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Old 08-14-2012, 09:35 AM   #1
stephenaki OP
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Vikings, Baltics and Cossacks...OH MY!

OK, there are not any Kosaks but their used to be in the region I am heading too but, I get ahead of myself.

It started about two years ago, my buddy Lee, same guy that I did the trip to Scotland with, mentioned wanting to go to the Arctic Circle. At the time, I suggested Norway, but he wasn’t too thrilled with that idea and thus began the planning that eventually became our John o’ Groats, Scotland trip in May of 2010.

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Old 08-14-2012, 09:51 AM   #2
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That was an awesome trip for the both of us but I wasn’t content yet. Lee still kicked around the Arctic Circle thought but it morphed into a Dalton highway, Alaska trip that we will eventually embark upon one we are both stationed stateside again. Lee made it back to the US before me but the fates being what they are, he is now back in lovely Deutschland near Hohenfells. I on the other hand remained in Germany and realized my time for returning to the US was looming and, upon my return, I would retire a couple of years later and probably not return to Europe again. I decided that I should plan at least one more European motorcycle adventure before I return and thus, here we are now. Now being a subjective term as the trip has already begun and, as I put pen to paper or in this case, fingers to keyboard, I am trying to catch up on time lost documenting this trip.



The idea of the Arctic Circle and Norway still occupied my thoughts and would always manifest itself when I began thinking of where I wanted to go. I finally succumbed to the call of the great white north and began planning my trip to the Arctic Circle via Norway. A year and a half later, I find myself trying to capture the journey that has begun. All told, I will travel approximately 5000 miles on my trusty Kawasaki Drifter and ride through eleven countries. The trip begins in Germany and will take me through Denmark, Sweden and Norway where I will stop to see some friends at the annual International Vulcan Riders Association rally in Fredrikstaad, Norway then continue to push north to Tromso, Norway.



From Norway I will continue back south after a brief respite in Tromso, and head through Sweden once again crossing into Finland to catch the ferry across the Baltic sea into Tallin, Estonia. My stop in Estonia is brief as I will continue on through Latvia and Lithuania and then turn east. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania are on my route and my next respite will be in Budapest. I then begin my trek home with a stop in the Czech Republic before my final push home to Germany.



Time to roll.
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:11 AM   #3
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Have you already done this trip or are you currently doing it?

My husband is Norwegian and I am very interested in your trip. I love all things Viking!
by the way, I see you were stationed in Stuttgart , West Germany. I used to be stationed in Aschaffenburg back in the 80's....I loved Europe.
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Old 08-14-2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Scooterchick View Post
Have you already done this trip or are you currently doing it?

My husband is Norwegian and I am very interested in your trip. I love all things Viking!
by the way, I see you were stationed in Stuttgart , West Germany. I used to be stationed in Aschaffenburg back in the 80's....I loved Europe.
I am currently on the road doing the trip now and trying to catch up my report. Not always easy to do.
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:08 PM   #5
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I'll be waiting for more!

Where are you right now? It might be best to try to do your updates at night once you stop traveling if you are going to stay in hotels. Otherwise, it will be quite difficult to keep up with if you don't have wireless somewhere.

following you from British Columbia, Canada !!

Let's do it!
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Old 08-14-2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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7 August 2012, It starts now...

I hammered out the details about a month out from departure to include arranging my stops for fuel and lodging and then setting up a detailed route that I transferred to my Tom Tom. Originally, I was planning on making a mad dash all the way to Koge, Denmark from Stuttgart in one day. It would have been brutal but I could do it as long as I got up early and had everything packed the night before.

Once again…life got in the way and long days trying to tie up loose ends exhausted me. I decided that I would depart a day earlier in the afternoon and split the trip into two days to meet my time hacks. So on 7 August 2013, I left work at noon, got home and said goodbye to my wife and daughter, packed the bike up and was on the road heading north at around 1345. As you can see, I had to set the bike up for the trip first; part of this was designing and mounting a luggage rack to use this time around.


New luggage rack, aluminum with a long steel ‘L’ bracket securing the rack and supports to each other.


Not ready yet…


OK, NOW were ready!



