Cycling 3,800km on your own around the Baltic Sea wouldn’t be most people’s idea of a dream holiday. But that’s exactly what travel author Jennifer Tough did. And she’s written about her adventures in her book, Keep The Sea To The Right.
I spoke to Jenny about why she decided to make that particular trip. Jenny said she was “having one of those moments” when she wanted a cycling adventure and came upon a map of the Baltic region. “I’d never been anywhere on that route,” she said adding that she slowly became obsessed with making the trip. “You know when you decide your life isn’t complete if you haven’t done something,” joked Jenny.
Jenny started her journey in Copenhagen, taking in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States and Poland. But it was Russia that surprised her the most.
She said she did a lot of research about the country on the cycle forums and didn’t get a good view before she left. “The impression I got from the internet is that the roads would crumble under my tyres because the infrastructure is so poor, and then someone would steal my bike and throw a bottle of vodka at me! But for the most part I had a really great time. People were really lovely.”
But not everything in Russia was like that. She says the motorway was “definitely terrifying” because there was no safety from the passing cars. “I though it would be the last thing I did,” said Jenny.
One country on Jenny’s Baltic tour left a lasting impression on her. “Estonia blew me away,” said Jenny. She told me the cycling infrastructure was excellent and some of the campsites she stayed at were “stunning.” She also raved about Estonia’s beautiful old capital, Tallinn.
In fact, she said she was having so much fun in the country that she decided to tag on an extra adventure to her journey – out to three islands in the Estonian archipelago. Jenny said they were shut off to everyone during the Cold War so Estonians themselves are just discovering them.
Jenny’s top tip for anyone considering a similar solo adventure is to “just go.” She said you’ll read lots of negative things on the internet, but while you should always be careful, it’s really not that bad out there. “People will always look after you. You’ll regret it much more if you don’t go,” says Jenny.
You can read more about Jenny’s travels in her book, Keep The Sea To The Right.