2010 Baltic Madness
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and more
Did you know 2010 was the Moomin’s 65th Anniversary? Yes, 65 years since Tove Jansson penned the first story that introduced me to the enchanting world of the Moomins. So you can imagine how excited I was to discover that Moominworld actually exists, in a place called Naantali in Western Finland. And can you imagine how excited the kids were when I asked them if they’d like to go there for our summer trip? To meet The Hemulen, Too Ticky, Stinky, Little My, Snorkmaiden, Mymble, Snufkin, Hattifatteners and Fillyjonk.
If you’re feeling lost reading this, don’t panic. I felt that way reading my first Moomin book as a kid and feel it now when I read my kids Moomin stories at bedtime. MoominValley is an alien place, where the winters are perpetually cold and black, where the arrival of spring has a significance we can only imagine, where the summer sun shines at midnight, and the brief passing of autumn signals the impending return of ice and darkness. It’s a place where nature asserts her authority, seasons are amplified and life takes on strange and unfamiliar forms. And that’s what our summer 2010 trip was all about.
Once hooked into the magic of a journey to Moominworld, it took very little persuasion to get the family buy in to the idea of cycling 2000km there and back, visiting some other strange and unfamiliar lands along the way. And so that was the plan; biking around the Baltic Sea on a summer of Moomin Madness.
With family cycle touring having a route is only half the problem; you also have to figure out how you are all going to pedal around it, which means sorting our bikes for adults and bikes for the kids. Initially the kids wanted to ride their own bikes but much as I liked the novelty of that idea it was never going to work practically; not over that distance, carrying tent, camping gear, clothes, food and toys. And so it was we came to attempt this mission with one child on the back of a tandem and two on the back of a triplet, with both beasts of burden hauling a trailer packed with gear.
The journey was a complex one. We headed over the North Sea to Denmark and started biking in Esbjerg. From there it was South across the border to Germany for a ferry from Kiel across the Baltic Sea to Lithuania. We spent a month exploring the former Soviet block states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia making our way North to Tallinn. From there by boat once more to the mysterious archipelago around Åland where we hopped by bike and boat across to Western Finland to reach Moominworld.
Getting back wasn’t be easy but we figured out a plan; a ferry to Helsinki, then another back to Rostock and then back on the bikes for a week to cross back to Denmark and, fuelled by Danish pastries, ride back to Esbjerg for the ferry home. Luckily we made it back in time for school. Otherwise it could have ben a long, cold, dark winter living in fear of The Groke.
See our online route plans for the journey (Google Map) - coming soon
We blogged and tweeted on the road so if you’d like to join in our virtual journey, why not take a look at our tweets and blogs. You can find us on Twitter, subscribe to our blog or hook up with us on Facebook.