Swift was much slicker than here. On this boat, the young lad was planking himself and was asking me how to tie down a bike. On the Irish Ferries, the guy had done everything and had it all organised in two mins. Once this guy got a couple of straps on it, he fecked off and I tried my best to finish it off. The straps were crappy. As it was a 20 hour sailing, I did not want to see the bike sliding around the deck when I came down tomorrow.

Then wearing all my gear, and the two ruck sacks I headed for my cabin. The bike was on deck one and I had to get up to deck eight. A jaysus lads, I am well able to climb a stairs or two but carrying all my gear plus two rucksacks was not easy. By the time I got to the reception / check-in desk, I was puffing like a 80 year-old asthmatic aul' one that smoked 40 a day all her life. I can tell you the next time I do this, I will leave all the gear on the bike and f**ked if someone robs it, they can bleedin' have it. Not doing that one again. I think it was fifty or sixty meters up from deck one to the reception.

Nice room, but no room service
When I booked the cabin, I prepaid for breakfast. Of course, now I know that what I paid for was a breakfast voucher but when the guy at reception gave it to me, I was not completely sure what the arrangements with breakfast were. So I asked him will the breakfast be delivered to my room or do I have to come down and get it myself.

He looked as my as if I was a muppet and said "no sir, we do not bring your breakfast to your room". I felt like some class of a knob. I skulked away in shame at my stupid question. I kept seeing that guy around the ship later and kept thinking he was telling the staff "thats the big eijit that thinks we will be gently shaking him in the morning with fresh orange juice, coffee and the Baltic Times".

The cabin was deadly, and I was really glad I was on-board, bike underneath, no reg docs and no hassle.

First the Fantasy
The evening was going to be a full schedule. I had to decide which one of the al a carte restaurants or the brasserie that I wanted to have dinner in. The onboard Spa can be quite busy, so to have a massage and a sauna, I need to get there before it closes. And then the Abba lookalike band would be starting to perform. Finally after the band finished, and the young moms and kids all go to bed, the erotic dancers do their section. I needed to get going to fit it all in.

And now the reality
Myself and forty Lithuanian truckers were the only passengers on board. One self service restaurant and one bar. The ship was comfortable and clean and quiet but not the same as the ship I took a few years ago from Finland to Sweden. That Swedish ship had all of the stuff in my fantasy, this ship, did not. Had one and a half beers and went to bed.

There must have been a run on tracksuits bceuase barring myself and the crew, all the other passengers were wearing tracksuits. Seems to be the truckers corporate dress code.

Room on the Ship
When I was booking the cabin, the price was €190 but perhaps because it was off season, I noticed the for €215 there were giving breakfast included in the commodore suite. Have a look at the pics, deadly room and for €25 squid more, seems ok.

Not bad for €15 more

Final Comment on the Lithuanian DFDS Ferry
The ferry was great, the staff were friendly, and the food was fantastic. Also, it was self service, so you could have as much or as little of the food as you like. Because of this, the queue was quick and fast and everyone was happy. Even though the ferry was not full, they still provided a full menu with lots of options.

Day 8
Had breakfast and lunch on board and then finally got off the ship around 16:30 German time.

Notice the tidiness of Germany, even at the ports.

I decided to heard for Hamburg as and sleep there. It was about 100 KMs from where I docked, just long enough for a spin and not so long that I would be riding until ten pm. I had the GPS on the bike and it was very easy to just dock in Kiel and simply point the bike towards Hamburg. Without GPS, navigating an unfamiliar city to get the the right motorway would be a hassle. A few days ago, I had said I was not really using the GPS for navigation, but I see now that in cities, I am depending on it 100%.

I changed the settings on the GPS to avoid motorways and when Garmin recalculated the route, it said I would need two hours for the 100KMs. I headed off and it brought me through towns and villages with great winding roads, perfect surfaces and very little traffic. I will definitely use that feature again. It doubles the time but increases the fun by 10 times. I know it is a cliche but it is really about smiles per mile rather the MPH.

After crossing Poland, it was nice to be back in Germany, that two hour ride was one of the nicest of the trip. 5 pm to 7 pm. Riding with not a care in the world, no work, just the bike and looking forward to dinner and a few beers. Temperature around 18 degrees and no rain, and no bleedin' wind.

Club Suite
I had stopped earlier and rang a hotel named Crowne Plaza in Hamburg. Price was €109 per night. Most of the previous hotels had cost about €25 to €30 per night, so I did not mind the extra cost. When I was checking it, I asked Katereina with the blue eyes would she consider upgrading me as this is my return visit to this hotel. Without a moments hestiation she checked her computer and said "done sir, you are now upgraded to a Club Suite".

The room had two jacks in it. What kind of a hotel room have you seen where there is two jacks. After more than a week on the road, it was nice to stay there.

Me Y-ers
There was a pool in the hotel, but of course I had no togs. Never mind, I did the paddy on holidays thing and down to the pool with me jocks on. The pity was that I left me Calvin Kliens at home so I had only an old pair of red and white Y-fronts. The bird on the desk as givin' me a few quare looks but I had my swim anyway. Nothing said.

Thats it for day 8, had a few beers in the hotel bar, dinner and sleep. Ready to go again tomorrow.
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