A late call in the evening and the ball got rolling. My buddy Manuel, with whom I already spent a legendary weekendtrip on our 80s Vespas, came around the corner with the following offer: “7,500 km in 16 days through 10 different countries around the entire Baltic Sea in a 20 year old car.” Wanna join me? “I did not think a long and agreed. A roadtrip of a very special kind was waiting for me, the Baltic Sea Circle Rally 2018.
No coffee ride with electric blanket, but pure adventure and deliberately out of the comfort zone. We swoped our smartphone against a wrench, the everyday office chair against the driver’s seat and the keyboard against the steering wheel. In advance, concepts were written, donations driven, sponsors requested and searching for an epic adventure car.
Germany / Hamburg:
After signing up at the head-quarter and receiving the roadbook, we studied the routes. The months of preparation were celebrated and the anticipation for the other teams was very great. Many people arrived at the start place, onlookers or former participants to say goodbye to the teams. The motorcade passed the start stage and was sent by BSC moderator “The Machine” with entertaining announcements in the outdoor experience deluxe.
We left Hamburg with a big shout out to devote ourselves to the first road book task of the day, the so-called Viking baptism. Sand from Denmark, a tree branch from Sweden, iron from Sweden and sea water from Sweden, no more and no less. We had the sand in our luggage and in the evening light we met the first like-minded people on the streets. In complete darkness we arrived in Ystad (in the south of Denmark). Almost canceled the mission, we finally spared the sign right at the beginning of our walk. Up the hill and around the stone. We made a photo and we were already Vikings.
We survived the first wild camping night very and dry and comfortable, by the way we have to say thanks to our top tent from Heimplanet. The Heimplanet tent makes the build -up the easiest thing in the world thanks to the air-filled pillars, our outdoor dome was up in a minute.
After a quick start in the morning we headed up to the car graveyard in Ryde to look for ABBA´s tour bus. A short time later we realized that there were two different villages in Sweden called Ryd. Spoiler. During a pitstop we met another team called Beardo, two smart dudes from Berlin. After a smalltalk with a Gude & Kehrwieder beer they clarified the situation with Ryd. We were one hour away from the correct Ryd, but it was not worth it to go back so far. We decided shortly to hit the road again together for getting ready for Germany’s first game of the soccer world championship. Two hours later we found this small harbor on the pretty nice Swedish lake called Vättern, getting ready for the world champion soccer game and a small BBQ.
The first half time were gone and the game wasn´t that very impressive. We enjoyed our cold beer and suddenly it started to rain. We packed all the stuff again and forced us back behind the engines to hit the road, this time to Örebro. We made a small break at a horsefarm to get the first photo for the mission in the road book. This small town was pretty nice and good for a first and maybe last hotel crash with a hot shower, before the temperature would degreed and we will get completely into the wildlife. At the Baltic Sea Circle Rally, the teams can complete tasks, for which you get points.
The sense of community is second to none. The teams drive for charity cause and it’s not about winners or winners. Horsepower and Teambuddy exchange were one of the first missions to be documented with a photo proof in the roadbook. The copilot exchange started with a small coffee break at a nice looking lake. Some passing maneuvers and a epic landscape views we managed this mission without significant game damages.
2 hours away from Östersund we passed a car with some girls shaking their hands and say hello. Our first car said into the walkie-talkie: Do they have a car breakdown? We all did a u-turn and get back to them. After checking the situation and some beers later we had some new trailers the team Life Nomadic. Our first wild forest camping spot waited for us. The fire burned and we cooked some Pasta in the midnight and get some sleep. After a first bright night and a morning shower from the top, it was a bit softened towards Östersund. Full of hope, Team Life Nomadic did the same to bring their Hyundai Galloper aka Belafonte to their nearest workshop.
After 45 minutes we heard another call for help. Seriously a total vehicle and engine breakdown. Belafonte acknowledged the ride with a smoldering engine and it was not possible to drive on. The rescuers in distress were immediately on the spot and let the imminent mission unceremoniously, in a good way the girls to 60 km away planned workshop to tow. After clarification of the situation on the spot, we made our way towards Norway, more precisely to a town called Mo I Rana. Washed out with all the rain the Swedish passed we crossed the border. The advanced time and the rather modest weather conditions forced us to look for accommodation in Mo I Rana.
With full batteries we hit the road again to Bognes to get the ferry to the Lofoten islands.
On the drive-by we passed the Artic Circle (66’33’N) and the temperatures dropped down constantly. We were now in Southern Lapland. The task of the day was to drive around 200km with the foul-smelling and fermented fish called “Surströmming”. We cancelled this task cause of some youtube-clips we saw before, where some guys puked in a lampshade. Arriving at the team gathering place, a huge bonfire awaits us with a leap into the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Circle Party with team challenges and all the other teams (who have made it so far ;-)) as well as a barbecue evening with the guys from Team Beardo.
The next few days we head to Nordkapp, the northern point in Europe with a stopover in Tromsø. In Tromsö, we had a fresh shower and a fine wooden house from a friend from home. With a tasteful Kehrwieder beer we talked about the good old time and as the beer already says ? we already planned the next big trip to Norway (Kehrwieder = Come back beer). A foggy early morning awaited us and with it the huge distance to the Nordkapp. Once there, the northernmost point of Europe was foggy and cold, which made a longer stay impossible. Without further ado we found three new teams, which also intent to travel to Russia with the next destination Murmansk. In the column we drove a huge kilometer and rushed through the Norwegian Lapp landscape. Drenching rain and squalls accompanied a short night that ended with an initially slightly disgruntled Norwegian landowner.
