Cycling in Finland: Part 2
The first part of the story about how I started my bike trip can be found here.
Spending the night near the center of Lappeenranta was very good, the night was not cold and sleeping in a hammock was very comfortable. I did not put the alarm and therefore woke up at 9 am, fortunately, my place of lodging was hidden so that no one bothered me. And probably even no one saw me. I ate sandwiches with cheese and peanut butter and then began to collect my things. On this day I planned to cycle to the city of Kotka. It is 120 kilometers away.
I was on the road number 6 from Lappeenranta, along this road there was a separate quiet road, and sometimes there were bicycle paths, so it was convenient to go.
After about 40 kilometers, I turned onto the 26th road. There were no bike paths along it, but the road was very quiet. Maybe I was lucky, and maybe this is not the most popular road for the inhabitants of Finland.
But there were almost no cars and I enjoyed the silence and empty road, however, it was a little unsettling. I have never traveled along such an empty and quiet road. There were no houses, so there were no people. It seemed to me that the zombie apocalypse had come, all people had disappeared, and I was cycling along a deserted road.
After a few hours, I was hungry and decided to make a stop to eat sandwiches and potato chips. This is how my bike looks. The best kickstand for a touring bike is any wooden stick.
After I ate a little and rested for 20 minutes, I sat down on my bicycle and continued on my way. Kotka was still far away, but the small town of Hamina was waiting for me.
It was Midsummer day in Finland. And at this time, many shops, cafes, restaurants do not work, so if you do not buy food in advance, you may have to look for an open store for a long time.
Residents of Finland on these holidays like to go somewhere, cars disappear in the cities, parked bicycles disappear from the streets (because the Finns take them on a trip), in general, the cities become so empty that it becomes even frightening.
Luckily, I found my favorite Lidl store, which was open and so I bought myself some food. In a secluded place in the courtyard of some house, I started eating yogurts and drink an orange juice. During a bicycle touring, a lot of calories are spent and therefore you often want to eat.
Near Hamina city, I saw a beautiful lake.
In Finland it is very safe, therefore very often even in the most “hidden” places, there are bicycles. Sometimes they are parked with bags and nobody steals them, which is very good.
While I was cycling to Kotka, I came across some small and beautiful park. I stopped and decided to take some photos.
By the evening I was almost in Kotka, but its location is a bit away from my route to Helsinki. Therefore, I had to cycle from the 170th road that is leading to Helsinki to Kotka which is 6 km away.
On this day I cycled about 130 km and was already a little tired. I realized that when I will be in Kotka, I would have to look for a place to sleep somewhere in the city. Because I don’t want to see Kotka and then go back to 170th road in order to find a place to sleep.
When I finally arrived in Kotka, I began to understand that there would be problems with a place to sleep. The only place where I can hang my hammock is a small park – Park Katariina.
However, on this day a lot of people spent their time in this park and drank beer. A lot of places were occupied by the people and I began to doubt that I could spend the night in this park. But I didn’t want to cycle anywhere in that day, so I just wandered around the park, sat on benches and waited for the night to come. Maybe at night people will go home and I will find a secluded place for my hammock.
When I examined the whole park, I decided to find an empty bench and sit on it and wait till it gets dark and then the people would go home. I thought that when it gets dark, I’ll make my way to these thickets and hang my hammock there.
However, when it began to darken, it seemed to me that there are more people in the park than it was before. I heard people from every place of the park. It seems that my night in the park will not take place. It is necessary to search for something else.
Bicycle Touring: Place to Sleep for Free
I decided to find another free and quiet place to sleep. I went for a walk around the city. The streets were almost empty, most of the people were at home or in the park in which I wanted to hide and sleep before.
After I walked around the city, I found a quiet place in which I was going to try to sleep. It was some kind of mini “park” located between the houses. I do not know how to describe this place. It was a series of benches, which were closed behind by some wooden fence.
The whole fence was fluttered by some kind of plant, like ivy. Also, on the top of the benches, there was the “roof” created by this plant. This “roof” would not save me from the rain, but the sky was clear and I very much hoped there would be no rain tonight. And I was going to sleep on one of the benches. Because of the plant, these benches were beautifully hidden in the dark, so it was difficult to see me.
