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Travel Journal of summer 2003 (South-West part of Slovenia, Lake Garda, Italy and Lindau, Germany)

Content:

In General

The travel dates were 5.-27.7.2003.

The aim of the trip was as well as normal holiday season for the parents to familiariaze childen with a small part of the European continent and show them what it is like to travel and be there. So basically to give them an idea of what can be found outside their normal living areas.

This was the first longer motorcycle trip for Laura and Jaana, and therefore almost all the things they came across were more or less new - partly for us parents too, despite several previous motorcycle trips.

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The way of travel

Fast transfers from one place to another and then staying longer in the same area - mainly depending on the weather and children's needs.

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With us on the trip

Jaana (8), who had been travelling for three summers; Laura (9) for four summers; Irma (41) who had driven three summers herself and travelled with me for twenty years and Kari (40) who's driven for twenty summers prior to this trip.

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Accommodation

    - 1 night, GTS Finnjet (ship, Finland-Germany)
    - 1 night, Lubeck (Youth Hostel, Germany)
    - 1 night, Hamburg - Munchen (train, Germany)
    - 4 nights, Berchtesgaden (camping ground, Germany)
    - 4 nights, Ankaran (camping ground, Slovenia)
    - 4 nights, Peschiera/ Lake Garda (camping ground, Italy)
    - 1 night, Sölden (Gasthaus, Austria)
    - 4 nights, Lindau (camping ground, Germany)
    - 1 night, Munchen - Hamburg (train) - 1 night, GTS Finnjet (ship, Germany-Finland)
    21 nights altogether

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Motorcyckles

Yamaha Diversion 600 (year model 2002), driven about 10 000 kilometres and Suzuki GSF-1200/S (year model 2003), driven about 4000 kilometers

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Driving equipment

Children:
- IXS driving suit
- HJC's ZF8-helmets
- Under helmet shellaclavas and gloves from MP-Asu
- Leather boots

Adults:
- driving suits from Rukka and Yoko/Mp-Asu
- Under helmet shellaclavas and gloves form MP-Asu
- Arai Signet -helmet
- Arai Omni and later Arai Quantum/f -helmet (Omni having been changed during the trip)
- MP-Asu's or similar boots

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Communication

Everyone had a PMR-tranceiver (Alan 441) in their chest pocket, a decent helmet set (Proset by RxTx-Tuote, Tampere, Finland) and Push-to-talk/PTT-switch aka tangent attached on their leg or to the handlebar with an adhesive label.
 
The tranceivers had GP's 750 mAh AAA-size NiMH-batteries + inside GP's PowerBank Smart-charger one series of three batteries ready to be used in order to prevent long time of no usage. In addition the drivers had two gsm-phones in case of getting totally lost from each other.

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Documentation

Everyone had their own notebook for writing down their travel stories and as the time passed a lot was drawn and written in them. An ordinary pocket camera recorded five rolls of images (sometimes with really bad image quality) and Magellan's GPS 320 in Suzuki recorded last 1250 route marks every two km apart and these.

A couple of postcards were also sent, a couple left for us as memory - and a few text messages were sent off as well.

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Luggage

The main plan was to focus on tent accommodation, so the equipment attached to the motorcyckles was as follows:

Yamaha: three hard plastic 42-litre side bags with their inner bags on Wingrack 2 cradle; one contained Irma's personal items, another one Kari's and the third had cooking equipment like a big Trangia, gas burner and a bottle, cutlery, a decent knife, umbrellas, etc.. A small bag was also attached on top of the tail box.

Suzuki: two hard plastic 40-litre side bags with their inner bags on Wingrack 2 cradle (one for Jaana and the other for Laura), magnetic tank bag (Held, including a rain cover, maps, chains, cables, locks, lubricants, FM-receiver, four slot 12-voltage NiMH-charger (AA/AAA), camera, Mini-Maglite battery torch, etc.) and on the tail box a 50-litre waterproof punchbag (Held, which had the sleeping bags, bed sheets, blow up travel pillows and personal air matresses). A dome tent (Halti Alta IV equipped with a small "hall"), four tripod chairs as well as drink bottles were attached outside the punchbag with rubber rope with hooks at both ends (called "octopus").

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Tickets

They were bought online for the ship and train, the other necessary ones were bought at the location:

2003-Kuitteja-Silja-Line.jpg

Several years ago the free amount of personal data storing area at the MBNet's server got used totally, so I had to decrease the quality of all pictures and files attached so far inside these travel stories. So I should scan everything again and properly adjust in Canon Photo Professional&Photoshop to get the better image quality back, which surely won't happen in the nearest future..

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The Route

Imatra - Katajanokka/Helsinki (GTS Finnjet) - Tallinn - Rostock - Lubeck, Germany - Hamburg Altona/(DB Autozug)/Munchen Ost - Berchtesgaden - Grosslocker - Villach, Austria - Ljubljana, Slovenia - Ankaran - Lake Garda, Italy - Bolzano - Timmelsjosh - Sölden, Austria - Lindau, Germany - Munchen Ost, from where the same route back by train, to Hamburg, Rostock and a ferry via Tallinn to Imatra. 
 
Travel route in different save up forms:

1) Rostock - Rostock (Route66 (2003), size approx. 3 kt. The real train route between Hamburg Altona - Munchen Ost isn't completely accurately due to technical reasons).

2) Rostock - Rostock (MS AutoRoute (2003), size approx 15 kt. The real train routes between Hamburg Altona - Munchen Ost and Slovenia aren't completely accurate due to technical reasons).

3) Rostock - Rostock (68 Google Earth-programs route points can be found as a .zip-package in here).

4) The whole route on one map (Size is almost 1 Mt).

A day trip by bus to an old castle and stalactite cavern in Postojna, Slovenia and a catamaran cruise from Piran to Venice are included (overlapping routescan be seen darker and wider crosses on the map base). The complete route driven (home-home) was only about 2800km thanks to those car-trains inside, and car ferries to and from Germany.

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Day 1. Imatra - Helsinki, ship to Baltic Sea

5.7.2003

Imatra - Helsinki (274 km).

Transfer to Katajanokka docks in Helsinki, boarding into GTS Finnjet-ship and accommodation in a budget class cabin somewhere near the water level.

Departure took a lot longer than expected, as a million little things needed to be considered, remembered, planned, attached, etc. Finally everything was ready, as well as the help from the neighbours agreed on for the following three weeks -> there was nothing left to do but to put the driving gear on and off to the highway.

The first thing I noticed as I drove my motorcycle up the drive way: "There's plenty of weight on the bike to start with, I wonder how the spring suspension set to its tightest setting will handle the bumbs with the real load and speed.." It took a few crossroads adjusting the balance and driving lines but the routine was found fairly quickly. Practising definitely helped.

The audio levels of the PMR-tranceivers were a bit off, also speaking with appropriate pauses and listening to a humming device took some time to get used to. Irma's old Arai Omni-helmet was unfortunately so loud that she couldn't follow conversations after the speed exceeded 80km/h, not to mention the microphone malfunctions. The situation only improved as we changed the helmet at Riva Del Garda, Italy.
  
We stopped about half way to Helsinki (service station Pukaron Paroni) to enjoy a light snack and to rest our butts - soon returning to the highway, towards a small storm and the ship.
 
As we queued up for GTS Finnjet we saw our motorcycling friends JuhaF and TarjaF with their motorcycles returning from their holiday from the Lake Garda, Italy - it had apparently been a bit over thirdy degrees celcius for long periods of time, so at least we wouldn't die of cold when we got there. The announcements released sighs in other parts of the queue as well.

Driving into the ship was normal with photos and other stuff, but for Irma it was the first time she had done it by herself. As soon as we got in we were directed to the corner on right, next to the same oily ropes and oil blotches as a few times before... Luckily we had our own binding ropes (800 kg ratchet ties) with us. It took some time to tie bikes up as there were hardly any places where we could attach them to (tight steel wire rope onto the floor and rubber triangle pieces to be placed behind the wheels. There were about twenty other motorcycles also, but somehow we managed to fit them all there.
 
Irma: "I drove inside really carefully as Kari warned me of the oil spills, but it didn't turn out to be a problem. Kari also attached my motorcyckle to the few available attachment points on a floor. During the trip help was needed also when moving the motorcyckle in tight spaces, it would've required plenty more time and sweat if I had done it all by myself."

The cabin was let's say interesting (# 1350), but in the end it turned out to be decent for sleeping and storing our belongings (the height wasn't quite enough for knees when turning sides, but after enough of knocks/bumbs I learned to remember the location of the top bed's bottom). Several times we tried to get a similar cabin for the way home, but with bad luck: the offered "B2" cabin would've cost +500€, Commodore-class cabins with windows plenty more than that. There was no point getting the accounts to minus for only one night, so on the way back we settled for Panorama deck seats.
 
Then quickly into the shower, purchasing sweets etc from TaxFree-shop and a pint of beer for the parents in the nearest bar to celebrate the boarding. The rest of the evening was spent checking out the life on the ship.

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Day 2. Rostock - Lubeck

6.7.2003

Rostock - Lubeck, 130 km.

