Suomen suurin matkablogiyhteisö
Browsing Tag

Lithuania

Summer ABC

Let’s  Wrap  Up  Summer  2017

I did this ABC in finnish few weeks ago and
thought it would be fun also to do it in english, but much easier as well.
If you wonder why I say that, just take a look at Finnish alphabet with all å, ä, ö 🙂
And no, am not kidding!
We really have those letters & silly words like pääkallo (skull)  or ääliömäinen (moronic) or what about yötön yö (midnight sun). Am sure you got my point 😀

As I mentioned on my previous posts (here  &  here), I was working a lot.
Hard work really pays off. Got to see & do a lot during those 3,5 weeks, on August-September.
I think it’s about a time to wrap up this summer cos the fall is really here.
We even got our first snow in Finland (which I dont like too much) I would rather have this cool, bit rainy weather instead that snow & icy, yak…

But hey let’s go!  ⤵


A –  AINAZI
, AUSTRIA
On our roadtrips we usually have our first stop in Ainazi, just few kilometres away from Estonian border.
It feels like going home since Latvia is one of the fave countries & I call it home-away-from-home.
Sometimes we also grab a burger here, coffee is good too & gas is cheaper than in Finland.
We also do a little shopping here on our way back, cos those cheaper prices 😉
Plus you can find beautiful, not crowded, beaches near Ainazi!


Austria
We decided to drive from Maribor to Brno through Austria, since it just happened to be there and our navigator said it´s also the fastest route, so why not to check that out.
It was ok, saw some nice views here and there but nothing like I wanna go back, let’s stay here feelings.
And it was damn expensive, gas was über expensive, so was the coffee & ice cream..
So we noticed that was too west for us, lets hit the road & auf Wiedersehen!


B –  BALATON, BOOKING
Ooh Balaton! It feels like the holiday starts really here!! Cant wait to get back there!
One of the fave places for sure. Just missing back there & we love the Lake so much that we’ve actually been looking for places to live at there, just a dream now, but maybe in future?!
There is just something there, and we are not the only ones, our friends came there too and they have already  booked a place for next summer.
We ended up there by accident couple of years ago, just meant to drive through but we stayed for several days & been back 3-4 times since..
Amazing spots to visit & take pics, great shore line, love those sunsets & bar-street, there are also family friendly places, thermal spa’s etc.


B
stands for Booking.com
We found Booking on our first Via Baltica- holiday 2011 and been a heavy user since that.
On this summer tour we booked all but one place using the app.
I love it, it is easy to use, simple & fast.
We have had some (small) issues, like this summer with one place in Poland (check Z) but am still a fan 😉
I love writing those reviews and read those, even if am not going anywhere I love to check out different places. Girl can dream right 😉

If you havent used Booking yet – I have something for you.
If you use this link to book your hotel/apartment/hostel, you will get 15 € on your credit card after your holiday for next stay & I will receive the same.


C – CROATIA
Lovely Croatia!
We visited Zagreb (capital city) last year, it was ok but didnt really want to go back.
It was nice so dont get me wrong, but there was just something missing.
Jani suggested we should visit Croatian coastline, since he has been there, but over 30 or so years ago.
I was like ok, let’s go, wasnt super excited, but am glad we went, since happened the same than with Hungary: I fell in love with that coastline, small villages, food & amazing sunsets (well hello)!




D – DIESEL, DRIVING LICENCE
As I mentioned before gas is cheaper outside our country (I prefer those eastern countries for also things like these).

We have had this diesel car for two yrs now, had old petrol car before.
And had one very close call- situation this spring in Estonia.
We needed to get more gas and Jani accidentally put petrol in our car, luckily it was only like 8 litres & our gas tank was empty.
After a panic, google searches,  several sms’s and few more calls, we decided to try his buddies tips and push the car back & filled it up with diesel. And it worked!!
But I suggest you dont try this, if you dont know what you’e doing..
We had luck cos it was only 8 litres until he realized & all went well, our car has been running perfect!

Driving licence Woohoo!!!
I have been dreaming for years to get a licence and get to drive.
And this summer my dream came true. I got my licence one day before our summer day & was so excited!
But I didnt drive there.
I didnt want to cos the traffic is wild there & that damn manual transmission..
And to be honest Jani wouldnt let me, even if I would have wanted, cos that crazy traffic and that damn transmission system.. 😀

E-  EXTRANET, EUROPARK, E67
Finished my school on June and couldnt really work on school months (but I loved it though cos I was able to just focus on my studies instead stressing out about money too).
After I graduated, I was working full-time in Loviisa on weekdays and was able to do extra work on weekends. Thanks Kati for giving me those shifts again!
I was also lucky to work with Minttu (my goddaughter) & some other great buddies!


Europark
= Shopping Center in Maribor.
Huge place with plenty of shops & great deals!
I dont go shopping in Finland that much, it’s too expensive!
I do visit grocery every now & then cos I have to, but I buy pretty much all my clothes, shoes, make-up etc. abroad, as I did now as well ☺


E67- Via Baltica!
I dont know how many times we have driven up and down this road, I have lost count..
One my fave roads, even though taken that road tens of times 😀
You can read my stories  here  and  here!


F-  FORINTS, FOOD
I say florint.. Been to Hungary many times so how hard could it be??
Forint is the currency of Hungary. The forint’s name comes from the city of  Florence, where gold coins were minted from 1252 called  fiorino d’oro or florentinus (Wikipedia tells), so maybe I get that florint from there?!
Forints and dinars (RSD) are great, I feel so rich when I have my wallet filled up with those currency..


