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East from Amsterdam

5915 Views 177 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  jiwawa
Well, I'm on my way! Left Belfast Harbour for Cairnryan a few mins ago - half an hour late due, I think the capt said, to a collision yesterday? Misty but apparently calm. Stopping in Ayr tonight to catch up with friends. (I don't normally say where I'm heading, only where I've arrived - gives plenty cover for getting lost 😂)
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You should be OK Jean. I filled up using one the other day and have done so numerous times over the years. One thing to watch for us the pressure in case there's a splurge of diesel out of the top before it cuts out. It happened to me! Smelly diesel hands and keys then!
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I woke up in Toila to 4° with the promise that it would go down to 2° later 😲 The toilet block wasn't overheated shall we say, but the water was plenty warm enough and a good pressure. I noticed these showers the same as the previous ones in Lithuania - one longer cubicle where your clothes are unlikely to get wet and the others much shorter, with a general changing area n hooks just outside.

They'd a sign on a manhole cover indicating a MH dropping its water which, I believe, is the universal sign for disposing of grey water, not black. But there was nowhere else. By the time I was ready to use it they'd responded - yes, that was for toilet waste.

Weather was grim (apart from the temperature!) but I motored over to Narva - just wanted to set my eyes on Russia, if not my feet! Parking is opposite the castle and I stuck my bum against the wall so no-one can see the UK sticker; whether it's interpreted as Ukraine (as it sometimes is) or UK, it might cause offence as this is a Russian-speaking town.

I visited the castle (good idea in the wet). Today it cost 4€ rather than the usual 15 which I might have baulked at. It was interesting with quite a lot of high-tech interpretation but it's not a pretty Castle. It gives you great views of Russia tho, on the other side of the river.

Eventually found the way down to the promenade which led me directly back to my parking, but not before I'd spied a café on the hill! I bought a coffee and was sitting with that when the lovely lass came and asked if I'd like a sweet? She could recommend the apfel strudel. I didn't need my arm twisted n it was beautifully presented and delicious. When I came to pay she added in the coffee again. I hope I'm wrong but I think it may have been a scam 😔 And I'd already left her a tip on the saucer which I don't often do.

I may leave my heating on frost setting tonight - don't want to lose my water. And that snow I thought I saw yesterday probably was - there's snow beside my parking now.
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Look at this woman painting the lintel! Her ladder is (badly) balanced on layers of polystyrene! Sky Building Cloud Plant Castle

Narva Castle
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A Moscow 'streltsy' soldier meaning they used handguns. They were used in 1558 to conquer Narva
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Looking across the river from the castle to Russia
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Looking the other way you can see me parked just below the wall, mid-right
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This is some kind of sun-dial but I couldn't figure it out
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In the photo of the castle in Russia you can see a Dover-like queue coming down the hill just to the left of the castle. Don't think they moved in a couple of hours. And the lorries IN to Russia were the same.
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Drove to Tartu - that involved retracing my steps of yesterday for the best part of an hour which I always think is a waste of diesel. However the alternative was using a Web of small roads following the Russian border n I thought maybe I'd chanced my luck enough! Had my very own low, dark, grey cloud as a travelling companion and it dumped wet snow n hail from time to time. My goodness the chill factor is amazing!

Got settled on my parking (had to download another parking app) - 3€/24hrs. There's a farmer's market next door which seems to be open all week so hopefully pick up eggs, maybe some milk tomorrow.

Tartu hasn't the same appeal as Tallinn but the TO has made a good job of creating a tourist walk to take in the interesting features. I had an Estonian dish Tön (pronounced tin) - or maybe that just means 'vegetarian option'! It was mashed potato with kidney beans, onion, mushrooms n a tomato sauce topped with cheese n grilled. I thought it was very tasty tho the girl in the TO said people tend not to like Estonian food.

A lot of the architecture seemed classical to me tho that may not be the correct term.

It's very much a university town - apparently the man who founded it confused everyone in his opening speech by saying the university should be open to peasants as well as the aristocracy 👍 The students look to be gearing up for a raucous night, many of them dressed up as furniture.... Yes, chests of drawers, beds, fridges, cupboards.... Made out of cardboard. And everyone running to get somewhere.

