Nothing is waterproof…
Day 41 – Sunday 4th of August – Narvik to 10 km east of Mo i Rana (445km)
…if it rains hard and long enough. The sound of rain woke me up this morning, as Alf was coming down from his room and we both realized we were a bit hung over. The cup of wine had turned into two bottles that we drank with Bjorn as we enjoyed what they said was a very rare warm night out in the terrace. Wanting to make the best of the good weather, Alf got the barbecue going and we had some midnight grilled meat, which tasted wonderful. Then the wine gave way to home-made spirit, what they call moonshine, and then at about 1 am, as the day was starting again, a fine drizzle started to fall, so we moved the party inside until about 5 am. I had a great time with Alf an Bjorn, and discovered some excellent new music.
Alf offered me to stay for one more day, and I was very tempted to do so as the rain was quite hard that morning and I did not fancy another long ride in it, because that would mean having to pay for accommodation at the end of the day to dry all the gear before going on, and prices were just too high. We checked the weather forecast and it seemed that it would not last long, the sun was supposed to come out in the afternoon and there was no rain in Mo i Rana, 400km to the south, so I decided wait for a while and then go. We watched a couple of episodes of a comedy I did not know, called Better Off Ted, which I really liked. I will download it when I get back home. (Do not download things kids, it is illegal, buy the DVDs)
At midday I loaded the bike and set off under the rain, expecting it to clear soon. 80km further south, it was still raining hard, and I pictured the weather service offices that morning – two meteorologists sitting in front of a computer, writing the forecast for the day, and one asks the other ‘what do you think the weather is going to be like today?’ and he replies ‘I have absolutely no clue’, so the first one says ‘right, I’ll just put in the sun-cloud-rain icon, one of the three is bound to be right’.
So as I came to the first ferry crossing of my trip in Norway I wondered how long I would have to wait under the rain for the ferry to turn up. I was happy to see it coming as I stopped at the ramp behind only two other cars, and I thought that it would not take long. Sure enough, it docked, the cars rolled off and a guy approached us with a credit card terminal in his hand to charge us for the crossing. It was almost 8€ and there was no choice but to pay it, as the road ended there. As he walked to two other cars that had arrived in the meantime, I put on the gloves again, ready to board, but to my dismay, nothing happened. It seemed that the ferry was going to wait until there were enough cars to fill it up before sailing off, and with quite thin traffic that morning, I had to wait for half an hour in the rain. Great.
We were finally allowed onto it, and I parked the bike at the front. For safety reasons, passengers were not allowed on the car deck during the crossing, so I went down to the lower deck, were there were some benches and tables, hoping the sea would not be too rough, as I did not like the idea of the bike falling on its side again, especially on the hard metal deck. I walked into the passenger deck with my suit dripping with water and people looking at me with funny faces, found a quiet corner in front of an old lady knitting and had lunch, taking the opportunity of being in a warm, dry place. Just as I finished and packed the food again, people started getting up and going back to their cars, we were on the other side of the fjord. I went up, put on the helmet and the wet gloves again and rode off the ferry. To my surprise, the weather had improved in the 20 minutes the crossing had lasted, it was still very cloudy, but it did no rain anymore. My suit was soaked, but the waterproof layer was doing its job well and I was dry and comfortable, but the same could not be said of my gloves. They were supposed to be waterproof, but in less than an hour the water had soaked through. I turned the heated grips to the max to keep my hands warm and hoped the sun would come out soon.
It did not until I was practically done with the day’s riding, past Mo i Rana and near the Swedish border, where I stopped for the night. I only stopped once for fuel and once at the point at which I left the Arctic Circle, where there was a monument and a souvenir shop. I was about to get a wristband, but the print on them was really bad quality and they were ridiculously overpriced, so I just took a few pictures, talked to a guy who was on his way north from Germany on a Harley and rode on.
I had seen on the map that Sweden was only a few kilometers away from Mo i Rana, so I decided to cross the border and maybe find a campsite instead of camping in the wild, as prices were bound to be more reasonable than in Norway, where you had to pay a minimum of 20€ just to set up the tent, and they charged extra for using the Internet… In the end though, the sun came out and the clouds all but disappeared from the sky, and the area near the border was so nice that I just decided to find a good spot and camp. I found a picnic area that was away from the road, by a small pond, and I set camp there for the night.