Breakfast on the ship, a couple of hours spending time and eventually going ashore Rostock. Adding a bit on the highway and staying the night in Youth Hostel in Lubeck (53 52.687 North, 10 41.636 East, ground level height 8 m).

The breakfast was enjoyed in the buffet á 8,5 € / adult, the children half price. At the same occasion we faced the pre-known and sometimes troublesome problem with Laura's picky eating: she ate about ten little carelian pastries (rice porrige on thin rye dough) + two boiled eggs. But nothing else. The rest of the offerings were "too spicy or too weird" (though on the way back she did ask spices or sauce for the spaghetti boiled in plain salty water...). 
 
During the day there was plenty of things to do, everything from a circus school to movies, so the rest of the time was fairly nicely spent. What irritated them a bit was missing out on the possibility for a free morning swim, which we didn't hear about in time.

The departure from the ship had a close call as Laura's thumb was momentarily pressed between the compressed air operated door and the door frame.

2003-Saksa-Rostock-ja-Lauran-peukalovamma.jpg

Basically the door started to close as soon as the opening button was released, so her momentarily shift of attention backfired quickly. The luck in the misfortune was that for example her wrist didn't get in the middle as the outcome would've definitely been worse. Local nurse said the finger had not broken and there wasn't much they could've done about small fractures anyway: the area under the nail suffered from bleeding, a bruise and later unattachement of the nail. The pain was bad though, as well as the swelling, so getting into the driving gear was left to be done after disembarking. Luckily a bigger glove was found too..

After the passport check (we were on the "non-EU" line due to its shorter line) and putting more clothes on at the parking lot we transferred to the petrol station of the harbour, from where it was only a short drive to the highway (A19) and continuing to town Lubeck (A20).

The speed was around 120-140 kilometres per hour, not much more as the darkness was setting all the time. Only on the way back did the girls get into the "+200km/h -club memberships".

At home I set up three route points into the memory of the Magellan 320-gps (aka Youth Hostel of Lubeck and the end stops of DB-Autozug in Altona and Munchen) so we trusted its guidance on the last few kilometres to the accommodation in Lubeck just to test it out. It worked well: Youth Hostel Vor Der Burgator (which the price was 70,30/day, a little bit cheaper than normal) was seen within a ten or so metres from where the gps claimed it was based on its MS Autoroute 2003-map. It was located in the area right outside the northern gates leading into the old city.

The gear was carried in after checking in (the payment was done online beforehand). We were given a six people room for us even though we had not booked a family room. Thanks for that belonged to the nice front house staff and available rooms. Normally we would've got three beds in the female room and one in the male one => so we wouldn't have known who else would've stayed in the same room. The system would be the same if we were to book person seats for the car train, instead of a cabin.

Hostelling International hostelling-card was required from everyone and it was kept in the reception until the day of departure. The bed linen were paid for, given and returned to the reception. The use of alcohol or smoking inside was forbitten.
 
Time for a quick shower, Laura was given some pain killers and then off to bed. At night we were woken up a couple of times by the singing of the nightingales - not bad at all, though the timing of it was a bit early.
 
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Day 3. Hamburg - Munchen, train

7.7.2003

Lubeck - Hamburg Altona, 213 km.

The breakfast was included and it was good, the first of its kind in an environment like this. The other people around were quite international and the way of action differed from what we were used to back home; nevertheless we got used to them quickly (especially detailed sorting out of rubbish was new) and the day started again. The people at the Youth Hostel didn't end up seeming too young ;-)

Rubbish was taken to the sorting bins located at the end of the corridors (three bins for different types of rubbish). The room and bed linen were given away at 09.30 o'clock, the driving gear was left to the bag storage in cellar and the valuables into a safe. After that we were ready to walk to the old town situated nearby.

A few hours passed by quickly as we walked around, went shopping (bought sandals, an umbrella and hair accessories), browsed digital cameras and sat in cafes, after which it was time to head off to Hamburg Altona.

It was fairly hot and congested in Hamburg, so reading the map in traffic was difficult. Therefore I let the gps to guide us (just a compass course and distance to railway station), which it did nicely. We did do some kind of an extra loop as we drove through the town though, but it didn't seem to be many kilometres according to the map.

The right interpretation of the gps screen (the compass screen with its signs) demanded some closer look at the map even before leaving, to be able to choose the main routes through the city. The gps/pda/equiv. screen including the map should be big and in clear sight (not for example partly covered by the tank bag like mine) - and easily readable so that it would be more useful when finding the right route in the traffic. Actually driving the pre-made route is obviously different in older piece of equipment as well. Nowadays there are bluetooths, etc. available..
 
The bandit started playing tricks so that around two thousand revs, right at the start of acceleration the bike sort of sneezed and turned off. That happened several times, but it didn't really matter when being able to prepare for it - it just caused some fiddling around with the revs and clutch, so that the passenger's neck wouldn't twitch too much when starting off. We faces the same issue in the mountain areas, especially on almost 15% mountain ascent Timmeljosh near Sölden, where that particular feature entertained a driver a whole lot less. Well, on the maintanence by sports shop Urheiluliike Kisa in Vuoksenniska, Imatra it improved a bit (by rising the carburettor pins/needles for one step upwards => air - gasoline mixture become a bit more dense).

Altona and its train station were in the familiar location, so there was nothing more to do but to park the motorbikes. There were quite a few people there already.

2003-Saksa-Hamburg-Altona-ja-pyorien-odotusaluetta-laiturilla.jpg 2003-Saksa-Hampurg-Altona-jonossa-Laura-Jaana-ja-Greg.jpg

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And guess who walked towards us at the train station? A traveller I had met on the previous year, called Greg, who was returning visiting his friends in Oulu, Finland and heading home to Swizerland => there were the few moments spent, casually chatting and eating snacks as we waited for our trains. Last year's alcohol debt was partly sorted too: in return of vodka with coke we offered him pocket warm Salmari (something like Salmiac flavoured Vodka) to strenghten the thinned blood of his on the way home ;-)

The toilets were fairly far away, downstairs in the tunnel, so we went there with the kids. Jaana had some trouble the first time thinking the 20 sent coin was to be put into some part of the door instead of a plate next to the door when leaving. That was purely my fault though as I hadn't explained the system clearly enough.

On the bottom level the head room was limited. The helmet ought to be kept on as there weren't that many centimetres left between the floor of the second level and my head. Some unfortunate learned that the hard way having refused to wear his helmet. After that everyone was to wear one if they were about to drive their motorcyckle into the train compartment.

The electricity in the chords above us were naturally turned off during entry and exit, which is why the rotating lights are on the roof of the platform. The boarding area might also be completely outside the area with electricity.

Irma seemed quite thoughtfull as she saw the shoal room she was to drive into, with a real snail pace as well. Well, the worst edge of the nerves was taken off as the train man had his personal show (the guy sent the bikes in pairs like a real ZZ-Top men) as well as observing the boarding of the previous train.

In order to make the boarding easier we took the side bags off and Irma dropped the back suspension to gain additional room for her legs. With decent trolleys even the kids found it easy to move the seperate items around the train platform.
 
We drove the bikes after each other from the back to the front of the bottom floor, towards the way the train was to move. Worst parts for driving were around both ends of each rail car. Unlike previous years, this time the bikes were left on side stand.

Yamaha Diversion is parked (still untied as you can see from those long white binding belts) and the luggage is in the trolley:

2003-Saksa-Hampurg-Altona-Irma-ja-Yamaha-kiinni-vaunussa.jpg

Greg said we were allowed to take shorter and clean "middle belts" with us (not those longer ones) - what a great addition to our travel equipment if having to rely on oily rugs in some other places again (to avoid getting the bike too dirty the middle lines could be placed in between). When returning from town Munchen there weren't that many of them being used, the storage of clean lines must've run out that far?

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Jaana ja Laura infront of the well tied-down Suzuki Bandit:

2003-Saksa-Hampurg-Altona-Jaana-ja-Laura-seka-Suzuki-junassa.jpg

The toothed tie-down belts (were lower and the shorter "middle belts" were tied around the telescope pipes, as shown at that upper photo) and triangle support blocks leaning on the wheels are already in their place.

The local train men finished off the attaching job. The attachment lines owned by the train company were attached to our bikes from a minimum of four different directions with those special "middle belts". After placing steel triangles both to the front and back of both of the wheels and being attached to the floor, each of the bikes were extremely well attached to the car transport carriage.
 
The side bags were re-attached before moving into our cabin so the inner bag was definitely useful (particularly in Munchen, where the trolleys weren't much use because of the staircase and tunnel) in transporting seperate items and clothes.

The cabin was one of the older day cabing (Liegewagen) for six person sitting down and sleeping places, attachable ladder behind one of the back rests and a table behind the other one, unfortunately also allowed for smokers. There was no stuck smell of smoke, so not being able to get the non-smoker cabin on the way there didn't turn out to be a problem. At night time smoking was forbitten on the corridors, extra thanks for that for the train company.

It was good to have some food with us as the breakfast wouldn't be available until the morning (unless you felt like walking to the restaurant carriage/car).