TG I'm past it!! And hopefully beyond the reach of any boom-boom music. They had some loud rap going on as I came thro the main square this evening and a gentleman who'd lifted what was probably a cello and a music stand from the back of his car - his poor face had such a pained expression on it! (probably mirrored my own!) Cloud Sky Building Daytime Road surface

Tartu is a European city of Culture in 2024
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Kissing students
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The observatory. Apparently they were ahead of the game in that field at one stage
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He founded the uni n shocked everyone in his opening speech by saying it should be for peasants as well as aristocracy 👍
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The old cathedral now museum
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The stone for sacrifice - I didn't hang around!
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One of the oldest buildings, now a museum as an historical family home
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Cloud Sky Building Window Street light

Where the moneyed people lived
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I didn't know the Estonians wore clogs
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The Town Hall
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The Leaning House. The RHS is built on the old town walls, the LHS on presumably man-made pylons
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The view on my walk home
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I was prepared for no milk at the farmer's market... but no eggs?! Meat, fish, plants, fruit and veg. Stopped in Valga/Valka n it would seem I'm now in Latvia. No wonder the girl in the shop couldn't understand my Estonian Google translate for Where would I find eggs?!! I had to mimic a hen 😂😂

Saw some interesting cyclists - 1 had a solar panel balanced on his pannier - very high tech! And another pair had very fat-wheeled tyres so I'm thinking cross-country? But they also each had an extra wheel running at the back with its own panniers. And one had a massive hound on a lead.

I picked up diesel in Latvia - 1€399. I kinda liked it in Estonia where all the stations were the same price so you just filled when you needed instead of worrying if you were paying too much. Just a few km from my own fill-up it was over 1.50.

Came to Sigulda. The review had said it was right beside the ski lift n I thought I might take the lift up n walk down - turns out I am at the top! There are lots of activities here for all ages - cable car, ski lift, toboggan rail, zip wires, ferris wheel - as well as bikes n scooters n wee cars for the tinies.

There have been a few loud cars round but hopefully they've gone home for the night.

I've just booked my return ferry Cherbourg-Dublin 4th June - hope you n Prue are around on the 3rd Ray!
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Look at these confirmees from the 50s!
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This was one of a number of works of art on display in the church. For the most part it's created from buttons. You could look at it for hours n keep seeing different things!
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S for Sigulda
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I don't normally do 2 sessions of driving in the day but stopped half way for lunch at a very attractive parking place.

I'm in Kédainiai now, came via quite a number of cross-country roads. Some grand, some not great surface n some bits diabolical! At one stage I thought the axle or the engine had hit the road, the jolt was that bad! I know that's impossible (well, normally!) but that's what it felt like. There doesn't seem to be any damage but of course I haven't climbed underneath. The cross country roads were lovely (otherwise!) with lots of wee hamlets, some looking as if they were straight out of the dark ages and others with obviously new money having moved in. Many of them had their own windmills - that surprised me! Very few animals in the fields - if they have them at all they must be housed but there are few big steading anywhere. Agriculture seems to be the thing.

I didn't find the parking I was looking for but did get something. I had a Norwegian white van for company last night - probably the closest I'll get to Norway in my lifetime! And I saw 5 or 6 MHs on the road today - so many I lost count 😂
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My lunchtime stop
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My overnight stop in Kėdainiai
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Some interesting 'heads' on display.
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I love it when they use a bit of art to make an otherwise unused building look interesting
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I'm sure this said Lutheran but it seemed very RC to me. It's being very well cared for. Built in wood

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Today I drove a couple of hours to Suwałki (no, me neither, but it was a suitable distance from my last stop). So I'm back in Poland. My forgetfulness re changing the dash clock to Baltic time has eventually paid off 😂 Nice drive down. The trees are all different shades of green n amber. Not as stunning as autumn but lovely all the same. 4 countries in 4 nights - don't think I've done that before!

After the lunch I had it was a very slow wander around the town. Nothing much to get excited about regarding architecture - mostly neo-classical? Almost completely rebuilt after the German invasion. About 5,500 Jewish residents of Suwałki were exterminated during WWII.

I gatecrashed a wedding! Noticed the door to the church was open so pulled open the inner door - it was right next to where communion was being distributed. The door latch made a heck of a noise on opening so all eyes were on me! Food Tableware Table Ingredient Plate

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They make a great thing about the cemetery being the only one open to those of 7 faiths. What they don't say is that there are very stout walls (maybe 6' into the ground? 😂) between the various sections!
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This is dedicated to Maximilian Kolbe, an RC priest who, while in Auschwitz took the place of another inmate; 10 of them to be starved to death as a result of a prisoner having escaped. I wonder how the other man dealt with survivor's guilt.
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The smallest art gallery in the world probably! A window each side to 1 or 2 paintings each side. Def not my taste!
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This was after the wedding!
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He is in what they call Blues St cos it's where their Blues festival is held. Is he a rock god (a slimmer Barry 😂) or a blues legend?
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Bockwurst Ingredient Font Sausage Debrecener

I don't know what these are but I'm definitely not going to find out!!
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Drove to Warsaw today. It was a lot of driving but I couldn't find somewhere about halfway that sounded interesting. Not the best drive - LOTS of roadworks n queues n then a fair bit of rain. I'm about half an hour on the bus from the centre - a lot further than my normal but closer parking's seemed to be beside v noisy roads or otherwise unattractive.

