After being on a few job assignments in Tallinn, Estonia I wanted to know the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) a bit more. I am a child of the cold war, born in 1953, and the Baltic countries were a long time parts of the USSR the Soviet Union and then they felt completely inaccessible. Now it´s about 25 years since that time and I know a lot has happened and I was very curious to see how it is. I sold the idea to my wife Brith, who drives a BMW R850R and our friends Krister (Honda Africa Twin) and Ewa (Suzuki Vstrom 650 ). I myself drive a Triumph Tiger 800. We have made a number of shorter trips together in Sweden, normally 4 5 days so we know we enjoy travelling together and when I brought up the idea they all immediately got enthusiastic. We live in Stockholm and the Baltic countries are easily accessible via more or less luxurious ferries so the easy way was to take the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn (Tallink Silja line, high standard). Homebound I wanted to try the ferry going from Ventspils (Latvia) to Nynäshamn (south of Stockholm) operated by Stena Line (basic standard, lorry freighter). We planned a nine- day trip starting Friday May 22<sup>nd</sup> and back in Sweden Sunday May 31<sup>st</sup>. We wanted to eat and sleep well so we booked hotels via the Internet. Especially we looked for ones with secure parking (gated and/ or monitored). Since Tallinn is so easily accessible we decided to skip it this time. So our rough plan was to stay in: Narva (close to the Russian border), Pärnu, Jurmala (close to Riga), Daugavpils (east Latvia), Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and finally the ferry from Ventspils. All in all about 2000 km:s. Day 1, May 22<sup>nd</sup>, Friday Stockholm to Tallinn. Planned distance 50 km. We set off on a Friday evening May 22<sup>nd</sup> from Stockholm. Many people go cruising to Tallinn over the weekend so that boat is a party- goers boat. You leave Stockholm at 18.00 CET (GMT+1) and arrive in Tallinn 10.00 EET (GMT+2). The boat goes through the archipelago, it takes several hours before it reaches open water. Several ferries goes to different destinations, the one ahead of us probably goes to Helsinki. You drive on- board together with lorries and cars and once you are onboard the crew tie your bike and make sure it does not move. They even put a rug in the seat to protect it! We let the panniers stay with the bikes and only carry a small soft bag with some clothes and night stuff up to the cabin. Day 2 May 23<sup>rd</sup>, Saturday Tallinn to Narva. Planned distance 250 km. Next morning we had breakfast onboard and then it was time to drive off the ferry. When departing Ewa and I was stopped by the police (random selection) and I had to show our passports and make a breath analyse test for alcohol. The regulations are very strict so the limit is close to zero. Of course we passed and could continue. Test like these are no big deal. In Sweden they are pretty frequent and even more when departing ferries like this. When arriving to Stockholm all lorry drivers have to make the test to get the port gate opened. I think it is a good idea too many people are killed by drunk drivers and on these ferries some people drink a lot. Anyway our general plan was to avoid large roads. The big road is road #1 from Tallinn to Narva. No curves motorway utterly boring. Instead we chose to go as close to the coastline as possible. The way out of Tallinn via Narva Maantee took us thru some suburbs followed by industry areas which had seen better days. We then had to go a short while on Road #1 before we could turn onto road 260. There we saw the first speed check by the police. In Estonia they are very strict and we saw numerous speed cameras and police and we had heard in advance that speeding I very expensive so we kept an eye on the speedometer the whole time. We passed Kolga, where we stopped and looked at an old mansion, to our disappointment it was more like a ruin. We had hoped we could get some refreshments but no luck there. We pushed on. Next stop was Võsu, a little village close to the coast. It is some kind of recreation spot with summerhouses, rather empty now before the season. In Võsu we found a restaurant, or maybe more of a bar where we got a good meal. They don´t make a lot of advertising, it looked closed, it was only because we asked a local and then saw some cars outside that we discovered it. Later on it was like this on several occasions. It looks closed until you enter. Inside it was warm and cosy, just what we needed. Not many guests but good food. The road went close to the coastline so we stopped and took a closer look. Finally we came to Narva. The roads had been good until we came to the city limit. The last kilometers we had had to go on road #1 and it was obvious there was a lot of heavy traffic in and out of Russia. Deep tracks and holes everywhere. Our hotel was very nice. I think it was rather newly renovated and it had a gated parking with video monitoring from the reception so our bikes were safe. Narva is on the border to Russia. On the left you have Russia, on the right Estonia. There are two old forts, one on each side. Ivangorod on the Russian side and Hermanni linnus with the white tower on the Estonian side. The Russian border control is on the left side of the bridge. You can see the cars waiting there. The Estonian (and EU) border control is a bit up on the right side, not seen in the picture. Narva was a place for a famous (in Sweden anyway..) battle with the Russians in 1700. The Swedes won that time but in 1709 at Poltava in nowadays Ucraine the Swedish luck turned. The battle of Poltava was lost and that was the beginnng of a retreat into the existing Swedish borders. A lot can be said about the history, I won´t bother you with that now, there has been a lot of fighting and bloodshed during the centurys. Let´s hope it stays peaceful as it is right now. This was the beginning of the trip, next post will be about the next part of our trip; Narva to Pärnu on the Estonian west coast.