Day 42 – Monday 5th of August – 10km east of Mo i Rana to Umeå (506km)
I wanted to do a bit of cleaning and greasing on the chain again this morning, as it was still making some noise I did not like, and I thought I would take my time after I woke up. It was cloudy, but there did not seem to be any rain coming, so I packed my stuff first and then did the chain, just in case. It was a wise decision, a while later, while I was having some breakfast, it started to rain. Fortunately this time it did not last long, and a few kilometers later I had to stop to take off some layers as it was getting quite hot.
The landscape was beautiful, and since my host in Umeå was working until 5 pm, I took my time to get there, stopping to take some pictures and even taking a little detour to do a bit of offroading and exploring the forest tracks.
I stopped to have lunch at a very nice picnic area with what might possibly be the cutest toilet I have seen so far on this trip, and at 7 pm I arrived at my destination, after one last stop to fill up the tank and discover that prices were back to reasonable. That is one thing I will not miss about Norway.
Lena, my host, was really nice and we got on well quickly. She offered me some coffee and she recommended some places to visit the following day, as well as a place nearby where I could hire a space to service the motorbike myself and save some money.
Day 43 – Tuesday 6th of August – Umeå (0km)
In the morning I walked to the petrol station where Lena had told me I would probably able to service the motorbike myself to find out whether it was possible and how it worked, I was carrying all the tools and spares I needed except for the oil, since I was originally planning to service the bike myself in the middle of nowhere, and now, despite the fact that it would be easy and convenient to find a workshop, I wanted to do it myself so as to save some much-needed money, but the main problem was to dispose of the used oil properly, I did not want to dump it in the middle of the Swedish countryside.
When I got to the petrol station I saw a building with six garage doors behind it, a couple of them open, one with a man pressure washing his car and another with a car on a hydraulic lift and two men working under it, so I thought that must be it. I went into the petrol station to ask and they told me that the garages were rented by the minute, and they had oil disposal facilities, as well as pressure water and air. This was, after all, the country who had given the world Ikea, and DIY is a big thing here. You can rent tools or space to do anything you can imagine yourself. They gave me the keys to number 2, but there was a problem with oil buckets, they were designed to be placed under a car that had been put on a lift, and so there was no way to put one under the bike, and it would be useless to put the bike on a lift as the sump is in the middle longitudinally, not laterally. The young man from the petrol station went off to try and find a solution and shortly after he came back with an old bucket that he cut in half to make it fit under the bike. Nice!
I spend all morning there, as not only did I have to change the oil but also the air filter, and that meant removing the petrol tank. This is one of the things I do not like about the V-Strom and definitely something I will take into account when the time comes to replace it – there is too much plastic on the bike, and it takes forever to remove it when it is time to service it.
When I had finished, I cleaned the bike, which I had not done since Astrakhan and the poor thing was covered in several layers of dust, mud, insects and bits of plants. In the end it cost only 88€, including the price of the oil, a set of fuses and a pair of plastic gloves I bought. Not bad.
I took the bike back to Lena’s apartment and then went off to visit some of the things she had recommended in the city. Just past the petrol station there was a small hill covered in forest, and she had told me that there was an open air museum with traditional Swedish farmhouses and also Sami camps, which had been taken from all over the country and brought here.
It was a very interesting visit, there were traditional farmhouses, barns, stables, storehouses, a windmill and three Sami camps, all original buildings.
Explanations were given in three languages, including English, and there was also a very clever system of audio guides. From time to time you could find a round metal device mounted on a pole with a handle that you had to crank for about 20 seconds; that generated enough electricity for the device to play an explanation. No electrical wiring needed, no batteries to be charged, no audio sets that might get stolen, no staff to distribute them. Very practical for an outdoor exhibit.
After that I walked down into town and wandered around until I found the river, and by the river, the modern arts museum which Lena had also recommended. It was a new building, very Scandinavian in style – wood and glass on the outside, white walls and open spaces on the inside, very nice. There were six floors and as with the open air museum on the hill, everything was free.
When I was about to finish the last floor, Lena sent me a text message inviting me to a concert that was going to take place that evening on the beach. It sounded like a great plan, so I went back to the apartment, where I met a colleague of hers from Umeå University, a woman from Colombia who had been living in Sweden for more than 20 years and was working in the Spanish department. She drove us to the beach where the concert was taking place, and we found a nice spot to lay down some blankets and sit on the sand. There was quite a lot of people of all ages, sitting on blankets or on picnic chairs, and the atmosphere was very nice. It was a sort of music festival, and we saw several bands with styles ranging from folk to jazz , including rock music and covers.
