When it comes to ferries and boats in general, I’m a little torn apart. I like covering distances with a mode of transportation that actually makes you feel how far you go. But I am pretty sensitive and get motion sick easily. So, facing 30 hours on a ferry from Germany to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, caused quite a lot of excitement, and also made me visit a pharmacy to buy medicine against motion sickness. I was prepared!
I cycled to Travemünde in heavy rain and treated myself to a last guesthouse room, knowing that I would have to leave way before morning. But having a shower, taking a nap and also working a little, made it worthwhile. So, just before midnight I cycled the final kilometer from my guesthouse to the ferry terminal. As I was told on the ferry company‘s website I wore a bright neon colored vest, used head and rear lights on my bike. At the check-in kiosk I only had to show my national ID (I love traveling within the EU!). But the attendant handed me an information about the ship being delayed for several hours. Oh my! I passed a long line of cars, motorhomes and also huge trucks, and found other cyclists already waiting next to a crowd of motor cyclists. Not even an hour later a guy asked us to follow his car. We boarded the ferry first!
The „Finnlady“ was massive! We probably rolled 120 meters through her belly to a place where we could secure our bikes. I was impressed by the size of the boat.
I headed to the budget-friendly recliner seats-area. It turned out that only one other person booked that option. Awesome, it was a silent room with about 20 seats and enough space between a panoramic window and the first row of seats to roll out my sleeping bag on the carpet. Immediately I fell asleep. I woke up when the day broke and I realized we haven’t left the port yet. It would take until noon to leave. A strike of the port staff in Travemünde caused a delay of almost 9 hours. Finally, shortly before noon, I could feel the heavy machines starting to rumble and slowly we left the port. After I quenched my coffee thirst, I explored the boat: next time I will definitely bring my bathing suit – there is a spa area with a hot tub and, of course, as it is a ship cruising back and forth between Finland and Germany (although an Italien shipping company), a sauna. But what will remain from those 30 hours on the ferry are the conversations I had with my three fellow cyclists. A Finish physicist from Oulu, who quit his job, cycles all over Europe wearing his heavy denim jeans and an ordinary blouson jacket, and takes public transit whenever hills get too step. A Swiss guy who headed out on a three-month-long cycling adventure of his lifetime and who is not sure whether or not he can stand the solitude after having been accompanied by friends on most of his path through Germany. A German retiree who chose long distance cycling over his long-time marriage, and who has a sparklingly positive attitude, and despite his age looks upon the world in wonder and is not too withdrawn to share emotions. We shared wonderful thoughts and impressions and it reminded me of similar conversations I only experienced on long distance hiking trails so far. Too bad though that all three of us will head into different directions.
A couple of cups of coffee, beers, an awesome sunset over the Baltic Sea and a view over to the skyline of Tallin, the capitol of Estonia, later we finally approached the port of Helsinki.
I am excited, amazed and nervous all at once: cycling in Finland is a novelty for me and I wonder what awaits. Oh, the icing on the cake was the guy that also booked the recliner seat category: we got to talk and it turned out that he knows and listens to my long distance hiking podcast I’m hosting for half a year now. I am still beyond excitement! Yay!