Cycling in Finland: “F*ck, I lost My Phone”
I put on my warm clothes, pulled out my huge sleeping pad and put it on the bench. I wanted to try to sleep without a sleeping bag, because I was a little scared of the fact, that if the police came here and saw me in the sleeping bag, what would they say?
If I’m lying on the bench without a sleeping bag, I could just say that I’m just relaxing here, breathing in air and admiring the night city. And if I’m in a sleeping bag, it will be seen that I sleep here like a homeless person. On this day, I saw a lot of police in the city, because many residents of Kotka drank a lot of alcohol on this Friday’s night.
After sitting a little on the bench, I was convinced that there was silence around and that many residents of this city had already gone home and this place was of no interest to anyone and no one was looking in this direction.
I lay down on the bench, turned my sleeping pad like a blanket and began to nap. Occasionally, through the drowsiness, I heard, somewhere off to the side, drunken residents returning home singing songs and laughing. After a while, there was complete silence and I realized that almost all residents of the city of Kotka had already gone home and were sleeping.
But suddenly, I heard someone making a noise near me. I opened my eyes, looked out from under my sleeping pad and looked around. Four benches away from me, there was a drunk guy sitting on the bench, and he was doing something. I do not know whether he saw me or not.
After a couple of minutes, he armed himself with a flashlight and began to approach me, but he stopped at every bench and was obviously looking for something.
I did not know what to do in this situation and decided to pretend that I was sleeping. When he finally came to me, he began to shine his flashlight at me. I thought that he could start digging into my things on the bike since this guy was standing next to the bicycle that was next to the bench where I was sleeping. I got out of the sleeping pad and sat down.
I said to him: “Hello,” and he started talking in a drunken voice something in Finnish. I did not understand a word and asked him if he knew English. After that, he switched to English, he said one phrase: “Fuck, I lost my phone”. Then he tried to explain that he was drinking a beer with his friends a few hours ago and he had lost his phone somewhere.
When I came to this place, I carefully examined this bench, so as not to lie down in some dirt and there were no phones here. So I told him that I did not see his phone. After that, he said to me: “Good night” and left. He did not come again.
Bicycle Touring in Finland: It’s always cold at 4 am
Despite the fact that I was dozing on the bench without a sleeping bag, it was warm enough to sleep because of my huge in size sleeping pad with heat reflective surface. But as soon as it was 4 am, it was cold. There was no reason to get my sleeping bag out because there is no dark anymore and somebody can see me.
It was cold and it began to dawn. I slept only 2-3 hours. I began to collect my things and began my journey. Despite the fact that I felt very tired and wanted to sleep, I liked the time I was leaving town and I did not regret sleeping on the bench.
I live in a large city, where you can always meet people and cars on the street, even if you walk down the street at 3 am. But in this town of Kotka, I was completely alone on the streets. No people, no cars. The city was so empty that it seemed to me that I was left alone on this planet. I left the city quickly and was soon on the 170th road that leads to Helsinki.
To Helsinki, there was more than 120 km, and I was so tired that I began to doubt that today I can reach it. When I saw on my bicycle computer that I cycled 30km today, I was so tired and sleepy that I did not understand well, I wanted to put my head on the handlebar of my bicycle and sleep.
Cycling in Finland: Hammock Camping in Finland
I decided that today, I will not try to get to Helsinki, but I’ll cycle as far as I can. But first I’ll stop, hang my hammock and sleep in it for a couple of hours. It was sunny weather, which is perfect to sleep without a sleeping bag in a hammock. I pulled off the road and found a nice place between 170th roads and E18. I hung my hammock here.
At that moment, I was once again glad that I had a hammock with me and not a tent. Since to sleep in the afternoon in the tent, I would have to get it out of the cover, set up it, and after, I would have to dismantle the tent. It would take a long time. And with hammock, it only takes 1 minute. And a nice bonus is the fact that the hammock is rocking and thus creates a good feeling.
The sun was shining directly on me and I was warmed. In such paradise, I slept for 4 hours. When I woke up, I took off my hammock, quickly gathered and continued on my way.