Food..
I remember somebody wrote that she lose weight on holiday, cos there are different food than back home, so she wont eat.. Whaat??
I try to avoid carbs home, but not on holiday.
It really works, I feel better & have more energy + of course wanna look good in pics (kidding!).
On holiday I love to eat & drink what ever I want and the food is usually so delicious, if I wouldnt watch what I eat at home I would be huge.. Just look what they serve there.
No drooling on my page pls ?



G –  GOOGLE & GOOGLE MAPS
I use Google a lot, searching for places to eat at, events, sightseens etc.  well dont we all nowdays?! 😉
I still remember those presentations at school when we didnt have computers and had to go to the library for the encyclopedia. Oh those days! So easy & quick now!

We have TomTom but it doesnt always get us where we should go to.
Sometimes it offers weird detours, sometimes those detours have really been time-saving and good ones, sometimes we have ended up driving small field roads in Poland in the dark or through the gypsy neighbourhood in Slovakia.
And the address system isnt that user-friendly anymore, trying to find out the right address/place is sometimes really frustrating. So we use also Google Maps.
Google offline maps are great too, esp. outside EU-countries cos the data costs a lot.
Just remember to download the map before your trip & learn how to use those map-systems!
It seems I navigate the best without any map.. 😀
Here you can see our route this summer, close to 5000km’s (by Jani) ?

H  – HUNGARY, HAUNTED HOUSES
Hungary is gorgeous! And as might have mentioned, I would like to live there..


Haunted houses were part of our summer holiday, not once but twice.
We both loved our apartment in Sibenik but got some strange feelings there, heard some weird noises and
few bizarre things happened.
We didnt talk about those until we were driving away, so it wasnt just somebody said something and you start to sense the same. Nothing bad happened though & we are thinking to go back next year if possible 🙂

During these years Riga has become more popular, so rooms been sold out (checked from Booking and hotels pages) as it was now too, but then we saw an apartment free & took it.
Another haunted place, no wonder it was free 😀
We heard the story from our friends (owners of Karjala Bar) later the day.
But before the that, we saw some people on the street taking pictures of the building.
Our hostess was in such a hurry too.
Hmm.. maybe that explains that ”locals doesnt want to go there” stories heheh 🙂
We were also told there are ”haunted house”- walking tours in Riga, that would have been fun, unlike the first night there 😀


I – IPHONE, INSTAGRAM
I
dont remember any place we went to starting with letter I, so  I will put my phone & pics here.
Those are my things!
I didnt want iPhone back then, wanted to stick with my old Nokia but when I got Jani’s old phone I fell in love! I have upgraded from iPhone 4 to few 5’s and am looking for a new one now 😉

Instagram
– well once upon a time I thought am not going to have iPhone, use facebook much and not going to have Instagram. Oh well 🙂
I created IG profile a year ago but started to use it more just this winter and I love it!!
Love taking pictures and I love to look others pics & hear their stories.
You can check & follow me (and our trips)  HERE




J –  JELEN
Am not biggest beer fan, I rather have something else to drink so if am telling you I like Jelen –
it’s a lot to say! We visited Serbian Beerfest couple of years ago and enjoyed!!
Great place to taste different beers, even though you are not a beer-fan.
Or maybe it is just we have bad beer in Finland?! 😉
Jelen is one of  Jani’s fave beer & he was happily surprised when our friends (who we seem to meet more on the road than here) gave him one, when we met at Balaton on August.
They made their Romanian/Bosnian/Serbian tour before Hungary (with 2 small kids, huh!).
If you didnt know Jelen means deer, and we saw those a lot in Poland.
When we tried to look for our place in Zwardon, we noticed eyes glowing in the dark, in the woods &
were like what the he..?!
Realized they were deers and few of them came to check our car close, probably wondering who were the idiots in the mountains after midnight on weekend.. 😉


K –  KARJALA BAR, KRKA
Found Karjala Bar on our first winter trip to Latvia and since that we visited’em every time we hit the town.
Hawa & Jana (Finn-Latvian couple) own the place and you always feel so welcome there!
You get there good finnish traditional food, nice desserts, some finnish (but also local) beer & they have good collection of liquids 😉 And they really take good care of their customers!
I got to ”warn” you though if you go there on friday/saturday they have karaoke there, the place is crowded. But you get to see some interesting shows esp. from the karaoke hostess, she is amazing!!
Almost forgot, you can see all finnish hockey games there (world champ’s, olympics) & KHL!


Krka-
when we were in Sibenik we wanted to visit Krka as well.
So we booked a day trip there & I got my boat ride finally 🙂
They told us it is end of season but oh my, it was crowded (the pic dont tell the truth)!!
Nice place but way too many people. I wonder what it is like on high season..


L –  LATVIA
Of course ?
Latvia is my fave places among Hungary & Serbia (Croatia made to my list this year cos the coastline).
Visited Latvia first time 2011 and since that been there many times, must be 20 + times!
Riga is the top destination but been in other places too.
There is just something that keep us going back there, over & over again.


M –  MARIBOR, MUSIC, MIDSUMMER
Another ”Balaton” destination, meaning we wanted to go back!
I really like Maribor: small town, not too many tourists, you can just wander around & enjoy the days.
Maribor is very beautiful, has nice attractions, great shopping places + karting, good food (especially that salmon pasta- letter F) & excellent wines!!
They also have very good & fast BMW service, which we luckily didnt need this time!