So what’s our starting mileage?


First stop…gas…and air for the tires. By 1400 I zoomed onto the A27 with a goal of Bispibingen, south of Hamburg, and went careening onto A8 moments later to come to a complete stop. Crap. I friggin HATE construction!!! And the damn Autobahn has been under construction since I got here in 2007!



It took me at least an hour to get the hell out of the Stuttgart area, once I got onto the A81 I was clear with only some minor slowdowns. The scenery began to change and the roads began to clear.



Things were moving along smoothly and I took some pictures with the camera mounted to the handlebars and a video to see how much ‘shake’ there was. Since this was my Kawi and not my BMW, there is a LOT more vibration!



At about 120 miles outside of Stuttgart I noticed the camera vibrating a bit more than it should. So, I pulled over at the next rest stop to see what the problem was. Well, the mount is basically two pieces; one attaches to the handlebar with a piece extending up and the other attaches to the extended piece via a couple of machine screws and hex nuts. Turns out, the lower hex nut had vibrated out of the assembly and the upper nut was a bit loose. So, I took off the camera and stuck it in my pocket. Guess I won’t be getting anymore road shots…darn.

Back on the road and about 20 miles later I glance at the mount, yep the top half is shaking like all hell. I resolve to pick up a nut at Hornbach or Obi next stop. Que the dramatic music and show Mr. Murphy where his mark is. I hit a bump, it was a good size bump, I saw the upper half of the mount go flying off to the left and bounce down the road behind me. Well, that solves that issue! So now, all I got is this mount sticking up being useless. Stupid Murphy…



OK, so at least the camera wasn’t still attached or I’d be out of a camera as well. I’m glad I caught it when I did. So the rest of the trip was uneventful and at my next fuel stop in Nordheim, Germany, I decided to find a hotel for the night. It was right after I got on the bike that I thought to myself, ‘shit, I forgot my passport and international driver’s license.’ Well, this isn’t good…
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:05 PM   #7
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OMG! haha....sorry - don't mean to laugh. But wow, you are really getting off to an "interesting" start! How far have you gone! Can you get that stuff replaced in any town before you leave Germany....Embassy maybe and get some help with replacements?? or perhaps your wife can overnight them to you at the hotel??

Holy crap.... and oh by the way.... your video isn't there. Only a place holder where it should be. When you click on it, nothing is there except a message saying that... it isn't there.....haha. Photobucket has a pink banner that says "There is a problem playing your video. Video not found".

oh my.....
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:23 AM   #8
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Less talk, more pictures Jump Master...

Trip looks like a hoot. Sorry to hear about the laundry bill. Your better half told me about the passport fiasco, but swore me to secrecy - guess the cat's out of the bag now.

I'm still up for the Dalton - retirement looks to come sooner and sooner every morning I wake up. I figure to get my bike here somewhere around the first week of September then we're off and running. Gotta tell you, I was surprised to see you took the Drifter and not the Beemer, but I guess you need the Dragon at a Drifter rally. Was Dave there?

More pics - less talk - get back to work!

Look forward to reading more and splitting a bottle of scotch when you get back . My XO brought me a bottle of the good stuff from his trip this past weekend. I might be convinced to save you some.

Ride safe.

Lee
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Scooterchick View Post
OMG! haha....sorry - don't mean to laugh. But wow, you are really getting off to an "interesting" start! How far have you gone! Can you get that stuff replaced in any town before you leave Germany....Embassy maybe and get some help with replacements?? or perhaps your wife can overnight them to you at the hotel??

Holy crap.... and oh by the way.... your video isn't there. Only a place holder where it should be. When you click on it, nothing is there except a message saying that... it isn't there.....haha. Photobucket has a pink banner that says "There is a problem playing your video. Video not found".

oh my.....
Trying to fix the video problem
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:38 AM   #10
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8 August 2012, The Saga Continues...

So, upon finding a lovely hotel, Hotel Schere to be exact, I got a room, unpacked , went to the bar, ordered a beer and then…phoned home. Talked to Cathy and the plan was to DHL the passport and IDL to my hotel in Norway. That’s settled, have some dinner, talk to the lovely bar keep, she spoke excellent English and spent a few months in California, then off to bed.


