Russia to Spain Tour Leg 1 – St Petersburg to Helsinki

A couple of months before, I cycled in New Zealand, amazing journey with tonnes of wonderful memories and valuable lessons. It was only a 5-week trip but it left me a huge desire to do a bigger bike trip and I picked Europe mainly because of its developed bike routes, I know I have to gain more experience before going to even more exotic regions in the world.
That’s why after the Trans-Siberian railway, I ended up in Saint Petersburg. Thanks for my friend’s advice, I used the Russian online trading site called avito.com , bought a second hand road bike with all the gears at around 12,000 rubles (US$352), and I am ready to start my EuroBike trip.
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I don’t have a fixed plan of where to go, when to stop or time limit, it could take a year or longer depending on a number of uncertainties in the coming months. Although it seems quite unorganized (and indeed it is), I can enjoy the flexibility and freedom being on the road, and that is a very good advantage!

Leaving St Petersburg, I planned to arrive Helsinki in 3 days which is quite doable, everyday around 120-140 km. Riding to Vyborg is rather rough, partly because of the heavy rain and 2 motorcyclists throwing stones on me. And there are nothing to see along the way, except forest, cars and myself…
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There was a lot of history about Vyborg, which struggled between Swedish and Russian control over the past centuries. We can see the hints by the different architecture style in the city. The Vyborg castle is the famous landmark, situated on an island and served as a protection during war time.
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After Vyborg, there are 2 borders crossing to Finland, Torfyanovka or Tamozhennyy. I took the former one as I was heading to Helsinki directly, you can take the latter one if you want to go through Lappeenranta. It was very hassle free crossing both border control, they didn’t even check my luggage, and probably they wouldn’t suspect a cyclist to bring illegal products.

Since I haven’t biked for almost 4 months, it took a while to get used to it again and I should take it slow. My right knee started to hurt and I had no choice but to stop in Hamina for a night. In Finland, you can camp anywhere legally in public but you cannot light a fire.
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The next day I tried very hard to reach Helsinki as my host was expecting me to arrive. However, I had to listen to my body and respect to its limit. Although I could really stress myself and reach my destination by midnight, it was not a good option and I decided to postpone one day, let myself to have a rest. By the way, I tried hitchhiking on the road, but it was not successful. Finnish people are not as friendly as the Kiwi, that is my only comment!

Stopped at Porvoo for another night, did some self treatment and had enough rest. Arrived Helsinki the next day, with a bit trouble finding the correct bike routes, but I have to say the bike routes in Finland is excellent, you can go anywhere in the city by bike!!

Thanks for my CS host Jimmy for organizing a CS party and prepare good food for us! I particularly like this traditional Finnish pie Karjalanpiirakka (Carelien Pie), with Munavoi (egg butter) on top.
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One more WONDERFUL thing in Finland is its recycling business!! I can hardly find any broken bottles or plastic craps on the road, even in the city, everywhere are so clean. You can see somebody holding a huge bag collecting all sorts of bottles, because they are MONEY!
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In all supermarkets, if you return plastic or glass bottles to one of the recycling machines, you can get 0.1-0.4 euro each, which is really a good way to encourage everyone to stop littering and do a good karma to the environment! Really appreciate that. Hopefully some Asian countries could adopt the same measures!

3 thoughts on “Russia to Spain Tour Leg 1 – St Petersburg to Helsinki

  1. Good luck on your trip! I always enjoy following other people’s journeys. A year ago I cycled the TransAmerica Trail across the US, and this coming year I plan to do a lot of short-distance touring while teaching English and living in South Korea!

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