25 August 2020 20:25
07 September 2020 10:29
Today we’re coming to you from the southern coast of Finland – and the fact that we actually managed to get here as planned was a stroke of luck. On a Friday morning at the end of July, we discovered that from the following Monday, Finland was going to stop granting entry to Swiss nationals. The reason for that: the presently high number of Corona cases back home.
At that moment, our Axor was parked on a beach in the Baltics. More specifically, we were in Latvia, and in fact we hadn’t been in Switzerland for a good many weeks by this point. And so this ruling surely wouldn’t apply to us. Or would it? We weren’t too sure and we didn’t fancy the discussion with the border force. As a result, we immediately packed away our tents, set out in the direction of Estonia’s capital Tallinn and took the ferry from there across to Helsinki on the Saturday afternoon. It’s such a relief that the Baltic States – and we’re allowed to say this coming from Switzerland – are so small.
Before arriving in the Baltics, we crossed Poland. Maybe you’ll remember our little stop-off in the Błędów Desert from the previous report? Well, not far from there is the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Initially we were unsure as to whether we really wanted to visit a place with such a dark history. But then decided to take a three-hour tour. Afterwards, we slept on the bus car park there to really try and get our head around it all. Even days after the visit, we were still talking about it. These are definitely lasting impressions which we’ll never forget.
We obviously also couldn’t not stop off in Kraków, what with it being Poland’s biggest tourist hotspot. We spent the night with a view of the Wawel Hill, from where the Wawel Royal Castle and the cathedral throne above the town. Kraków was almost too beautiful for our tastes, and it was geared too much towards tourists.
That’s why we were much more taken aback by Warsaw. There are lots of narrow alleyways, hidden corners and little details to discover – the old town is surrounded by the castle walls which are now very much in the thick of this metropolis. Another thing which found our favour: Poland offers a whole host of possibilities for freely exploring it in an expedition vehicle. We were able to camp alongside rivers and lakes, allowing us to soak up the natural surroundings there totally problem-free.
The first Baltic state which you arrive in from Poland is Lithuania. There too, we visited places which could hardly be more different to one another, for example the “Hill of Crosses” near the town of Šiauliai and the ultra-modern manufacturing facility of the Devold clothing brand. Another really good thing was the pitch which we discovered directly on the Baltic Sea. It was so close to the border with Latvia that we were able to walk between the two countries.
Things didn’t go too well for me (Andrea) a little later on in Latvia. I had a really bad allergic reaction to a skin cream which made me faint several times and caused pain in my kidneys – it was a little bit scary to say the least. After a few days of bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids, I was again able to enjoy the surroundings.
For example, the coast to the north of the capital Riga – it seemed to be a never-ending landscape. A little like what we experienced on the days at the end of July. The sun rises here at 5 o’clock in the morning and only sets again at 10 p.m. And all through the night, it actually looks like the sun is going to rise again directly, as if you were in a constant sunrise or sunset.
The last station for us in the Baltics after our early departure was Tallinn. Before the crossing to Finland, there was just enough time to visit the wonderful old town there. You can really lose yourself there for hours in the cobbled alleyways. After that, the requisite 24 hours since taking Aimée to the vets had passed: Finland requests dogs have an oral vaccination and this has to be at least one day old on the day of arrival in the country.
The ferry crossing takes just two hours. We purchased a “High Van” ticket, checked in using a QR code and off we went. On the other side of the Finnish gulf, no-one was actually bothered about Aimée’s vaccination, all we got was a thumbs-up from the officials there. Despite that we were, of course, relieved that we managed to get across the border just in the nick of time.
Finland is already the seventh country on our journey – after Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and the three Baltic States. Time flies. Everything which we experience is new: every road, every beach, every supermarket. Sometimes, we have to give ourselves a bit of time to process all of what we’ve seen, so that when we move on to the next location, we can fully take in and appreciate what we see there. And one thing is for sure: for this type of contemplation, Finland’s southern coast with its pine forests and smooth stones reaching into the sea is a pretty good location.
A one-of-a-kind journey.
For eleven months, Andrea and Mike Kammermann were on the “4-Xtremes” tour with their Axor. Now they are on an even greater adventure. The pair from Switzerland will be on the road for three years and the RoadStars community will again be joining them on the trip! Always be up-to-date and don’t miss any of the breathtaking destinations that our adventurous couple are heading for.
You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.