As I laid in bed, Cathy, my wife, kept coming to mind. In particular the fact that she thought I would need to show my passport to get onto the ferry. OK, new plan! Call Cathy in the morning and see if there is a DHL office near Koge, Denmark. Now to bed!


At about 0645, I called Cathy, I was waiting for the friggin Burger King to open so I could get breakfast, so I called her while I waited. I talked to her a bit and she hangs up so she can make some calls. I order breakfast and come up with a contingency plan. Out comes the map, hmm, Puttgarden is not that far out of the way from the bridges if they don’t let me on the ferry. I know there is no checkpoint on the bridges between Germany and Denmark so can run that route if they want to see a passportd; I now have a contingency plan; I call Cathy, she is frantically trying to figure out how to now get my passport to a local DHL or FEDEX office near Koge, Denmark. I tell her my plan and head out for the ferry; I tell her, I’ll call when I get to the ferry crossing to check on the status of my documents and let her know which route I had to take.



A few hours later I pull up to the ferry crossing; wait, is that a checkpoint ahead? Hmmm, good thing I have a backup plan…
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:04 PM   #11
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Less talk, more pictures Jump Master...

Trip looks like a hoot. Sorry to hear about the laundry bill. Your better half told me about the passport fiasco, but swore me to secrecy - guess the cat's out of the bag now.

I'm still up for the Dalton - retirement looks to come sooner and sooner every morning I wake up. I figure to get my bike here somewhere around the first week of September then we're off and running. Gotta tell you, I was surprised to see you took the Drifter and not the Beemer, but I guess you need the Dragon at a Drifter rally. Was Dave there?

More pics - less talk - get back to work!

Look forward to reading more and splitting a bottle of scotch when you get back . My XO brought me a bottle of the good stuff from his trip this past weekend. I might be convinced to save you some.

Ride safe.

Lee
Yo bro, the BMW seat just wasn't gonna cut it for the ride. No way I could comfortably do the miles I am doing hence the reason you and I are going to Touratech when I get back! Neither Dave's were at the rally but big Dave will be in Germany for a Drifter Rally in September. I'll see him then and let him know you said hello.

So what type of Scotch he bring ya????
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:37 PM   #12
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Go North my son, 8 August 2012 contd

Yep, that was a checkpoint however, they were only checking to see if you had a ticket or not.


I had already procured my tickets online so was good to go and got on the ferry without a problem. Prior to boarding I called Cathy to see what the status was. SUCCESS!! WOOHOO!! She managed to FEDEX my passport and IDL to an airport office in Denmark and, it was on my way to Norway. It would be there tomorrow morning for me to pick up. Some people would be panicking and up in arms, me…not so much. I guess I just have the utmost faith in my wife’s ability to fix my screw ups. Besides, I really don’t get panicky, it really serves no purpose.

Prior to getting to the ferry, I ran into a French couple pulling a small trailer behind their bike. We rode together for a while and pulled over at a rest place to quickly don our rain gear. Good thing we did as the heavens opened up on us just North of Hamburg! We pushed through the rain and construction zone and, after about an hour, we finally left the rain and slowly began to dry out. Before Puttgarden, the French couple pulled off but I ran into them again on the ferry. I didn't see them on the boat but I watched them ride out as I waited my turn to depart. Speaking of ferries.




GOODBYE GERMANY!


HELLO DENMARK!

Off the ferry and into Denmark, tank up and get on the road. Initial impressions of Denmark….FLAT! Kinda reminded me a bit of the Midwest in the US; I got a few pictures but not too many as there were not a whole lot of interesting things for me to see on my route.


Danish Church, I liked the color so I stopped to snap a picture.



Onward I sped to my first campsite in Koge, Denmark. The skies had cleared nicely, it was warm and I was finally DRY! It wasn’t long before I reached my destination for the day.

The campsite

Didn’t take me too long to set up.


I then meandered into town to find a bite to eat and hopefully a shop to buy a Denmark flag patch to add to my collection. Koge is kind of a sleepy little beach town, not a big port and just not very big in general.