We got back home at about 11 pm, and had a coffee before going to bed. The coffee turned into a long conversation about politics, clichés, the EU, teaching, and all other kinds of interesting matters, and we ended up going to bed quite late. As Lena had to work early the following day, we said goodbye before going to bed and I thanked her for her hospitality.
In the end I had decided to go down the Swedish cost to Stockholm and cross into Finland from there for several reasons – it was not as expensive as I thought, and I could still travel within budget, I had been told that the landscape on the coast was very nice, and I wanted to have some days to have the chain checked at a bike workshop, as it was still making some noise despite my cleaning and greasing it regularly.
Rain and earplugs
Day 44 – Wednesday 7th of August – Umeå to Tronboholmen (370km)
I have come to the conclusion that it only rains when I decide to camp. Today I just rode until I got tired and the looked for a campsite; I would have free camped, but I had not had time to look at my stove and I wanted to have something hot for dinner, so after less than 400km I stopped. It seems that I am getting tired faster after so long on the road.
I followed indications to a campsite by a lake, the place looked quite nice, the price was reasonable and they had wifi in the bar, so I decided to spend the night there. I set up the tent and then went for swim in the lake, as the afternoon was warm and sunny, and sure enough, after spending ten minutes in the water, black clouds came out of nowhere, there was lightning and rolling thunder and started to pour down. I retreated into my tent and spent about an hour reading, waiting for the storm to pass. Once it was over, I had a shower and then, fancying a cold beer while I updated the blog, went to the bar.
When I got there I saw that they were setting up a small stage for a concert and the entrance to the bar from the campsite was blocked by a metal fence. I walked around to the main entrance and when I tried to get into the bar, they told me I had to pay 100 kr for the entrance. Well, that was wonderful, I was not going to spend that money, and that meant that I was not getting part of the services I had paid for, which was annoying. I cooked dinner and then sat down to write for a while before getting into the tent early, I did not want to get up late the following day as I would try to find a place to service the bike before going to the hostel I had booked.
I was in the tent, watching a film when I heard some noise outside. I was alone in the tent area, far from the cabins and the campervans, so I was expecting to be able to get some good sleep. I peered outside the tent and saw, to my horror, a coach unloading teenagers carrying tents and guitars. By the time I had finished watching the film, they had a fire going and where singing, so there was no sleeping for me… Fortunately, I had brought some earplugs, I put them on and they made a world of difference.
Day 45 – Thursday 8th of August – Tronboholmen to Stockholm (370km)
As I was falling asleep the previous night, hearing the faint sound of singing teenagers through the earplugs, I thought that I would get up early, pack things and then fire up the engine and let it run for a while, just to wake them up before leaving. When I woke up it was raining again, so I had to wait and wait until it stopped at about 10 am and when I stepped out of the tent, there was no trace of the teenagers.
I got the tent dry enough to pack it and left for Stockholm after programming in the GPS the addresses of two bike shops that were listed as Suzuki dealers. I got to the first one, which was on my way into the city, at about 3 pm, it was an enormous place, with lots of other brands as well as Suzuki. I walked into the workshop and told the guy there about the noise the chain was making, and after checking it he said that it was completely worn and needed replacing. I had also decided to replace the back tire, it still had some thread on it, but definitely not enough to last all the way back to Barcelona, and even less so with a passenger. They checked and they had a Metzeler in stock, as well as a chain and sprockets kit for the V-Strom, which meant that I could get everything done before heading to Helsinki. I told them I would come back the following morning to get it done, but the mechanic said he would be too busy and told me to come back in an hour and a half, so I went to the hostel, dropped my bags, met a Canadian guy called Andrew who was staying in my room and rode back to the workshop.