Cycling in Finland: K-Supermarket
I cycled slowly, admiring the views of the wonderful nature and the lakes.
That’s why I love Finland. Look at the empty street. It’s just a paradise for bikers. No cars, no tourists, no exhaust gases from cars. Beauty.
Soon I found a supermarket and got to my favorite department – the department with cheeses.
I bought a delicious Finnish cheese and several more products. When I left the supermarket, I went to the bench, which was not far from K-Supermarket, to put things in order in the bags. But as soon as I approached the bench I saw something interesting. On the side of the supermarket on the wall, there was a water crane from which you could get free drinking water. K-Supermarket, thank you for that.
I filled a bottle of water and drank it almost in one gulp. I tried to restore the water reserves in the body, as in previous days though I had no problems with water, I never had excess water.
Then I have filled all bottles and have continued the travel. The time was already late, so I had to leave the small town and find a place to sleep.
Cycling in Finland: Finding a quiet place to sleep
Having left the city, I began to look for a place where I would sleep tonight. But for some reason, I did not see any suitable place. There were a lot of houses around and I did not want to spend the night next to them, I was looking for a cozy and quiet place. My bicycle computer showed that I cycled only 60 kilometers today.
When I was trying to find a good place, I saw this house with a perfect lawn. Such a good lawn they have achieved because of the lawn mower robot. This robot rode the lawn and leveled the grass, I never saw such a thing and was therefore very surprised.
In this place, I did not find a place for a hammock and went on. I had a premonition that I would find a place for a hammock exactly when I will see 70 km on my bicycle computer. I do not know why I had such a premonition. After 5 kilometers, when the odometer was at 65 kilometers, I never found a suitable place. Is my premonition true and will I find a place to sleep after cycling a 70 km?
And what do you think? As soon as the odometer was at 70 km, I saw a small hidden path among the bushes. I went into these bushes and saw the path rising up. Rising literally 20 meters up I found myself in an ideal and hidden place among the trees and there I hung my hammock.
Before going to bed, I ate a few delicious sandwiches with cheese. Then I climbed into my sleeping bag and began to plan the route for the next day. I can get to Helsinki in just 1 hour, but I was already in Helsinki before, so I was not going to explore this city tomorrow.
My final destination in Finland is the city of Turku, in which I had to buy a ticket for the ferry and go to Sweden. I looked at the distance to the city of Turku from my place and the Garmin eTrex 20 showed me that it was 160 km away. I did not cycle so many kilometers a day before but decided to set myself a goal – to do 160km on the next day. At the same time, it will be necessary for me to do this until 9 pm, in order to buy a ticket for the ferry so I can get on the Turku-Stockholm ferry on the next morning.
Cycling in Finland: Ferry Ticket Office
This time I slept well, no more sleep for just 3 hours as it was before. At 9 am I woke up, packed my things and started to cycle. I planned to have breakfast in McDonald’s in Helsinki and charge my smartphone since the battery charge was already low. But I still need 160 kilometers to pass this day.
As I planned, an hour later I was in Helsinki and went to breakfast at McDonald’s. I found a socket, sat next to it and started charging my phone. The phone was charging for too long, I thought I would sit in McDonald’s for 1.5 hours, but stayed there for 2.5 hours. Ferry ticket office in Turku worked until 9 pm. I need to hurry.
When I charged my phone, I sat on the bike and drove at the maximum possible speed for me. If in the previous days I was traveling at a speed of 10-12 km/h, then this day I was traveling at an average speed of 15-18 km/h. Occasionally I stopped for a few minutes, ate sandwiches and potato chips, and then got on a bike and hurried to Turku.
I do not know how I did it, but that day I cycled 160 km and managed to get to the ferry ticket office 15 minutes before it was closed. I ran inside to buy a ticket, but there was a man who bought tickets, the time passed and it seemed to me that I would not be in time. The cashier wants to go home too. When the man finally left I flew to the window and began to ask about the ticket for the ferry.
However, I was tired and did not think well. When the woman said how much the ticket would cost, then I heard that she said 50 euros. I was a little shocked at this price because the price per passenger + bicycle was 25 euros on the site. I told her that on the site I saw cheaper and she answered me that it is. But buying a ticket at the ticket office takes an additional commission for the ticket. But she said that I can go up in the morning and maybe the ticket will be cheaper, as on the site.
