David and Camilla Taylor's slow bicycle ride through the Baltic lands

Ferry to Mainland and Haapsalu to Tallin

Wednesday 13th August from Kassari to Haapsalu

roadkill After an excellent breakfast we packed and departed by 09h15. We had a good tail wind and Camilla led the way at a brisk 18 -20 kph. We stopped near one old farm building near Suuremoisa where the cows were obviously wintered in one end of the building and the owners in the other. We also noted a narrow gauge railway embankment parallel alongside the road for several kilometres in this district but the tracks had been removed. On the way we stopped to take a photo of roadkill that I thought was a polecat. Around Suuremoisa were several blocks of soviet style flats and the many greenhouses in the vicinity were the small home-made plastic covered variety rather than the glazed houses that we had been seeing generally in the islands. I believe that there is a glass manufacturer in Kuresaare but a rental tenant does not have the incentive to invest in glass that a home owner has. We bought groceries there and then rode to the ferry at Heltermaa where Camilla optimistically bought replacement sunglasses.
ferry The ferry crossing (fare 2+ bikes 120EEK) was made in very gloomy conditions with a strong SW. wind. It began to drizzle as we left the ferry in Rohuküla. We stopped briefly to look at a derelict german mansion next to a derelict soviet military airfield but the worsening weather hastened us on. By the time we reached Haapsalu it was raining cats and dogs. We found after a certain amount of shouting to one another over the noise of the torrential rain our booked accommodation. After drying out C. and I walked 500 metres to a large supermarket and bought essentials such as beer and bread which took an hour or two by which time the weather had cleared up and we returned to the hostel.
map of route

Thursday 14th August from Haapsalu to Padise Kallaste talu

We left the hostel at 08h50 and rode through to the north on an exploratory tour. We looked at the castle and the waterfront then left the town half an hour later on the main road towards Tallin. There was very heavy traffic but a bike path as far as the junction with the A17 where we had to use the pedestrian crossings to safely negotiate the turn. We expected the traffic to decrease as we turned off north but due to roadworks all the traffic was diverted our way as far as Linnamae and even then the traffic did not relent as expected until the turn-off to Risti some 40km into the ride. C. was wild about the noise cursing and shouting at the traffic to relieve her feelings. She was also seriously saddle sore so that although we had a very strong tail wind and she had lead off during the forenoon at 20kph she was very much slower in the afternoon. We stopped for lunch in a field where we picked blackberries and a few juniper berries.

In an effort to gain some peace from the traffic we turned off the bitumen at the Audevälja windmill and took a lovely quiet gravel road to Padise. There were several turnings required and the road is not signposted at all but with the 1:200 000 map, compass and careful note of the km. counter we navigated successfully although we had to ask the way for the last couple of km. as the Kallaste talu signs and info on the website are only for people coming from the direction of Tallinn. Come from the south and you are on your own.

Friday 15th August from Padise to Tallinn

Another 09h00 start for only 8km on gravel before we reached a brand new section of Bitumen just before Madise until Põllküla railway crossing and then 7km on the main Paldiski - Tallinn which despite very heavy traffic is signposted Eurovelo No.1. The Kloogaranna turn-off to the left relieved three quarters of the traffic. We stopped there at the shop and during the 20 minutes that it took for Camilla to buy one and a half litres of drinking water and some sweets I observed that all the shoppers (8 or so) arrived and left in nearly new cars. There were no walkers or cyclists. We were virtually on the coast and in an area of valuable land and property. After about 5km. we came to a roadworks deviation (optional) sign and 90% of the traffic elected to deviate. We continued ahead (Eurovelo No. 1, speed limit 50 kph) and found that the next 15 or 20 kms. were newly laid hotmix with almost no traffic and a tailwind - brilliant cycling conditions although smelling of new bitumen rather than baltic pine.

Vääna Jõesu beach
The beach at Vääna Jõesu. The green steel cabinet is apparently a changing room.

We stopped at the shop at Vääna Jõesu then decided to take the short road to the beach for lunch. The sea was shallow. No-one was swimming. One couple went in to become completely wet - very brave - then immediately left the water. A blonde in a bikini trying to shelter from the wind was shivering.

Continuing on towards Tallinn we came across a superb bike path on the north side of the road at apparently 12km to go of 2 metre wide new hotmix with frequent streetlights but that cut out suddenly after 6km and we were back on the road. We followed Eurovelo No 1 signs then that led away from the highway via the Rannamõisa Vääna road which appeared to add at least 4km to the distance. Lumpy bikepaths switched sides approaching the city and the expected distance became longer and longer. We eventually reached the Oldhouse Hostel with 72km on the clock. We were very relieved that our bookings were honoured as a notice on the door advised fully booked and people were being turned away as we arrived.

We did a first walk around the old town centre. There were trams, trolley buses and BMWs galore. We took photos and then found the RIMI supermarket for provisions. We had washing hanging up in the room to dry. Frankfurters and beer sufficed for evening meal.

Saturday 16th August Tallinn all day

The street outside the hostel is paved with 100x200 granite blocks and the expensive new cars and taxis - no buses or trams in the old town rumble and echo with a ringing tone against the close walls of the narrow street. There is no attempt to make a one way system and it is marvellous to see the patience of the merc and beema drivers going either direction on roads barely wide enough for one car. It drizzled all morning. We visited City Bike, the bike hire place over the road with a view to having a mechanic true up Camilla's front wheel but two young girls were in charge. The boss had gone home as due to cold and drizzle the prospects for bike hire were not good. C. and I mooched through the old town in our rainjackets on foot. The old town is very well maintained and preserved. Many buildings are over 600 years old. We saw a lot of fresh steel roofing presumably over pine boarding in the style of old copper or lead roofing. 150mm dia. downpipes discharged directly onto the pavement. In some cases they had a drain beneath the paving. We visited a local ironmonger who stocks nothing but hand-made iron fittings for doors and windows etc. City Bike cannot advise a better route to Rapla than the main road so that settles the route for tomorrow.

Endla Hostel Haapsalu Kallaste Talu Old House Hostel Tallinn