Music
I miss our old car not because it was thirsty but because those sounds!
Last holiday we had with that car, we didnt even finish one album, just opened our windows and listened to the engine! Now we have a diesel car & Spotify..
KISS is great to listen in the car, love the energetic sound!
Led Zeppelin is also in with many albums.
I cant stand any sleepy kind of music, Jani loves to listen jazz sometimes and it is really not my thing 😉


Midsummer – pretty much the only weekend I dont take any work on summer.
Midsummer in the city is not my thing, had enough of those.
I just wanna leave the city and go to Jani’s parents summer house.
It is a heaven on earth. Three days there & I feel like a new person & ”ready” to work my as* off again 😉


N –  NOT AGAIN
Last year we stayed in Ostrava & this year we went to Brno.. Mistake!
It was first time I was ”counting the hours” and was happy to leave the place & Jani said the same.
We stayed in Brno 2 nights and we both were thinking if we had booked 3 nights we would have left earlier.
I dont know how to explain, but I just didnt like it there.
Cool thing was this underground exhibition & our check out 😉


O –  ODESA
One of my dreams came true (again), I was asked to go to Ukraine, as a tourleader, yaiks!!
Kiev- Pervomajsk- Odesa- Kiev. Nervous but hell yeah!!
I thought Odesa would be more like all about the beach – kinda city, but the beach was like 30 minutes away and the place we visited was more like made for tourists, amusemet park, lots of bars, shops, restaurants and new, huge apartment building facing the Sea.
I loved the Black Sea though and it was so hot there, even it was just May.
We also visited those catacombs and it was very interesting!
Odesa is beautiful, there are a lot to see, cheap to shop & eat, people are nice & friendly!


P –  PHOBIA, PRIPYAT
Phobia
I have a fear of flying, but I do jump on the plane every now & then.
Am scared but still excited to go, you know what I mean.
I would miss so many great places & opportunities if I would not fly, so I just need to force myself to go and hope for the best.
I think I have done pretty good job since I have been to Serbia & twice to Ukraine this year 😉


Pripyat – Part of our Kiev trip we also visited Chernobyl and Pripyat.
It was interesting, sad, spooky.. Impossible to explain.



Q-  QUE PASA?!
There is a town somewhere in Lithuania, called Panevezys (hard to pronounce it, right?!)
If you have been on Via Baltica, you have probably seen this motel or those planes at least.
Been taking pictures of those fighter planes, but never stayed over a night, till this summer.
Usually we drive to north Poland for the first night, but we were able to leave earlier on Friday so this motel was at the right place then 🙂
We didnt book the room in advance cos we checked from Booking app the situation & price.
Yes, there were rooms available but the receptionist spoke lithuanian, russian, spanish and just little bit english. We can only english and few words of spanish/russian so our conversations were bit funny, but we managed to have a room for lower price & got also some drinks.
It was dark when we got there,but this is what we saw from our balcony the following morning!! Qreat! 😉


R –  RIGA, ROAD TRIP
Riga – my love! Home-away-from-home.
Last year places in Old Town were sold out, so it was great to get there on this summer holiday,
even though we spent our Easter holiday there as well. Already missing back (letter L)!
Ice hockey, sushi, burgers, those streets, shopping..


Road trips!
Highlight of the year is our summer holiday for sure! 3 weeks or sometimes 4 weeks (if lucky) on the road!
Am a huge road trip fan. It’s the best way to travel!!
You get to see so much more, meet new people, visit different places, weird places and also funky roads..
Like these in Croatia!



S –  SO MANY
Suwalki, Sibenik, Senj,  Skradin, Siofok.. As I said so many & am not sure if I mentioned all..

Suwalki – often our first night stand but this year we stayed in that Fighter Motel (check P).
But we stayed here 2 nights on our way back home.
I dont know how but my home is marked to be in Suwalki on GoogleMap, that is hilarious!!
Suwalki is a nice spot, great mall, very cheap to shop some more, because they’re smart and have own currency, zlotys.. There is also karting plaza and other stuff to do. Check W for more!

Sibenik– I wasnt too rapted to visit Croatia again, but am glad we went there.
Charming small town, ended up staying there one extra night cos like it so much..
Sibenik stole a piece of my heart & we are planing to go back next year if possible..


Senj – on our way back North we ended up to this cute, coastline village.
Perfect place just to relax and do nothing really..
There is a castle+museum, stunning sunsets, watersport & Tesla charger 😉
If you need a lot of things to do and people around, this is not your place!


T –  TRAFFIC, TOLLS
In past, Poland has really been high on the crazy traffic list & after our first trip there 2011, Jani said he doesnt want to go back ever again, but we went back 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017..
It feels like it has got better! I never thought I would say so but yeah, it is actually a nice country 😀
Well, there are still some crazy-drivers, going 180km’s, overtaking from right etc. but it’s getting better and now the title ”crazy traffic” goes to Austria/Czechia and Lithuania 😀

TOLLS – I prefer Vignettes’s, at least they are faster and you know excatly how much you need to pay.
Most expensive road tolls we paid on this trip & had most traffic jams where in Croatia cos those toll’s.
There should be more toll booths or something! Locals can buy e-tolls but still.
Luckily we left the coastline & headed to Slovenia before Sunday.
I wish they would take vignettes as well, but I dont think so, they get more money now.
Sometimes roads are good, sometimes they are in not too good condition and leave people wondering where the money goes?!
You can choose avoid roadtolls/paid roads, but dont wanna try that anymore, it would probably be like an old field road for horses 😀

U –  UKRAINE
I was asked to go, not once but twice, to Ukraine, as a tour leader.
It was another dream come true, get to travel on my birthday- even though it wasnt any holiday but still!!
I didnt expect to like Ukraine that much, but I did and I do wanna go back..


