Radtour Eiserner Vorhang Tour, Teil 2, Klaipeda-Gdingen
Dag/day 3: Svetlogorsk-Kaliningrad
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Erstellt am 18.05.2019
Gesamtlänge in km
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durch Ottocolor am 19.05.2019
Trackpoint-Dichte per km
городское поселение Светлогорск, Kaliningrad, RU (38 m NHN)
Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad, RU (19 m NHN)
Mix of sunny and cloudy weather. Still chilly. In the morning light winds, later freshing up from south and east, thus still a headwind.
Oktyabrskaya ulitsa, 4A
Today I chose to take a slow morning in Svetlogorsk and cycle to Kaliningrad only in the afternoon. I could manage do that if I cut the stage and skipped the amber town of Jantarnyj. Svetlogorsk had made such a favorable impression on me in yesterday's dusk that it deserved a look in clear daylight as well. In addition, the hotel had a wellness cellar included in the hotel price. With bathing gown and slippers. And since I had to check out only at noon, I could make it all. First breakfast in the hotel café, which has its own exit and access road from the road. I enjoyed the excellent selection of cold and warm dishes and ventured into the sunshine. Svetlogorsk means something like "the town of the light mountain". The cliffs must have given it its name, because there are no mountains. In German times, i.e. before 1946, it was called "Rauschen". On the main street, which is still named after the Soviet Union's "father" Lenin, the grannies were about to open the wooden stalls with souvenirs, primarily amber products. I paced past them and down to "The Silent Lake", which I had chosen as the first goal of the day. All houses looked nice and well-kept, and the vast majority were quite new. Some well high on my taste, but then they commanded a view of the forest-lined lake, which you could stroll around along a combined bike and footpath. It was really quiet here, at least on the southern shore. At the northern one, after passing some mighty linden trees, which were supposedly over 300 years old, the busy Kaliningrad prospect (such as a great road in Russian) ran, but there was still a fine path down by the lake shore. I passed a bike rental and thought it could be in any country, but it didn't look like Russia. Back at the hotel I went up to the cafe entrance. And was astonished at a column lined building that led to it. The reddish-brown color and the straight lines didn't fit the roundish white hotel at all. Not that is was really ugly. Just weird. And, to say the truth, I didn't find anything really ugly in Svetlogorsk. Very rarely in Russia outside places such as Skt. St. Petersburg and Peterhof. Well, so far I switched to a dressing gown and let me heat through in the sauna cellar. A basin was missing. On the other hand, there were large bathtubs with cold and hot water. I was all alone down there and enjoyed it as long as I could. After the check out I was allowed to leave the luggage at the reception so that I could cycle down on Svetlogorsk's seafront. It would go up steeply from it afterwards, and this trip was most fun without a load. Well down the steep bank I first saw the beach to the west with many walkers. Still nice and sandy beach, but rather narrow. To the east began the old promenade with some posh hotels and beautiful mosaics, a Venus figure and a large sundial with the zodiac signs. As the sun was shining beautifully, I could see it "went" right. At one point the sea front coating changed from grim concrete to exquisite materials with beautiful light masts. The inner tiles were grey, then red tiles (probably for a bike path), and facing the sea a very wide promenade of hard wood. Many benches offered a rest, but in the cold wind not many accepted. The old concrete pier was still there but was closed. A poster showed how the new one would look. Very fashionable. Above us, the steep bank rose clad in green colour. Towards the eastern end of the walk, another poster showed a huge project: A mighty lift tower up to a footbridge towards the main road. There was also going to be room for bicycles and wheelchairs. This is how Russia can also be. Super modern, friendly towards the disabled and cyclists and really posh. It'll be furiously expensive, so the region here must have a lot of funds. Its people, probably the rather poor lower middle class, have to pay for development. Or business with one or a few oligarchs is directly involved. I wondered about that while I was swallowing a burger and a hot dog in one of the barbecue stalls. For DKK 30 I also got a Bajkal drink. A mixture of cola and orange water. Then I was "dressed" to ride up to the hotel and hang the luggage on the bike in order to ride the 60 km to Kaliningrad.