As it came time to sleep the kids accommodated themselves on the middle level while parents stayed on the bottom, heads facing the corridor (the noise from outside was reduced thanks to the thick curtains).

Sleep caught us all quickly despite the 160km/h speed occasionally shaking the cabin. It was a bit cold until we closed the window, based on the mist over the fields outside it wasn't that warm of a night either.

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Day 4. Munchen - Berchtesgaden

8.7.2003

Munchen Ost - Bad Reichenhall - Berchtesgaden, 162km.

Breakfast was served right before arrival to Munchen, we ought to have had the thick curtain a bit more open for the stuert to notice that we had woken up.

After the arrival we carried all the luggage from the cabin via underground tunnel from platform #12, a few platform left, to the offloading area, where the rail car was waiting already (48 07.624 N, 11 36.375 E, 535 m).
 
Behind Laura you can see the bumber of a car leaving from the side of a red carriage. There were those on the bottom floor as well as motorcycles:

2003-Saksa-Munchen-Ost-ja-pakkaaminen-laiturilla.jpg


The trip had been successfull for the bikes as well, so apart from the rising outdoor temperature everything was well.

Usually it is easier to leave a city than find a way back to the starting point, thanks to the excellent signs here as well. Map reading takes so much attention that it surely slows down the movement. After updating gps route point we head off to the southernmost part of the trip, via the highway #8 to Salzburg. A short distance from the train station there goes an inner ring road called "Insbrucker Ring", through which the trip is easy.

We turned off right from the highway already at Bad Reichenhall's, and we therefore did not need to go to all the way to Salzburg: "There would be plenty of time to get the ten-day highway usage charge stamp from a regular gas station."

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In Berchtesgaden we headed to the left into the hillside, to an info-point further up in the village, where we were told suitable options for spending time in the next few days and given an accurate map of the area.

You couldn't go swimming anywhere else than in the pool so there was no point driving to the beach of the protected Lake Konings, nor was the camping ground we had previously visited suitable for the kids due to traffic noise - so we went out for about five kilometres towards Salzburg, to a camp ground called Allweg situated on the right side of the hill (the photo taken in the evening was facing over the Allweg camping ground and the road towards Salzburg. The name in the map Killansberg (big clifftop) can be seen on the left. Allweg was very good to our needs featuring a swimming pool, quiet, plenty of room for a tent, clean, laundry facilities, cheap and having a comfortable feel to it.

Jaana and Laura engaging in their favourite activity:

2003-Saksa-Berchtesgaden-Allweg-leirinta-alueen-uima-allas.jpg

The location of the area is along the same road above Gasthaus, where we stayed on our year 1988 trip. A certain house was visible from the camping ground - a bit more about that the next day (47 38 769 N, 13 02 322 E, 579 m).

Rest of the day was spent setting up the tent and relaxing, some of us ending up by the pool. Trangia finally got some use out of it as well with making of a decent cup of coffee from home for the parents.

The Trangia gas burner we got as an addtional accessory turned out being excellent. When the gas ran out the final trip to Lindau, we calculated the bigger bottle (about 650 grams) having 25-30 times fifteen minutes of burning time in it (for example, it being suitable for making a meal of spaghetti with bolognese-sauce). Gas burned about a gram per minute => one bottle should therefore be enough for a bit over a couple of weeks in normal use, however it's worth forgetting a pancake party or drying out the tent with it.

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Day 5. Berchtesgaden, The Eagle's Nest

9.7.2003

Kehlstein/The Eagle's Nest and mountain views, a trip into a village.

The day started by driving in light driving gear (shorts) by the "top route" 1834 meters above sea level to the parking lot and sub-station for the buses heading to "Adolf's hut" (Kehlsteinhaus). There were some Finnish licence plates at some bikes there as well.

We were waiting for the departure for a while, until all four buses were ready; about half an hour and some pretty good views later we were at the start of a tunnel at the top station. Last 124m ascension was done by a lift located inside the tunnel. Handsome system itself. There were loads of people on the top, and the prices of real international standard. The views are excellent in every direction, not forgetting the sides on the bus route. There was a chance to climb higher from the house, which oppotunity was taken advantage of by us as well.

Köningsee-lake can be seen behind on the right. The cabin is a little lower down, in the right side when arriving. All kinds of labels started to build up on our trip.

With sufficient accuracy the children were told what kind of a guy the owner of the house was like, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Finally, we walked from the house through a small serpentines road down to the upper platform of the bus line. That gave us an idea of what one would expect of a much longer walk among the slopes. On the other hand, why not go for a walk as there was plenty to drink and the view was changing (by the way, bottled water is quite a lot more expensive than, for example a local beer) ;-)

In many places the prices included a family discount of some sort: billed for two adults + 1 child + one family ticket (which was less than the child fare). Sounded good. Bus to the top and bottom (back and forth) cost 2 x € 13 + € 7, this time the forth person for completely free of charge.

Going downhill to the actual village was the steepest part of our trip: twenty-four percent decline at its best, while a certain cyclist went past us instantly. A decent smell of heated brake pads was floating in the air as we stopped for the traffic lights, no doubt driven the other way around the source of odour would have been the clutch disc heated during hill starts. There were no caravans, nor campervans anywhere on the route. Better that way.

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At the village we exceptionally ate pizzas (30.6 €), after which the children went shopping together; Laura had a special wish of finding a bow she had wanted for a long time.

Pedestrian area of the city centre (the same larger). Among other things, Info and parking lot are on the left:

2003-Saksa-Berchtesgaden-keskustaa.jpg

The meeting point was agreed in the familiar style of the past, but as the children took more and more time both of us parents felt the need to roam the shopping streets also further away to find them. Eventually they ended up at the meeting point - flock together and direction for a change in the direction of her mother, a short distance from the recent dining place. Yes, they were on the map all the time, but lost the sense of time. A bow wasn't found (which wasn't actually bad considering the transportation) .. I guess we should have taken the PMR-tranceivers with us into the village.

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Day 6. Berchtesgaden, salt mine

10.7.2003

Visiting the salt mine and exercicing on the slopes, at highest > 800 meters.

The morning was sunny so we decided to go to a salt mine a few kilometres away. What a place it was. We took a miniature train a kilometre into the rock via narrow railroad. We heard that the thickness of the roof was apparently a couple of hundred meters as well.

We wore the appropriate protective gear: breeches, jacket of the same caliber, split leather backside protective belt attached to the hip. Admission cost 2 x 5.12 € + 6.8 € + 4.2 €.

Everyone's eyes began to shine once inside a fairly large cave: in front of us opened up about twenty metre long, wooden slide, where the whole family was able to decent to the lower level together. Bottom of my pants started to warm up threathningly towards the end of the slide as the leather patch intended for protection was off the required position ..

This first cave had been mined for two hundred years, from all over so it really fit a lot of people inside. Photography was reportedly banned. There was a wide range of old and new to see and experience, everything from the underground salt chapel to movies. Some of the pumping systems were in production use all the time outside the tourist section. The tour culminated in the crossing of the inner lake, tasting the water (pthyi!), given small containers of salt souveniers and the train ride back to the outside world.

I wonder wheather the "lake" had indeed been the top part of the previously mentioned salt emptied cone: if it was then they would've removed a huge amount of salt around the rock matter that had dropped down to the bottom. They drilled, if necessary, about a hundred meters deep hole in the rock (former sea floor from millions of years ago), and attached on the pipe and a high pressure water pump - this achieved the slowly widening cone above the bottom part where the water was pumped. It would provide enough material for 30 years of mining. At the bottom part of the tube salt liquid is received, which had dissolved from the fozzilized sea bed after falling off the roof and walls and landing to the bottom of the cone. That is if I understood the explanation of the guide correctly.

There was plenty of time and the weather was passable, so we went to Laura's desired walk a stone's throw away from the camp.

2003-Saksa-Berchtesgaden-Ambachglamm-Kavelylenkin-sijaintipaikka.jpg

In front of the place of origin (Almbachklamm / Hammerstiel) there was a big marble rotating in its stand on top of a water mattress - a local Gasthaus keeper told that it was made in Austria (I think around the Ylämaa, Finland area similar balls are made of granite). The route was a bit over four kilometres in length, included a charge to start with and of course the ticket vendor said the route fits all ..

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We followed a creek in a deep ravine worn out by water (Laura wading in shallow end of the creek seeking refined stones):

2003-Saksa-Berchtesgaden-Almbachklamm-Laura-purolla.jpg

We walked slowly past tunnels extracted by Bavarian pioneers in 1894 and some waterfalls, all the way to the turning point. From there, we came back a little and walked up a steep path to a hill on the left. There was a cafe, as well as a small church (part of a ceiling painting can be found here), from where finally landed back down to the starting point.

The total height difference was probably something 500 - 600 meters. It was a bit hard on the knees, in particular the steepest descents at the end. Worth visiting, though despite the heat the most dedicated hikers would hardly find it a decent challenge. It's a shame that it couldn't be saved on gps tracklog (would have needed a portable device where the log on a daily basis could've been loaded).