After wandering around I stumbled upon this little gem that made me giggle, yes, I’m only 5 years old…


I’m sure it means something completely innocuous in Danish and I am sure our Danish forum members can translate it for me but it caught my attention and I had to get a picture. I posted the picture to FB and my wife's comment was, something in the nature of, 'really? You took a picture of that??' Yes dear, I did, does it really surprise you, it shouldn't.


Back to the campsite for a walk around the back, a self portrait and a bit of Glengoyne 17yr old Scotch.

Beach behind the campsite


HELMET HAIR!!


Scotch anyone?

Shortly after I headed to bed, I had planned on heading out early but my plans were derailed by the passport issue. The Fedex office did not open until 0900 tomorrow so I would be on the road a bit later than I had hoped. Probably a good thing since they stuck me at the end of the campground and I would have woken a lot of people up had I headed out early in the morning.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:02 AM   #13
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A rally and a smile 9 August

The problem with camping is I can’t sleep in. So, at 0500, I was up…damn. I couldn’t really leave until around 0800 or 0830 as the Fedex office wouldn’t open until 0900. What to do. Screw it, I’ll start some coffee, eat and start packing up. This time around I brought a mini-propane stove kit and food to eat at the campsites. Lee and I did not do this on our Scotland trip as we chose to stop and eat each morning. The biggest difference between the two trips is that it takes much longer to get on the road when you cook your own breakfast.

The morning was brisk and the sky bright blue speckled with white clouds leisurely drifting by so slowly that it was almost imperceptible unless you watched for a minute or two. Hell, I had nothing but time on my hands so I might as well look at clouds.


Didn’t take me long to get the coffee going and I followed it up with a couple of packs of oatmeal. By 0800 I was packed up and decided I’d head out. I got to the Fedex office at 0855 and had to wait a few minutes before they opened. Once they opened I talked to them inside and, after a call to Cathy to get the tracking number, they found the package and I was on my way again at around 1000.

I didn’t get to take a picture of the Oresund bridge that crosses into Sweden however, I hijacked one from the internet.


I have traversed many bridges in my lifetime but the Oresund was quite impressive. The structure is huge with beautiful views of the ocean as you cross over. Surprisingly, the winds were fairly light but I am guessing it was just this day and that they can probably get dangerous winds towards the winter months.

As I crossed into Sweden I had to pay a toll, 24 Euros for a motorcycle…OUCH! Oh well, at least their roads were well paved and smooth unlike many of our US toll roads that I have traveled on. Leaving the bridge behind I began my journey in earnest. Now I was really on my way, passport issue fixed and no more worries. It felt good to be on the road and I blasted off at a relatively quick pace keeping her around 70 mph most of the way.

Sweden, like Denmark, also reminded me of the Midwest with large swathes of land covered in wheat fields and farm houses dotting the countryside. It was also relatively flat with only slight inclines here and there. I was sure this would change once I got further north. Other than a short lunch break, I didn’t stop much and really only got this picture of a house that I thought was architecturally interesting to me.


Within about 6 hours I pulled into Fredrikstaad, Norway and found my hotel; Hotel Olav Digre. It is at this point that I noticed my headlamps and spots were out. I’ll sort that one out a bit later. First, unpack, take a quick shower then head to the Vulcan Riders Association International Rally. Oh yeah, make sure I grab my fuse kit for the bike.

Upon reaching the rally I went in search of the Brits and the first three I found were Steve, Dave and Chris or, as I believe Dave called Chris, ‘Lardass.’ Of course Chris was quick to correct Steve and ensure that the proper naming convention was not ‘Lardass’ but ‘Sexy Lardass.’ Right, now that we got names sorted, let me go check on the light issue cause if I can’t fix it right away, I’m going to have to leave before it gets dark.

It was a fuse. Replace it and back to join the merry Brits and have a beer. I also later met Paul and his wife and some others that I can’t remember their names to include a gent that remembered me from the 2010 German VRA rally. He graciously gave me an emergency resupply of scotch; basically a small bottle with an Emergency Resupply label on it. This may come in handy!

Back to the rally.