The trip via the amber town of Yantarnyi I had cancelled, as it would have been too long after my lazy morning in Svetlogorsk. For the first time on this trip, it was warm enough to ride in short bike pants, so few kilometers outside Svetlogorsk I pulled off my loose legs and looked forward to a peaceful ride, at least until I approached Kaliningrad. But it got pretty taxing. After all, I was in Russia. First I had trouble with my gear shifter. I could not shift to the small cogwheel in front and had to wheel up a steep hill. Well, it wasn't Russia's fault. Next, however, came a piece of road work, which I claim, never would occur outside of Russia. Well, I have never cycled to Timbuktu, but I doubt Mali's authorities would allow large rectangular holes in the asphalt, approx. 30 cm deep, without any marking. They were obviously to be covered by asphalt later, so they were normal road patches. The problem was the absence of any marking at all! And it continued for over ten kilometers. Fortunately, the traffic was not heavy. And the cars drove slowly, because of course they had to run slalom between the bath tubs. For me it required a lot of concentration, especially downhill, because I had to look forward for holes alternately and behind for possible overtaking cars. I expected all the time to meet the asphalt brigade that filled the holes, but met none. How long are such craters allowed to lay without any lighting at night? Had my front wheel slipped into such a grave, it might have become my grave. At least it had smashed my bike and made me crash. With unknown results. I was a bit shaken. Consequently, I had a coffee break outside a garden colony on the edge of a village where I entered a larger road. Without holes as it looked, but instead with fast-moving cars. So the coffee with chocolate biscuits in the sun was much needed and enjoyed. After the break, the headwind and the rather wild traffic became my worst opponents. Fortunately, the route soon swung away from the main road and became more peaceful. I actually saw several fellow cyclists, and I was happy about that. Kaliningrad, which I approached now, also has a bicycle club, I found out later. Fine. Unfortunately, the surroundings were more devastated now. The waste in the roadside reappeared. Until then, nature had seemed quite intact and the houses had appeared well-kept. Now I entered an ugly suburban area with miserable shacks and neglected factories. The road was, however, in fairly good condition. And then a super highway suddenly appeared to the right. It was Kaliningrad's new bypass which had not opened yet. They lacked to build a bridge or tunnel over the Pregolya River. I could easily enter it, but, unfortunately, it ended soon again. Do I need to mention that it had a broad dual-cycle lane? And that at the place where it suddenly stopped, it was replaced by an absolutely horrible pothole dirt road? Well, no, I guess. Russia in a nutshell. A talkative Russian on a mountain bike came up to me and asked if I was from Norway. Probably because of my Danish flag in the rear left pannier. I answered and asked about the fate of the bypass. He thought the city was to build a factory where it ended. And then he complained about the lack of democracy in Russia. Well, he was totally right of course, but, honestly, I craved to find the city center and check in at my lovely Skipper hotel, so I was probably a bit reluctant for once. He was also that negative that it might have affected my mood. And I needed optimism on the way into the city. After crossing the old ring road without jeopardizing life to much, I saw the city sign and decided to celebrate it with a cold beer outside a small supermarket. It had grown quite cold, so I wore long legs and my bike jacket again. Now came a rather challenging stretch with a few small hills, heavy traffic and bad roads. On Victory Prospect, as a cyclist you hold your life in your hands. So I was looking forward to swinging into Velosipednaya doroga. That means "bike road" so it sounded good. But it was again an awful dirt road strewn with craters so many and so deep that I couldn't even overtake the, probably, drunk pedestrians walking in front of me. What a challenging day. 59 km felt like the double distance. Well, along Victory park and across heavily trafficked crossroads I reached the harbour promenade along the river. A true relief, and even interesting, because old military aircraft and ships were lined up, probably in preparation for tomorrow's Victory Day. On May 9, Russia celebrates the Soviet Army's victory over Nazi Germany. Now I was close to my goal, and the military hardware was not able to stop my progress. Now I went quickly through parks to the so-called Fisherman's Village, where my hotel was located. In the square in front of it, a granny sold me a bike map for 300 rubles. I only had a thousand ruble note and she had no change so she went inside to change. She talked without a break, so I only muttered a "spasibo". It got a lovely souvenir there. At the hotel I was warmly and kindly received. And my bike was locked in the low-ceilinged basement. It was really nice to check into my large room overlooking the river and the cathedral island, let warm water rinse my body me and slip into civic clothes.