Stress of voice began to rise within half way of the walk during a particularly steep ascent - the youngsters didn't comply with the route choice 100% (understanding wasn't quite sufficient to comprehend that even at the end of a longer route we were to ascend to the very same hill through which the return route would take). Topping up with liquid, a short moment exploring the small church on the top of the hill and then downhill at the same speed. Fortunately that was also survived without major arguments - it was worth smiling at the end of the walk (apfelstruhel mit cappuzzino helped, though the time had made the memories better in terms of the taste of the pastry). The french fries eaten just before the departure were lost in the slopes, I think (hope).

In the evening we ate a can of pea soup that was appropriate to the situation very well as a small can has enough soup for four people. Among it we crumbed some post-baked pieces of bread and had plenty of energy again.

Local sheep population moved beside the fence next to us during the night, which was also noted in our tent. Fortunately they were not goats: apparently they are ok with anything from tin cans that fits in their mouths, maybe the tent stings as well.. They did make a peculiar noise.

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Day 7. Berchtesgaden - Ankaran

11.7.2003

Berchtesgaden - Grossglockner - Villach, Austria - Ljubljana, Slovenia - Postojna - Ankaran, 480 km.

The goods were packed staight in the morning while minimizing the disturbance caused for neighbours, so we were ready for departure at about nine o'clock. Accommodation fee was 55.2 € / four nights.

We drove to the top of the hill in sparse clothing to grease the chains, put the driving gear on and to heat engines to operating condition. The automatic chain greasing system called Scottoiler and vacuum/low pressure system of Irma's Yamaha worked so well that there was no need to add oil to the chains themselves as long as there was enough oil in the container.

As usual there was some driving gear missing again, so Irma drove back to the camp before the glove pair stuffed inside the sleeve of a jacket was found. Someone who's name doesn't need to specified had already lost for example a whole bottle of shampoo-soap, as in previous trips.. ;-)

I had "misplaces" at least my sunglasses all the time, even the watch for a couple of weeks. My cell phone (Nokia 6110) also lost part of the content at the bottom of the screen (a charging session at a damp night did the job as there was nothing but a plastic bag under the seat for additional protection). No worries, it was still good enough for calling.

The front wheels were turned towards a highway in the direction of Salzburg, where we stopped at first petrol station on the Austrian side to buy ten-day tickets for highway tax (4,5 € á). It was worth getting those tickets so that the police didn't get the chance to write us tickets of a 100 € per bike among other traffic control. Next direction south and speed increase in traffic to the appropriate readings (110-120 km/h).

There were quite a few caravans and other leisure vehicles on the roads, might be less interesting to move at a snail's pace on the autobahn in pair lines - anywhere in Austria, Italy, France, Spain for that matter, apart from the steep alpine roads..

Crossing over the Grossglockner was 17 € per bike:

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We stopped at the bottom of Grossglockner (2407 meters) to have a drink break; as we were chatting a Finnish couple drove past and announced their excistence on the radios so we greeted them briefly and asked how they were. A few others were heard on the same frequency as well but their dialect differed so much from ours that we chose not to start any major conversations with them.

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Scenery of the area where we had a break before driving higher up and the same photo a size larger (some bikers can still be seen in the front, they passed us a bit earlier):

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and the view from the right in the same place (the same larger):

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Irma was expecting more snow-covered Alpine peaks she had seen long time ago, but there were hardly any of them around this time. Last time (1988) around the tunnel on the top there was at least a three meter bank of snow on both sides of the road, which had stuck in Irma's mind as well. Now it was completely free of snow. It did not affect the profile of the driven route.

Moment of a break in the 2407-meter platform in a cool motorbike park: water and chocolate bars were eaten, the last glimpse of the scenery, uphill for a bit and then it was time go downhill again after crossing the highest point.

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The road leading to the peak of Grossclogner, the photo was taken at the start of the route going downhill again (the same larger):

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There were plenty of motorbikes and bicycles, as well as passenger cars which you could smell from further downhill, quite a convoy of bikes also came from the road off the highest peak, a bit over ten kilometers away from the recent.

After following a river on a bottom of a valley it was time for a quick snack and decicion whether to go directly to the slow speed Alpine road to Italy (in the evening staying at some accommodation facility of a small village and out on the road early in the morning again) or turning off to the highway. Then the direction would be Villach, behind it Slovenia, Ljubljana and if there was enought time even reaching Ankaran and the camping ground called Adria.

So off to Slovenia.

Sometime before reaching the outer border of EU we stopped to fuel up at a large petrol station. Jaana went in to get ice cream from a small stall, despite not really speaking English or any of the local languages… The seller didn’t quite get it but it is great Jaana tried though. With little help she got what she wanted, what wouldn’t one do for ice cream.

There were no maps of Slovenia being sold at the petrol station, they had sold out or something. We were told the next petrol station would be about 18km away and they would have better maps, but we did end up getting a cheap info map from the border crossing – good enough to guide us to the southern side of Ljubljana. Irma was making jokes about me being a map-freak but I pretended not to listen – it’s so much easier to travel around with at least the main roads listed right in front of you, rather than relying on the GPS.

At the border of Slovenia the customs officer was somehow rude, but once he had a glance at our passports the check-up went smoothly and he didn’t even pay attention to the missing FIN-country stickers. If you did play by the book the EU-sign on the licence plates wouldn’t be sufficient, but hey I guess the rules can be stretched a little bit every now and then. Anyway, off to the currency exchange. Euro was still widely accepted, for example the tunnel tolls could be paid with euros (8km tunnel was about 8€, roads elsewhere about 230 SIT + 870 SIT for both motorcycles. 1000 SIT was roughly 5 €).

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The local highway system was really good, and it was aggressively being expanded all the time – maybe it was a part of Slovenia wanting to become a new member of the EU? Which it did some years later.

We drove past the Postojna intersection as we knew we would return there within the next couple of days. The campsite was now only 40km away – had I know the traffic was about to turn horrible and with the temperature rising, the nearest campground with a pool or Zimmer Frei (local equivalent) would’ve surely got new customers.

Especially in the southern parts next to Koper/Ankara the large highway bridges were still under construction, so as the sun began to set huge amounts of cars packed there – as the other traffic was on a standstill, we were luckily able to drive between the lanes. There were a few people who had decided to use the isolated right lane to pass the traffic jam (the lane was always kept free as it was reserved for emergency vehicles etc.) – a great idea until they came across two police cars. I do not know how much the fun ended up costing, but judging by their faces it wasn’t cheap. In England one fellow motorist tried same method and a bit later highway police told him that he will be warned only once, next time they will impound his motorbike permanently..
 
As we finally reached the campground, we were given a map and shown a few available spots to choose from if we wanted to stay. I also had a quick stop at the hotel to ask for available cabins etc. (air con) but finding a decent area to put up the tent turned out being a better option. (45 34.550 N, 13 44.110 E, 5 m).

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The area was filled with people enjoying the weekend. We drove around in the dark for at least fifteen minutes before finding the first decent and smooth enough area to put up our tent. The others stayed there to reserve it for us while I head back to the reception, luckily on the way I found a new spot that was even better, on a gently sloping hill under an oak tree branches. Time to unpack and set up the tent, and move the motorcycles next to it – it might’ve been a bit noisy moving the bikes over the gutter but the youngsters in the nearby tents were probably at some party anyway.

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The camping ground was large and filled with people, it was hot and the Mediterrannean was now only a hundred meters away – it’s great how much the scenery can change in a matter of 500km. We came into the area at 10.30pm and went to bed at 1am, but falling asleep wasn’t that easy because of the heat.

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Day 8. Ankaran

12.7.2003

A day spent at the camping ground in Ankaran.

As the sun rose it was time to meet our new neighbours. The noise we had caused at night hadn’t caused any trouble and I had a quick chat with the guy camping nearby, in different languages though. After some sign language and nodding both seemed more or less happy… a greeting that became a routine for the following days.
Shall we get some coffee and check out the beach?” Sure, there was already one place open. We ordered two cappuccinos and a sodas, but forgot this one “formality” of paying for it... After having walked towards the pool and looking at the gps, the waitress came to politely ask me to cover the bill. Woops. Well, I think in the end she was happy with the compensation – and having learned from that for the rest of our trip we tried to pay as soon as possible to save time as well.

It was free entry to the aforementioned pool, as long as everyone had a white card to open the gates. You got it after leaving some money as a pawn at the reception – the sum sounded quite large at first: ”thousand dollars each, we accept also credit cards”. It took me a while to realize she meant the ”tollars” (SIT)  which was about 5€. Even my MasterCard wouldn’t have been enough for the US dollars amount.. Anyway, the gate cards worked nicely, even after a minor salt bath.

The day was spent sunbathing (parents in the shade, the youngsters by the super salty seawater pool or in an enclosed swimming area in the sea itself), reading a book, at the local pizzeria or bar, or simply just relaxing and planning the next trips ahead – a perfect resting day with no special plans.

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The toilets in the area were mainly the type of a hole in the ground, and a few ”normal” ones were also found in the area but the lines tend to be quite long. The cleanliness wasn’t that perfect – another good reason to always carry different product name Savett- and other sanitary towels, especially in Italy there was hardly ever toilet paper available. The shower cost 85cents, which gave you six minutes of warm water – a normal procedure from previous trips so the girls didn’t make a fuss.