V –  VIGNETTE
Vignette –  ” a licence to drive”.
Some say roadtolls are easier since you cant miss the payment, but I prefer vignettes cos it is just one payment you do & that’s it!
But yeah, you need to be careful when crossing the border esp. Czechia/ Slovakia, it is easy to miss!!
Many countries has e-vignettes now days, has probably something to do with environment things, but you still get a sticker at some countries.
We had our last year stickers on our windscreen, oops!
I hope the camera caught the right one & we dont get any fine afterwards 😀

W – WINE, WIGRY
Wine –
Maribor and Stara Trta, world’s oldest wine.
Well, didnt taste that but enjoyed some glasses of wallet-friendly wines there!
I didnt even drink wine in my past (had bad experience when I was a teenager 😉 ) and now am having wine at restaurants with my dinner & buying some to home..
Enjoyed a glas of white wine in Piramida’s and have visited Wine Festival as well.
Am I getting old??


Wigry – check also S as Suwalki.
Our fave spot in north Poland is actually located in Wigry (part of Suwalki region).
Very nice, quiet area, surrounded by a huge National Park & some lakes.
There are lots of hiking and cycle routes. People also visit the monastery next to the Lake.
If we had more holiday, I would like to go there, go for a hike & explore the Park area for few days.


X- X3
Just before we left, we went to see X3. My dream is X6 but cant really afford one 😉
Even though I wanted to have that X, am so glad we didnt buy it, cos things went south with my workplace (bad-behaving boss) and we also got to test this car more!
Everything went great with this 1-serier but am not gonna lie, I wish we had that X – when we were in the mountain..
But as I said nothing got broken, we got where we wanted to go.
And everything was great on it’s annual inspection, we had right after this road trip.
So this one has really proven himself


Y-  YOU SHOULD..
You should go on a road trip. At least once!
After you have one, you gonna probably realize you wanna ride the roads more, than just fly to your destination.. Of course depends where you are & how much time you have 🙂


Z –  ZWARDON
That deer place.. Our plan was to drive from Panevezys to south Poland.
Booked a room from a mountain hotel, near Slovakian border, just to get some place to sleep at.
Mistake! We never found the place.
We drove up and down those friggin hills, had navigator, google map, iphone map & even those coordinates but nope..
We tried to call them multiple times, emailed, called to Booking’s customers service & tried to call that place few more times. No answer.
This was 11:20-11:30pm and check in should have been till midnight..
More calls & mails & driving till midnight and then we gave up.
I emailed to Booking that we couldnt find the place & they didnt answer the phone or mails, so now what?!
The next day we got an email from Booking, saying we did a no show & they gonna charge us that 20€.. dziękuję (thanks)!

I sent them feedback about those calls/emails but only answer we got was ”they waited us and will charge the room price” jep, jep..
So even it was only 20€,  it annoys me since their ”service” sucks.
I was told I can not write a review either cos we didnt stay there.
I said I want to write about how difficult it was to find the place & few things how they could do better in customer servive, but no.
So I am going to publish my reviews about the other places too, and will have few words to say about this place too.

ZZZZ – sleeping
Since we didnt find that Zwardon place, we were pissed of and tired for driving whole day, so we just decided to sleep in the car.
We drove to Slovakia & found 24/7 gas-station/cafe & slept there.
Didnt have any blankets or pillows (as we used to have) so I just was just hiding under my jacket & was glad we have tinted windows   ???
It is not X but multi-function car, after this trip I dont think I wanna get rid of this anymore 😉


So this was my summer 2017 ?

How was yours?!
If you have a similar post or gonna make one, let me know / link it here, it would be fun to read those!


PS     You´ll find me also on Facebook!
And more pics on Instagram ➡    666places

Feel free to like, make some nice comments or follow me there!  ?


 

My crazy year so far..

Hello world again- am back!!

Well I wasnt really gone, but my last real post was on Midsummer so it feels and it was ages ago!
I know people say they have been busy and I sure have, but it shouldnt be any excuse.
But excuse me anyway 🙂

As mentioned I did that pic-challenge on June. And it really was a challenge.
I started it on Midsummer weekend but was struggling with those pics & spacing for many weekends.
So it took forever and it is still a mess.
But what I´ve seen others have the same issue so am just gonna leave it that way..

Now you think I have been busy with that and things like those??
Not really – I wish 😛

I graduated on June from my lovely school with title of Travel Agent.
I was able to choose between that and event management (some prefer service provider) which means for example planning tours and related events for people.
Travel Agent doesnt sound as sexy as that provider but since I have already studied Entertainment Business and worked years at Booking Agency and Artist Management and had pretty much that title, I thought it is better to choose the non-sexy one 😀

I didnt really like studying when I was younger and at one point I said I will never go back to school and thought my friends crazy when they did so.
At the age of 29 I went back to school (entertainment business) and 2016, I started this. So never say never!
Those two decisions has been the best I made so far.

Loved going to this school but hated 6am wake ups, I didnt much enjoy travelling to school for about 2-2,5 hrs one way, but I made such a great friends there and I learnt a lot!!
AND during my internship I had a chance to travel to Ukraine as a tourleader. That was awesome!!
First we flew to Kiev and went by a car to Odessa and took a night-train back. What a trip!
I will tell about that on another post though.