Now I wanted to experience Kaliningrad by night. As I had no guide tonight and only the next day would meet Natalja, I hailed a taxi to get some advice. The driver was a young boy in his twenties and he advised me to dine at a dance café. Quality and prices were okay, and I could de dancing afterwards. Unfortunately, he did not consider his customer's age group, so I was set down at a state-of-the-art café frequented only by young people. Throbbing rhythms out of the speakers confirmed this. I wanted to escape, but a cute smiling girl in waitress' uniform made me reconsider. After all, I was inside, and she took me to a place at a table overlooking the square. And I got a large portion of spare ribs with a bucket of beer. At the stroke of nine they turned up the music, so you could hardly hear your own thoughts. And the youngsters flocked the dance floor, which luckily lay far from where I was sitting. I sent the waitress a friendly thought. The prices in this student cafe were super cheap. Coffee for 50 p. you can hardly refuse, so I stayed a little longer. Then I paid and asked the waiter to order a taxi. This very expensive form of transport in Denmark is also touchingly cheap in Russia. So why not enjoy it and rest my pins? In addition, taxi drivers are always helpful and know their city. I didn't have a clue, so I hoped he would drive me to a place where the music was a little more subdued and preferably of a slightly older age. Well, not Mozart, but maybe just in the middle compared to my dining place. Along the way I had a taxi chat with the driver. As a student I had brushed up my poor income with taxi driving, so I thought I knew the business. But Russia is a free country for entrepreneurs, so if you have a car and a driving license, you can work as a driver. The rides are ordered via an app called "Poyekhali", which can be translated into "we're gone". In the app, the customer tells where he wants to go, and the price is fixed. In my case the target was unknown, but he mentioned the price when he had decided where he would take me. For DKK £2 I was driven maybe two kilometers through the center. I had lost my bearings, so now I was dependent on these lone sharks. But at these prices I dared to let them decide. At the next discotheque the music was even worse, and the place was crammed with dandies and slender young girls in very short dresses. It was bank holiday the next day. This was hardly my place so I found a waiter who immediately ordered a new Poyekhali taxi for me. I said I wanted to go to the Skipper hotel. It was £2 50 p., said the waiter. Down on the road five cars were waiting, and I was asked by a driver which license plate my cart had. You must know, he said. Hell, back to the disco, where I couldn't find "my" servant. On the street there was now only one car left, which I assumed was mine. Yes, but I didn't want to go home for sleep yet, so I made another attempt to find a dance venue for people above 40. He said, he knew, but the result was once again quite disappointing. However, there was pole dancing here and a great selection of beers, so it wasn't boring. In order to be able to say I have danced in Russia, I offered the absolute oldest girl I could spot, a dance. Maybe she was 30, and our performance on the dance floor wasn't very good. I felt like a dinosaur, watched the pole dancers and drank my beer. It was about one o'clock when I decided eventually to retire to my hotel, again via the app, which all waiters obviously have installed. The driver drove a long trip, but the price was fixed. His price was £2 20p. Tips are not expected in taxis, I was told. You pay the price the app says and then get out in a hurry. Time is money here too. Especially here. Again I enjoyed the peace and quiet of my hotel room after all the tacky music I had listened to during the evening. Russian pop is unbearable!