24 June 2013

24 June 2013 Finland

I landed in Helsinki, Finland last Friday, June 21 from Lithuania and was picked up by my motorcycle friend, Heikki Mustonen.

I met Heikki and his wife Ulla on the Stahlratte boat trip from Colombia to Panama two years ago. 
Timo & Petra
Heikki took me to his brother's cottage near Joutsa, Finland, which is in central Finland. There I joined Timo, Sinikka, their daughter Petra and their two dogs to celebrate Midsummer eve, a very important holiday in Finland. Petra trains and competes with her two Kooikerhondje dogs, a small spaniel-type breed of dog of Dutch ancestry originally used as a working dog, particularly in duck hunting. They are very smart and friendly.

This is the summer solstice marking the the longest day and shortest night of the year. This holiday culminates in a large bonfire at midnight. It was preceded by everyone taking a sauna, an integral part of life in Finland. We also attended a flag raising ceremony at a local full time resident's gorgeous estate.

The next day, I was taken on a boat ride on one of the 187,888 lakes in Finland larger than 5 ares (500 square metres). We also rode in a Volkswagen Phaeton around central Finland.

Karelian Pasty
On Sunday, we drove to Turku, where Heikki and Ulla live in a very beautiful fifth floor flat ... that includes a sauna of course. Monday, went sightseering in the local área, explored going to St. Petersburg in Russia, which unfortunately will not happen, and were visited by Ulla's brother and sister-in-law. I got to eat Karelian pasty (karjalanpiirakka) is a traditional Finnish dish made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice with excellent Finnish chocolate for dessert. Tuesday we went to an extremely old catedral. I took the train to Helsinki on Wednesday and checked into the biggest hostel I have ever seen.

They tell me that the mosquitos are not bad this year, but I found them voracious. I guess the few lakes in Finland provide a breeding ground for them.

I am extremely fortunate to have such kind and welcoming friends to share their lives and culture with me. I apolojize for being so very poor at speaking the Finnish language.

20 June 2013

Arrival Klaipeda

This is my Lithuanian friend Minda, who had to wait several hours at the Palanga, Lithuania airport for me to arrive. I was late because of a "bird strike." Not long after we took off from Copenhagen, the small plane hit, or was hit by a bird which splattered all over the right cockpit window. Regulations require that we land, which we did by returning to Copenhagen. We received no announcement and the passengers wondered where we were. I was exhausted (more below) and had fallen asleep, even though I rarely sleep on planes, and also had no idea where we were. At first, I woke up, looked at my watch, and thought we had gotten to Palanga very quickly, forgetting that we had left late because we had no pilots. We were taken back to the terminal to await another plane because the first one had to be thoroughly inspected before it could be released to fly again. Subsequently, we ended up arriving in Lithuania three hours late. Better to be safe than sorry.
My troubles with starting out on what may turn out to be an 18-month trip, began in Detroit. The plane arrived late to Detroit and we ended up leaving an hour late. When I got to Newark, I had to run to try to get my connecting flight to Copenhagen. I had to leave one terminal and go to another one, which necessitated me going through security AGAIN. The security people had nobody else in line, but still took forever to check me over, even though my flight was waiting. By the time that I got to the gate, there was only five minutes left and they would not let me on. Soaked with sweat, and with a very sore foot, I left to find an airline agent to change my flight and give a hotel. It took me an hour to go back to the first terminal, try to get past security and find a United agent. Several security lines would not let me through without a boarding pass and since it was after midnight, there was nobody at the check-in counters. What to do? It is now one o'clock in the morning and I was seriously thinking that I would have to join the travelers trying to sleep on the seats with arms in between that do not allow you to stretch out.
I finally went down to the baggage área to see if I could roust someone from United. I located an agent who took a great deal of time to not only get me rebooked, but gave me vouchers for a nice hotel and meals. She tried to get me back on SAS to Copenhagen, but there was no room. Ultimatey, she put me on United to Ámsterdam where I transferred to a flight to Copenhagen, followed by the "bird stike" flight delay. 
I ended up losing my hotel reservation that I had prepaid for a place in Copenhagen, but it could have been much worse. It was my own fault that I arrived in Copenhagen exhausted as I spent the entire flight from the US to the Netherlands watching movies, instead of trying to sleep. I think I saw 4 or 5, but they all run together. 
I fly to see my friends, Heikki and Ulla in Finland tomorrow and look forward to seeing their country and going to Heikki's brother's house for the Midsummer Holiday.

15 June 2013

June, 2013 Update and Plans / Junio ​​de 2013 Update y Planes

I made another trip to South America and back from November 2012 to April of 2013. I again went on my now-sold DL650 WeeStrom (small V-Strom). The last significant event on this journey was a bad accident in Southern Colombia, where I got stitches for a cut my face and three fractures in my hand. I was lucky to only have these, relatively minor, injuries as it ended with a head-on collision with a truck after I was rear-ended by a large semi-trailer truck.

Pluses were: great visits with friends in Peru and Costa Rica, a GREAT twisty road with a friend in Ecuador that was my Christmas present and I had far fewer pólice stops/issues.
I met nice people and new friends everywhere, including/especially Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Mexico; some of whom I will see on this next trip.

Besides my accident, less wonderful experiences included: finding parts in Argentina, altitude sickness in Peru, and a lousy boat trip between Panama and Colombia.

In June, after visiting friends in Finland, I travel through Estonia, Latvia, then get my Suzuki DR650 motorcycle that was shipped to Lithuania. Then I ride through Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Solvenia, Italy, San Marino, France, Monaco, Spain, and Portugal, to Morocco in October to meet others to circumnavigate Africa. I will have been to 101 countries by then.

More updates to follow.

Hice otro viaje a América del Sur y vuelta desde noviembre de 2012 hasta abril de 2013. Fui otra vez en mi, ahora se vende DL650 WeeStrom (pequeño V-Strom). El último acontecimiento importante en este viaje fue un grave accidente en el sur de Colombia, donde conseguí puntitos para un corte mi cara tres fracturas en una mano. Tuve la suerte de tener sólo estas, relativamente menores, lesiones, ya que terminó con un choque de frente con un camión después de que me fui chocado por un camión semi-remolque.

Puntos positivos fueron: grandes visitas con amigos en Perú y Costa Rica, una carretera sinuosa GRAN with un amigo en Ecuador que fue mi regalo de Navidad y tenía muchas menos paradas / cuestiones policiales.

Conocí a gente agradable y nuevos amigos en todas partes, incluso / especialmente Argentina, Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Panamá, Costa Rica, El Salvador y México, algunos de los cuales voy a ver en el próximo viaje.

Además de mi accidente, menos maravillosas experiencias incluyen: la búsqueda de partes en Argentina, mal de altura en Perú, y un viaje en barco pésimo entre Panamá y Colombia.

En junio, después de visitar amigos en Finlandia, viajo a través de Estonia, Letonia, a continuación, obtener mi moto Suzuki DR650 que fue enviado a Lituania. Luego me paseo por Polonia, Alemania, República Checa, Eslovaquia, Hungría, Ucrania, Moldavia, Rumania, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Croacia, Eslovenia, Italia, San Marino, Francia, Mónaco, España, y Portugal, a Marruecos en octubre de satisfacer a otros a circunnavegar África. Yo he estado en 101 países para entonces.

Más cambios a seguir.