I have now ridden in lots of different countries, and if you asked me about the best and the worst drivers, I could probably give you a pretty accurate answer, albeit probably a surprising one. I was expecting Swedish drivers to be one of the best, but it turns out they are not. Sure, they obey traffic signs and they stick to the speed limits as if their lives depended on them but that does not make them safe drivers. If I had to choose the best drivers of all I have seen, that would be the Italians. Now, this might surprise a lot of people, but let me explain. It is true that Italians drive fast, very fast, and also aggressively, but contrary to what most people believe, it is not speed that is dangerous. In good roads, with good weather and a good car, you can go fast and it is perfectly safe. No, it is not the speed that is important to safety, what really is important is being aware of what is happening around your car. All around it, in front, sides and back, and the Italians do, they know what is going on around their cars and drive accordingly. Swedes, however, do not. They keep their eyes straight ahead, too busy reading speed limit signs and talking on their mobile phones to notice anything around them, happily sitting in the middle or outer lane while there are faster cars behind them, causing tremendous traffic jams in the way into the capital.
To make matters worse, by the time they were done with my bike and it was time to go back to the hostel, it was pouring down again, and I got there with suit completely wet, dripping all over the place.
The whole thing had cost quite a lot of money, but it had to be done… Now the bike was ready for the last part of the trip.
Day 46 – Friday 9th of August – Stockholm (0km)
Crooford Place is the name of the hostel I was staying in, and it was the best hostel I had found on this trip. It was the last floor in a building that used to be a hospital, the other floors having been taken by an IT college from Stockholm University and a secondary school, so the place and the facilities it offered were more or less in line with many other hostels, what made my stay there so enjoyable was the people I met there.
Andrew, the Canadian guy I mentioned on the last post, was really nice and before I left in the morning to explore the city, we agreed to meet at the hostel later that evening and go for a beer. I did some food shopping for the next few days and then took the underground to the docks to find out where the ferry terminal was and what I had to do to get my motorbike on board. The previous night I had bought a ticket online for Sunday, but all I got was a reference number, no instructions whatsoever, so I wanted to get that sorted out as the ferry was leaving at 7 am and boarding was at 6 am and I did not want to be riding around so early without knowing where I had to go. Once I had got all the information from a very nice lady at the terminal, I headed to Gamla Stan, the island where the old part of town is, and spent the whole morning walking around and taking pictures, getting lost in its streets.
After that, I crossed into a smaller island that used to be the base of the navy and today has been reconverted for city use.
On the other side of the island there lots of historical ships that had been bought and restored by private owners and were part of a conservation society.
The day was quite cloudy and it drizzled from time to time, so by mid-afternoon I decided to get back to the hostel and see if I could get the laundry done. The day before I had met Andrés, a Colombian guy who was part of the staff. He had originally gone to Spain, where he had worked at Sony for several years until the crisis hit and he was made redundant. I was very surprised to find out that he had been living in Santa Coloma, where I had lived for many years before leaving my parent’s home, and that he was able to speak very good Catalan. He was a really nice guy and told me that there was a laundry about ten streets from there that cost 150 kr, but he would do my laundry in the washing machine they had in the staff living quarters.
While the laundry was getting done, Andrew came back to the hostel and told me that he had recruited more people to go out that night, some British girls that had just finished highschool and where travelling around Northern Europe. Back in the room we shared with four other people it had stopped raining and the sun had come out, and we saw that there was a ladder right outside our window, so we decided to explore where that lead. I was no longer in Russia, where Health and Safety is virtually non-existent, but in the extensive set of rules we had been told when we got to the hostel there was nothing against climbing to the roof, so we went for it. The ladder went up a couple of meters and then connected to a narrow metal walkway that went up to the roof pinnacle. The sun was hiding behind the buildings and we had a beautiful view of the whole city, we just sat down for a while and enjoyed the moment.
Back into the hostel, we chatted to other hosts and met a 17-year old boy from London who was on an Interrail trip, a French jewellery designer, a couple of Italians, a couple of Dutchmen, the girls from London, and two Russian girls, all really nice and easy-going people, the kind that make the hostelling experience so nice.
At night we took the underground and went on a mission to find a bar with cheap beer, no easy task in Stockholm, but in the end we managed to find a decent place where we stayed until they closed down, a bit too early, as we were having good fun. We decided to walk back to the hostel to save the underground ticket, one of the girls had a sore foot, but she had had enough beer to decide that walking back was a good idea.
Day 47 – Saturday 10th of August – Stockholm (0km)
One curious thing I noticed for the first time when I was living in the UK and that has been confirmed the further east and north I have been on this trip, is that in countries with bad or cold weather, people know how to make the most of sunny days much better than we do in Spain. We probably just take the good weather for granted and if we do not do something outdoors today, there will be plenty of time tomorrow or the next day, and it will surely be sunny. In cold countries, a sunny day, the summer, are an event, and you do not just let it escape.