Because that Ukraine trip went well (even though I was super nervous first) & I got good feedback, I was recently asked to do Trans-Mongolian tour as well but I couldnt go. That sucks.
It would have been right after my summer holiday, less than a week or so and been already off the work for 3,5 weeks made it impossible.
I wanted to go so bad- you can just imagine.
Taking Trans-Mongolian or Siberian Train has been my dream for years.
I hope I can make it sooner than later.

A week from this I got another call from the Travel Agency (Traveller), if I would be willing to take a group to Kiev & Chernobyl. Hell yeah!!
That´s only 5 days trip and bit later than Mongolian would have been.
Havent got the plane ticket yet but keeping my thumbs up that will happen!!
Never been to Chernobyl but I really liked Ukraine & told JP (Jani) that we have to go there, he would like Ukraine am sure.

Beside those I have been working my a** off, literally!! In several ways.
I dont remember when I had last full weekend off.
It was probably that Midsummer weekend- I just wanna go to the summer cottage and relax, so I dont take any shifts then.


Before I went to school I was working at the Booking Agency as mentioned somewhere.
Did my internship there as well (2010) and after finished my school I started to work there full time.
Then the economy got bad and I was able to do only part-time there & did the other half at groceries.

That was pretty challenging; waking up, going to work, finish there and go to another place, go home and get some sleep.. and next day the same shit.
I was lucky though cos the grocery manager let me to chose the shifts first so I was able to do all the weekends shifts = save money & travel!

As the late winter came I decided to take no stress about anything- even though I was little panicking what would our summer holiday this year be then..
I enjoyed my time at Traveller, so I stayed there 3 extra months and did my whole internship there.
Later the spring I was talking to Kati (the shop manager) & she said she´d be happy to have me there full-time for the summer summer & I was also thinking to do some shifts at the Agency.
Then my dad surprised us totally.
He started to talk about buying a lunch place and asking if I was willing to work for him.
I thought he was just talking but he actually bought a place and so my ”plans” changed again..

So I´ve been working at that lunch-cafe-restaurant/gas-station place since I finished my school.
Not a dream job obviosuly, cos I just wanna take pics & travel 😀
But it has still been nice.
That place is in Loviisa, 90 km from where I live so that takes like almost 200 kms joyrney everyday.
Sounds crazy, right?!

Let´s compare: it took more than 2 hrs one way when I went to school, in capital region by public transport.
This place is 90 km away, only about 40 mins by car. If you have a car, as I do but not a license -yet..
Luckily most of the days we (me & my goddaughter) got a ride from my dad on June.
Now that he´s been at their summer cottage me and Minttuneeded to take a bus and it takes more than 2 hours from Helsinki + the joyrney to Helsinki & all the traffic jams.. Oh my!! It was more like more than 5 hrs a day just getting there&back.
The good thing taking a bus is having a lot of time just to scroll on Instagram & the bad thing, maybe you can already guess?? My finger got sore for all the freaking likes 😀
So in a nutshell.. been to Loviisa every weekdays & weekends at the grocery. But that is not all..

Beside those two jobs I started driving school, right after Midsummer.
A dream for years came finally true!! I was so happy but nervous too!!
Staff in Loviisa were shocked cos Minttu & I didnt have a driving license and were pretty much in shock!!
Well, didnt really needed before and it´s so damn expensive.


I once kinda had the money but then my hand got injured and I couldnt work and I had to move out from my apartment cos the owners needed it back and without a job it was hard to get one.
Although all those shitty things happened I was lucky since I was never on the streets thanks to my lovely family & afterwards thinking am glad all that happened since I dont think without those I would have not met Jani!

Then I was thinking to get the license when I was working full time- (this might sound strange to some) but I also wanted to travel! Cos I wasnt able to work for several years, I wasnt able to travel a lot (I got a chance to visit the States though but that´s different thing).
So ”needed” to choose between driving license or a holiday and to be honest those holidays are pretty much the only time we can really see each others and be together with JP cos many shifts.
So I chose to travel.
I dont regret it though, we have been to so many great places (and few not so great), done great road trips, even flew couple of times and experienced a lot!!


But now the license is a must thing.
Am working so far away and am able to work full time and I got my paychecks without any struggling so I took a loan for that driving school.
I dont take loans for holidays or pay them with credit cards, we travel if we have the money so I am ready to work like crazy if I get to travel.
I can take shifts 7 days a week but I need my holidays / that goal.
I think most of you can relate to that..??

So summa summarum I finished my driving school, got the license even though he said it was a tough decision and he made me to promise I will go with Jani first and learn to use that stick better before I go to work by myself. I was struggling with that a lot!!
That even came to my dreams!! Damn stick!!
Great news is I got a text message a day before we left to our summer holiday- the goal I was working my as** off- that I can go and pick up my driving license!
And finally, at the age of 30 something I got the license!! Am super happy & excited!!

I meant to write and finish this post before our holiday but there were so many things to do (excuse me one more time)- like if I had any free time after driving school I was exercising, we have crosstrainer at home so I was doing that every day as well!
Project number 66 to lose some weight I think 😀
Beside that my brother went to army and parents travelled to Sweden & Norway so we got their crazy dog. So holiday was really needed after those 4 weeks he was staying with us. Imagine a dog flipping out so bad when going out that he tries to bang his head through the door, and screaming help when you tell him no & stop him not to rush.. I have a video somewhere am sure..
But now we are somewhere in Europe and unfortunately we need to get back home next week..

