On A Bender

By Jane Mountain | July 23, 2013

4472 km so far.

First things first.

Happy birthday big sister! I hope you and your family are well and happy. We are thinking of you today and wish we could be there to give you birthday hugs and make you cake.

This morning we awoke well rested in our little cabin, quite happy to have spent the money for such a great sleep. We prepared breakfast on our front porch, wondering if the dismal weather would improve.

camping cabin estonia

Our cabin at Mini Kamping, Kabli.

A Literary Reference About Love

Almost every day for breakfast we eat our homemade muesli, and so far on the trip we’ve been buying soy milk or almond milk to go with it.

The last few days, we’ve been trying something new. We’re using water, with some peanut butter mixed in, instead. When mixed with the oats it makes a milky liquid that tastes pretty much like soy milk. So instead of having to spend our money on soy milk and carry around an extra litre of liquid we can just use water. Genius! Why didn’t we think of that 3 months ago?

Of course, in the Baltics, finding decent water is harder than finding soy milk. Most of the water we’ve encountered is a muddy brown, kind of like weak tea. It varies in flavour, from gross to really gross. We’ve been relying heavily on cafes and bars, who usually have a supply of better tap water, for our hydration these last few weeks.

Anyway, back to the cereal.

Today we only had a tiny bit of peanut butter left, so when I made my cereal, I only used a tiny bit so Stephen could have the rest on his bread. When we were finished eating, I noticed there was still some peanut butter.

“Why didn’t you eat the peanut butter?” I asked.

“I was leaving it for you to have in your cereal,” he answered. “I was leaving it for your bread,” I said. By this time the bread and the cereal were all eaten up.

“Sometimes it’s like the bloody Gift of the Magi around here,” I said. Blank look from Stephen.

If you don’t get that reference either, go look it up.

Up Close And Personal With Lots Of Trucks

The ride was uneventful, lots on the highway, lots of trucks and cars passing too close, lots of wind. The next two days are going to be completely on the highway, so we’re not really looking forward to that.

After a while we plugged into our music and everything felt a little better. Music on the bike makes me feel close to invincible, and when the trucks try to blow me off the road, I just sing along a little louder. There is power in music, and it lends its power to me, making me pedal harder and happier.

It was a short ride today, and we got to Parnu around 2pm. We pulled into the Rimi (a big supermarket) and stuck our bikes in the bike rack. I went in to shop and Stephen stayed with the bikes.

A Minor Bike-tastrophy

When I came out, all of my bags were on the ground and Stephen was muttering over my front wheel. What the…?

Turns out, while Stephen was putting away the camera after taking a picture of this snazzy fella…

We assure you the cane was just a fashion statement, not medically necessary at all.

We assure you the cane was just a fashion statement, not medically necessary at all.

…my bike had fallen over. But, hey ho, the front wheel was stuck in the stupid bike rack. Bike fell over, wheel stayed up, and twisted mightily with the strain.

Arrrgh. Bike down!!

Instead of rolling around and around the way a wheel should, my newly bent wheel was wobbling side to side, impossible to ride.

Stephen immediately took the blame, but I know it was really my fault. Why oh why did I put my bike in the bike rack? We never do this. Never. For this very reason. And yet today, I did. Dammit.

We asked a few cyclists if they knew of a bike shop nearby, but they were tourists too, so Stephen wandered around until he could get online. He found a bike shop, Rattaari, about a kilometre away and we slowly walked our bikes over.

The bike shop who repaired my wheel in about 1/2 an hour at a cost of 8 Euros. Amazing.

The bike shop who repaired my wheel in about half an hour. Amazing.

Within about an hour of the tragedy, my wheel was spinning properly and all was right with the world. Amazing. The total cost? 8 Euros.

On a bike tour, things like this can happen at any time, anywhere. We were lucky enough to have it happen just a few minutes’ walk from a bike shop where they really knew their stuff. So, even if the whole bike falling over thing was bad luck, I still count it as good luck, since it couldn’t have happened at a more convenient time or place.

Surfin’ On Sofas

Our campsite is a little grungy, but it’ll do for one night. It has the advantage of being connected to the town’s rowing club, so we have a great view of the river and lots of very fit rowers going by.

Stephen helping some rowers off of the dock at the Parnu rowing club.

Stephen helping some rowers off of the dock at the Parnu rowing club.

We made good use of their dock to take a little splash in the water, though it was cold enough that a few seconds was plenty.

jumping into the parnu river estonia

Then into the water, on Parnu river.

We spent the evening strolling around town, which was a bit rough around the edges, but has a pretty main shopping street with boutiques, bars, and restaurants.

We stopped for a drink at Rosie’s Irish Pub and realised we were starving. So, despite the large bag of groceries sitting at the campsite, we ate at the pub.

We got the vegetarian plate: some boiled potatoes, a few kidney beans, and a blob of cottage cheese. Even though we should have learned by now that restaurant food generally bites, and cooking for ourselves is almost always better, sometimes we can’t control our urges.

When we got back to the campground, we supplemented our dissatisfying meal with hunks of bread smeared with Nutella. Much better.

I spent the evening making Couchsurfing requests for our stay in Helsinki. We really want to avoid the expense and impersonal experience of a big city hostel if we can. Making these requests is a lot like online dating. First you sort through hundreds of profiles to find an attractive host. Do they look nice? Do you have anything in common? Are there any red flags in their write-up?

Then you write a personal note. Oh, the anxiety. What should I say? Will they like me? Should I change my profile picture?

I started by looking for profiles with the word “vegetarian”, which will either weed out the weirdos, or guarantee we find them. Only time will tell.

Soundtrack: Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls | Jay-Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail | Crowded House, first three albums on shuffle  

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  1. Comment by Patti

    Patti July 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I get the literary reference (yeesh!). Although once you refer to it as the “bloody” Gift of the Magi, it kills the intended sentiment, don’t you think? :) I would very much like you to come and hug me and bake me a cake, to fulfill your wishes. I will hold you to it, and thanks so much for thinking of me.
    Love you!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane July 29, 2013 at 5:38 am

      Good point, Patti, but then it is sooo not the like of Gift of the Magi around here that it all makes sense… I’m thinking I should just buy you some cake instead, since the cakes they sell in this part of the world are amazingly delicious.

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