So today, Andrés, the Colombian guy, had organized a barbecue for everybody in the hostel, which was very nice, as it was a very good way to help everybody there to socialize.
The day was just glorious, and I spent all of it walking around the city before going back and doing some shopping with Andrew.
We got burgers, hot dogs and beer, and when we came back to the hostel Andrés already had the grill going and people were gathering in the terrace. Everybody brought their own food and most people had something to share, Cedric, the French guy, had prepared a Thai soup that was delicious, and the Dutch guys had a bucket of ice-cream for dessert.
We had a great time and stayed out there until well after dark, when it started to get a bit cold and we moved the party indoors. By then most people had left to the center, as it was Saturday, and I spend a bit longer with Andrés and a couple of other guys in the kitchen before calling it a night, I had to wake up at 5 am to get the ferry the following morning.
The Baltic Princess
Day 48 – Sunday 11th of August – Stockholm to Turku (247km – by ferry)
I had barely slept 4 hours by the time the alarm clock rang at 5 am, but I had 11 hours of ferry crossing ahead of me, so I thought that aside from catching up on the blog, I would also catch up on some sleep. I finished packing the few things I had not packed the night before as quietly as I could to try not to wake anybody up and as I was gathering my things, I found a very nice goodbye note from Andrew. There was nobody awake in the hostel, so I had a cup of coffee on my own in the kitchen and then rode the bike on deserted streets to the ferry terminal, ready to board the Baltic Princess just past 6 am.
The sun was already up and there were no clouds in the sky, the perfect day to spend on the deck of a ship. The good thing about being on a motorbike is that they board you first, so I had barely got to the queue when I was told to skip to the front next to a Russian biker, and we were among the first vehicles on board.
I left the motorbike a bit worried about it falling over if the sea was rough and went up to find a good place to seat. To my dismay, there was no sitting area, and as I had booked no cabin, it meant that I was not going to get any sleep. The only place where I could seat was the top deck, but fortunately the weather was very good, so it was not a problem. At 7:10, right on time, the ship started to move and we started the 11-hour crossing.
One hour into it I was already tremendously bored, and wondered what on Earth people found so great about going on a cruise. Writing for the blog and reading my book killed a few hours, but in the end what really saved me was discovering that there was WiFi connection, a very poor one, but enough to connect to Whatsapp and be able to catch up my loved ones. Spending the day on the road or socializing with people in hostel or hosts from CouchSurf does not leave much time left to chat with people online.
By noon, the ferry called at Aland, a big island between Sweden and Finland, and from the top deck I heard the rumbling sound of Harleys. I got up to see what was waiting to board and saw a big group of bikes on the harbor. It was the Turku MC, who had spent the weekend in Aland and were heading back home.
The rest of the day went by faster than I expected, and by the time the ship was approaching Helsinki, I was surprised to have had such a nice time on board. The sea had been very calm, so I did not get any motion sickness, despite the fact that I spent a lot of time staring at the computer screen, and we had not spent that much time in the open sea anyways, about two thirds of the trip had been among small islands on the coasts of Sweden, Aland and Finland.
Half an hour before docking all drivers were called down to the car deck, and when the doors started to open, about 40 Harleys started their engines at the same time. The resulting thunder reverberated in the cavernous car deck, setting off the alarms of every single car sitting there, it was madness.
I got to the hostel in only ten minutes, and since it was already late and Turku was a small residential city, with not much to see, had a shower and just went to bed, happy to think that the following afternoon I would be picking up my girlfriend from Helsinki airport.
A happy reunion
Day 49 – Monday 12th of August – Turku to Helsinki (302km)
There were only 155km, not 302 between my hostel in Turku and the one we had booked in Helsinki, but I had to check out from the former at 10 am and could not check in in the latter until 3 pm. Rather than get there three hours early and have to wait at the door or a café nearby, as I was not going to go sightseeing around the city in full motorbike gear, I decided to take the scenic route and follow all the smallest roads I could find along the coast. The problem was that it was raining very hard, but once you are wet, it does not matter whether you spend one or three extra hours on the road, so I went for it.