Will tell you more about this holiday on another post.
But I´ve been to my fave place Balaton,
enjoyed tasty Mojitos while watching those amazing sunsets, met friends from Finland there, went to Croatia (which wasnt a top choise then), fell in love with the coast line & tuna steak, climbed up to winehill in Maribor & had a class or two their sparkling wines.. Just few things to mention.


Our route has been so far this:
Estonia- Latvia-Lithuania-Poland- Slovakia- Hungary- Croatia- Austria-Czechia and tomorrow we will drive through Poland, probably visit Suwalki (our fave pit stop) & then head to Riga for those last days.
Riga is like a second home to us and it is always great to go there.
You can check my travel (+ some other) pics on Instagram!
Am posting Road Trip 2017 pics little late cos I had huge problems with Icloud for days and was so sure I lost all my great pictures but now it is working and I can find & post them again! What a relief!!
Those pics you can find here: https://www.instagram.com/666places

Hope you all enjoyed your summer! ✌

 

Road that stole my heart

VIA BALTICA ROAD TRIPPING + STUFF LIKE THAT

IMG_8266

Via Baltica and going to Baltics..
Almost everyone has an opinion about the road&these countries.
Opinions vary widely from love it to boring/interesting/dangerous to wanna go again & never again, at least not by a car.

I tried to count how many times I´ve been there & there are numerous times and from Tallinn to Riga there are many more, dozens of.. Cant say for sure.

Yes, am a road trip fan, Baltic & Balkan fan!
Latvia, especially the capital city, Riga is great and I call it my home-away from home Baltic and Serbia, esp. Beograd is my home-away from home Balkan..
You can just take a wild guess what might be my fave places to visit, along with Hungary!

Our first Via Baltica road trip was 2011, just 6 years ago (it feels more though).
Had a plan to visit Lake Garda and Hamburg.
Then came the Ehec-epidemic, people got sick and also died..
They didnt know yet what was causing all those and they told not to travel there (the cause was foreign cucumbers and sprouts probably watered by contaminated water).
So we didn´t go there.
We didn’t visit Italy either since we were thinking is it really worth to go there for a day or two & with mini budget. Just started working less than a month before.
Got a job from the Booking Agency I did my internship for school, so didnt have much money & had only two weeks off.
Still remember the night in Krakow when we decided to change our plans, sitting outside our hotel watching beautiful sunset, with cold beer.
Decided to stay few more days there, visit Oświęcimim (better know as Auschwitz) and drive back.

Of course felt little upset but afterwards this Tallinn-Jurmala-Kauna-Krakow was just perfect for first time. Visited also Vilnius but we had our hotel outside Old Town so didnt really walk there but visited Gediminas and KGB-museum. And then it was just raining so went to do some shopping and were just laying lazy at the hotel. Wasnt bad at all!

IMG_8271

Dont remember where this road trip idea came from.
Am glad we both are similar- ready to go almost when & where ever.

When people heard about our plans, they werent too excited.
Thought us crazy & that we were kidding 😀
They were warning about how dangerous it is there, we will get robbed, militias will take our money, roads are awful, car get stolen etc.
They were like go to Spain or some place normal.
What´s funniest that people who had never been there said these, they are usually the worse also. Just saying 😉
Jani´s parents were horrified by our plans but they said some nice things about Jurmala.
First we didnt think to visit there at all, thought it´s going to be place for oldies but it turned out to be great place to visit.
Amazing beach with white, soft sand as far as the eye can see. The sun’s shining & the sea is sparkling.

We happened to have great weather, even though it was just the beginning of June.
It was raining in Vilnius but other than that it was just perfect!
The rain didnt bother that much there, since we were bit tired of all the driving, excitement & new things plus there´s Akropolis, huge mall or shopping hell- depends on whom you talk to 😀

Via Baltica´s reputation really isnt the best. Some call it dangerous road.
Well, driving style is different than in Finland. It could be pretty wild!!
I have seen many close call situations and numerous vehicles in ditches.
Especially in Poland you can see also numerous crosses, flowers, figures of saints, statues and chapels on the sides of the roads: to commemorate a site where a person died.

Some say these roadside memorials are there to bring a good fortune and prevent accidents.
As mentioned the driving-style is different but in Poland it felt just little more crazy since some of them seems to have a thing what comes to overtaking.
They just need to pass your vehicle.
And they are pretty calm, there´s been many situations with approaching traffic that you notice there´s no room, even though you are on your lane but there´s two more cars coming side by side.. It´s been usually us to pull aside first..

They´ve made some parts of the road wider, so you can give some room easier but it´s still not really helping with 4 cars approaching you.. I saw an article that narrower streets would be actually safer cos wider lanes only encourage people to drive faster.
I dont think this person has driven on Via Baltica 😉
Jani is my trusted driver, very focused on the road, as you should there!
But still extra heart beats are something you get there every once in a while.
I dont have the license (yet!) but I dont think I ever want to drive there. Or could.
Jani wouldnt want that unless he has an alcohol level of 5 promille or above.
Half kidding!

Anyway, roads are better, of course there are still holes, pumps etc but there are a lot more those ”money was given by EU – signs” and comparing to 2011 some of the roads are like heaven on earth to drive (except the traffic). Just waiting when they will fix our roads in Finland!
Just 2015 we passed Estonian- Latvian border and it was awful!
We had our old car and that was really something! When we came back home, they had repaired it! Yippee!!
It feels like every other vehicle is a lorry so no wonder the tracks are like that!