After leaving Austria we didn’t drink tap water anywhere. Despite having taken the A-hepatite vaccines, we stopped having ice in our drinks as well, and started using bottled water for brushing our teeth also. 

We asked the lady at the reception on what would be the key places to visit (mainly how to get to the dripstone caves of Postojna and Venice). She gave us a pile of brochures and we chose a guided bus tour and a boat trip. We got an extra discount as we booked both trips at the same time, but needed cash for any credit cards etc. weren’t accepted. We also gave out our passports for the paperwork to be completed. Was that enough? Not quite. We walked back to the tent and Laura told us the info lady had come back to ask for more money for there had been an unforeseen issue. Yeah right. Well I walked back with Laura to find out what was up, as we had already paid 198€ for the day in Postojna and 210€ for the cruise to Venice. We waited at the office for twenty or so minutes while the lady was on phone, she only stopped when I politely told her that we would leave in a minute and return later that evening. The reason for the additional cost: “Some summer assistant working for the cruises had made a mistake, as the 34€ discount was only meant for the Slovenian citizens.” Allright, we paid the extra money and looked through some details to do with the taxi etc. The lady gave us her personal phone number also because according to her the local agreements weren’t always that hmm reliable and something almost always went wrong with these types of arrangements. In the end though, it all worked out nicely.

The temperature stayed at above 30’C the whole time – not so pleasant when sleeping in a tent even though it was in the shade. One couldn’t move too much in the evenings without starting to sweat.. Laura moved outside at some stage during the night to sleep on top of the driving gear – must’ve been a little cooler there?

I was happy to notice there were no mosquitos and other bloodsuckers: either we didn’t see them or there just wasn’t any because of the wind. In that sense it was nicer than nearby the Lake Garda. There were more than enough bats and insects though – we quickly got used to throwing crickets and spiders outside from the tent as the door had to be kept open because of the high temperatures. During the worst invasions I was however glad to have taken a small bottle of Raid (insect repellent) with me.

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Day 9. A trip to Postojna

13.7.2003

Ankaran - Predjama Castle – Postojna dripstone caves, by bus.

In the morning we walked to the nearby bus stop. A fifty something year old guide checked out our tickets and let us into the air-conditioned bus – felt so good to get away from the heat. We fell asleep quite quickly while the guide introduced the sights almost non-stop in Italian, German and in English.

The guide was brilliant, a true expert in his field. He quickly recognized the Helsinki dialect/accent and replied to us in Finnish – he had apparently worked as a guide since -99 and before that worked on cruise ships for twenty or so years. His English was so good Laura was also able to understand the main points. Such a great performance that I had to send an extra email to the travel agency to thank him once again, something I had never done before.

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Predjama Castle was built into a 123m high mountain wall, one so difficult to conquer that it had survived without having to surrender for long periods of time. It was built on several layers, with an extensive cave network inside the mountain as well. There was also a small tilt field, as shown in the picture, and balcony with a view of the not so pleasant looking torture chamber.

It must’ve been insanely cold there during winter, apparently temperatures down to minus 20 degrees Celcius were common because of the altitude and climate. I also noticed that insulation in the new buildings was the same as what we have gotten used to back home. Oh and by the way, there were no info leaflets in Finnish yet but in several other European languages (45 48.945 N, 14 07.641 E, 508 m).

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After exploring the area independently for an hour, it was time to continue to the Postojna caves and grab some lunch at a tourist restaurant in the town center. The food was great, and so much that I bet everyone was satisfied. I doubt we would’ve ordered a heavy meal like that on our own though because of the hot weather – the meal was included in the price but the drinks obviously weren’t. Oh and the salads didn’t cause food poisoning or anything, excellent.

Some lady went missing and someone left their stuff in the restaurant so we barely made it to the train which took us into the cave. Had we missed it, we would’ve had to wait for an hour… (45 46.901 N, 14 12.321 E, 525 m).

http://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/

I had never visited such place, what a surprise! Definitely worth a visit, especially as these caves were the largest ones of the seven thousand dripstone caves of Slovenia. Considering how long it had taken to form those pillars, it would’ve taken the nature 14 200 years just to form the small ones the size of our kids (142cm)… Crazy.

It was forbidden to take pictures, but the guides had a tough time enforcing that rule – they avoided any fights but the tones of voices got quite serious as the flashes went off everywhere. They wanted to sell company's own pictures so taking only these 1, 2 and 3 was not too unpleasant for us. I wish I had one of those small waterproof video cameras the size of a pen, would’ve been amazing to be able to capture the cave networks – not to mention being really handy when driving on the zigzag Alpine roads.

We walked through the most scenic areas and actually managed to keep our balance despite the slippery stone floors and stairs. There was a pool surrounded by spotlights near the train stop, the pool had six twenty to twentyfive centimeter long blind cave animals, some type of salamanders not found anywhere else. They eat all types of algae and are in the pool for a couple of weeks at a time, apparently the bright lights are a drain even for a blind animal. Oh and also, we were told some traces of early Neanderthal people had been found from the early parts of the caves. Interesting.

It was a bit of shock to the skin coming back outside from the pleasant ten degree temperature of the caves; over a 20’C change in a matter of meters. Luckily it was only a half an hour wait before the departure of the bus – so it wasn’t too long until we were back dozing off in the air-conditioned bus.

When we got back to the camping ground I stopped by at the reception to thank the lady for organizing the bus trip, having used our motorcycles wouldn’t have been nearly as pleasant as this tour. While we’d been away two other motorcyclists had put up their tent next to ours – it was quite nice to have more people keeping an eye on the gear. The guy had a quite scratched 600cc R-Kawasaki, apparently it’d been fixed after a crash and was now back on the road again. He told me the parts were widely available, great. He also warned us to slow down when it’s raining, the asphalt in those areas would turn unbearably slippery especially in areas where naphtha or oil had made the road even more slippery – that being almost everywhere. I actually had experienced it myself as well, in -87 me and Irma were driving south of Opatija, nowadays in Croatia, (only a slight touch to the front brake lever and you easily got crashed down to the street breaking at least a side mirror). Despite the years the situation had obviously not changed much.

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Day 10. A day cruise to Venice

14.7.2003

Ankaran - Izola - Piran - the Mediterranean - Venetsia. By taxi, bus and catamaran.

It is 4.45am, time to get up. Some fruit for breakfast and then it was time to meet the taxi by the reception.

Boat: Prince of Venice
The taxi driver had his taxi sign on the floor – he showed it after seeing me warily looking at his car. I bet there are a lot of illegal cars around used as taxis… The driver spoke only Slovenian and Russian so we didn’t really communicate much. We got to our destination nicely though, but I do think it was good the lady at the reception had given us a note to show the driver just to prevent any problems.

We waited for the bus for almost an hour, but then again it was quite pleasant looking at the idyllic little town awaking. Not many people were around that early. (45 31.627 N, 13 34.015 E, 0 m).

The bus arrived and it was the same as the one yesterday, but the drive that got on from Piran wasn’t. We picked up more passengers along the way and then got onto the “Prince of Venice” –catamaran. First it sailed to a Croatian coastal city called Umag, to pick up some more passengers.

The trip was ideal for us because of its a) straightforwardness and easiness b) thanks to the beautiful sea views c) suitable schedule. It cost 160€ for the cruise, 37€ for the bus + taxes etc. and 35€ for taxi – kind of painful to pay that much but it was an amazing one off experience. Had we done the same by driving it would’ve been 400km from Ankaran to Venice and back on a hot highway + having to pay road tolls and for parking – not to forget that it would’ve taken around 5 hours. No thanks.
This option for better for our nerves. Also, the passport checks were a piece of cake on both ends (from Venice Laura and Jaana walked into the catamaran by themselves, no one asked a question or for their passports. I did stand in line about 20m behind them but I doubt they knew we were together – not the most watertight surveillance there).

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The weather was great so we could see the coast of Venice and the route to the city really well (45 25.867 N, 12 19.214 E, 0 m).

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I had a ”slight prejudice” towards Venice (dirty with a lot of rubbish, smelly sewers, overpriced, filled with pick-pocketers and tourist traps). It wasn’t quite as what I had expected though – sure the prices were high and there were tourists everywhere (12 million visitors a year, mainly during summer months as the guide told us), but other than that it was quite nice actually. There’s no reason one must always drink coffee worth tens of euros near the worst tourist trap when there’s so many other places worth a visit.

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By the way, it was quite nice to sit down with a large pint of beer and see the uninterrupted flow of people go past. Didn’t feel one bit jealous of the occasional motorcyclists we saw carrying their gear: must’ve been bloody nuisance to carry the belongings around it that heat.

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The guide told us there are hardly any gardens in Venice – the ones that exist are owned by the rich. And if you are really wealthy you also have trees in your garden, that’s the way hierarchy works around there I was told. A couple of hours was barely enough to scratch the surface of Venice – I could easily spend several weeks in that wonderful area. However, the price of a hotel night wasn’t too appealing with its 400€/nigh fare. Also we skipped the gondola rides for it would’ve been 80€ for four, for a short trip in the narrow canal amidst several others.