I told her that I would wait until the morning and left. I have little money and I did not want to spend 50 euros, instead of 25.
I left the ferry ticket office and was upset. I was in such a hurry to Turku, I traveled 160 kilometers, I wanted to buy a ticket and at 5 am I dreamed to be on the ferry, but my plans were ruined. I got on my bike and went for a ride around the city of Turku.
I’m not going to sleep in a hammock today, because the ferry leaves at 5 am, which means that at 4 am I need to be at ferry ticket office in order to buy a ticket. I’ll have to sleep on the bench. Or try a new place to stay overnight. About which I read in the blog of one traveler – in McDonald’s.
Cycling in Finland: Sleeping in Mcdonalds
On my GPS navigator Garmin eTrex 20, I found where the nearest McDonald’s is and went in his direction. While I was cycling to McDonald’s, I looked around the city.
While I was cycling around Turku, I thought about the words of the cashier and why the ticket costs 50 euros, and not 25. But after a couple of minutes, my tired head remembered the words of that woman. She said that the ticket costs, not 50 euros, but thirty euro! That is, 5 euros more expensive than when buying online. Now everything becomes clear.
After all, she told me that the ticket at the ticket office is 5 euros more expensive than on the website. I was thinking at that moment – how is it only 5 euros more expensive than on the site but 50 euro total, because last time when I have checked the website it was 25 euro?
That’s what happens when you travel 160 kilometers a day. Instead of 30 euros, it seems to you that they tell you 50 euros. But, not everything is lost, in the morning I will come to the cashier and will buy a ticket for 30 euros. 30 euros is not 50.
A few minutes later I got to McDonald’s, but there were still too many people inside and almost all the tables were occupied. The time was 10 pm and I decided that I would come to this McDonald’s at 12 noon. In the meantime, I’ll go and find a secluded place and cook sausages. In the afternoon I stopped by the supermarket and bought some Finnish soy sausages. I do not have a refrigerator, I could not keep them until tomorrow, I must eat them.
Not so far away from this McDonald’s, I found a wonderful place with a view on the river and the local clock tower.
Nearby was a bench, so I took out my cooking stove, pans and started to cook sausages. I blocked the pots by the bag so that people that passed by did not see it. Because otherwise, it would look strange, some bicyclists sitting on the bench and cooks a whole pan of sausages.
When the sausages were cooked, I started eating them. Honestly, they had a bad taste. Or rather, it was tasteless, it seemed to me that I was eating something but not sausages. Probably they had to be fried. But throwing them in the trash was a pity, so I ate all of them. Excess calories during cycling are always helpful.
Approximately every 30 minutes, the clock in the tower rang. I sat on a bench, looked at the river and enjoyed the clink of the clock. When they showed 12 hours, I went to McDonald’s. By the way, while I was sitting on the bench, I came up with the idea – to connect to the Internet in McDonald’s and buy a ferry ticket on the site for 25 euros. This will save me 5 euros and I do not have to run to the ferry ticket office in the morning and I can immediately go onboarding.
I ended up in McDonald’s, bought coffee, put the phone on charge and went online to buy myself a ticket. Without any problems, I bought myself a ticket for 25 euros. And then tried to take a nap in McDonald’s.
But as it turned out, this is not as easy as I thought. The first 2 hours everything was fine, but then a lot of people came to McDonald’s and all of them were very noisy. They spoke loudly, laughed. And my bicycle was standing on the street with things, it’s very difficult to sleep in such conditions. So I decided to leave this place and go to somewhere near the ferry and there to look for some bench on which I could take a nap in silence.
I was cycling along the quiet and deserted streets. The only ones who “walked” around the city at that time were seagulls.
Not so far away from the ferry ticket office, I found a bus stop, sat down on a bench and began to doze. It was certainly cold, but anyway, in 2 hours, the landing on the ferry Turku-Stockholm will begin and then all my torment will end.
I already sailed on the Finland-Sweden ferry, so I knew what it was, so I could just find a cozy place and sleep there, and not to walk around the ferry and wonder at how much interesting there is inside.