The Vikings were calling a representative on stage for each country and I wound up going up as the American rep. OK, I was the only American there but it’s the thought that counts. As I got up there a Slovenian gent shook my hand, gave me a VRA Slovenia patch and kept saying, ‘American!’ I told him I had traveled Slovenia and it was a beautiful country and he told me, ‘I don’t speak English.’ Well then, kinda hard to have a conversation now isn’t it!

After some dinner I said my goodbyes and called it a night as I would continue to push towards the Arctic Circle in the morning. I was glad I stopped by the rally to make some new acquaintances, I left with a smile and a hope that I could make next years rally in Slovenia but instead of just a short visit, stay the entire time.
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:01 AM   #14
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To the Arctic we roll! 10 August

Up and early and ready to pack, wait, it’s usually lighter by now. Hmm, pull back the flimsy curtains and yep…rain.




Hmm, that sky ain’t looking so good…


It’s gonna be a wet ride!

Oh well, not like I wasn’t prepared for the stuff. Pack everything up, get dressed, go downstairs and eat breakfast. All in all, I would not stay at the Hotel Olav Digre again if I had to. I forgot to mention that they stuck me on the third floor at the end of the hall AND, the friggin elevator was out of service! I got my workout taking the things up and then taking them down to load the bike.

Once loaded I headed out for my next stop, Jotunheimen National Park. I would be staying at Maurvangen Campsite just east of the Gjende lake that is in the park. So off I go with a stop to tank up then hit the highway for a bit. BORING!!! OK, new plan, get off the highway…much better. At least until I got to Oslo at which point I had to get on the highway to get through Oslo. Along the way, my lights go out…again. WTF? OK, will look into that when I get to the campsite. Then I hit a few good bumps, their back on again, kinda. The main, and right spot are working but the left is out. Maybe I blew a bulb, again, I’ll check it later. At least the rain stopped and I am once again dry as I push towards Oslo.

As I get out of Oslo, I get off the main highway again and continue on. The temps are quickly dropping and as I start to get closer to Jotunheimen, I have to stop and put on my next layer of warm clothes. I also swap out my gloves from the Vanucci leathers to the Polo Mottorad Gore-tex gloves. Much better. The roads become curvaceous and I get to push hard into turns; the terrain begins to reach toward the sky and become more and more picturesque the further north I push. This is what I came to Norway to see.







Finally, I reach the south end of Jotunheimen, a small skiing town called Beitostølen. As I pass through the town I see a curious site, houses with sod roofs that have a healthy amount of grass growing on them. Hmm, how odd. They are quite striking and I am sure serve a very good purpose especially up north. I can guess at some of the reasons but I won’t try to figure it out right now.


Wonder how they cut the grass?

Off I go up the mountain, to get to Maurvangen you have to go up part of the mountains south of Jotunheimen, talk about a bumpy ride! The road is fun with lots of curves but in disrepair and exceptionally bumpy at points. I have to look through the turns and also pay attention to the road surface as it is not fun to hit bumps in a lean! As I get to the campsite the road smooths out a bit and I pull into the campsite and check in.

After setting up I go to the reception and ask for the nearest fuel stop, too easy, 30km BACK the way I came. Shit. OK, off I go again to Beitostølen. I need fuel and I want to also add air to the shocks as I feel them bottoming out on the bumps. This time I know the road so run it a bit faster stopping along the way to take pictures. At Beitostølen I tank up, add air and blast off back to the camp. I REALLY KNOW THE ROAD NOW! Hard into the turns, push to the left or right to avoid bumps, scream down the few straights, it’s a blast! It would be even better if the roads were in better shape. But enough of that, let’s get to the pictures shall we?


















Hey, Who put the dork in the picture!


Much better.






Those sticks are markers for the road edges; yes, the snow gets DEEP!




Reindeer. These guys were captive, hope I can see some wild ones. Preferably NOT crossing in front of me.

Back at camp, I pull in, start some chow, scribble notes in my journal of the days ride, and then retire for the night. If the rest of the trip goes like this, It’ll be beautiful!
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Old 08-17-2012, 11:28 AM   #15
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Cool Report........

What is that "GB" on your windshield?

If you ever reloaded that video, we can't find it. Just letting you know.


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