Laura bought herself a copy of a gondola for two euros (she still has it now, over ten years later when she’s translating these texts..). She and Jaana also got a lesson on not believing everything they see – conned by the seller basically. They saw these 2,50€  “dance with no support” paper Mickey Mouse dolls and bought them after seeing them stand on their own live. They wouldn’t believe it wouldn’t be possible for paper dolls to move by themselves as they had seen it with their own eyes. Well at least the packages came with instructions on how to operate them with see-through strings – neither of them really minded in the end and hey, what a great and cheap lesson it was.

On the way back we experienced some really strong waves -> Laura turned white but survived without the use of the ”vomit bag” unlike some other passengers. She did spend the rest of the cruise sitting on the back deck staring at the horizon though. When we returned to Piran we took a bus back to Izola, and waited for an hour for a taxi back to the camping ground. There was some young guy doing a wheelie back and forth in the evening traffic, so at least we were entertained during the wait.

Oh and the taxi driver was quite a character and we discussed the still ongoing bridge constructions of the area. Apparently: ”those europas longest, most famous bridges, etc near Ankaran were more popular than ones anywhere else in Europe.." – even though they were still under construction and not that big he tried to tell us. Well, that was his way to enhance the atmosphere inside his car.

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Day 11. Ankaran - Lake Garda

15.7.2003

Trieste – Peschiera/Lake Garda, 392 km.

We paid for the accommodation with the remaining local currency and the rest with a credit card. Taxes and insurance was 100, adult 2000 and a child 800 SIT/ night, the pool was included in the price. The ladies at the reception called us a funny looking bunch and some local man said we were particularly brave – it was quite new in those areas to have two children with us when travelling by motorcycles I guess. Or did we just do something they thought was more peculiar? Who knows.

We took the scenic seaside road for a few kilometers to reach Italy, then up via Trieste to the highway and after 392km we reached Peschiera, located on the southern bank of the Lake Garda. When paying for the road toll, we came across some difficulties as the card slot for the toll machine was at suitable height for truck drivers – oh well I reached it when standing on tip toes.  All the writing was in Italian, so I hope in the end I paid the required 10,10€ and not something else. Oh by the way, the cost of petrol was about the same as the road toll per 100km.

A fellow motorcyclist instructed us to follow the speed limit – great, as it turned out the radar was hidden behind a pole. We found out later that some people had got some really nasty fines, up to a third of our whole trip budget.. Oh well, we had to keep the jackets partly open because of the hot temperatures so speed had to be adjusted accordingly.

The camping ground "Gasparina" was only a few hundred meters from Gardaland amusement park so next day’s plan was easy to execute. (45 27.273 N, 10 42.134 E, 64 m).

We put up the tent next to a playground (map number #602) and released the kids = they went for a swim. Everyone was required to wear a swimming cap to cover their hair, á 1.5 €. Me and Irma relaxed for a bit and had a look at the area. There was a bird pen nearby, large corn fields and kiwi fruit growing near the parking area.

After the pool closed we went for a swim in the lake, the base was muddy so we kept the sandals on and ensured we didn’t accidently drink the water. It wasn’t particularly clean but refreshing nevertheless, luckily there were showers nearby. Cold as the local custom, but in those temperatures that was just a plus. Also the sanitary areas of the camping area were fine.

The plan was to hang out at the tent and go to bed early. Not quite. There were some evening activities like a disco for the youngsters – Italian hmm rhythmic songs and the kinds of YMCA were played with proper volumes and heard perfectly at the tent as well. The speakers were only 50m away, regretfully… The kids enjoyed it and there were also a lot of people at the playground - the silence started at around 10 or 11pm so there was enough time for sleep anyway.

Our kids had a look at how children are raised in a conflict situation in Italy: based on their expressions our own style suits them a lot better for they would never end up with a red cheek caused by a slap… Looked quite harsh, but I guess it was the local way. I can imagine how a “patronizing person with puritan moral sense” of some neighbouring country might’ve reacted to that sight and probably stepped in to criticize the hundred kg Italian lady keeping the naughty boys in line with yelling and slapping – it would not be a good idea to intervene I’d imagine.

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Day 12. Gardaland

16.7.2003

A day spent at Gardaland.

At 4.30am I vaguely remember hearing the sound of the church bells, followed by two roosters crowing particularly out of tone nearby the tent. Then the geese started as well and oh the next three hours felt like ages – in the end I could stand it no longer and took a book with me and head out to the bar. After the third early-morning wake-up an old jungle saying came to mind: ”A kingdom for a an air rifle or a hungry fox!” Unfortunately (or shall I say luckily) there was neither one around.

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Anyway, the day was spent at Gardaland. The entrance fee for adults was 22 € and 18,50 € for kids. It included unlimited rides in the amusement park but you needed to be a certain height for a few rollercoasters for example. 12 hours later we were quite sick of the amusement park – the girls completely disagreed though. (45 27.298 N, 10 42.914 E, 87 m).

Some pictures taken from there: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

The evening was the same as on the previous night – it was quite entertaining to see a young girl, way under 5, copying the dance moves of YMCA for example. His father was laughing out loud as well and shaking his head. However, overall the music chosen for the evening discos wasn’t that appropriate in my opinion – it would’ve been perfectly fine for teenagers but maybe not for the young kids.

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Day 13. Lake Garda

17.7.2003

Driving around the Lake Garda,160 km.

In the morning we decided to drive around the Lake and head west. The temperatures were soaring again and no one really wanted to wear the proper driving gear so being aware of the risks I opted for a t-shirt and shorts and just drove really slowly and carefully. We had to stop after a few dozen kilometres due to emerging sunburn, luckily I had some SPF 20 sunscreen left. I got “lovely” sandal lines on my feet heh, I’m happy at least the others had track pants and jackets for cover.

On the western areas there were multiple tunnels after each other and the air inside some of them was surprisingly cool. We stopped at Riva Del Garda, at a motorcycle shop familiar from the previous year (LGP SAS - Angelini L.&C., Viale S.Francesco 37, Riva Del Garda), which had naturally closed down only half an hour prior due to the siesta..

Oh well, we spent some time in the center until the doors opened at 4pm again. The aim was to find Irma a better helmet to replace the ancient and worn out Arai Omn – in no time we had found a suitable one with the help of the seller. Irma chose the Arai Quantum-F (420€), which is really similar to my Arai Signet. We took off the headphone set, threw away the old helmet and continued the day trip. No more humming, what a practical and great purchase it turned out being.

After driving past the northernmost point we went for a swim somewhere near Malcesine. I went on a swim with my clothes on so that it’d feel nice and cool once driving again. We could barely see the western shoreline and the scenic road on the other side of the lake from that spot.

In the evening I installed the headset to Irma’s new helmet, it took an hour and a few beers at the bar. The tools I needed were a big knife, the helmet, Kenny Roberts-tape and few other things so doing it by the tent without having a table would’ve been tricky – it was good there was a bar with a motorcycle enthusiast owner nearby and he let me do it there. ;)

2003-Italia-Gasparina-ja-omistajan-Moto-Guzzi.jpg Same as bigger

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Day 14. Lake Garda

18.7.2003

A day spent swimming at Peschiera, Gasparina campsite.

“NOT good morning, roosters”.

Today was spent purely on hanging out in the area and by the pool. Laura’s neck had got sunburnt before and it burnt again so every time Irma added a drop of 1% hydrocortisone lotion Laura would bite her teeth and go for a quick walk around. The lotion needed to be added a couple of times, and it was lucky the skin didn’t get infected or turned worse. Laura needs to be really careful; she burns really quickly despite having plenty of sunscreen where as Jaana gets a tan easily – she was actually the only one whose skin didn’t peel during this trip.

Me and Irma went to a petrol station to wash the motorcycles. “Peschiera Esso” was really disappointing as I bought a new bottle of wax but we weren’t allowed to use a bucket even though there were too spare ones laying around – their competitor not too far away on the other hand was great. They didn’t even want to charge for the water we used. I ended up giving the cashier 5 € anyway – the guy at Esso would’ve charged 7 € per bike if one of their guys had washed the motorcycle using pressure water washer. We did the cleaning ourselves though, I’d never let anyone use some old rugs, not to mention a pressure cleaner on my motorcycle unless I am completely sure they won’t scratch it or aim the pressurised water at the bearings and chains – something that is a bit difficult to confirm from an Italian speaking old man.

The disco was full on with their PumPum-songs all evening again, and the temperatures rose to new records. Irma packed our bags ready for departure next morning, she’s way better at organizing everything compared to us three..

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Day 15. Lake Garda - Sölden

19.7.2003

Peschiera - Bolzano – Merano – Timmelsjosh – Sölden, 262 km.

The bill for accommodation was 128 €, considering the area the price was bearable.

Then off to Peschiera and the plan was to get the two highway toll tickets and drive off. Well, not quite what happened. Irma couldn’t get a ticket from the automated machine, nevertheless, we kept driving east for a while until reaching the road going north. I optimistically thought it’d be fine not having the ticket, we could just explain what happened and pay again.