Our old car had only 8cm ride height but we managed to pass those tracks, cobblestone streets and even the Tatra´s.. So if you wonder can your car make it there, just take a look at ours 😉
I think you´ll be just fine.

Even though there´s been huge improvement, you still got to stay focused!
Talking about those close call situations, saw a German camper got a hit by the truck.
They only lost their mirror and got some paint damage.
But I still remember the driver´s face, he was horrified.
There was one car in front of us & we had a safe distance, luckily!
I just saw some black pieces flying & then Jani hit the brake.
Nothing like that ever happened to us (knock, knock).

Of course a car low like that gets more damages than ”normal” ones, so after every trip we needed to fix/change some things.
Fuses got blown at Tatra´s when we drove away from the gypsy camp (one of my worst memories), got some speeding tickets and have got extra heart beats but other than those- we have been lucky!
Got some close call´s as well, on our way to Bratislava we had 130km/h, almost no traffic & suddenly the car in front of us did the panic brake because he almost passed his intersection.
Jani was able to switch the lane, if not we would have hit the other car bad cos there were no room&time to break..

Not only there´re crazy people, there might be some animals on the road or next to.
Not on highway though but am talking about those smaller villages.
There´s usually 30-50 km limit & there´s a reason for that; esp. in Poland you can find cows & chickens wandering around..

Latvia quickly became one of our favorite destinations. Only country we got speeding tickets & other fines (still knocking).
There´s been very nice cops so far- one came to shake Jani´s hand and was sorry about the fine and wishing great holiday despite that.
Visited Riga, the capital city first time on winter 2011, went to see hockey (KHL) and been back several times for mini/ long stay/ Easter break/ surprise-birthday holiday!
Went there for Easter also this year. Just thinking back how just a week ago was wandering there..
Oh am missing back!

Not only roads but countries has changed too!
There werent too many tourist back then, this Easter the city was packed, everywhere we went you heard finnish & saw other tourists as well.
But I think biggest change has been the currency. Most of them didnt want to let go of their Lats.
Latvia is still cheap for us to shop, eat, drink etc. but prices are rising, already did and they rise much faster than wages. I am little afraid what will the future be there.

Driving across Poland 2011 Jani said that he wont go back, ever. Period.
2012 we did just Latvia-Lithuania tour but 2013 we drove across Poland again & also 2015, 2016 as well & visited some new cities.
And now we have visited more Polish cities than cities in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia or other countries we´ve been to, how funny is that 😀
So Poland isnt that bad after all! But there are dozens of road projects. I once started to calculate those, got way over twenty and then I couldnt anymore.. It´s just from one road work to another..

Of course you should reduce your speed so it takes more time.
For example Google Map tells it takes 5 hours from Suwalki to Lublin, but you should add 1-2 hrs more.
And good luck if you´re going to Warzaw. Once visited the centrum and it took 4 hrs to get out of there.
Dont know what was going on but the traffic was awful.
There´s ”new” road & you can avoid this centrum, as we do now.

Via Baltica, been there & done that several times, so I know what am talking about 😉

Via Baltica goes from Tallinn to Warzaw (not ending to Lithuanian border) and road E -67 actually continues all the way to Prague, Czech Rep.
That´s the part we´ve not driven yet.
Navigator is great there!
First time we had avoid road tolls cos thought those expensive, difficult and what ever.
Which amuses me now but I had old Nokia-phone + bad internet so didnt really want to use that..
Having iPhone makes everything so much easier!

What comes to those road tolls, they are not that bad!
Later we tried Katowice-Cracow road and it was less than few euros. Woow, what a smooth road!!
There are different charging – and collecting methods.
In my experience vehicles are charged per total distance driven in a defined area.
Tolls are usually collected at toll booths/gates after the journey, but you have to stop at one before you hit that smooth road, so dont worry, you shouldnt get there by accident.
And to make it a bit confusing, there are also vignettes in some countries and some countries use a combination.. But let´s get there later.

Few words about speed limits. There are cops running radars, a lot. But people warn about those usually. You cant do it in Finland (what a boring country) but if you see elsewhere somebody flashing their flights, you know there´s something going on. And it´s usually a radar.
Thanks to these people (esp. truck drivers) we have avoided some tickets..
Spasibo! Merci! Danke!

There are also radar speed signs, warning about the automat-control.
But the best has been other roadtrippers.
Am sure there´re ppl thinking ”that´s why there´re limits that you follow them” oh well good luck!
The traffic is really something else than for example in Finland.
And am not talking about those small roads.

I love those highways in Slovakia & also south Poland, where the roads are great and limits are 130-140 km and traffic is smooth. Some go there over 160 so that´s lil scary sometimes..
But also some funniest memories comes from there, if you happen to pass a local (esp. in Poland) they just need to overtake you once more, even though they´re driving an old, run-down car they just cant give up & when you let them pass – they have the best Gold medal face on 😀
This has happened cople of times- you just have to laugh at them but also give
a little respect 😉
But as I´ve mentioned you got to stay focused, keep calm & remember safe distance.