The good old man was very excited and brought out who is the boss. We reversed with a box of the best German craft beer and the old man who’s name is Helmer was the happiest guy on earth.
We also wanted to know what was going on behind the iron curtain and chose the route via Russia and not like many other teams over Finland.
In the run-up of the rally there were many statements about long waiting times at the border. Round about 4 hours have been predicted and we finally passed through after a random unpacking action and full GIN and TONIC gasoline reserve canisters within 1.5 hours completely. In Murmansk the day’s task was waiting for us again finding the first nuclear-powered Icebreaker with the ominous name Lenin and to getting behind it. In two days we drove to Saint Petersburg south on the E105. Cheap fuel, nice Russians and awesome landscape made the long distance on the well-developed roads enjoyable, to arrive at the end in Saint Petersburg, the so called Venice of the North.
Saint Petersburg is a big goal and our insider tip among the Russian big cities. If you like good food, affordable accommodation and nice people, this beautiful city with its canals, monumental buildings and bars it´s your first choice. The vibes on the streets were more than exuberant, which was certainly reasonable also the international audience and FIFA soccer world championship. Young girls on horses can be found here on city streets as well as over-engineered testosterone cars. In between there are still many beautiful old facades reminiscent of past glorious times.
St. Petersburg also does not sting with rivers and canals. Wherever there is water, there is always the possibility to explore its surroundings with a standup paddle board. Said and done. We went to the water and confined ourselves to the not so police controlled area outside the FIFA Fan Area and spent a good hour on the canals. Incidentally, we resided in the Tschaikowski House to recharge the Wildlife batteries. After two days of city break we went to Katharinen Palace (45 min away from St. Petersburg) for a cultural detour, where we visited the replica of the famous Amber Room.
At the border crossing from Russia to Estonia, a kilometer-long traffic jam awaits us. We used the long wait to prepare a fine Bolognes Pasta up on the hood of our Land Rover Defender. When we crossed the border into Estonia, the customs officer asked us: What happened to Germany at the World Soccer Games? At that time we did not know that Germany had been eliminated at the WM. Too bad guys. Back in the EU we first celebrated the uncomplicated border crossing and the mobile internet. The next stops went step-by-step through our young and small EU member states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and specifically towards Raudzilla, where the second team meeting was due.
At the party location we can expect Gallic village flair with jacuzzi and big wooden tipi tents. Unfortunately we arrived too late and what a pity. The next day we went to Tallinn, capital of Estonia. We strolled through the beautiful old town and it soon became clear to us why this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Living in Tallinn must be like lives the life of Riley, small enchanted alleys, old buildings and very nice Estonians people. In the summer outfit we made our way to a former prison, which flooded by the Soviets and now serves as a small clear-water lake. You can jump from the former prison buildings via ass bomb or tans in front of graffiti.
Lithuania | Latvia:
In panic I was awakened with the short info, it would rain right now. I jumped up and in record time our equipment was stowed in the Defender. Now we had enough time for a hearty breakfast with gale-force gusts under trees. Yesterday we enjoyed the Schmorrgulasch of the team Sons of Muspell and exchange the stories of the tour. The goal today was the Hill of Crosses, a place of pilgrimage in Lithuania. For this purpose, we built a wooden cross to make wishes come true.
So far, the border controls have gone really smoothly, so it was the Poles who broke our desire Defeated 2.5 hours took the border clearance with unpacking and car on the lift. Five border guards felt everything through what looked to be halfway suspicious. We think that they wanna see how cool a Land Rover Defender is and in the end they realised that we have a clean slate. Then we searched in vain for a sheltered place on the coast just before Gdansk. We also found it with two other teams. The penultimate day of our road trip had begun. In Gdansk we enjoyed a fresh coffee and put all the necessary information in our road book that will be handed over on the final day directly after passing the finish line in Hamburg.
With full power we drove in the direction to Germany and get a last wild camping spot on the water. In Wolin we found a sweet spot and crowned him with a campfire and a good tempered craft beer with two other BSC teams.
Back to Hamburg!
As soon as we arrived, we were already on the way to Hamburg to the finish-line at the fish market. One last hot dog tank stop in Poland and over to the promised land. Germany welcomed us with bad roads, traffic jams and bad mobile internet. Every Russian war-torn highway has less potholes and better cell phone reception.
Shortly before 17 o’clock the Defender rolled over the finish line and we greeted Hamburg with Kettcar’s song “Landungsbrücken raus”. The subsequent award ceremony impressed by “Maschines” moderation and deserved winners, who probably took one or the other downhill more and had 10,000 km on the speedometer. Now it’s back home to the beloved shower, Friends & Family. The mode change to everyday life will be difficult. In the morning we will drive into the forest for coffee, chop wood to make fire instead of the canteen, and make a campfire in the courtyard in the evening to snuggle up in the sleeping bag on the terrace, thinking of a better world. Perhaps we will also ask ourselves how we have mastered all this and that this is exactly the life we want to live.
It was an epic time and just the beginning of more i-Drive Adventures.
Thanks to the BSC Organisation team, all other teams and all our sponsors.
Over and out! Your i-Drive ADVENTURE Team
Collect moments, not things!
884 liters of diesel
32 liters of coffee