On the two-lane road towards Brenner there was so much traffic that the road capacity wasn’t enough – the traffic got jammed constantly for no apparent reason. We stopped to get coffee at some petrol station, but with huge lines there we just opted for sodas and chocolate (it’s been a while since I had to pay over 20 € for four 0,5l bottles of soda and chocolate bars.. One of those "not too cheap" -places..). Back onto the highway and towards Bolzano, and the next plan was to move to a highway to Merano.

Well I had been too optimistic first. The young guy working at the highway toll collection site flipped off after noticing we only had one ticket. He kept yelling and asking for passport and wouldn’t listen why we didn’t have two tickets. I started to get angry after a while as well and Irma wasn’t smiling after being given an additional fee of 49,50 € for failing to present a valid ticket from Pecshiera. So basically she would had to pay for return highway tolls plus additional tolls caused by driving to the fee office 80km towards Trento where the fine needed to be paid at..

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I stopped at a petrol station in Merano and asked a local motorcyclist about the fine. He told me he had got a similar one a few years back, he complained and the fine was withdrawn/cancelled – he said we should do the same. (“They can’t do anything anyway, you’ll be back to Finland by then”). NOTE: this doesn’t apply anymore as the EU adopted a common fine system in 2007.

In Finnish: http://www.valtioneuvosto.fi/ajankohtaista/tiedotteet/tiedote/fi.jsp?oid=184023&c=0&toid=1802&moid=1803

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There started to be more and more motorcycles as we approached Timmelsjosh. We let everyone pass, with full gear on we weren’t in any rush. The terrain changed quite a bit and some of the 180 degree turns of the serpentine Alpine roads at 2300m altitude were somewhat tricky, particularly when having to turn right. Irma had to redo some of the turns, and luckily she didn’t fall over. The profile of the road was quite interesting and some views from Italian side: 1, 2.

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There were a lot of cars, push bikes and motorcycles, even a camper van. Luckily most drivers were considerate of others – particularly when a cyclist suffered from a broken tire whilst going through (?) a steep corner downhill. The view was even better than at Grosslockner. We had to pay a lot of attention on the road and traffic but at least the kids got to enjoy the scenery (there was a half a meter high stone wall only a meter from the side of the road separating us from a few hundred meter fall down to the gorge.. No wonder we didn’t really pay attention to anything but the road.) (46 54.320 N, 11 05.837 E, 2478 m).

At the top of the mountain we stopped to take photos (JaanaJaana ja Laura) too bad the previous serpentine roads weren’t visible from there. The next road toll area was in Austria (the Alpine crossing was only open from 7am to 8pm and the tunnel higher up was closed for the night), and then it was mainly downhill from there. Similar serpentine roads, but much easier to drive downhill.

We reached Sölden in the afternoon around 2pm. We didn’t get any speeding tickets even though the cops had set up some radars on the main roads (I guess too many people used it for unnecessary acceleration). W head straight to Gasthaus Anneliese we had visited the previous summer, it was full but the next door neighbour Gästehaus Marin Brugger had a two bedroom flat available. 90 € per night for an apartment with a balcony, satellite tv and breakfast and secure premises to store the motorcycles – awesome! Especially the kids were happy to see some tv-shows after having a three week break from it. (46 57.691 N, 11 00.523 E, 1393 m).

We had a quick rest on the bed (almost fell asleep), then off to have a shower and lunch at a restaurant Die Alm. Four Wiener Schnitsel meals, an additional salad portion and drinks at 47,10 € were definitely appreciated. The rest of the evening was spent writing postcards, sightseeing and we bought a large poster of the Alpine scenery (approx. 60 x 110cm, Kompass ”Alps” number 349) with a hard protective case for 6.50 €.) We went to bed early, it felt great having a decent bed and lovely cool air so we managed smooth out our sleep deprivation.

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Day 16. Sölden - Lindau

20.7.2003

Sölden – Lindau, 183 km.

The breakfast at the Gasthaus was excellent, even the kids liked the thick hot chocolate served. We sent a post card to our neighbour keeping an eye on house back home and then kept following the road downhill – Irma said it was the most enjoyable road so far. Maybe the built-up stress and shock of the uphill drive was finally released.

The lower we got, the hotter the temperatures and the shorter tunnels weren’t enough to cool us down from the heat of the motorway anymore. At times we had to stop for a bit, almost felt like going for a swim at the mountain creeks. Well Laura and Jaana had a try, and said it was way too cold..

A 18km tunnel cost 8,50 € per bike. The air quality wasn’t too good, we all started sneezing after driving through two or three tunnels. Laura loved to observe birds and there was plenty to look at with an abundance of hawks and eagles flying around.

We found the camping ground of Lindau without any difficulties. The area seemed to be really popular and there was also another camping ground just a few km from the beach (47 32.232 N, 09 43.896 E, 0415 m). Irma and Jaana chose a good tent spot for us and came to get me and Laura who waited outside the gates. The tent was set up on a lawn at a slightly sloping area near trees and a fence, and then we signed in at the reception. All worked nicely.

The beach didn’t seem nice because the water looked dirty, there were plenty of water plants and the beach was filled with rocks and stones. Oh well, that didn’t slow the kids down and once the wind cooled down and the water cleared the based turned out being allright after all.

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Day 17. Lindau

21.7.2003

Old town.

We walked to the city center via the coastal path, about two kilometres one way. A lovely route, especially around a mansion built for Napoleon (according to a sign) – there must’ve been a beautiful garden earlier on but nowadays the area near the beachfront was a mess.

We walked around in the old town for a few hours. There was great service in a pizzeria, Laura and Jaana got their pizzas sliced at the table by the Italian waiter – a spectacle that seemed to amuse them a great deal. :) There were also a lot of street artists and other performers. Jaana 1 and 2 and Laura as a model.

Laura started looking around for a ”Euro folder” to collect coins from different countries, but we couldn’t find one and decided to look from back home to get the information in Finnish as well. There were a lot of stunning churches in the old areas of Lindau and we visited one of them to take photos. It wasn’t as nearly well finished and detailed as the one we found during our walk in Berchtesgarden or as lovely as the church four times bigger in Lypeck, but still not bad.

We made dinner at the camping ground, as there were good cooking facilities with gas stoves nearby the main gate – we ate there as well, something that some other campers didn’t seem to think was appropriate. Oh well, there was plenty of space for everyone and we left the area cleaner than it was when we arrived.

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Day 18. Lindau

22.7.2003

Swimming.

The wind picked up and the waves crashed around with their white foamy tops. Laura loved swimming in the lake and Jaana, well, not so much. The wind attracted several locals to the beach as well, they might’ve been waiting for a lovely cool weather like that after a heat spell. It also rained briefly, making the air nice and refreshing.
A stone’s throw away from our tent there were two older gentlemen travelling on a large campervan. Nothing special about that, but they did have a trailer with two big motorcycles (Fireblade) for cruising around. They did spend hell of a lot time cleaning the vehicles after the drive, but the chrome rims did shine nicely afterwards for everyone to admire.

Some earlybird managed to back into the automated aluminium station meant for getting rid of the waste waters from the campervans – the so called grey water system functioned (for shower water) but the sanitary (disinfectant) didn’t. I was surprised at how many men told the female to get out and guide the way when they reversed the car – but the ladies seemed to wave their hands just to get warm for the driver never really seemed to care...

There were several fenced off small gardens right outside the camping ground, some of them really stunning. There were also some cottages in the campground, great alternative to owning a cabin of your own I guess.

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Day 19. Lindau

23.7.2003

A day spent relaxing.

A lovely relaxing day. The kids dived off the paddle boat (9€/h) and also got to paddle at times when the parents got to enjoy the sun on the ”back deck”, and then there was time to do some shopping in the center together.

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We had lunch at a restaurant based on the weight of the portion – a new experience. A fair procedure for the customer as long as the weight of the plate was taken into consideration (and as we were in Germany, I’d say that was the case).

We walked around trying to find gas bottles to fit the trangia cooking equipment, but it was difficult to find the exact fit rather than those commonly sold disposable cans.
The girls came up with a new game to entertain themselves, they walked in circles and measured the time it took and tried to copy the exact speed of the previous lap – the one who got the closer one won. I wonder just how many times they walked around there – several, judging by our neighbours’ facial expressions ;)

At night there was a fierce thunder and a small-scale flood. We were lucky as the paddles that formed higher up the hill drained far enough from our tent that not all the driving gear got soaked. Had we put up the tent two meters further (so about 20cm lower from the nearby road) the hmm amount of delight from all occupants of the tent would’ve been high. I personally don’t mind the water for I’m used to it from previous trips like Irma, but I don’t think the girls would’ve been too happy (luckily a kuitupussi stays reasonably warm even when wet).

The base of our tent, Halti Alta IV, survived without problems while small creeks of water run below. The top tent held nicely as well, but it would’ve been completely soaked in a couple of hours more as the seams would’ve given in. We could’ve dried it off with a Trangia – providing there would’ve been enough gas for that.. ;) Anyway, a great performance from the Alta, our previous Halti Tramp -tent wouldn’t have been this great.

Judging from the sounds coming from other areas of the camping ground, not everyone else had been as lucky as us.

