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It all started with my old GDR “Schwalbe” moped from 1984


It all started with my old GDR “Schwalbe” moped from 1984 made in eastern Germany, which I ownfor over 10 years and decided to restore the motor and basicallyeverything underneath the hood. A perfectly smooth running moped andafter being stored in the garage for almost 2 years, I decided tomake a bigger tour with my old friend. So I started planning and cameup with the idea to go around the Baltic Sea, a new territory for mybike and me.

I finally got the opportunity to take some time off and get everything ready. 5000km with 3.6 horse power around the Baltic Sea. Alone. Started in Magdeburg, Germany, my hometown and headed straight north. The first couple of kilometers were horrible. I listened to the engine and thought that every minute something is breaking and I’m only making a few kilometers. But everything went fine. 250km and 8 hours later I arrived at my firststop in Kakeldütt (which is a hilarious name in German). Pitched the tent within 2 minutes, sat down by the lake, opened a beer and enjoyed the night.

The next big step: Taking the ferryfrom Rostock to Trelleborg, Sweden. There I have made friends with some Harley Riders, who accepted me instantly after seeing my vintage moped. Sweden was the second of seven countries on my route. Especially for Scandinavia I brought a foldable fishing rod and onthe second evening, when I caught a nice pike, it already paid off.

I kept driving on my little moped and passed through a lot of interesting places. Mostly because I wasn’t allowed to use the highway, so I had to zigzag my way north. Usually I stayed on campgrounds to meet people and enjoy the summer nights outdoors. The people I met during my trip are amazing. They took me fishing, invited me to their homes and shared delicious food with me. Sweden impressed me thoroughly, not only the landscape but also the people. Actually, I arrived in Stockholm after the first 1000km and I couldn’t believe it. My old moped and me in Stockholm! Fantastic!

After almost a week of riding I slept the first night under a real roof again. I stayed at a friends house. He and his girlfriend showed me around and took good care of me. When I left Stockholm, Sweden really showed its length. I rode for days through forests and on dirt roads, not seeing a person for hours and just waiting for something to happen.

When the sun began to shine the whole day, bad weather came in temperatures dropped and I was freezing on my moped. After checking the forecast for the north of Sweden Idecided to take a shortcut of 5 days and take the ferry from Umeå to Vaasa, Finland. I arrived there about 30 minutes to midnight. The sun was still shining and created a beautiful 4 hour sunset-atmosphere. It was just incredible and I stayed up watching the water and taking it all in.

It was one of these moments that made a really deep impression on me. The next day it started to rain and strong winds made my slow moped even slower. Going just 35 km/h I thought I have time to understand these complicated city names but there was no way I could even pronounce a name like „Kristiinankaupunki“.

In hope of warm weather I headed straight to Helsinki. In between I stayed at a nice empty campground until a big gang of bikers showed up. I was not sure what was going to happen but after seeing the tent, my moped and me, they started laughing and couldn’t believe that I came all the way from Germany. At the evening I ended up with 50 Finish bikers drinking overpriced beer and singing karaoke poorly.

From Helsinki I took the ferry to Tallinn, Estland. I did not have a visa for Russia, which meant several detours. The warm summer was back and the ride through Estland was very smooth. I enjoyed the nice eastern European charmand stayed on a campground, where nobody except the owner was.

The next day I already headed to Rigain, Latvia. It started to rain really really hard and I rode for hours next to the baltic sea suffering … After being soaking wet I need some regeneration and therefore I got a room in Riga. It was weird to stay inside at night. I really liked being outdoors and having open space around me.

On my way to Poland I drove through Lithuania and stopped at the “Hill of Crosses”. As the name says,it was literally a small hill full of wooden crosses and sepulchers. That day rain showers made a dramatic skyline and because of that Imade a lot of stops.

After Estonia I basically rode exactlyon the border between Lithuania and the enclave Kaliningrad, Russia. I was very nervous not to cross into Russia because they are not joking about their borders. I passed a couple of military trucks andat one point I thought I made the wrong turn – luckily I didn’t.

In Poland I took a 2-day break in Masuria. My butt really hurt and I just couldn’t sit down anymore. I fished a little bit and enjoyed the stay. I couldn’t believe that my old moped didn’t had any trouble, even riding all these dirt roads wasn’t a problem. And those were exceptionally bad the last couple of days.

That probably explains my hurting back. One of the last days in Poland was anational holiday and the moment I arrived at the campground I was offered strong alcohol. It was a fun night with a big bonfire. The next morning I left early to avoid partying all day and staying another night there. Fun but intense people.

When I crossed the border into Germany I just could not believe it. My expectations of this trip were way different from what I experienced and in the end, reality was everything I could have wished for.”


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