I fixed (hopefully, not tested yet!) the GM (Google maps) satnav: she always tells me which road I'm going on to n it takes forever to pronounce the words! She'll say something like Zolamalalowa Gollywoddywodge-ka... And she uses Drove-a-wally-wodka a lot. I don't know, it might just mean High Street! The solution is, according to the internet, to change from default English voice to... I've selected Spanish. I can't understand why she'd say 'Turn left at the roundabout', rather than the equivalent in Spanish.... we shall see.

I've seen more shops today than the whole of the rest of the trip! Actually, it's nice to see a shopping mall vibrant with all spaces filled. There's a C&A - remember them? I was round IKEA n saw a million things I didn't need 😂 At least in Belfast I know the escape routes from the rat run - not so here n I'd say it's a bigger store. But I did see one thing I needed - a spatula. Grand cost 5.99 polish sloty = £1.15. My quick calculator is double the zlotys n divide by 10 to get pounds, so not too far out. I also got a cheap bottle of Polish red from Auchun - I shoulda paid more! Think communion wine 😂

I saw a very hot, low sports car driving the opposite direction, in the rain, with his hood down. He appeared to have some gear on the seat behind him but I reckon it was his mangled hood. I bet he was 1 unhappy chappie!! I guess he'd just have to keep driving - couldn't stop off for a coffee else his bum would also be wet when he got back in!

Oh, and there were lots of empty spaces on the fruit n veg racks in Auchun - not just the UK then. No photos cos I haven't been anywhere!
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I can't understand why she'd say 'Turn left at the roundabout', rather than the equivalent in Spanish.... we shall see.
I have seen... And the instructions are in Spanish, as I suspected.

Any ideas?
Camera translation app?
I need it to speak to me in English tho, while I'm driving.
Late last night I booked online for an Orange Umbrella 'free' tour which started at 10 so I was on the bust (just a couple of minutes' walk) just after 9. Pay by card on the bus - 33p! Mind you, it cost me 45p coming out so not sure what I did wrong! The bus drops you at the steps up to the castle but it's the 3rd of May (Constitution Day) so everything was taped off n patrolled by police/army, including the monument where we were to meet. However, I just happened to be standing next to Magda, scanning the crowd, when she unfurled her orange umbrella! It was an excellent 2hrs and she made the whole city come to life.

Afterwards I went to one of the Milk Bars she recommended - they were from old times when the Govt sponsored (and still do) the provision of cheap food for the workers. Nothing fancy (and no smiles from the staff, or English but I'm not complaining about that) - the food used to be based on milk and flour, either as a sauce or as a dough. One of the true Polish experiences apparently. And very tasty!

Marie Curie was born here. Her parents couldn't afford to educate their 2 daughters past school and the Polish system wasn't welcoming of women so Marie worked to pay for her sister to study in the Sorbonne then, when she'd graduated, Marie joined her n she studied while the sister supported her. Win-win.

Virtually all of the old town has been rebuilt since WWII - but still managed to get UNESCO heritage status because it had been rebuilt to honour its original style - not necessarily just pre-war but what it's original style was. Magda showed us a photo of the area of the Jewish ghetto (not in the old town) and it was completely flattened after the uprising, except for a church that was used to store any treasures from the houses. Otherwise those who survived were forced to dismantle what hadn't already been flattened.
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Magda and the castle
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The cathedral, tucked away in a fairly narrow street
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Market Square
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Part of the old city walls and gate Sky Building Plant Cloud Architecture

The barbican
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A lady returned after the devastation and found the pigeons still here. I think she lived in this house
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The oppressive walls of the ghetto and the Jews rising up against the occupiers
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I've been in touch with Geoff and it turns out that I'll be passing their door (sort-of) just 24hrs after they've left (I must be an awful threat!!)
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I've been in touch with Geoff and it turns out that I'll be passing their door (sort-of) just 24hrs after they've left (I must be an awful threat!!)
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Sorry Jean, but we cannot delay as we have dinner booked in Bautzen, but more pressing is our appointment at N&B for new window seals.

You should have sent a postcard. At least you have given Ray and Prue plenty of notice.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Oh, I wasn't suggesting you should Geoff!!

Good luck with the trip!
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I've actually come south a good bit quicker than I'd expected so I've surprised myself as well as you!
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It's not you Jean, Geoff did that to me only saying call in after we had left Poland. 😕

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