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Day 20. Lindau - Munchen - by train

24.7.2003

Lindau – Munchen, 189 km – Hampurg, by train.

At morning it was time to pack up, get some breakfast (2x 8€ big portions + some fresh juice, plenty for four people). Irma noticed that a little girl in the nearby tent had turned eight years so the girls went to buy a bag of lollies for her as a present. She had a lovely smile, and I think the parents appreciated the gesture as well.

From now on the focus of the trip was on getting home, so one really paid much attention to the scenery. Plenty of corn fields around, but we didn’t even get to cook one cob of corn during the whole trip.. It surely would’ve tasted good toasted in the flame of Trangia, and covered with melted butter..

We stopped at a motorcycle shop in the center of Muchen to ask what’s the price for a Scottoiler, but we didn’t end up buying one as the only one available would’ve had to been picked up from 70km outside the city. We got lunch from a nearby cafeteria, great value for money (43,50€) even though we had to suffer from the rather overpowering smell of dog pee – we couldn’t move inside as we needed to keep an eye on the motorcycles and our driving gear.

The shopkeeper helped us navigate to the main railway station and we also stopped to ask for further directions from the railway station police officers – soon we were back on the loading platform but this time unfortunately on the other side as previously, heading home. We quickly went to change into something lighter and let the driving gear dry off inside out in the sun. Six hours to kill: we played some card games and Yatzy, hanged out at the waiting room admiring the thunder storm and chatting up other motorists. The Norwegians were full of energy, especially after a few of the Harley Davidson drivers found their boots filled with water in the pouring rain..

Eventually it was time to check the documents, wait for cars to be loaded and then time to drive into the carriage. I followed Irma who was first in line, this time the motorcycles were left side by side. We were told not to lock our bikes, maybe to avoid the alarms from going off during transport. Then back to the waiting area with the girls, there was still an hour and a half before departure.
 
In the end we couldn’t sit around any longer so we head towards the tunnel. Laura carried the pile of driving gear towards the same direction Jaana and Irma had left previously to buy some food. After Jaana returned we were able to carry all the rest of the belongings and go after Laura. We missed the platform by one number (12 would’ve been correct, there was another night train at platform number 13 but that one didn’t have the vehicle carriages) so we had to walk around quite a bit. It was fine though, we found some vending machines and were rewarded with some lollies and soda.

 The train cabin was the never sort with five beds and six chairs. The back of the chairs folded down into a table and one normal chair remained after putting up the beds – a great improvement from the previous models.

The train departed, the evening arrived, and so did sleep. We woke up a few times during the night, and eventually woke up in Hamburg.

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Day 21. Hamburg Altona - Rostock, by ship

25.7.2003

Hamburg – Rostock, 233 km – Finnjet - Helsinki.

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We woke up at around 6am. The rain had stopped, great. The breakfast consisted of multigrain biscuits combined with honey again, we skipped those but the rest of the offering was nice and we also had some leftover sandwiches from the previous evening. There were long lines for the toilet as the arrival time came close, but there was still plenty of time as after the train stopped there was still about ten minutes wait before the vehicle carriages arrived to the nearby platform. The girls pushed the driving gear with some luggage trolleys and me and Irma untied the motorcycles and drove them onto the platform.

We got dressed up in the driving gear and didn’t mind the people staring at us, and soon we were driving towards Kiel because there was so much spare time before the ship was going to depart, that we decided to drive a bit extra. Then to Lybeck via Bad Segeberg and then the coastal roads  #104 and #105 to Rostock.

We stopped for lunch at Wismar harbour (Bockwurst mit kartoffel salad turns out being different from normally understood ..mit kartoffelsalad so not just a different way of spelling..). The old town of Wismar seemed quite big and interesting, but we shall explore that on some other trip.

It was easy to find the harbour and a souvenir shop near the last petrol station of the mainland. Irma said she saw several people carrying around huge piles of alcohol and other stuff – no wonder after seeing the prices in the taxfree shop onboard the ship. Buy souvenirs from the mainland if possible.

I bet we could’ve fit eight cases of beer on the back of Irma’s Diversion motorcycle like we thought in the “preliminary plan” ;)

There were quite a few motorcyclists waiting so we joined them. We met a couple we’d seen in Lindau previously, but other than that no one looked familiar. Having girls with us stirred some conversations and we gave tips on their gear and entertainment. Hopefully their kids also get a change to travel with the parents.

Then into the ship and we got guided quite far apart to the back of the ship. That was fine, though next morning I had trouble getting back to untie the motorcycles as the vehicles get packed tightly and there’s not much space to move – it’s for example good to have mirrors that can be folded to make more room for people walking past.
We had panorama seats right under the control cabin areas. A great view, but other than that not the nicest area. It’s good they had a code lock in the inner door to stop everyone from entering, and I guess the carpet was soft(ish) enough to sleep on. The seats had been drawn and we end up with two seats on the left side and two on right – as you may guess we all went left together and were ready to negotiate with other passengers but that wasn’t necessary for there was plenty of space.

Time for a shower and then dinner, the meatballs were tasty and great accompanied by large glasses of milk for 30,60€ but beer and cider were pretty expensive.

In the evening we enjoyed the live music, Irma and the girls went to bed quite early but I enjoyed the show until 1am. The performer said he didn’t want to get intoxicated as quickly as the audience, so all drink offers were more appreciated as tips. The audience started jamming along as the night grew, the noise levels becoming quite considerable..

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At night I woke up as someone yelled: ”Shaisse”. Heh, I think a lady sleeping on the floor somewhere near got sick of me snoring. Irma said it had been pretty loud but nothing compared to the group of youngsters sitting outside the panorama area near the ventilation area. Oh and the panorama “cabin” was also terribly hot until the doors leading to the deck were opened. Several people slept on the floor, the chairs weren’t that comfortable.

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Day 22. Helsinki - Imatra

26.7.2003

Helsinki – Imatra, 274 km.

Jaana almost missed breakfast as she and Laura went for a morning swim and had agreed to be back by 9am. Only Laura showed up, she and Irma went to get breakfast and I stayed there waiting for Jaana. She still hasn’t arrived by 9.30am so I went for a walk around to try find her, still no luck so I went to get some breakfast quickly and Irma went to check the sauna and pool. Jaana was still swimming there, half an hour after the official swimming hours had ended. Apparently she didn’t know what time it was for on the “board” on the wall it said 930 ("there was nothing after nine so it cannot have been a clock"). Yeah right, good excuse..

By the way, the day spent on-board was boring and all in all just terrible. Luckily there was a circus school and other activities for the kids but for us the time was spent napping and reading several books bought from the tax free shop.

Irma had some trouble as we arrived in the harbour. Her motorcycle needed to be moved away to give way to a campervan – some other biker was nice to help her out as I was on the other side of the ship untying my own bike. The next time we met was at the passport and registration book check-up and the girls got stamps in their passports after we asked nicely. 

I had forgotten in how terrible condition the Porvoo highway was, there were several potholes and the surface was uneven. One of the worst highways we encountered in our trip. We stopped at a café as Laura and especially Jaana kept falling asleep; she slept for like a quarter of the way home.

It took like two days to wash all our clothes and a week later most things have found their right place at home.

The overall price was around 4000 – 4500€, depending on what is counted as being included in the trip. A trip done 15 years prior in similar areas for two people cost 10 – 12 000 FIM, so the price levels had remained quite similar.

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Review

Collected straight after arriving home.

The best thing:

Jaana
- Gardaland, the other places were nice too

Laura
- can’t specify a single thing, liked everything

Irma
- peaceful family trip
- gained driving experience, which shows as a more relaxed driving back in Finland

Kari
- relaxed atmosphere and not many arguments
- the girls behaved excellently especially in the soaring temperatures and being stuck in traffic etc. A lot better that I had expected.
- the girls learned to drink enough water to avoid dehydration and muscle cramps

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The worst thing:

Jaana
- nothing was particularly bad
- too many rules at times (us parents didn’t realize that the additional excitement came out as tickling and pushing, etc.)

Laura
- An accident with the thumb and eight blisters

Irma
- hot temperatures

Kari
- rubbish sleeping mattress (airbags) that caused trouble every night 
- sleep deprivation caught us during the last two days, and maybe the cooler climate also made us more tired

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What to improve next time:

Jaana
- the trip was good like that

Laura
- don’t drive long distance without stopping

Irma
- bring less clothes
- leave space for souvenirs

Kari
- half a week less would’ve been enough (two weeks would be enough to tour Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily for example if the trips to half way to Italy were done by train, additional ship and train trips would increase the overall travel time by a mere 4-5 days.)
- updated gear, better air mattresses for example
- remind the kids well in advance that everyone needs to help out when staying at camping grounds, washing dishes etc. It took an hour to get the dishes clean in Gasparina after the plates flew around for a bit before Laura actually washed them
- the location or size of the side bags needs to be adjusted, or have to wait for the girls’ legs to grow so that they’ll have more leg room ( the sweating of calves would reduce if the legs didn’t lean on bags at all times) 
- need to buy a better camera, the one bought in -87 from Munchen (Canon MC) is not good anymore

Imatra 2.9.2003. Jaana, Laura, Irma ja Kari

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