Welcome back to Europe !

posted in: Travel journal | 0

We know that the number of campsites in Russia are to count on one hand. Yet we read on the Internet, in St. Petersburg there are four campsites. While we where only 30 km away from Saint Petersburg city center, we spent the whole day in the car. We found them all and saw very different places, from an old soviet holiday campground to complete jungle with high grass. Whether we have become too spoiled: wild camping in a beautiful spot, no people around us, or maintained campsite with other campers. In any case, this does not fit our needs. So we decided to go for the famous camping Elizar in Sint Petersburg. According to the Internet the best place to sleep for campers. A place where you are standing in a parking lot of a hotel where you would be packed and where you would pay the most for a night. As we drive through the region, we see the beautiful surroundings of St. Petersburg. we drive through the city to arrive at camp Elizar. Indeed, as described above, so it is. Anyway, right in the center with other campers around us, we do not have to think long and we hit here too setup our camp.

The next day we get up early to visit the first highlights of Saint Petersburg. Before we get on the bus to get to the main street of St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt, we contact with the ‘holidays doctor’ for Linda. The healing of her ankle does not go as desired and we ask for advice. With the approval of the physician to see the city, but to sit for a coffee break, lunch and dinner with the foot high and cool, we go out to see the city.

We visit the highlights of Saint Petersburg between the raindrops. Very different from Moscow, but it has its own charms. With all the water and the bridges we can call the travel booklets right: The Venice from Russia. In the summer garden we eat an ice cream, walk over the many bridges, see the main square with the Hermitage and other beautiful buildings, lunch in style with Russian Dumplings and see the famous metrostations, what a beauty. We find a bar called KwakInn, a bar serving Belgian beers. Finally some Belgium beers after all the local beer! At last a ‘real’ beer! The owner, Vladimir, was in the pub and we had a small chat and we exchange our contactdetails.

St. Petersburg at night is beautiful. The buildings are beautifully illuminated and the bridges all have a different feel at night. We decide to come back the next night because the bridges will be open from 1:15 until 2:30 pm. Almost every night during the summer months the bridges open. Russians celebrate the dark days are over.
The next evening Vladimir by phone brings us to the nearest KwakInn bar at the bridges.
Then at 00:00 the sun goes down and we start our evening walk along the water to the bridges, which will open soon. As expected, we are not alone. It is quite a spectacle. It’s pretty dark, the illuminated bridges slowly open. We see the Troitsky bridge left and right the Palace Bridge. On the left side we see that it is dark and on the right the sun is already up again. Very special. If the bridges are closed again we are in the taxi going to our Jimny and we reach the roof tent in the morning light. Special experience light and dark look so close.

After four days of St. Petersburg, we are ready for Scandinavia! We decide to skip Helsinki, we are finished with visiting cities and look forward to nature.
It is June 14 and we drive to the border. There are two cars in front of us. We see on the faces of the Russian border guard that we will be checked extra. And like we expected, the two cars in front of us are allowed in to Finland. and we on the other hand spent some time at passport control and have all the stuff under the supervision of a male and female customs officer. All our gear needs to get out of the car. Linda can not help lug, because according to the woman is a man’s thing. Where at other border crossings we had to open our stuff ourselves and now the customs officials going through our stuff by them selves. Not a nice feeling, and after Linda makes clear that her underwear is a woman thing and the man cannot search it, they are ready and they give approval to pack up and go through to Finland. Joren grabs everything and we get in the car, a little cranky from the rude Russian border control. We drive 100 meters to the Finnish border. And what a nice experience. The Finnish customs officer asks how we are and if everything goes well with us after visiting Kazakhstan and Russia. Welcome back to Europe he says!

It felt a bit like coming home at that moment. 10 kilometers away there is a campsite waiting for us (read campsite in the sense of well-kept fields, clean bathrooms, hot water, other campers, people who can speak English, where you are allowed to make campfires and swim in the lake). After six weeks, with a occasional hotel, we enjoy the luxury. After a barbecue on the fire, we have a drink at the tent. A man drops by who seem to be a journalist. He liked our Jimny with roof tent so much and asks if he can take a picture. We chat about our trip and he leaves. The next morning, the campsite owner greet us waving with a newspaper in his hand, we got in the newspaper with in our Jimny roof tent. That is amazing, we are in the paper!

After two days of luxury we continue our journey. In late June we want to be at the North Cape. We drive a through a national park, with many lakes. What a beautiful scenery this! By chance we see two campers on a piece of land of a hotel. With the permission of the hotel owner we can stay the night as well. After breakfast at the campsite we meet Heikki. He is a fisherman by profession and importer of fishing equipment in Finland. He offers us join him on a boat ride, a offer we cannot turn off. Half an hour later we’re on a beautiful island and have a beer together. He tells they will go waterskiing with international friends. Not normal waterskiing that we are used to, but they have two small canoes / boats where you must step in, and you have to power ahead with two ski poles. With  this meeting, we are transformed into the Dutch National Team!
The next morning, Heikki is at 10:00 at our tent. Time to exercise because at 12.00 the game starts. While enjoying a beer, practice skiing our first meters on the lake. It becomes clear that this group of friends has been around for 25 years and every year the organize this ski race in a different country. Laughable they call it The World Championship of Summer Skiing and try to make the news every year. By 12:00 it is getting busier at the start and there arrive crazy dressed fans. The competition is just and primarily a reason to come together and celebrate with a drink. Despite the amount of drinks and socializing Joren qualify’s for the finals and ultimately end up 4th of 15. Linda did not join the race because of her ankle. At the price ceremony, Joren goes away with the 1st prize a handmade wooden cutting board, really nice. They like the fact he is the first Dutchman ever joining the race and appreciate his performance and is crowned Dutch national champion in Summer water skiing and it looks like we become part of the company Summer Ski Club.

We are invited by Heikki and his wife for dinner and party. We have a fantastic evening with karaoke and a real Finnish sauna. Heikki, thank you very much!
What troubled of the drinks we pack our stuff the next morning. Time to move on …

Joren and Linda

The photos are below

De gereden route, afstand: 1573 KM. Totaal gereden vanaf thuis: 10058 KM
De gereden route, afstand: 1573 KM. Totaal gereden vanaf thuis: 10058 KM

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