Luckily, the rain stopped in about an hour, just as I left the main road and started following a smaller one down to the coast. I took what was called The King’s Road, an old mailing road from the 14th Century that went from Bergen, in Norway, to Vyborg, in Russia. The sun came out, the roads were dry and I found a gorgeous route along the coast that more than made up for the morning rain. If any of the bikers reading this are planning to travel to Finland one day, make sure you visit this bit of road.
I got to Helsinki at 3 pm sharp, and checked in at the hostel. They had an underground car park that cost 17€ a day, but the very, very nice girl at reception told me that since it was a motorbike, I could park it anywhere close to a wall as long as it did not take space in car lots and gave me the keys. My girlfriend’s flight was landing at 5 pm, so I had just the time to do some shopping for dinner and find a place to exchange money – some of the borders I had crossed had no exchange offices, on other occasions I was too much in a hurry to look for one, and I had accumulated currency from Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan and Norway I needed to change, as well as some US dollars I was carrying in case of an emergency that I was no longer going to need. I was surprised to find that once I had exchanged all that back to euros, I had a nice extra bit of money I was not counting on.
At half past five, I got to the airport and found my girlfriend already waiting for me. It had been a month and a half since I had last seen her, and although travelling alone had not meant being lonely, as I had met a lot of wonderful people on my way, I had missed her a lot, and I was very happy that my change of route after the incident with the rim meant that we could get to spend more time together on holiday than we had originally thought. My trip so far had been quite an adventure, but I would not really call it a holiday, as it had been physically and mentally exhausting, and I had the feeling that now my real holidays were about to begin.
She had been in Helsinki twice already, so for the rest of my day she was my guide, and we visited the old part of town, which was beautiful. It was not raining, but the city had that very special light you only get to see when the sky is covered in really dark clouds but the sun has already started to go down and it shines under the clouds, lighting everything against the dark sky.
Back in the hostel, we redistributed all the luggage to make the best of the available space to get ready to hit the road for the last part of my trip – the following day we were going to take the ferry and cross to Tallinn, Estonia, to visit the Baltic States.
Rain in the Baltic
Day 50 – Tuesday 13th of August – Helsinki to Tallinn (86km – by ferry)
This was going to be my girlfriend’s first long trip on the motorbike, or for that matter, her very first trip on a motorbike, and crossing Europe from north to south was quite a bit like throwing her at the deep end of the pool with no warning. It was going to be a make or break trip, so I was hoping for good weather, even though I was not exactly optimistic about the dark clouds we had seen the day before.
Sure enough, as we rode out of the hostel and into heavy traffic, it started to rain. There was a huge traffic jam on the way to the ferry terminal, and what had to be a ten-minute ride was taking so long that I was afraid we would miss the ferry. If I had been in Russia, I would just have ridden onto the pavement and to hell with it, but we were in law-abiding Finland and there was no space to filter between cars, so I just had to inch forward patiently just like everybody else. In the end we made it to the terminal just in time to board and park the bike in front of a lorry. The rain was getting heavier and this crossing was on open sea, unlike the one from Stockholm, so I asked for some straps and tied the bike down just in case.
By the time we got to the top deck and the ferry was leaving, the rain was pouring down and there was a gale force wind. Fortunately, this ship had a bigger covered area on the top deck, so we were sheltered from the rain despite not having a cabin.
In less than three hours we were riding off the ferry in lighter rain and quickly found the hostel in Tallinn, right in front of one of the gates in the old town walls.There was parking space right on the door, and as it was just the bike, they did not charge us for it.
We dropped our bags and just as the rain had stopped, went to explore the old town. Unlike other European cities which are popular tourist destinations, I did not know anybody who had been here before, so I did not know what to expect of the city nor the country. Being an ex-soviet republic, I was expecting something quite gray, Russian-style, but it turned out to be a beautiful, city – the old town was charming, narrow winding medieval streets on a hill with views to a nice, modern, taken care of city.
We spent the afternoon walking around and then headed for a pub to have a pint of the local black beer, which was delicious.
Before going back to the hostel, we did some shopping (including superglue to repair my sandals) and then looked for a cheap place to have dinner out. This was a luxury I had not been able to afford since Russia, since prices in Scandinavian countries were ridiculously high, so it was a pleasure to find a cozy place where we had dumplings, salad, chicken Kiev, a pint of beer and dessert for 7€. I love Eastern Europe.