Couple more things: you dont have to pay road tolls if your vehicle is under 3500 kg and there are no vignettes on Via Baltica.
In Poland there are some road toll-roads, you can pay in zlotys, euros, pounds, dollars & some places accept also credit cards. My advice is to have small euro coins with you.
These roads in Poland are not the main roads. If you stay on Baltica you dont need to mind those.
If you continue from Warsaw to Slovakia like we did, you still avoid them.
You dont end up to those toll- roads by accident but if you somehow do, you´ll notice that since all those starts and end up from the booth.
So keep your eyes open, read the signs & keep some money with you 😉
(I couldnt find my zlotys so I have here a pic of Latvian lats)

I found this very useful list of paid roads in Poland.
I suggest you to double check the prices but at least you get a hunch how much are they.
These prices goes from few euros to almost twenty, it depends what´s the distance.
If you go by a motorcyckle (or bike as I prefer to say), the price is usually half except A1 and A2 Swiecko-Konin.

A1 Rusocin (Gdańsk) – Nowa Wieś (Toruń) 29,90 PLN
A2 Świecko (DE/PL) – Konin 75,00 PLN
A2 Konin – Stryków (Łódź) 9,90 PLN
A4 Bielany Wrocławskie (Wrocław) – Sośnica (Gliwice) 16,20 PLN
A4 Katowice – Kraków 20,00 PLN

Neighbouring countries, except Germany has vignettes.
I will make a new post about those.

Must have:
– First aid kit
– Fire extinguisher (not in Poland)
– reflective safety vests
– reflectorised triangle

Other things to check and good to have greencard, car insurance + insurance for yourself.
In some countries there´s double or even triple deductible in case of damage or theft.
If you dont own your car (family car, owned by financing company etc.) you also need some kinda export licence.

In Finland, Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania you can use both studded and non-studded tyres.
Winter tires are not required by law but it is highly recommended to use winter tires in Poland.
The studded tires are strictly forbidden.
It´s recommended to carry snow chains when driving in Poland in winter condition, especially in mountainous areas.
Remember, however, that the use of snow chains is restricted only to roads with snow and/or ice cover.
If you are going to travel there during the winter double check the rules & periods.

Few other things
– bigger gas-stations have free wifi
– toilets can be found as well, but they are not always free- there´s someone to collect the money or it´s automatic. Again have small coins with you (fee could be anything from 0,10€ to 1€).
– 112 works everywhere in the Eu.
– If you are on a motorway there are roadside phones + emergency exits with usually the roadside markers to tell you in which directions is the nearest one.

I use my mobile´s internet on the road if there´s no wifi available. Usullay my phobe bill has been quite reasonable.
Past years it was more expensive in Poland and once Jani ended up having 50-60€ extra billing cos got email, a newsletter (from record company who didnt choose them then :D) and we thought it might be hotel that we tried to find but it wasnt -luckily he has employer-paid phone (thanx for being so fair Jartsa!).
After that happened I started to shut down all the needles apps, now I only have Chrome, Bank, Maps, Booking.com and Facebook (and now Instagram). That´s all u need hahahhaha

There are quite many gas-stations & other resting place on a roadside, sometimes it feels there are just one after another and then none.
We have had few so called ”close call situations” with gas, taking small(er) roads and noticing the low fuel level warning light is on & noticing there´s nothing but field both sides, no houses, no gas station sign on navigator, getting darken & realizing you forgot to fill up the auxiliary fuel tank.. That was somewhere in the middle of Lithuania (and we didnt learn the first time..)
If you´re just taking VB- then you´ll be fine.

Gas stations near border are more expensive for sure but gas is still cheaper than in Finland, last time it was just about 1€.
You can find there many Neste/Hesbruger combos, and yes, even though Hesburger is Finnish, we´ve eaten Hese-food, cos they´ve better burgers, but also size and price is better 😉

Hope this wasnt too long (am working on it) and can give some help if you are planning a driving vacation through Baltic.
Dont be too scared to go. Just stay focused, keep calm, dont rush, sleep well.
After all road trips are the best, you get to see so much more, places you wouldnt get to visit otherwise.

And you have total freedom to choose where to go & when.
Plus you can buy as much as you want to – no need to weight your luggage the night before in panic!!

It feels like you would never get bored of this road, no matter how many times you go!
Just seeing those familiar places makes me smile!
I love going back to places where I have spent a lot of time in the past.
And I always find something new from each places.
Been to many cities and I have to make own posts about those- cos this one is super long already!!

PS
We´re planning to visit Lake Balaton this summer, we have already booked a place to stay for one week & those other 2 weeks- who knows!
Havent made any plans yet & that´s the best way to travel.
Last year we ended up to Maribor, Slovenia and that was amazing!
So I hope after September I get to tell you how are the roads & traffic there now, has there been many changes in one year?!

PPS
I will look for better traffic pics, these looks kinda lame 😀

PPS
Just a quick note:
I just want to make sure, we go there safely, we go along the traffic, sometimes might do little speeding but nothing much/bad, we might have helped some ppl as well but not those who go over speeding and can cause problems.
If you havent been there, keep your opinions till you´ve been where we´ve been 😉

A quick list

I try to post about the places I have been to asap but no promises 😀
Just a quick list for those who are planing to visit the same places & might need some help – feel free to ask, por favore, I´ll do my best to answer 😉

So the quick list by car many times & almost all around

– Latvia
– Lithuania
– Poland
– Slovakia
– Czech Rep. (only a day, drive through so that´s not that well known)
– Hungary

By plane – but also took a local bus and door to door there…
– Serbia
– Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIH)

By ferry to St.Petersburg, Russia
also those well known Stockholm, Sweden & Tallinn, Estonia trips LOL

Other trips than day cruises
– Germany
– Greece
– Turkey
–  France
– The States
– Sweden

Of course I might have some tips travelling in Finlandia… 😉
And not to forget KHL games!! Esp. Riga!!

7

5

6

3

4

1

2